!Dansand! is a free festival of modern dance on the beach that runs from 28 June-1 July.
If you prefer something less intense you can hire a Marvin Gaye audio tour from the Tourist Board for €5 and discover the Ostend that was the Motown legend’s home for two years.
Church of St Peter and St Paul is Ostend’s main church, a grandiose Victorian neo-Gothic creation much beloved by King Leopold II. Note the striking similarity to Cologne Cathedral on which it was based.
The former Capuchin Monastery Church with its delicate baroque scrollwork is one of the oldest buildings in Ostend.
Savarin is the best place in town for a slap-up meal. Great sunset sea views and a seven-course degustation menu that is well worth €84 (or €120 when paired with excellent wines).
De Bistronoom is a brilliant development of the gastro-pub. Each course is served with a specially selected beer, usually Belgian.
Die Mosselbeurs serves fish and mussels in a slightly zany but stylish restaurant with a huge, theatrical spiral staircase. The chef’s bouillabaisse is well worth €28.
Get a free taste of Marvin Gaye outside Residence Jane which is where he lived in a fourth-floor flat. Villa Maritza next door is a classic Ostend holiday home from the Victorian era.
Thermae Palace (rooms from €150) was where wealthy travellers once came to ‘take the waters’. It’s right on the beach, just by the old Royal Villa.
Hotel du Bassin (rooms from €89 ) is run by Tom and Elsie Vanhaecke-Bruynoghe who have gone for a nautical theme throughout.
Hotel Polaris (rooms from €99) is an old greengrocer’s shop refurbished in stylish black and white. It’s a good base, friendly and very central.
Vitrine Lulu Store claims they can sell you anything Jean-Paul Gautier has created.
For something cheaper go to Pompoen for vintage clothing.
Oil & Vinegar specialises in Tuscan produce – lots of olive oil and fancy bowls to keep it in.
Leonidas is the local branch of the Belgian chocolate store founded 100 years ago by Leonidas Kestekides.
La Fayette is part of a strip of wonderfully seedy music bars along Langestraat.
‘t Kroegske is the home of the annual Paulus Festival, a festival with free music and street entertainment, and the most photographed exterior of any bar in Ostend. You don’t have to be drunk to see why. The landlord adds to the colourful scene.
La Habana de Ché is a cocktail bar and Spanish restaurant near Montgomery Bar that proves Belgium is not just about beer.
Café Fats Domino is an Irish-style bar adorned with pictures of Fats that serves Keyte, a beer brewed to mark the Siege of Ostend (1603).