Planning a Trip
Getting There -- Two trains depart every hour from Brussels for the 80-minute ride, and up to three trains every hour from Bruges for the 15-minute ride, to Oostende station (tel. 02/528-28-28; www.sncb.be), a neo-baroque edifice (1913) at the harbor. The Kusttram (Coast Tram) has fast, frequent service connecting all the seacoast resorts. By car from Brussels and Bruges, take A10/E40 west; from the other coast resorts, take N34.
Visitor Information -- Toerisme Oostende is at Monacoplein 2, 8400 Oostende (tel. 059/70-11-99; fax 059/70-34-77; www.toerisme-oostende.be). The office is open May to October Monday to Saturday from 9am to 7pm and Sunday from 10am to 7pm, and November to April Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 10am to 5pm.
Getting Around -- Most points of interest in the town are close together. You reach them easily by foot, or by bicycles available to rent from the rail station for 9€ ($14) a day. The town is served by multiple bus lines departing from the bus station in front of the rail station; if you want to get to points along the coast, in either direction, take the Coast Tram. Bus and tram information is available from De Lijn (tel. 070/22-02-00; www.delijn.be). Pick up a taxi at the rail station or the Casino-Kursaal, or call Taxibond (tel. 059/70-27-27).
Special Events -- You don't have to be crazy to take part in the annual New Year Dive into the North Sea, but it sure can't hurt. Around 6,000 "polar bears" nerve themselves to take the plunge into the icy North Sea waters on the first Saturday of the year.