Ostend, now a major Belgian city of about 90,000 people, was nothing more than a small village built on an island (called Testerep) between the North Sea and a beach lake. Although small, the village rose to the status of city around 1265 when the inhabitants were allowed to hold a market and to build a market hall.
The major source of income for the inhabitants was, of course, fishing. The North Sea coastline has always been rather unstable and in 1395 the inhabitants decided to build a new Ostend behind large dikes and further away from the always threatening sea.
The strategic position on the North Sea Coast had major advantages for Ostend as a harbour but also proved to be a source of trouble. The city was frequently taken, destroyed and rampaged by conquering armies.
After their independence from the Spanish Empire, the Dutch had preserved some strongholds in the Southern Netherlands, such as the cities of Nieuwpoort and Ostend. Between 1601 and 1604 the Spanish army succeeded in taking Ostend from the Duch Protestants
After this era Ostend turned into a quiet harbour of some importance. In 1722 the Dutch closed off the entrance to the harbor of Antwerp. Therefore, Ostend rose in importance because the city provided an alternative entrance to the sea. The Southern Netherlands (now Belgium) had became part of the Austrian Empire. The Austrian Emperor Charles VI granted the city the trade monopoly with Africa and the Far-East. The Ostend Trade Company was allowed to found colonies overseas. However, in 1727 the 'Oostendse Compagnie' was forced to stop its activities because of Dutch and British pressure. Holland and Britain would not allow competitors on the international trade level. But nations regarded international trade as their privilege.
In later times the harbour of Ostend continued to expand because the harbor dock, as well as the traffic connections with the hinterland, were improved. In 1838 a railway connection with Brussels was constructed. Oostende became a transit harbor to England in 1846 when the first Ferryboat sailed to Dover. Very important for the image of the city was the attention it started to receive from the Belgian Kings Leopold 1st and Leopold 2nd Both liked to spent their vacations in Oostende. Important monuments and villas were built to please the Royal Family. The rest of aristocratic Belgium followed and soon Oostende became known as the Queen of the Belgian Coast.
Nowadays Oostende is a city of about 90.000 inhabitants and still the largest city at the Belgian coast.
Brief GROUP TOUR Itinerary:
Depart from your choice of pick up point in your hometown giving plenty of time to reach the channel port in-order to catch the early afternoon ferry from Dover to Calais. On reaching Calais we will make the leisurely journey to the resort aiming for an approximate arrival time at your hotel of 5pm for check in. After check in the rest of the evening is free to spend at leisure
Full day to explore as you wish
After breakfast, we say a fond farewell to the hotel and its staff and rejoin the Five Star Travel coach that will return you safely and in comfort to the port of Calais
We aim to catch the early afternoon ferry to Dover. On arrival into the UK you will pass through the customs formalities and then proceed home to you original pick up point
Is provide in 2,3 or 4 bedded rooms with private en-suite facilities
A limited number of single rooms are available at a supplement
All rooms are booked on a bed & breakfast basis.
An evening meal option is available at a supplement on any nights of your stay
Alternative channel crossing:
Cross the channel via Euro Tunnel for a small supplement
Optional Extra Night(s)
Why not stay extra night(s) and spend more time in resort or have a choice of optional day excursions
Day excursion ideas, when extra nights booked:
Local Tourist attractions:
All itineraries are suggestions and can be adapted to suit your group requirements