The Brussels Times Magazine

Hidden Belgium: Sand Yachting at De Panne

Hidden Belgium: Sand Yachting at De Panne

When the wind is right, you can ride a sand yacht along a 30-kilometre stretch of wide sandy beach between De Panne and Dunkirk.

The sport was brought to the Belgian coast in 1898 by André Dumont and his seven brothers. André launched the idea by attaching a sail to a wooden go-kart. The sport caught on. In 1927, François Dumont established the Sand Yacht Club (the name in English to add a touch of snob appeal).

The sleek land yachts can reach speeds of over 125km/h on one of the best beaches in the world for the sport.

You can sign up online ( rsyc.be ) for a private lesson run by the Royal Sand Yacht School. Or get together with some friends for a group session out on the sands.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day:  Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.

Copyright © 2024 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.

sand yachting belgium

Team Experience

Race on the Belgian beach and go fast with your rolling machine! After a short initiation with your team, you will be able to manage your own sand yacht.

Flexi Sailing Sand Yacht Belgium 3

Hereby 1/2 day program. Program is flexible: a full day is also possible. Hours can be adapted.

  • 09:30 Arrival on the beach Briefing of the day Division of groups
  • 10:00 Start of activity Handling of the sand yachts Total independence for the participants
  • 11:00 Sand Yacht Race
  • 13:00 End of the activity

The sand yacht activity is generally in groups of 2 people exchanging the yacht as it is a physical activity, especially with heavy weather.

Most frequent questions and answers.

No, you don’t need any experience to participate and to enjoy your sailing day. You will be accompanied by an experienced skipper who is used to sail with beginning crews.

Yes, all crew members will have the opportunity to participate to the different sailing maneuvers, including steering and sail trimming.

No. Sea sickness also hits sailing champions and it does not stop them to sail around the world. Seasickness can be prevented or limited by various means, such as wearing warm and comfortable clothes, staying outside to look at the horizon, eating and drinking (water) regularly, etc.

No. We provide the safety gear such as life jackets. Just check out the weather forecast the day before and make sure to dress comfortably and to wear a raincoat and appropriate shoes (with white soles). Depending on the weather, we will also provide you with sailing pants, and we have some spare jackets for you.

In general, there is no bad weather, but only bad equipment. However, should the weather really be too bad, we always foresee a second date.

  • Testimonials

sand yachting belgium

Events & Incentives Manager at Proximus

Proximus Management committee - Meeting in the conference room and sailing regatta : “ Tout était parfait du début à la fin. Super flexibilité dans l’organisation de notre journée et très belle sortie en voilier.  Chacun a participé activement en ayant un poste sur le bateau afin de construire un ensemble un team fort ! Merci !”

sand yachting belgium

CEO of N-Side

Team Sailing - Coaching through Regatta :

"A perfect Team Building experience, right on the objective! Flexi Sailing organiz ed it in a smooth and professional way, and the weather was outstanding!”   Our coach Frédéric Leloup accompanied N-Side and their new team during several meetings to help building an efficient and dynamic cohesion between colleagues. The sailing regatta is the perfect tool to help stimulate the collective development.

sand yachting belgium

J. Vermeulen – Category Manager at Unilever

Offshore Sailing – From Belgium to Ramsgate

Unelever and its winning students from the Solvay Business Game crossed the English Channel. Not an easy experience for everyone, but a lot of smiles at the arrival in Ramsgate. And many positive feedbacks from the whole team. A challenging day for a young and dynamic group.

“Super leuke dag. Super vriendelijke skippers die ons hebben geleerd zelf rond te varen met onze team. Super ervaring! “

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sand yachting belgium

Welcome on board

Do you want to organize a sailing activity for your team or for a special event? We would be glad to organize a unique concept for your team! We speak French, Dutch and English.

sand yachting belgium

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sand yachting belgium

"SNELLER DAN DE WIND"

Royal sand yacht club vzw, zeilwagenschool initiaties & groepslessen, individueel of met enkele vrienden proeven van de snelheid en adrenaline , perfecte teambuilding of activiteit voor een vriendengroep , ontdek alle geheimen van de zeilwagensport , welkom in royal sand yacht club, onze troeven.

   
Op ons terras of in de bar is het altijd gezellig zitten. Je sportsessie nabespreken, binnen springen om bij te babbelen of even uitrusten van die mooie wandeling. Geen reden om niet te genieten.
   
Ons gloednieuw clubgebouw is uitgerust met ruime kleedkamers en aparte douchecabines die voor een perfecte afsluiter van je zeilwagensessie zorgen. Geniet vervolgens van het napraten in de sfeervolle bar.
   
Het strand van De Panne leent zich als een van de beste stranden ter wereld voor onze sport! Niet toevallig dat internationale zeilwagencompetities hier geen uitzondering zijn. 17km ononderbroken strand tot 450m breed.
   
Bij ons kan je terecht voor ontspanning als niet-zeiler of als zeilwagenpiloot met activiteiten voor jong en oud, recreatief en competitief. Kortom, iedereen vindt hier zijn ding!
   
Via de federatie WWSV zijn alle leden verzekerd voor de uitvoering van hun sport.

Laatste Nieuws

Royal Sand Yacht Club

Recentste Resultaten

  Winnaars Solo Enduro Special 2020
Klasse Zeilnr Naam Club Manches PEN Totaal
2 S60 Bertrand Pouwels 0 0
3 S582 Thierry Kaisin 10 1 11
St S474 Marc Weyn 17 17
5 S474 Thierry Kaisin 17 17
5P S474 Bertrand Pouwels 17 17
  Winnaars Potjesregatta 2019
Klasse Zeilnr Naam Club Manches PEN Totaal
2 S60 Bertrand Pouwels 0 0
3 S582 Thierry Kaisin 10 1 11
St S474 Marc Weyn 17 17
5 S474 Thierry Kaisin 17 17
5P S474 Bertrand Pouwels 17 17

Komende Activiteiten

sand yachting belgium

Open Training Krab

  •   2024-06-30
  •   12:30-14:30
  •   2:45 - 15:08 
  •    Klassen
  •   ZC. DE KRAB, De Panne (B)

sand yachting belgium

Kruien met de Moatjes

  •   13:00
  •   RSYC, De Panne (B)
  •   2024-07-08
  •   11:00-13:00
  •   9:57 - 22:25 
  •   2024-07-09
  •   11:30-13:30
  •   10:37 - 23:08 
  •   2024-07-10
  •   11:17 - 23:48 

Populaire Video's

Historische zeilwagens op open monumentendag 2020, promovideo ek 2015 de panne, avondmanche wk 2006 le touquet, dunkerque - la panne , ça pulse , sailing class 3 in de panne without sail, cockpit view gp r. vermeulen 2013, promovideo strandzeilen.

Neem contact op met ons

Heb je vragen over de clubwerking, het lidgeld of zeilwageninitiaties? Aarzel dan niet om contact op te nemen met ons! We proberen je zo snel mogelijk van een antwoord te voorzien.

Contact opnemen kan via het formulier hiernaast of via de contactgegevens onderaan. Kom je liever eens langs? Geen probleem, iedereen is welkom in ons clubgebouw voor vragen, of in onze gezellige bar voor een hapje en een drankje.

Hopelijk tot binnenkort!

Het bestuur van RSYC vzw

Ford-nieuw

Sandyachting, a sport

1909 - Julien Michez  gagnant la première course copy -  - Sandyachting, a sport

The experience of driving a sand yacht along the beach is fantastic enough for many. It is a separate outing. That you have to go to the coast for it is part of it.

Once with several sailors on the beach, it becomes extra fun to catch up with the others. It's in many of us... .

So it was in 1909 when the very first sand yacht race in the world took place in De Panne. Land and sand yachting as a sport was born !

Since then, many have discovered the pleasure of 'racing'. By sailing a lot you can improve your sailing manoeuvres, by sailing a lot you get to know the beach better and know where you sail best, by sailing a lot you can fine-tune your sand yacht so that there is unity between the pilot and his machine.

From 1910, a number of international races were organised in France at Berck and Hardelot. Our Belgian François Dumont won the competition in 1913.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, attended these competitions on occasion.

Between the First and Second World Wars, under the impetus of the Dumont family, there were regular competitions in the summer months and this at De Panne as well as at Oostduinkerke and at Middelkerke.

After the Second World War, an international circuit was created again. The first major international gathering took place in De Panne in 1958 on the occasion of the world exhibition EXPO58.

From 1963 there have been annual European or World Championships, mainly in Europe but also already in the USA and once in Argentina.

Since 2022 on the 60th anniversary of FISLY, the International Federation for Land and Sand Yachting, there has been a worldwide ranking of member race pilots under the name FISLY RANKING.

Here Youtube movie of FISLY ranking from FISLY site.

https://youtu.be/iBaasPVcoOw

De Panne, the southernmost seaside resort of Belgium

De Panne

De Panne , the most south-westerly seaside resort on the Belgian coast, has everything to offer for an unforgettable holiday. With its expansive beaches , beautiful nature, rich history, and diverse recreational opportunities, De Panne is an ideal destination for families, nature lovers, culture enthusiasts, and sports enthusiasts alike.

De Panne

Beaches and dunes

De Panne is known for its wide sandy beaches , stretching for nearly 7 kilometres. It is an excellent location for sunbathing, swimming, beach walks, and practising various water sports, such as kite surfing, sailing, and sand yachting.

Behind the beach lies an extensive dune area, the largest on the Belgian coast. The Hoge Blekker , Belgium's highest dune, is located in this area, as is the Westhoek nature reserve . This 565-hectare reserve is a paradise for walkers and nature lovers, offering a unique variety of fauna and flora.

De Panne

Attractions and sights

De Panne boasts a rich history and culture worth discovering. The charming town centre is known for its typical cottages and modernist architecture from the early 20th century, particularly in the Dumont district. This historic neighbourhood, named after architect Albert Dumont , is protected as a townscape and offers an atmospheric walk along picturesque villas and green avenues.

De Panne is also known for its link to King Leopold I , Belgium's first king, who landed here in 1831. A statue on the seafront commemorates this historic event.

For families with children, De Panne is a true paradise, with a wide range of activities and attractions. Plopsaland De Panne , a popular theme park with over 50 attractions and shows, is one of the town's biggest draws. In addition, there is the educational Plopsaqua water park , where children can enjoy water slides, white-water courses, and swimming pools.

Plopsaland

An enchanting amusement park on the Belgian coast, full of fun and adventure for the whole family. Experience a world of magic with attractions for all ages, from thrilling roller coasters to ...

De Westhoek

De Westhoek

Nestled between De Panne and the French border, you can as a walker enjoy the impressive dune landscape of De Westhoek . You can frolic in ...

Royal Sand Yacht Club

Royal Sand Yacht Club

Beach sailing, whereby professionals can reach a speed of 125 km/h. You can try this yourself at beach sailing school in ...

Gastronomy and events

De Panne takes pride in its gastronomy, with numerous restaurants and cafés serving local and international dishes. Regional specialities naturally include fresh fish and seafood, but you can also enjoy delicious Belgian classics such as stew, mussels, and waffles.

The town hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, such as the annual St Nicholas celebrations, the International Hot Air Balloon Festival, and the Summer Carillon Festival, showcasing carillonneurs from around the world.

Recreation and sports

De Panne offers plenty of recreational opportunities, from cycling and walking to golfing and horse riding. There are several cycling and walking routes that take you along the coast, through the dunes, and to surrounding towns and villages. For the adventurous visitor, there's even the opportunity to learn sand yachting, a sport where you race across the beach in a wind-powered cart.

In summary, De Panne is a destination that caters to everyone. Whether you're looking for relaxation on the beach , adventure in nature, cultural discoveries, or fun for the whole family, you're sure to find it in this charming and lively seaside resort.

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  • The Belgian Seaside 5 Ways...

The Belgian Seaside: Top Ways to Enjoy Belgium's Coast

North Sea, Ostend, Belgium

Only 50 minutes by train from Brussels , a visit to the Belgian coast is a great way to relax, enjoy the occasional summer sunshine and take a break from the city lifestyle. With 65 kilometres of coast, Belgium has a lot of different seaside resorts to choose from. We have put together a list of the best ways to take advantage and enjoy summertime at the Belgian seaside.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips , compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips .

As the only true ‘City at the Sea’, upon arrival you will discover over 9 kilometers of great sandy beaches that invite you to sunbathe, walk along the beautiful promenade and for the hardier individuals, take a refreshing dip in the North Sea. It’s worth noting that from 28 June until 31 August, Ostend plays host to the Sand Sculpture Festival. Ostend is also a lively city with a multitude of activities to enjoy ranging from museum events to shopping to sports to music and much more. With trains leaving from Brussels every 30 minutes, it’s great to spend the day out in Ostend catching some sun and enjoying the beach-city experience.

For the adventurous, it is possible to rent bikes or catch the coastal tram from Ostend train station to discover the enchanting resort of De Hann. You can choose to cycle along the road to De Hann (approx. 40 mins) or the coastal path (approx 1 hour). It is a fantastic way to see much more of the Belgian coast (including a nudist beach along the way!). Upon arrival in De Haan you are instantly captivated by the beautiful Anglo-Norman style cottages and villas. The beachfront is also quite quiet so it’s possible to rent sun chairs or to find your own private section of the beach. An invigorating and relaxing day out.

Blankenberge

Blankenberge, Belgium

Blankenberge has been referred to as a piece of the Spanish ‘Costa’ in Belgium. Unlike other coastal towns, Blankenberge has an exciting nightlife with a variety of bars and restaurants were you can unwind after a long day of sunbathing. There is also a harbour, a promenade with numerous food stalls and shops, and a long beach with beach huts which you can rent daily. The most popular destination however, is the Blankenberge Pier which comprises a renowned restaurant and brassiere as well as bars.

For water sport enthusiasts, Nieuwpoort is the place to go. The beach plays host to numerous aquatic sports: paddling and swimming, boat trips and sailing, fishing and angling, wave-carting and surfing. Additionally it is a popular seaside resort for families due to the many recreational facilities along the beach and the traffic-free promenade. If you feel like exploring the city itself, there are many relaxing parks, beautiful monuments, pleasant squares and impressive shopping-streets. An ideal destination for a fun and active family day out.

Knokke-Heist

Knokke, Knokke-Heist, Belgium

Known as the ‘sophisticated’ area of the coast, Knokke-Heist encompasses not just 1 but 5 lovely beaches: Heist, Duinbergen, Albertstrand, Knokke and the Zoute. There is also a beautiful nature reserve: the Zwin. Knokke itself offers a bustling cultural calendar, due to its numerous art galleries (some with international status), casino and the Scharpoord cultural centre. For those, seeking the glamorous areas, check out the stately avenues, large villas and golf course. The area of Knokke-Heist has something for everybody and is a great place to explore.

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Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips , led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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Sand yachting, Royal Sand Yacht Club, c2005

Sand yachting on the Belgian coast between Oostduinkerke, De Panne and Dunkirk (France)

All photos are released under GFDL by the author Wim Van Caeneghem - Royal Sand Yacht Club

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  • Land sailing in Belgium

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14 fun things to do in Belgium to do all-year-round

August 17, 2023 | Posted in: Belgium

For being such a small country, Belgium has a lot to offer. From the rolling valleys of Wallonia to the historic cities of Flanders and all in between, the list of leisure activities in Belgium will surely keep you entertained. If you like to get active when you travel, this post will hopefully give you a few ideas for your trip to Belgium .

1. Go rafting or kayaking in the Ardennes

2. attend a music festival, 3. go on a guided boat trip in ghent, 4. get lost in the durbuy labyrinth, 5. participate in a chocolate-making workshop, 6. horseback riding on a north sea beach, 7. sail through the tree-tops at dinant aventure, 8. feel the wind in your hair while sand yachting, 10. go caving in the caves of han, 11. bellewaerde theme park, 12. remember the first world war, 13. relax at the spa in “spa town”, what are the facts that belgium is most known for, what is the most typical belgian food, what are the best beaches of belgium, where to stay in brussels, belgium, what are the best christmas markets in belgium.

Listed below are the best fun things to do in Belgium all-year-round.

  • Rafting or Kayaking in the Ardennes. Navigate the rivers of the Ardennes, especially the Lesse, Ourthe, and Semois. Experience diverse terrains, from calm waters to challenging rapids.
  • Attend a music festival. Attend in Belgium's vibrant festival scene. Events include the world-famous Tomorrowland, historical Gentse Feesten and diverse Dour Festival.
  • Ghent boat trip. Experience Ghent from its canals. Tours reveal historical sights like the Gravensteen and Old Butcher’s Hall, mainly from Graslei and Korenlei harbors.
  • Durbuy Labyrinth. Navigate a massive maze in Barvaux near Durbuy, with varied annual themes and added attractions, including eco-gardens and wooden labyrinths.
  • Chocolate-making Workshop in Brussels. Dive into Belgium's chocolate culture. Workshops in Brussels teach the art of chocolate-making, producing mendiants and pralines.

Whether you want to meander calmly down a gently flowing river or get the adrenaline pumping while whipping down some rapids white-water rafting, Belgium has plenty of options. The Ardennes in the South East of Belgium is one of the best places for kayaking as it has a great range of rivers for different levels of experience.

The three rivers of the Ardennes are the Lesse, the Ourthe, and the Semois. The Ourthe and the Semois are a good choice for beginners to the sport, and you’ll find yourself paddling through forest valleys, past one of the picturesque villages nestling on the banks. The River Lesse is a little more challenging, with a few small waterfalls and sections of rapids.

Spring is the best time for kayaking in Belgium, but be aware when you book your kayak tour that water levels vary according to the weather so be prepared to alter your plans.

And when you get out of the water there are plenty of delicious places in the Ardennes to go get a bite.

outdoor activities in belgium

All year round (and especially in Spring and Summer), Belgium is pulsing with festivals of all shapes and sizes. Think vibrant regional carnivals, extravagant city processions, historical reenactments, art installations, and of course, a huge amount of music festivals in Belgium .

Going to a festival is one of the most memorable activities to do in Belgium so always check if you can book tickets to a local event when you travel to the country. There’s international mega-festival Tomorrowland for lovers of electronic music, the ten-day Gentse Feesten which has been running since 1843, the enormous Dour Festival for the more alternative music fans, and Ghent’s Light Festival for some beautiful works of public art, to name just a few.

popular activities in belgium

The waterfront of Ghent is stunning, and the best way to see it is by boat. Travel through the city on a guided boat trip and take a trip through Belgium’s history. The tours last 40 minutes and they incorporate many of Ghent’s top sightseeing locations such as the Gravensteen, the Old Butcher’s Hall, and the medieval quay.

There are several pick-up and drop-off points but the main ones are on the Graslei (“Grass Quay”) and Korenlei (“Corn Quay”). These are the two sides of the river Leie that formed Ghent’s medieval harbor. Today, they still house several sites of photogenic architecture, such as guild houses dating back to the 17th century. Visitors can book a boat trip in Ghent to avoid same-day queueing and enjoy a flexible cancelation policy.

fun activities in belgium

The Labyrinth of Durbuy is definitely a theme park with a twist. It does what it says on the tin – a giant maze (made of maize!) of over 11 hectares / 27 acres. There are 10 kilometers / 6.2 miles of twisting and turning paths. The labyrinth can be found in the small village of Barvaux just outside Durbuy in the province of Luxembourg. Durbuy claims to be the smallest city in the world, but if you get lost in that maze, it’ll feel as if it goes on forever…

The labyrinth is only one hour from Brussels and is themed differently each year, with actors and performers stationed around the maze and park. Over the years themes have included Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Smurfs, Tintin, and many more. The park also boasts a few other attractions such as an eco-garden and a separate wooden maze.

outdoor activities belgium

Belgium is known around the world as the land of chocolate so it’s a good place to try to pick up some skills. And what better place to do a chocolate-making workshop than the country’s capital of Brussels? There are many chocolatiers located just a short walk from Brussels Grand Place. You’d be surprised at just how many different types and recipes of chocolate there are.

Learn from the Brussels masters how to temper chocolate so that it keeps its shine and make your own mendiant and praline chocolates with people that have spent their entire lives perfecting the art. You’ll even get to go home with a pack of homemade chocolates – the fruits of your labor!

leisure activities in belgium

If you’re looking for somewhere to go horseback riding, Belgium’s North coast couldn’t be a better place. With its wide expanse of sand and glorious sunsets, there’s plenty of space to ride and take in the blissful views.

You’ll find equestrian centers and riding schools all along the coastline in Belgium where you can hire a horse for a day or two of riding and horse-based activities. At many beaches, such as De Haan, there are bridle paths and riding routes that lead through woods, meadows, dunes and down to the sea itself.

You can’t take horses on the beach during certain hours of the day in the holiday season so it’s worth checking that before you go.

recreational activities in belgium

This is for those who want a taste of Belgium’s best adventure things to do. Parc Dinant Aventure is an outdoor adventure park found overlooking the Lesse and Meuse valley in Wallonia, with amazing views of the surrounding hills. It’s got everything from hair-raising suspended bridges and ziplines to laser quest and paintballing.

The park itself is in the middle of a wood on an 18 hectare (44.5-acre) site that used to be a sandstone quarry. It’s been recognized for its amazing wildlife and is listed as a Natura 2000 site. You can go on their aerial route through the tree-tops, and there’s abseiling, climbing, caving… the list really is huge. There’s even the “XL swing”, which drops you from a 60 meter / 197-foot height on a rope.

adventure activities in belgium

There’s no bigger thrill than speed, and there’s no shortage of that when you’re racing down the North Sea coast on a three-wheeled cart, with wind and sea spray in your sails. Sand yachting (otherwise known as land yachting or dirt boating) has got to be up there as one of the most fun Belgium activities.

The coastline of Belgium is 65 km / 40 miles and there are some great beaches and beach towns to visit. The beaches are mostly wide and sandy which makes ideal sand yachting territory. The best beach for sand yachting in Belgium is De Panne but you’ll find plenty of others. You can also go sand yachting by some lakes, such as the Eau d'Heure lakes in the province of Namur.

cultural activities in belgium

Belgium might not be known for its hills but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some good hiking trails. In fact, there are thousands of popular routes to choose from.

Whether it’s the lush valleys of the Ardennes, the castles near Geraardsbergen, or the dune networks of Zwin, there are some amazing opportunities for walks around the country, for all experience levels.

And it’s not just the countryside – one of the best things to do in a city is to map it out physically and you can find city walking and hiking tours in most Belgian urban areas. Why not get some miles in around the cobbled streets of Bruges, or even the Diamond Quarter of Antwerp.

natural sightseeing

Located outside the village of Han sur Lesse, in the Southeast of Belgium are the Caves of Han (the “Grottes de Han”). They’re widely considered one of the most spectacular cave complexes in the world, formed by the underground passage of the river Lesse through a limestone hill.

Among the best things to do in Belgium is to book a guided speleology tour in the Caves of Han. You’ll get to travel back into deep time with experts in the rock formations, wandering between stalagmites and stalactites, through cavernous halls and galleries of stone.

The caves are brought to life by special LED lighting and sounds, and there’s a small 100-year old tram that trundles you into the cave mouth. There’s also a restaurant/ bar where you can wind down after your adventures.

indoor activities belgium

As with nearly any country, there are tons of theme parks in Belgium and they vary hugely in content and quality. Bellewaerde is unusual as it has a mix of many different parks in one. It originally opened as a zoo and safari park back in 1954 (making it the oldest theme park in Belgium), and although today it focuses on thrilling rides, it’s retained the animal park aspect too. It’s one of the best things to do in the gorgeous countryside near Ypres in West Flanders.

When it comes to rides, Bellewaerde has some great roller coasters, river rapids, and a water flume called Niagara (the name speaks volumes!). The park is sited on the site of the Second Battle of Ypres in World War I.

rollercoaster belgium

The image of poppies growing in Flanders Fields is one of the most enduring symbols to commemorate World War I. The area surrounding the city of Ypres in West Flanders was the site of one of the most tragic periods of Europe’s history, some of the most famous battles of the Western Front during the First World War. More than a million people from over 50 countries were injured or killed here.

Today, there are hundreds of things to see in and around Ypres like Belgium's WW1 war memorials , cemeteries, and interactive museums. You can walk among the preserved and recreated trenches at Flanders Fields, and listen to the Last Post sounded by the buglers every evening at the Menin Gate. It’s a haunting but important experience.

menin gate memorial

Ever wondered where the word “spa” came from? The term originated in the Belgian town of Spa in the eastern province of Liège. It is known worldwide for its mineral-rich waters and natural springs. It was even popular with the Romans who knew the city as “Aquae Spadanae” and Pliny the Elder raved about its healing springs.

Today, it’s home to Les Thermes de Spa, a luxury spa center that brings wellness and nature together. There are outdoor activities with views across the landscape of Belgium, and many therapy and beauty treatments for the world-weary traveler. Steam baths, mineral baths, saunas, 800 square meters / 8610 square feet of indoor and outdoor pools not to mention things like reflexology, aromatherapy, shiatsu…

indoor activities in belgium

14. Join a beer tasting tour

Beer brewing has been a staple of Belgium’s culture since it began in roughly the 12th century, with monks creating the drink from within their abbeys. Today, there is an abundance of different beers to sample across the whole of Belgium, from bars lining bustling streets off the Grand Place in Brussels, to small family-run breweries in the Belgian countryside.

A beer tasting tour is one of the best ways to develop a wider understanding of this beloved nectar. You can find tours all over Belgium, and Brussels has many great experiences to choose from. Book a beer tour  to visit historic beer venues around Brussels, learn more about the history and fame of Belgian beer, and try multiple Belgian beers.

belgian beer tasting tour

This is just a handful of ideas for when you travel to the land of chocolate, beer, and waffles. Some final advice – always try to check out what is happening locally when you visit as there are often free community activities scheduled for certain times of the year. Have fun!

Listed below are the facts that Belgium is most known for .

  • Chocolate Hub : Its airport leads globally in chocolate sales, dispatching 800 tonnes annually.
  • Fries Origin : The globally known french fries have their roots in Belgium's late 1600s.
  • UNESCO Grand Place : The Grote Markt stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and cultural hotspot.
  • Brussels Sprouts : These green veggies trace their lineage back to 16th-century Brussels.
  • Beer Galore : Brussels is home to over 800 beer varieties.
  • The Atomium : This iconic structure mimics an immensely magnified iron crystal cell.
  • Global Diplomatic Hub : Housing entities like the EU and NATO, Brussels teems with journalists and diplomats.

The most typical Belgian food , a true culinary delight that captures the essence of Belgian cuisine, is none other than moules-frites. This iconic dish consists of plump, succulent mussels cooked in a flavorful broth and served alongside a generous portion of crispy golden fries. It is a beloved classic that has become synonymous with Belgian gastronomy.

The mussels used in moules-frites are often sourced from the North Sea, ensuring their freshness and quality. They are traditionally steamed in a fragrant broth made with white wine, shallots, garlic, and herbs, infusing them with a delightful aroma and taste. The mussels are then served in a large pot, allowing diners to savor the communal experience of sharing and enjoying this beloved dish together.

Accompanying the mussels are the famous Belgian fries, a true point of national pride. These fries are meticulously prepared, starting with the selection of the right potatoes, which are then cut into thick, uniform strips. The fries are twice-fried to achieve the perfect balance of a soft, fluffy interior and a crispy, golden exterior. They are seasoned with a sprinkle of salt and served piping hot, providing a delectable contrast to the tender mussels. Moules-frites embodies the essence of Belgian cuisine with its simplicity, yet remarkable flavors. It represents the country's love for fresh seafood, the art of cooking with local ingredients, and the joy of communal dining. Whether enjoyed at a cozy bistro or a bustling street-side café, moules-frites is a must-try dish that encapsulates the rich culinary heritage of Belgium.

What is the best time to visit Belgium?

As with all destinations, the best time to travel to Belgium depends a bit on what you're looking for. Belgian weather can never be trusted, but the nicest time of the year is usually from June until September.  I'd recommend to visit anywhere between the second half of May and the end of September if you're looking for nice weather. Any other time is good, if you want to visit the cities in Belgium and don't mind a bit of cold or rain. Visiting Belgium in July can be quite wonderful. It's the time for outdoor dining, sunny cycle rides, picnics in parks, and more. During the summer, travelers can also visit the beaches of Belgium. 

The beaches of Belgium indeed offer a delightful coastal experience. Listed below are the best beaches in Belgium.

  • De Panne: Known for its sand yachting opportunities, De Panne is often considered a favorite beach destination among visitors.
  • Knokke-Heist: Located near the Belgium-Netherlands border, Knokke-Heist is a popular coastal resort known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant atmosphere.
  • Ostend: As one of the largest coastal cities in Belgium, Ostend offers a wide stretch of sandy beach and a lively promenade with various entertainment options.
  • Blankenberge: This coastal town is known for its family-friendly beach and a range of activities, including beach sports and amusement parks.
  • Nieuwpoort: Nieuwpoort boasts a long sandy beach and a charming marina, making it a popular destination for both beach lovers and sailing enthusiasts.

There are many other lovely beaches in Belgium . Exploring different towns and resorts will allow you to discover the unique characteristics and attractions of each beach destination.

Brussels has a plethora of accommodation options to suit various preferences. Allow me to share with you three notable options for your stay in Brussels.

Firstly, we have the Sleep Well Youth Hostel, which is a budget-friendly choice. This hostel offers dormitory rooms as well as double and triple rooms, all equipped with a desk and a wardrobe. The bathrooms are en-suite, and guests can enjoy amenities such as table tennis facilities, a bar, terrace, and library. Additionally, bike rentals are available for those who wish to explore the city on two wheels. Read reviews on TripAdvisor  /  Book a room

For a boutique experience, the Art de Séjour B&B is an excellent choice. Located in a 19th-century townhouse in the historical center of Brussels, this B&B offers rooms with a computer, air conditioning, a work desk, and coffee facilities. Breakfast and free WiFi are included, and it's just a short 500-meter stroll to the Grand Place. Read reviews on TripAdvisor  /  Book a room

Lastly, we have the NH Collection Brussels Grand Sablon, a hotel that offers comfortable rooms equipped with air conditioning, cable TV, and a work desk. Both WiFi and breakfast are included in the stay. This hotel is situated in the Sablon neighborhood, known for its antique shops and charming atmosphere. Read reviews on TripAdvisor  /  Book a room

These are just a few options to consider when deciding where to stay in Brussels . Each offers its own unique features and amenities, catering to different preferences and budgets. Remember to explore the neighborhoods and areas of Brussels to find the perfect location that suits your needs.

In Brussels, the Christmas market expands from the Grand Place until Place St. Catherine, with over 200 stands offering a variety of goods. It also features an ice-skating rink, a Ferris wheel, a light show, and a magnificent Christmas tree. Antwerp's Christmas market is another delightful option, with its location in the heart of the city. It offers a range of stalls, along with attractions such as a Ferris wheel and an ice-skating rink.

Arlon and Mons also have their own Christmas markets, each with their own distinct atmosphere and offerings. Arlon's market is known for its cozy ambiance, while Mons offers a variety of stalls and activities.

These are just a few examples of the Christmas markets in Belgium , and I encourage you to explore further to discover the unique experiences each one has to offer. Remember to plan your visit accordingly, as the markets typically start in mid-November.

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14 fun activities in Belgium to do all-year-round

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Brian Lomax says

Great list, Sofie! I’ve done 5 of the 16, and would like to try a few more. Thanks for the suggestion of a chocolatier in Brussels! :)

Thanks! 5 is a good start ;-)

Cool, after 6 years in Belgium I have done a lot if this. I would love to visit the Ghent castle. I also heard if the Karreveld castle in Brussels, would you recommend it ? And what brewery would you advice to visit in Brussels ? Thanks a lot !

I’m afraid I haven’t been to the Karreveld Castle yet so I can’t omment on that. The Cantillon Brewery in Brusselsis supposed to be really nice:) Let me know if you decide to go!

Tim UrbanDuniya says

Oooooooh can’t wait for August!! And I love that eat a waffle is on the top of the list – yes please!!

Hahaha, purely by accident;-)

Jenever festival at Hasselt! That was the time! :)

Hahaha, never been to the festival!

Loved your list! The best thing is that the advice is applicable even in other countries. Like general tourist ideas :)

Hi Sofie, your list so cool! Belgium is on my list. I’m a Asian, visit Europe is a great on travel. Thanks a lot.

You’re very welcome! I’m so happy you like the list and hope you’ll get to visit :-)

Super leuke lijst! Zelf was ik al vergeten dat ik naar Villers-la-Ville ben geweest. Zo fijn om terug te kunnen denken aan die leuke dag, dankzij je post. :)

Villers-la-Ville was een echte ontdekking voor me. Ik hoop zo dat ze het wat “in ere” gaan houden en “deftig” gaan restaureren. Even lekker op zen Vlaams :D

Haha, ja. Het is bij mij al enkele jaren geleden dat ik er geweest ben. Hopelijk houden ze het inderdaad in ere. Zou zonden zijn anders.

Helemaal mee eens!

Fabiola says

our recent country to live is actually not bad at all hah ? :)

It’ll do :D

Ingrid says

Leuk lijstje Sofie! Hallerbos hoop ik dit jaar ein-de-lijk eens te geraken

Super! Ik vind het best wel een aanrader. Lekker rustig daar en fijn wandelen zo tussen het paars :)

Such a cool list! I live in Belgium and haven’t even done all of these. My goal for 2017 is finally set! :)

Thanks so much! And an awesome goal to have :) Keep me up to date on how it goes! :-)

Ishan Milind kulkarni says

Love this list. I’m going in June to attend rock werchter. It’s a rock concert!

Awesome! I’m sure you’ll have a great time. It’s always sold out!

Jasmin says

Its our Day 2 here in Brussels…don’t forget the Belgian Frites…visit Mannekin Pis…the European headquarters…Royal Palace of Belgium…the oldest Centraal Station in Antwerp…and we are still Exploring!

Enjoy your trip!

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  2. Sand Yacht

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  3. Hidden Belgium: Sand Yachting at De Panne

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  4. Sand Yachting De Panne Belgium

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  5. Ballet

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  6. World Sand Yacht Championships, Oct 2010, De Panne, Belgium

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COMMENTS

  1. Hidden Belgium: Sand Yachting at De Panne

    Hidden Belgium: Sand Yachting at De Panne. When the wind is right, you can ride a sand yacht along a 30-kilometre stretch of wide sandy beach between De Panne and Dunkirk. The sport was brought to the Belgian coast in 1898 by André Dumont and his seven brothers. André launched the idea by attaching a sail to a wooden go-kart. The sport caught on.

  2. Sand Yacht

    Program is flexible: a full day is also possible. Hours can be adapted. 09:30 Arrival on the beach. Briefing of the day. Division of groups. 10:00 Start of activity. Handling of the sand yachts. Total independence for the participants. 11:00 Sand Yacht Race.

  3. Euro 23 De Panne

    On Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September 2023, the Royal Sand Yacht Club will organise the annual international landyacht race Potjesregatta. This race for classes 2, 3, 5, P and Standart is the last race in De Panne before the EURO23 DE PANNE European Championship (30/9 - 6/10/2023).

  4. Royal Sand Yacht Club

    Royal Sand Yacht Club, De Panne, Belgium. 1,149 likes · 1,120 were here. Official page of the Royal Sand Yacht Club De Panne. Belgium's largest landsailing club since 1924

  5. Royal Sand Yacht Club vzw

    RSYC, De Panne (B) 2024-07-10. 12:30-14:30. 11:17 - 23:48. Klassen. RSYC, De Panne (B) De grootste zeilwagenclub aan de Belgische kust. Word lid en kom mee zeilwagenrijden, recratief of competitief. Schrijf je in voor initiaties, lessen en stages, en geniet mee van het mooie strand van De Panne.

  6. Royal Sand Yacht Club

    Beach sailing, whereby professionals can reach a speed of 125 km/h. You can try this yourself at beach sailing school in De Panne.Because of the 425 meter wide beach without wave breakers, the Panne is the perfect place to do this.. Furthermore Royal Sand Yacht Club is near the following sights: Statue of King Leopold I (±350 m), De Westhoek (±900 m), Scharbiellie culture house (±1,1 km ...

  7. Sandyachting, a sport

    So it was in 1909 when the very first sand yacht race in the world took place in De Panne. Land and sand yachting as a sport was born ! Since then, many have discovered the pleasure of 'racing'. ... Our Belgian François Dumont won the competition in 1913. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, attended these ...

  8. Land yachting

    Hoist the sails and race to the sailing centre for a unique initiation. Thanks to its wide stretched beaches, De Panne is the most suitable place to go land yachting along the Flemish coast. ... At Royal Sand Yacht Club VZW you can take an introductory land yachting course, either individually or in a group. Team building, a party, or just a ...

  9. Royal Sand Yacht Club

    Bruges by bike, secret corners, street art and chocolate! 37. Historical Tours. from. $41.67. per adult. Royal Sand Yacht Club. Booking unavailable on Tripadvisor.

  10. Royal Sand Yacht Club

    Royal Sand Yacht Club, De Panne: See 2 reviews, articles, and photos of Royal Sand Yacht Club, ranked No.15 on Tripadvisor among 15 attractions in De Panne. ... Belgian Chocolate Workshop in Bruges. 219. Food & Drink. from . C$83.22. per adult. Bruges, Guided Retro Biketour: Highlights and Hidden Gems. 47. Historical Tours. from . C$58.25. per ...

  11. 10 Best Beaches in Belgium and their town centers

    De Panne beach is also known for being the widest on Belgian's coast making it a sand-yachting hotspot. Its location and terrain have carved out this area's enthralling history - the dunes between here and Dunkirk, just over the border, being the site of evacuation for British soldiers in World War II. The beaches of De Panne were also ...

  12. ROYAL SAND YACHT CLUB (De Panne)

    Belgium. Flanders. West Flanders Province. De Panne. Things to do in De Panne. Royal Sand Yacht Club. See all things to do. Royal Sand Yacht Club. ... Things to do near Royal Sand Yacht Club. Monument Leopold I Monument aux alliés De Panne Beach Pier Kloeffe Nature Reserve of Westhoek Dumont Quarter TTO Noordzee vzw.

  13. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Land Sailing

    In the same area, but three centuries later, a pair of Belgian brothers, the Dumont's, in 1898, what is widely recognised to be the first modern land yacht used for recreational and sporting purposes - with the first official competition taking place in 1909 in Belgium. ... The first French sand yachting clubs sprung up on the beaches of ...

  14. Land sailing

    Land sailing, also known as sand yachting, land yachting or dirtboating, entails overland travel with a sail-powered vehicle, similar to sailing on water. ... A Belgian Class 3 competition land yacht. The international governing body for the sport of land and sandyachting was formed in 1962. The Federation International de Sand et Land Yachting ...

  15. World Sand Yacht Championships, Oct 2010, De Panne, Belgium

    Class 3 sand yachts competing in winds of 4-6 m/s on De Panne beach. After 6 races the champion in class 3 is Olivier Imbert of France.

  16. FISLY

    About us. FISLY - the International Sand and Land Yachting Federation, is an international non-profit organization. Registered office is in Robert Demuyserepad 1, 8660 De Panne, Belgium. FISLY is ...

  17. De Panne, the southernmost seaside resort of Belgium

    De Panne is known for its wide sandy beaches, stretching for nearly 7 kilometres. It is an excellent location for sunbathing, swimming, beach walks, and practising various water sports, such as kite surfing, sailing, and sand yachting. Behind the beach lies an extensive dune area, the largest on the Belgian coast.

  18. The Belgian Seaside: Top Ways To Enjoy Belgium's Coast

    Only 50 minutes by train from Brussels, a visit to the Belgian coast is a great way to relax, enjoy the occasional summer sunshine and take a break from the city lifestyle.With 65 kilometres of coast, Belgium has a lot of different seaside resorts to choose from. We have put together a list of the best ways to take advantage and enjoy summertime at the Belgian seaside.

  19. Everything You Need to Know About Land Sailing

    Land sailing also known as "sand yachting", "land yachting" or "dirt boarding". Land sailing or "wind-driven carriage" has been around as a way of transportation and recreation since the 6th century BC, but it became a sport during the 1950s Europe. The sport is especially popular in the United Kingdom and the United States.

  20. Sand yachting, Royal Sand Yacht Club, c2005

    Sand yachting on the Belgian coast between Oostduinkerke, De Panne and Dunkirk (France) All photos are released under GFDL by the author Wim Van Caeneghem - Royal Sand Yacht Club

  21. 14 fun things to do in Belgium to do all-year-round

    Sand yachting (otherwise known as land yachting or dirt boating) has got to be up there as one of the most fun Belgium activities. The coastline of Belgium is 65 km / 40 miles and there are some great beaches and beach towns to visit. The beaches are mostly wide and sandy which makes ideal sand yachting territory.

  22. World Landsailing Organisation

    The World Landsailing Organisation or Fédération Internationale de Sand et Landyachting ( FISLY ), is an international organisation which governs national associations of land sailing worldwide. The federation was founded [2] in April 1962 by representatives from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Great Britain.

  23. Sand Yachting On Belgium's Beaches. The longshoreman on the Belgian

    Sand Yachting On Belgium's Beaches. The longshoreman on the Belgian beaches lets out sand yachts in the same way that the English boatman hires out boats. Dozens of these speedy beach craft are to be... Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images