Weekend 3: Bruges - Blankenberge - Bruges

Vuurtoren Guillaume Bijl

Route: Art Cities RouteCoastal Route
Distance: 111 km

Day 1: Bruges – Blankenberg: 58 km
Day 2: Blankenberge – Bruges: 53 km

Combine an excursion to Bruges with a weekend by the sea and enjoy art, culture, heritage and nature along the way. Spend the night in vibrant Blankenberge. The route itself is flat, easy and accessible. Along the coast and long stretches of greenery, you rarely come across cars.

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Between Retranchement and Damme, you connect the Coastal Route to the Art Cities Route via nodes.


Looking for suitable accommodation? On our route planner you can find a wide range of accommodation along this route.

Not to be missed along the way

The Minnewater

The Minnewater in Bruges is the romantic place and photo spot par excellence. The origin of the name of this elongated reservoir is debated. The most fanciful explanation refers to the ‘Minnebrug’. The medieval belief was that ‘minnen’ or water spirits and water devils haunted large bodies of water and resided under bridges. A striking building on the eastern bank of the Minnewater is the neo-Gothic castle della Faille, dating from 1893. To the north is the Beguinage Ten Wijngaerde. To the west of the Minnewater is the former Minnewater hospital. At the Minnewater bridge, which you cross by bike, stands the old Poertoren, which served as a storage place for munitions under the ancien régime.

Thermae Palace Oostende

Thermae Palace

The iconic Thermae Palace Hotel was designed in Art Deco style, the celebratory opening of which took place on 28 June 1933 in the presence of King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth. The building consisted of the Grand Hotel itself, a swimming pool filled daily with fresh seawater, the thermal baths and a thermal institute. In the drinking hall, adorned with allegoric frescoes, the Albert I spring was found with water that was said to have been beneficial for stomach issues. The thermal baths lay dormant between 1940 and 1980. The swimming pool did however remain in use during that period as the urban swimming pool of Ostend (until 1976). In 2002, the building became a listed monument. Today, it is in use as a hotel with 130 rooms and is awaiting a thorough renovation.

Heist Bay

Heist Bay is a unique beach reserve. It is made up of embryonic dunes withrare vegetation. There is also a ‘slufter’ with typical mudflat and salt marsh plants such as sea aster, sea lavender and small seablite. These nutrient-rich silt grounds are a great attraction for waders and waterfowl. The lower beach offers nesting opportunities for ground-nesting shore birds such as the Kentish and the common ringed plover.

De Baai van Heist
Zwin Natuurpark

Zwin Nature Park

In 1952, Count Léon Lippens, then director of the real estate company Compagnie het Zoute, nature lover and bird connoisseur, founded the ‘Het Zwin’ nature reserve. It was the first Flemish ‘reserve’ and it covered 150 hectares. A year later, the Compagnie turned the former royal garden into an educational bird park, where visitors could get up close and personal with native birds. Then a groundbreaking and successful concept. In 2006, the bird park came into the hands of the Province of West Flanders. The tidal flats (Zwinvlakte) was purchased by the Flemish Government’s Agency for Nature and Forests. The new Zwin Nature Park was opened in 2016 and is now an interactive nature experience park with permanent and temporary exhibitions, a hut trail, a panorama tower and, of course, the 333 hectares of the tidal flats as an unmissable nature experience.