Have you ever heard of the coast tram in Belgium? This scenic public transport route connects the cities and towns along the West Flanders coast from De Panne near the French border to Knokke-Heist near the Dutch border. It is 67 kilometres in length making it the world’s longest metre-gauge tramline. There are over 65 stops to admire along the way, some more scenic than others, making fora very scenic and interesting journey. The tram passes through our hometown of Ostend and we’re a perfect stop for commuters or tourists who want to look around a typical seaside town.
History of Belgium’s Coastal Tram
Back in the late 19th century, Belgium, like much of Europe, was in the middle of railway mania. The mainline network was well established and from there, a maze of narrow-gauge railways began to grow and spread across the country. On July 5th 1885, the first sections of an ambitious new network opened and has since become a symbol of the Belgian coast. Once completed it ran the length of theentire coast of the country and is now the only survivor of those original mainline train networks. It’s now the longest train line in the world and brings riders through a cinema-like 2+ hour journey through picturesque towns, quirky villages, and some of the best coastal views in Europe.
Belgium’s Coastal Tram
Belgium’s Coastal Tram is undoubtedly one of the best enjoyable ways to see the entire west coast, not to mention the easiest and fastest option. The entire route without disembarking takes two hours and twenty minutes and you’ll see some fantastic sights along the way. It’s the longest tram route in the world and has even won a Guinness World Record! The tram connects 67km of fantastic landscapes and unrivaled sea views with 65 stops along the way. You’ll have a unique vantage point to see picturesque villages coastal scenery and Belgium’s rich heritage. You can catch the tram every 10-20 minutes in summertime and every 30 minutes in Winter.
Stops on Belgium’s coastal tram
You could sit on the train admiring the view from your seat, but it’s a much more interesting journey if you hop on and off wherever takes your fancy. Along the way you’ll encounter top Flemish attractions; maritime sites, World War I heritage, tramway history, Belle-Époque architecture, and dune landscapes. Along the way you’ll meet some of our most famous kings, Albert and Leopold, you can visit René Magritte’s magnificent murals in the casino in Knokke, see giant bananas dangling from flagpoles along the coast, and much more between great architectural and coastal scenery. The first stop from De Panne, Plopsaland, is one of the most interesting for families named after a nearby gnome-themed theme park.
When you stop in Ostend you can admire graceful arcades, enviable statues, and the modern beauty of the casino. The city of one formerly hailed as the Monte Carlo of the North and it’s not a coincidence our main square is called Monacoplein. Enjoy beaches, boutiques, festivals, museums, and more in our vibrant corner of Belgium.
You can buy a ticket for the Belgium Coastal Train for just €7.50 for the entire day, including as many stops as you like. Tickets can be bought in shops and outlets across Belgium including at most of the tram stops. You can also buy online in advance. There is a bike pass supplement of €2 allowing you to board with your bike and enjoy your destination faster than on foot. All trams have a lower mid-section that enables wheelchair users to board and disembark more easily. Most stops and stations are wheelchair friendly, but you’ll need to check individually to be sure it’s suitable for additional mobility needs.
If you want to make a treat of your day on the Belgian Coastal Tram, book a stay in Leopold Hotel Ostend and explore our beautiful historic town for yourself. Enjoy a visit to a local museum, a walk along the stunning beaches and try some fresh seafood in the dozens of restaurants along the sea side. We’d be delighted to look after you and your friends and family in our beautiful art deco building in the centre of Ostend.