In-land Beaches in Flanders, Belgium

This article first appeared in My Travelogue by Bhushavali
  
The coastal length of Belgium is just 65km...... and I come from India where the coast length is 7500+km! My state Tamil Nadu, alone has a coastal length of 1000+km. My home in Chennai is 1 hour away from the beach and I always went to the beach - for some me-time, for hanging out with friends, for dating, biking along the beach, everything!!! Chennai is always hot and it is always beach time! ....and then, I moved to Belgium! It's mostly cold and hardly ever beach-time and the 65km long beach for the entire population is just, unjust! When it is sunny, everyone heads to the beach and the Ostend train looks like Chennai Suburban or Mumbai Local during their peak hours!!!

ARTIFICIAL BEACHES IN BELGIUM
Soon, I realized, people had created artificial beaches around many lakes to help people get the 'beach' experience, without heading to the coast and these aren't as crowded as the actual beach!!! While there are many many lakes in Belgium with hiking paths, greenery & grass around, I was particularly looking for the 'in-land beaches' with sand, where Atyudarini could have a near-beach experience playing with sand, making sand-castles, and I could sunbathe, etc! The best part is that since these artificial beaches are ticketed the crowd is always in control, unlike the actual coast!!
In-land beaches in Wallonia - Did you know the longest beach in Belgium is at Les Lacs de l'Eau d'Heure? The shore length of Eau d'Heure lakes is 67km which is 2km longer than the actual seashore in Belgium! Click here to read about my weekend trip to les Lacs de l'Eau d'Heure.

TIPS FOR VISITING INLAND BEACHES IN FLANDERS
1. Always pre-book tickets (except Jabbeke - more details below). Most often, there are no facilities for payment on the spot. You could buy the ticket on your phone on the spot, but sometimes the 4G/5G reception is not too strong!
2. Consider these as actual beaches and take all the things that you'd want to take to the beach. Take your beach mat, beach tent/umbrella, sand toys, waterproof bags for valuables, etc.

So... over the best places to have some water fun close to Brussels, the best beaches near Brussels that are not on the actual Belgian coast!!! Read on...

Beaches near Brussels Belgium


Are there any beaches in Brussels?

BEACHES NEAR BRUSSELS
or easily reachable from Brussels by public transport

DE NEKKER, MECHELEN
De Nekker is very very close to Brussels making it one of the beaches near Brussels, in Belgium. De Nekker can be easily visited on a half-day trip from Brussels. We decided to go here one day after having lunch at home. 
De Nekker is located inside and is a part of the Provincial Sports and Recreation Centre in Mechelen. There are quite a few other things to do here, including an indoor swimming pool, a skating rink, an indoor playground, etc. Each has its own entrance tickets. The lake & its beach is called the De Nekker Recreation area. 
The concept of De Nekker is very nice. It was so calm. A portion of the lake has been fenced up to which it is allowed to swim. Like the sea, the height of the water gradually increases from 0 to about 140cm in depth. The partition is made with wooden fence panels through which the smaller fishes can swim and pass by. So you're swimming with many small fishes!!! Atyudarini had so much fun here swimming side by side with the fishes. She actually began to learn to swim by herself, literally 'diving' into the water and flapping her feet till she could hold her breath. 
The 'beach' is small and there are 2 lifeguard posts. Beyond the sandy beach is a grassy area and then there is a small kiosk/cafe and beside it are the toilets and changing rooms. 
In the Recreation area, apart from the beach & swimming area of the lake, there are 3 different playgrounds sorted by age. One of them is super fun, called the 'Sand and Water Playground'. The water here is only 20cm (ankle deep), so it is more like a muddy puddle. Over that are several Parcours activities. If your kid falls down, when doing a particular game, they will only fall in the muddy puddle. They'll get very very dirty, but won't get hurt, so that's awesome. A bit further away are 2 regular playgrounds for very young kids and older kids.
Here's a tip: You could buy Recreation Area + Swimming pool tickets together if you really need a locker. There are no lockers in the lake area, but the indoor swimming pools have lockers. 

Where is De Nekker Beach (on Google Maps)De Nekker - Provincial Sports and Recreation Centre
How to reach De Nekker beach? The nearest railway station is Mechelen-Nekkerspoel which is located 1.3km (16 mins walk) away from De Nekker Beach. It takes about 45 mins by train + walk from Brussels Central.
De Nekker Beach tickets: €4.50 for adults; Free for children under 3; €2.00 for 3-5yr olds; €3.50 for 6-12yr olds - Buy online at the official website of De Nekker
De Nekker Beach timings: 9:00AM to 8:00PM during July & August; 10:00AM to 5:00PM during weekends and 12:00Noon to 5:00PM on Wednesdays otherwise; Closed in winters

De Nekker Recreatie Swimming Lake

De Nekker Recreatie Swimming Lake

De Nekker Recreatie Swimming Lake

De Nekker Playground Half day trip from Brussels

De Nekker Playground Half day trip from Brussels

HOFSTADE PLAGE, ZEMST
Hofstade is a very easy half-day trip from Brussels. Hofstade is the nearest 'beach' to Brussels, located just 20km away. We went here on a Wednesday afternoon directly after school! The best part is there's a direct train from Brussels (Bordet, Evere, Meiser, Merode) and in 30 mins you're already in Hofstade. A short walk from the railway station took me not only to Beach but also to the Sportimonium museum!

Sportimonium Museum: Sportimonium is one of the most important Olympics sports museums not only in Belgium but across the world. There are only 32 sports museums around the world recognized by IOC (International Olympics Committee) and Sportimonium in Hofstade, Zemst is one of those. We were there on time for the Breaking Boundaries Expo and Atyudarini could try out various things like balancing on a hoverboard, boxing, basketball, etc. 
A major section is dedicated to, of course, the Olympics. Olympics happened in Belgium in 1920 and it was the beginning of a new era! The first game after The Great War (WWI), which had the first-ever Olympic flag and Olympic Oath as we know it today! This first-ever Olympic flag is on display at Sportimonium!!! There's a showcase of various Olympic Mascots. There are various pieces of equipment in-display incl. clothes of athletes, a Paralympic ski, Weights, etc.

Where is Sportimonium (on Google Maps)? Sportimonium
How to reach SportimoniumThe nearest railway station is Hofstade which is directly connected by SNCB-NMBS trains from Brussels (Meiser, Merode, Evere, Bordet). Hofstade Strand & Sportimonium are 1.7km (20 mins walk) away from Hofstade Railway station. It takes about 45 mins by train + walk from Brussels Meiser.
Sportimonium tickets: €12 (free with museumPASSmus√©es)
Sportimonium timings: Sportimonium is open currently only on Tuesdays & Wednesdays. Reservation is necessary by phone (015 618 222) or email (sportimonium@sportimonium.be)

Hofstade Beach: This is a charming little beach on the banks of a lake, and it is divided into 6 zones. The zone that is closest to Sportimonium is Zone 3. There's a very nice playground at the edge of the water in Zone 1 and that's where we went. There are toilets and changing places. It was warm but very cloudy & a bit windy, the day we went but luckily the sun came out for about 30 minutes and Atyudarini has her fun in the sun & water! Like De Nekker, here too, a portion of the lake has been fenced up to which it is allowed to swim. Like the sea, the depth of the water gradually increases. There are 6 lifeguard posts (or rescue teams as Atyudarini calls them), one per zone in all 6 zones and you're allowed to go only to zones with green flags. If you visit Sportimonium prior to visiting the beach, it is a good idea to change at the toilets there, before heading to the beach.
Though this is in the Flemish Brabant region, it is fondly called 'Hofstade Plage' - Plage is French for Beach and in Flemish it is Strand! It confused me a bit!!!

Where is Hofstade Beach (on Google Maps)Hofstade Strand
How to reach Hofstade Beach? Refer to Sportimonium directions above
Hofstade Beach tickets: €5 (free for children under 2yrs) - Buy online on the official website of Sport Vlaanderen 
Hofstade Beach timings: 11:00AM to 8:00PM everyday during summers; Open only on weekends, holidays & Wednesday afternoons otherwise; Closed in winters.

Sportimonium Olympics Museum in Belgium Hofstade

Sportimonium Olympics Museum in Belgium Hofstade

Sportimonium Olympics Museum in Belgium Hofstade

Hofstade Beach Zemst Brussels beaches

Hofstade Beach Zemst Brussels beaches

HALVE MAAN ZWEMBAD (SWIMMING POOL), DIEST
Unlike the above 2, Halve Maan is a swimming pool and not a natural lake, so it is slightly on the more expensive side when compared to the other 2, but it is totally, totally worth it! It is located inside Provincial Domain Halve Maan in Diest.
We had gone on a weekend trip to Diest earlier, but it was a wee bit cold then, so we skipped the swimming pool then. So this time, we made the 2nd trip just for the pool. We reached there at 11:00AM, right when it opened, so we could spend as much time there as possible. Being a proper swimming pool the changing room, shower room & toilets were so many and so spacious. There are also small lockers (if you just want to leave the valuables) and large lockers (if you want to leave the entire backpack).
The pool area is divided into 3 sections - the sprinklers & fountains area, the kids' pool, and the main pool. The kids' pool is huge! So far, I've seen kids' pools that are actually tiny in size, but this is huge, almost as big as the adults' pool. There are 3 little rocking games and 1 tiny slide inside the kids' pool. The kids' pool is entirely just 45cm deep, so it is super easy for both kids to have fun and play by themselves and for parents to keep an eye on them from the deck. The adults' pool varies from 75cm to 180cm in depth plus there's the diving section which is 4m deep with 3m and 10m diving boards. There are 2 major slides - a tube slide and a regular slide. While Atyudarini steered clear of the diving area (though a gentleman there generously offered to 'catch' her if she wants to dive) but had super fun with the slide! Keep in mind - the pool is outdoors without any cover and the water is not temperature regulated, so if the weather is cold, the water is also gonna be cold. 
The other side of the fun - the pool area is entirely surrounded by a large area of sand! While Atyudarini had fun making sand castles, I also spotted quite a few people sunbathing and relaxing just like a regular beach! 
Here's a tip: Carry a few €0.50 and €1 for the lockers. 

Where is Provinciedomein Halve Maan (on Google Maps)Zwembad Diest
How to reach Provinciedomein Halve MaanThe nearest railway station is Diest which is served by SNCB-NMBS trains from Brussels. From Diest railway station, several DeLijn Bus routes including 299, 370, 22, etc take you to Diest Sint-Jansplein which is just in front of Zwembad Diest. The entire journey from Brussels to Diest Swimming Pool (Zwembad) in Provinciedomein Halve Maan takes about 1 hour.
Provinciedomein Halve Maan tickets: €12 (cheaper is you're a resident of Diest or Vlaams Brabant); €3 for 3-12yrs old children; Free for children under 3 - Buy online on the official website of Vlaams Brabant
Provinciedomein Halve Maan timings: 11:00AM to 07:00PM everyday during July & August. Open only during Wednesday afternoons & weekends in June. Closed otherwise.

Best artificial Beaches in Belgium Diest Swimming Pool proviciedomein Halve Maan

Best artificial Beaches in Belgium Diest Swimming Pool proviciedomein Halve Maan

Best artificial Beaches in Belgium Diest Swimming Pool proviciedomein Halve Maan


BEACHES NEAR BRUGES
also easily reachable from Brussels by public transport

KLEIN STRAND JABBEKE, BRUGES
Jabbeke is located very close to Bruges with a direct bus from Bruges Railway station and an easy day trip from Brussels. I was just considering a quick trip from Brussels to Jebbeke when suddenly a temporary ban on swimming was announced there due to water quality issues. Hopefully, it would be sorted out soon and I hope to visit soon after that.
That said - here's the input from my friend & vlogger Poorni of Beauty with Ease who visited Jabbeke last year. Jabbeke is a natural lake with a sandy beach on its banks. There are toilets, changing rooms as well as lockers. The fun part - a large tube slide that puts you directly in the lake! 
Here's a tip: Carry a few €0.50 for the lockers. You could also visit Permeke Museum, an art museum dedicated to the life & works of Constant Permeke which also has a beautiful museum to sit down & relax! 

Where is Klein Strand Jabbeke (on Google Maps)? Klein Strand Jabbeke Brugge
How to reach Klein Strand Jabbeke? DeLijn Bus Routes 52 and 53 take you from Brugge railway station to Jabbeke Dorp or Jabbeke Permeke Museum from where the beach is about 600m (7 mins walk) away. There are buses every 30 minutes and the journey takes about 40 mins.
Klein Strand Jabbeke tickets: €5; Free for children under 3. (can be bought onsite only)
Klein Strand Jabbeke timings: 8:00AM to 8:00PM everyday in July & August. 9:00AM to 12:00Noon and 1:00PM to 6:30PM everyday otherwise. Closed in winters.

Jabbeke klein strand beach near bruges
Pic Courtesy: Beauty with Ease, Poorni

Jabbeke Beach Bruges Belgium
Pic Courtesy: Beauty with Ease, Poorni

Zilvermeer Silver Lake Beach Mol Belgium
Pic Courtesy: Ritipitie, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

Zilvermeer Silver Lake Beach Mol Belgium
Pic Courtesy: Geert Budenaerts, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 
 
BEACHES NEAR ANTWERP

ZILVERMEER & ZILVERSTRAND (SILVER LAKE), MOL
This is in fact, the first-ever in-land beach that I came to know of. Mol is a tiny town close to Antwerp. Quite amusingly, this tiny town is the home to Nike's Belgian office which employs quite a few Indians (especially in its IT), and this small Flemish town has a significant Indian expat population! And it was 2 such expats who told me about Zilvermeer (Silver Beach) in Mol, almost as soon as I moved to Belgium! 
At that time, I thought this was the only one, till I came to know there are many more. Very close to Silver Beach in Mol is also the Lommel Sahara which is a mini desert in Belgium. I'm yet to visit here, but with the public transport, I'm still undecided whether to go on 2 day-trips each to Mol Silverstand and Lommel Sahara or stay there overnight to visit both together. I will update here as soon as I manage to visit here. Bookmark this page and come back later!

Where is Silver lake (Zilvermeer) Mol (on Google Maps)Zilvermeer, Mol
How to reach Silver lake (Zilvermeer) MolThe nearest railway station is Mol which is served by SNCB-NMBS trains from Antwerp. If you go from Brussels, you'll have to change the train lines at Antwerp Berchem or Herentals. From Mol railway station DeLijn Bus route 1, takes you to Mol Zilvermeer. This bus stop is about 2km walk from the beach itself. The bus ride takes about 15 mins and the frequency of the bus is once every hour. The entire journey from Brussels to Mol Zilvermeer takes about 2:30 hours.
Silver lake (Zilvermeer) Mol tickets: €5 (during July & August; €4 otherwise) - Buy your ticket online on the official website of Zilvermeer.
Silver lake (Zilvermeer) Mol timings: 8:30AM to 9:00PM everyday in July & August. 8:30AM to 5:00PM everyday otherwise. Sunrise to sunset in winters.

beaches near brussels beaches near brussels

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

9 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness! The kids look like they're having a ton of fun. I love that there is so much to do for them there. I don't really think about beaches in or near Brussels, but this definitely changes my mind. So fun!

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  2. Wow, I'm really impressed with these inland beaches and how kid friendly they area. The playgrounds, long slide. That visitors center you show at Hofstade Beach is all so amazing and having 6 lifeguard stations in one beach that really is paying attention to beach time fun and safety in mind.

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  3. These beaches are amazing. Nekker in Mechelen seems so beautiful and peaceful with that fenced part of the lake that allows you to swim.

    Zilvermeer and zilver strand seem like the perfect weekend scape from the big city for a bit of peace.

    Really great and complete guide.

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  4. It’s fascinating that Belgium has just 65km of coastline. It makes sense, but I had never considered that. I also have lived in areas with a lot of beaches. I have also grown to love inland beaches, as lakes can provide such wonderful experiences! Each of your suggestions look really beautiful and fun for kids, which is important to me, since I am a parent too!

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  5. Wow! I did not know that Belgium has just 65 kms of coastline. No wonder they have artificial beaches. I really think Necker is a great choice for kids since it has not only a beach but also a swimming pool, a skating rink and a playboard - kids can have so much fun. Hofstade beach is impressive with lifeguard stations that are so essential for safety. I would love to visit these inland beaches with my grandkids! :-)

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  6. Wow - I did not know that Belgium has so many inland beaches. But I guess they are much more child-friendly and warmer than the open water and the shoreline in Belgium. Also great that there are playgrounds and lifeguards at some of them. And the artificial beaches are usually cleaner than the natural ones - as there is no flotsam.

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  7. I had no idea that in order to use most inland beaches in Flanders you have to pay for a ticket, and that you can't do it on the spot. It's good to know that you must book in advance, online. I think that my favourite place would be Halve Maan because of that giant swimming pool. I am not a fan of bathing in lake still water, I prefer the sea or pools.

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  8. Wow what a lovely place for kids to have a gala time. I was never aware that there are beaches in Brussels. Else we certainly wouldn't have missed it during our visit a few years back. What I love about your posts are that you not only give an overview but also a complete guide on how to visit the places. Hofstade beach being the closest to Brussels would be a must visit during our next trip.

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  9. Wow! I had no idea that artificial beaches was a thing in Belgium but I guess it is brilliant since the actual beaches are so crowded. Thank you for sharing the list. We'll keep this in mind should we have a chance to visit Brussels.

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