Formerly a 15th century medieval fishing village which has evolved into a town, Ostend is situated on the North Sea coast, approximately midway along the 40-mile Belgian coastline. Ostend (translated East-End), which lies east of Middelkerke, was at one time the summer residence of the Belgian Royal Court and was therefore known as the ‘Queen of the Coastal Towns’. The Royal Villa (built in 1873 during the reign of King Leopold) has since been transformed into a hotel-restaurant. Nowadays the Royal Court only visits Ostend on official occasions. Ostend is a cosmopolitan city with a harbour, yacht-basin, airport and over 50 hotels. One of Ostend's main, and maybe lesser known, trump cards is the gastronomy. What better place to sample the sea's delicacies than by the seaside. There are many restaurants, ranging from exclusive hot spots to cosy bistros, so there is something to suit everyone's taste and budget. The specialities are Dover Sole, shrimp croquettes and tomato filled with shrimps. There is also plenty to keep you amused later on in the evening such as pubs, clubs and cinema complexes. At the ‘City by the Sea’, over five and a half miles of sandy beaches invites you to delightful sunbathing and an invigorating dip in the North Sea. After frolicking in the sun, take a stroll down the promenade where you will find many plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. Ostend is the only Belgian coastal resort that is as lively in the winter as in the summer, boasting culture, sport or gastronomy. In short, there is a huge variety of things to choose from. Places to visit in Ostend:Visitors will be overwhelmed by all there is to see and do in Ostend. All year round, many activities take place. Some of the highlights include Oostende at Anchor – the largest annual festival for authentic shopping and the North Sea, Theatre by the Sea, Sparkling Mondays – where professional pyrotechnic artists set the sky of Ostend ablaze with fireworks, Magic Lights in the Park – an illuminated winter event, the Christmas Market with huge ice-skating ramp and Carnival weekend with the well known Dead Rat masked costume ball.