10 things to do in Breskens (Netherlands)

At the mouth of the Scheldt, Breskens is a fishing village that has lived on the water for hundreds of years.

The fishing industry has declined since the 20th century, but its memory lives on in the port’s fisheries museum and in the fishery festival every summer, where you can immerse yourself in the ancient sea culture of Zeeland.

Tourism has taken over from fishing in Breskens, thanks to a growing marina, epic sandy beaches next to town and an idyllic polder interior suitable for walking and cycling.

The town is also closely connected to the ferry, which takes you across the Scheldt to the famous port city of Vlissingen.

1. Brecons Beach

Breskens Beach

Next to the ferry port, Breskens’ main beach is four kilometers long, tracked by tall dykes.

On the side of the town, you can see the black and white Breskens Lighthouse in the distance, and watch the people coming and going on the Scheldt from the shore.

The beach has plenty of golden sand and clean water, making it a regular blue flag.

Kids can build sand castles and splash in the waves, which are usually mild in estuaries.

Breskens Beach offers secluded bathing areas for nudists, along with a pair of beach pavilions, Loods Tien and ‘t Halve Maentje, icons of the Dutch seaside.

During the season from July to April, you can grab a table on the shaded terrace and sample local specialities such as Zeeland-style mussels.

2. Brecons Lighthouse

Brecons Lighthouse

The scenic trail on the embankment behind Breskens Beach is aptly named Panoramaweg.

The black and white Nieuwe Sluis lighthouse along two thirds of the beach can be seen in the distance, which officially marks the entrance to West Scheldt.

Built in 1866-67, the octagonal 28.4-meter-tall tower is the oldest surviving cast-iron lighthouse in the Netherlands.​​​

Nieuwe Sluis used to be on top of the dyke in the past, but it was removed when the dyke was raised during the construction of the delta project in the mid-20th century.

The lighthouse was eventually decommissioned in 2011, but a foundation was established to restore the national monument and reopened to visitors in 2015 with a working lighthouse.

You can climb the stairs and enjoy the wonderful views of the coastline of Vlissingen and Walcheren.

3. Visserijmuseum Breskens

Visserijmuseum Breskens

Open from early April to the end of October, the Fisheries Museum above the fish market deals with a variety of marine themes.

Most importantly, you will come into contact with the lives of the brave Bressiaander fishermen, learn about what they fish, how they fish, and their beliefs and superstitions.

There are fishing gear, navigation equipment, clothing, models and other displays.

But the museum also dives into natural history.

Delta Works has discovered a collection of Pleistocene fossils at the mouth of the Scheldt River, including a nearly complete mammoth skeleton and a dolphin skull.

The Zeeaquarium showcases North Sea species such as anemones, crabs, lobsters, sea anemones, bass and sticklebacks, while the ornithological collection includes dozens of birds native to the Zeeland coast.

4. Grod’s Podium

Grod's Podium

Just west of Groede is a World War II military site that has now been turned into a woodland recreation area.

The bunkers were built in 1942 on the former farmland of the Atlantic Wall in Germany.

After the war, the bunker was mostly covered with dirt, and a herd of deer donated by Queen Wilhelmina was introduced.

In 2006, the terrain was re-landscaped and the bunkers were exposed, many of which are still painted with their original camouflage.

You can check out the buildings and call the visitor center, which has a hands-on playground and a children’s farm park, which is home to deer and local domestic breeds.

There is a café with a sun terrace, and paved walking and cycling paths lead you into the woods and fields.

5. Gross Polder

Gross Polder

Between the Groede Podium and its cinematic beaches, Groese Polders is a quiet place for a walk or a bike ride.

In this 17th century polder landscape, there are dunes, bushes and pastures where you will see sheep and cattle such as the local breed “Zeeuwse Witrik”. Cletemspolder has a channel and creek that can be crossed on the boardwalk or via a neat cable ferry.

Scented roses, wild gooseberries, and sea buckthorn can be spotted along the trail, and if you take the time, you might spot oyster catchers or grey plover, or birds such as the resident ringed plover and red-footed plover during migration season.

Set a course for the beach and you can end your walk with a beer and a snack at the swish Beachhouse 25, one of the most popular beach pavilions on the Cizerius-Fra Anderon coast.

6. Veseri Festen

Veserifesten

In early August, you can learn about traditional life in the fishing town of Zeeland at the Visserijfeesten (fishing festival). It’s been that way since 1953, and over three days there are playground rides, live music, street performers, market stalls and lots of things for the kids to play with.

If you’re into adventurous tastes, there’s no reason not to try a proper Dutch fish product, whether it’s broodje paling, pickled herring or fried fish in a type of aioli (kibbeling). Swimming competitions in the harbour, three nights of folk music in the fish market hall until the early hours, and a boat ride in the mouth of the Scheldt in the lifeboat Carlot.

7. Loop

cycle

In the 2000s, when Breskens Centre was being rebuilt, the town set up this walking trail to show you everything you need to see by the water.

From east to west, the route includes the 850-berth marina (almost always full), the fishing port, the village center with a cluster of seafood restaurants, and then behind the beach.

At the end of the trail, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Scheldt estuary from the top of the dike.

8. Westshell Ferry

Westshell Ferries

There are ferry services all day, 365 days a year, from Breskens to the estuary of the port city of Vlissingen.

The ferry is only for pedestrians and cyclists and runs hourly, hourly on the way to Vlissingen and then on the way to Breskens, with additional services in summer.

The border crossing takes 23 minutes and drops you outside the train station so you can continue on to the countryside of Walcheren or the picturesque city of Middelburg.

9. Vlissingen

Vlissingen

The port city across the estuary, historically known in English as Flushing, was the departure point for ships sailing to all corners of the empire during the Dutch Golden Age, and remains an important shipyard for the Royal Dutch Navy.

The first thing to do when you stop in Vlissingen is to stroll along the boulevard, the longest seaside promenade in the Netherlands.

As you walk, you can sit and watch the boats pass along the Scheldt and pick Breskens in the distance.

Look for the 15th-century prison tower, Beursgebouwe (Stock Exchange, 1635) and a statue of the most famous Admiral of the Golden Age, Michiel de Ruyter, a native of Vlissingen.

As you might guess from a town with Vlissingen blood, the maritime “muZEEum” here is not to be missed.

10. St. Barbara

St. Barbara

The Catholic parish church is an interesting relic of the post-war period.

Sint-Barbarakerk is a Noodkerk (Church of Emergency), built in 1950, made of brick and looking more like a school building than a place of worship.

Breskens only has a small Catholic church, so there was never a need to build a permanent church in the town.

The church is open to visitors during the summer months from Tuesday to Saturday, and a good reason to visit is to see the work of priest/sculptor Omer Gielliet (1925-2017). He has been working in Breskens since 1970, where his studio is also based, making whimsical organic forms out of wood.

You can see another of his works, Wachters van de Schelde (Guardian of the Schelde), in the harbour of the Visserijmuseum.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Breskens, The Netherlands
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