15 Best things to do in Newport (Belgium)

At the mouth of the IJzer (Yser), Nieuwpoort combines a historic port with a thriving beach resort.

Fishing is still a way of life here, and you’ll find it in the Wismeen Auction Hall and the nearby National Fisheries Museum.

On the resort side, Nieuwpoort-Bad is developing rapidly, with a grid of multi-storey apartment buildings next to boutiques, cafés and restaurants.

Nieuwpoort is located on the Kusttram system on the Belgian coast, so you can shoot between the old town and the resort in minutes by public transport.

At Nieuwpoort, the river IJzer passes through an ingenious set of spillways and locks before flowing into the North Sea.

Known as Ganzepoot, this 19th century system was used to flood remote areas of Nieuwpoort throughout the First World War.

1. Strand van Nieuwpoort

Strand Van Nieuwpoort

The beach in front of Nieuwpoort Bad is an endless stretch of light-coloured sand that joins Groenindijk Strand a few hundred metres to the west.

The beach is 50 meters wide, and when the tide recedes, the North Sea recedes for miles.

Behind the beach is a huge wall of new apartment buildings, and in front is a wide promenade through which people ride bicycles, electric scooters and segways.

East of the beach is the last stop on the IJzer river, and you can walk or cycle along the left bank between Nieuwpoort and the resort.

The promenade here has a boardwalk with benches and a pier, so you can look out over the estuary to see if you can spot some oyster catchers, curlews, little egrets, and little grebes in the IJ Zermonding Nature Reserve on the opposite bank.

2. Weissmayne


First of all, if you’re wondering why Nieuwpoort’s fish auction hall is called Vismijn, it’s because before the age of electronic bidding, bidders would shout “mine” (mijn). Vismijn was built in 1952 and expanded in the 70s, right on the IJzer in the centre of Nieuwpoort.

The trawlers in the Nieuwpoort fleet are never at sea for more than five days, unloading their catch for wholesale auctions starting at 07:00 or 08:00 every day. You can watch it in person on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or sign up for a guided tour of the inner track.

This fish and seafood is sold to local fishmongers and restaurants, many of which are located right in front of Kaai.

3. Staketsel


Two long wooden piers were built in 1865 on either side of the Izer River leading to the North Sea.

Both Westerstaketsel (west) and Oosterstacketsel (east) have a foghorn and lighthouse at the top, designed like a small lighthouse.

The east pier is a bit longer than the west pier, at 543 meters compared to 490 meters. Both piers are crowded with people throwing fishing rods, if you want to breathe the fresh sea breeze, watch the sea traffic go by and gaze at the seafront and sand dunes of Nieuwpoort.

The sunset is beautiful and you can wander around the neighborhood for a while to see Nieuwpoort-Bad lit up.

4. Ganzeput


Just off the Westfront, near the centre of Nieuwpoort, is a complex of locks where six waterways converge.

Ganzepoot (goose feet), named for how it looks from above, was part of a 19th century land management project to drain the polders around Nieuwpoort and channel the water to the North Sea via the IJzer.

Ganzepoot’s spillway helps remove excess water from the polders, while the locks maintain water levels for boats.

At high water levels, the spillway was blocked and then opened again at low tide.

In 1914, they were deliberately opened to completely flood the polders and stop the German advance.

For the next four years, the polder will remain underwater.

5. Westfront Nieuwpoort

Westfront Newport

Inaugurated in 1938, the Corning Albert I Monument pays tribute to the recently departed Albert I of Belgium (1875-1934) and the Belgian Army in World War I.

The circular monument is made of white bricks from the IJzer plain, 25 meters high and 30 meters in diameter.

At the very top is a circular lintel, 100 meters in circumference, with walkways and positioning platforms.

Below, on a brick pedestal in the center of the circle is the equestrian statue of Albert I by the sculptor Karel Aubroeck (1894-1986). In 2014, on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the monument was renamed Westfront Nieuwpoort and a new visitor centre was unveiled.

Among other things, this is reminiscent of the 1914 flood of the Azer Plain.

6. Stadshal meets Belfort

stadshall meets belfort

The 35-meter bell tower on the market square of Nieuwpoort is a cross-border UNESCO World Heritage Site and consists of 56 historic bell towers in Belgium and northern France.

After the original town hall and bell tower were bombed in World War I, the city took the opportunity to rebuild the original Gothic monument built in 1280. It is a beautiful building with ring spires, corner towers and small arched grooves along the façade.

The bell tower rises from the east façade and has five floors with a pair of narrow lancet windows in the early Gothic style.

7. NAVIGO-Nationaal Visserijmuseum

NAVIGO-Nationaal Visserijmuseum

Just a stone’s throw from Nieuwpoort, Oostduinkerke has been home to the Belgian National Fisheries Museum since the 1970s.

Redesigned in the 2000s, this is a multifaceted and interactive attraction that brings together art, social history, crafts and natural history.

You can learn about the intrepid fishing expeditions of the brave IJslaandvaarders into Icelandic waters over the centuries, and discover a local tradition that persists at Oostduinkerke, where shrimpers trawled on horseback.

The exhibition allows you to walk into a traditional fishing village, visit the inland fishing boat OD.1 “Martha”, and view the aquarium displaying the marine life of the North Sea.

8. Sint-Laureinsduinen

St. Lawrence Duining

From Nieuwpoort-Bad east to the resort of Westende-Bad, you can walk or cycle through the coastal dune landscape where nature has been allowed to take over.

Until recently, the 45-hectare reserve was home to two campsites and preserved remnants of two world wars, including the bunkers of the German Atlantic Wall during World War II.

The campground was cleared in the 2000s, and typical dune vegetation such as thorny salina, sea spurge and seaside centaurs have begun to appear.

Orchids are also expected in the near future.

The sanctuary began to attract birds such as the rare crested lark, locust warbler and garden warbler, as well as a variety of butterflies.

If you are going to Sint-Laureinsduinen by bike, the entrance is at junction 75 (knooppunt).

9. Market Square

market square

Probably the prettiest place in Nieuwpoort is the market square, where you can admire the town hall and Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk from an outdoor table in one of the bars and restaurants.

The Marktplein has been restored to its historic façade: each building is constructed of light-coloured IJzer bricks, and most have raven stepped gables or skylights.

Weekly market deals on the cobblestones every Friday morning, selling fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, herbs, clothing, sweets, dairy, meat and more.

10. Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk


The three-aisle Gothic hall church was collapsed and rebuilt several times during the 20th century, throughout Nieuwpoort’s reenactment of the story.

The first mention of the church here is from the 12th century, while the buildings that stood here before the First World War are from the 15th century, with one of the towers completed in 1735. Sadly, the church was destroyed and the same fate awaited the next church in 1940. A neo-Gothic reconstruction took place in 1946, and a free-standing bell tower was built in 1952. There is a chance to go inside and see the 1600 Slag bij Nieuwpoort (Battle of Newport) painting on the south aisle and attributed to the northern Dutch academic painter Louis Moritz (1773-1850). This used to hang in the town hall meeting room, but was moved to the church after the First World War.

11. Newport Lighthouse

Newport Lighthouse

On the dunes on the right bank of the IJzer in Lombardzijde is the lighthouse of Nieuwport, painted red and white, which flashes twice every 14 seconds and has a range of 16 nautical miles.

Strictly speaking, this is more of a landmark than a tourist attraction, but you might be interested in its story.

The tower is one of a long line of lighthouses in Nieuwpoort, dating back to at least the 13th century.

The first lighthouse on this exact site was built in 1881, but was razed at the Battle of the Iser River.

Its replacement was erected in 1922 but demolished in 1944 by the retreating Germans. The current lighthouse has been here since 1949 and had a lighthouse keeper until it was automated in 1963.

12. Striker


Paved in 1868, Spoorlijn 74 is a 15.8 km railway linking Nieuwpoort-Bad with the village of Kaaskerke in the south.

In World War I, this line of defense was named Frontzate (roughly Front Lane) because its embankment was the first line of defense in the Battle of the Yser, which was over a flooded landscape.

Foot traffic ended in the 50’s and the line was eventually discontinued in the 70’s and later turned into a greenway for walkers and cyclists.

The route traverses a green polder landscape, and on its edge there are still many remnants of the First World War, such as observation posts, gun emplacements and bunkers.

13. Bomenfri


The last survivor of the Nieuwpoort city fortifications from the early 19th century was an artillery magazine that emerged between 1818 and 1822. Protected as a monument in 1994, Bommenvrij is a rare piece of Dutch military architecture of the period, forming an interesting pairing with the ruined Duvetorre (more below). This is the only building that survived the bombing of 1914 intact and you can take a good look at it from the Schoolstraat.

The brick vaults of Bommenvrij have been transformed into dramatic spaces for art studios and exhibitions, although opening hours may be a little irregular.

14. Duvitore


Behind Bommenvrij, near Willem de Roolaan, is a decaying tower that bears witness to every stage of Nieuwpoort’s history since the 13th century.

Originally the tower of the Church of St. Lawrence (1281), it was destroyed in the 14th century and then turned into a castle around 1400 by Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy.

In the 16th century it was a billet for the Spanish army, then in the Dutch period in the early 19th century it was turned into a watchtower for fortifications.

Hit by German shells in 1916, the building now stands in ruins as a monument.

The name Duvetorre (Devil’s Tower) is said to be related to Jeanne Panne (1593-1650), the wife of an unfortunate Nieuwpoort baker who was executed for witchcraft.

15. Sunparks Oostduinkerke aan Zee

Sunparks Oostduinkerke Aan Zee

If you have bad weather or want to soak up the breeze, this resort is 5 minutes from the center of Nieuwpoort and has a swimming pool under a huge glass roof.

You can buy a day pass that gives you access to a pool building called Aquafun.

There is a subtropical swimming pool, a wave pool, a lazy river and various slides like a black hole.

Adults will turn their attention to the relaxation area West Coast Wellness, which offers a peaceful outdoor pool, sauna, bathtub and a variety of massage services.

Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Newport, Belgium
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