Treinstapper from Grote Routepaden: from De Panne to Nieuwpoort

De Panne Station
Koksijde Hoge Blekker 05 © Westtoer
On this stunning dune walk from De Panne to Nieuwpoort, you are accompanied by the soothing background noise from the rolling waves of the North Sea. You cross a mosaic of dunes, dune grasslands and forests, each with its unique piece of history of what life was like on the Flemish coast over the centuries. Along the way, the artworks of Beaufort Sculpture Park show you how nature and art meet and connect into something unique. At the end of the walk, at the Yser estuary, you might even spot a seal! An unforgettable end to the walk.

Here are some of the highlights that will you will encounter along this Grote Routepaden (GR) walk from De Panne to Nieuwpoort. This is one of the Treinstappers that we have selected from a larger collection of routes.

Walk from De Panne station to Nieuwpoort via Grote Routepaden (GR)



De Panne Station
Station Adinkerke - De Panne

De Panne railway station

Welcome to De Panne railway station in Adinkerke, the last station on the Flemish coast, before you cross the border into France. Here, the coastal tram, which has its starting point in Knokke, has its final stop. The coastal tram follows a 67 km route along the Flemish coastline, making it the longest tramline in the world! From here we set off, away from the French border, towards Nieuwpoort. 

Practical information: Stationsplein 9, 8660 De Panne     

Westhoekreservaat (c) Westtoer

De Westhoek nature reserve

The Flemish Nature Reserve De Westhoek, stretching over almost 350 hectares, is the oldest nature reserve in Flanders. As a walker, you can enjoy the peace and serenity of the impressive dune landscape of De Westhoek. If you want to learn more about dunes, the types of dunes, dune formation, etc. then this is the place to be. The youngest among us can have fun in the nature reserve’s exploration zone. Besides bird watching, you might also come face to face with Scottish highland cattle here. Or a wild Konik pony!  

Practical information: Schuilhavenlaan, 8660 De Panne 

Bezoekerscentrum Duinpanne

Provincial visitors’ centre Duinpanne

At the beginning of the 20th century, Maurice Calmeyn started planting the eponymous Calmeynbos (Calmeyn forest) in the dunes of De Panne. In the centre of the Calmeynnbos, you can now find the Provincial Duinpanne Visitors’ Centre, which offers a glimpse of the unique dune, coastal and marine life. Be sure to visit the North Sea Aquarium where you learn more about the different animal species that live in the North Sea, and take a look at the permanent exhibition ‘Sea Change’, which takes you into the underwater world through six current themes.  

Practical information: Olmendreef 2, 8660 De Panne 

De Hoge Blekker

De Hoge Blekker dune

Welcome to De Hoge Blekker, at 33 metres the highest dune in the entire Flemish coastal region. A striking appearance and an impressive sight. In the past, the dune used to be a fixed navigation point for sailors. From afar, they could already see the white rear side as a kind of ‘flash’ (the Flemish word ‘blekken’ is the local dialect word for ‘flash’). The Hoge Blekker is a drifting dune that has travelled some distance over time. Now the dune occupies an area of some 33 hectares. So plenty of room for a picnic stop!  

Practical information: Zeelaan 103, 8670 Koksijde 

De Doornpanne

Doornpanne Visitors’ Centre

In Oostduinkerke, Visitors’ Centre De Doornpanne opens the gates to a beautiful nature reserve of the same name. The permanent exhibition in the visitors’ centre tells you more about water extraction in the dunes of this nature reserve and the different fauna and flora. You can also take part in several guided excursions.   

Practical information: Doornpannestraat 2, 8670 Koksijde  


The shrimp fishermen on horseback of Oostduinkerke

Oostduinkerke is the only place in the world where people still fish for shrimps in the traditional way: on horseback! At low tide, the shrimp fishermen on horseback of Oostduinkerke, recognisable by their yellow jackets, head for the North Sea on their Brabant draught horses. They drag a large net behind them with which they catch brown shrimps. A centuries-old tradition that has been recognised as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. With any luck, you can get to taste this delicacy right away. Immediately after being caught, the unpeeled shrimps are boiled on board the boat and sold ashore. You cannot have them any fresher than that.

Ter Yde

Ter Yde

The ‘Ter Yde’ dune area in Koksijde consists of 260 hectares of forest and various types of dune vegetation. Ter Yde is thus of great ecological value. You can go on lovely walks here and enjoy the nature. Perhaps you spot a meadow pipit? This breeding bird also regards this extensive dune area as a good place to be. And who knows... you might bump into a herd of wild horses... That is nature at its best!  

Practical information: Albert I-laan 152 - 8670 Koksijde 

Beaufort Nieuwpoort | Nina Beier-10 © Westtoer APB

Beaufort Sculpture Park

The Flemish North Sea coast - that is 67 km of fine sandy beaches, sea, dunes, good food and... art! Every three years, the Beaufort arts festival brings contemporary art to the Flemish coast: on the beach, or somewhere else along the coastline. In the meantime, more than 40 works of art from previous editions have already found a permanent place in the Beaufort Sculpture Park. A unique open-air museum that never closes and is free to visit! In Nieuwpoort, it is impossible to miss: ‘Men’ by artist Nina Beier shows off its breakwater at low tide and disappears halfway into the salty sea water at high tide.

Havengeul Nieuwpoort

Mouth of the Yser

Where the fresh water river Yser flows into the salt water of the North Sea; that is the Yser estuary in Nieuwpoort. The combination of the fresh and salt water brings about a unique situation of fauna and flora. You can also get to this nature reserve by taking the ferry from Nieuwpoort Centre to the Yser estuary and vice versa, but first check the timetable at Welkom bij Vloot. The nature reserve also offers a resting place for seals. Perhaps you will spot some of them? 

Practical information: Halvemaanstraat, 8620 Nieuwpoort 

Vismijn Nieuwpoort

Fish market

Arriving in Nieuwpoort, a visit to the Fish Market is certainly a fascinating experience. After all, fishing is in the DNA of the town of Nieuwpoort. A guide will take you through the Fish Market and past the fishing boats. End your visit with a tasty Rodenbach while you get to work peeling those brown shrimps yourself.  

Practical information: Kaaiplein 2, 8620 Nieuwpoort 


Visitors’ Centre Westfront Nieuwpoort

We make one last stop at Visitors’ Centre Westfront Nieuwpoort before we arrive at Nieuwpoort station. The permanent exhibition tells the story of the flooding of the polder plain during the First World War. Thanks to a daring plan and the strategic deployment of locks and sluices, the German invasion at Nieuwpoort was brought to a halt. At the interactive visitors’ centre under the King Albert I monument alongside the ‘De Ganzepoot’ lock complex, you can learn more about this very special story. An impressive 180° projection of the Yser Panorama is another highlight. Originally, this was a painting 115 metres in length and 15 metres in height! Tip: take the lift to the top of the King Albert I monument. There, you can enjoy stunning views over the coast and polders of the Westhoek.  

Practical information: Kustweg 2, 8620 Nieuwpoort 

Nieuwpoort (continue travelling by coastal tram to Ostend station)


More Treinstappers

Have you been bitten by the walking bug? Discover new places, beautiful landscapes and hidden gems (including many green ones) in Flanders thanks to the series of Treinstappers from Grote Routepaden. Besides De Panne - Nieuwpoort, we highlight three more from a larger selection.

More information about these highlights

Continue your adventure along the Flemish coast with the Streek-GR Kust. Have fun walking!

icoonroute van Oostende naar Diskmuide (c) Bas van Oort (25)