Knokke-Heist is a seaside resort in Belgium, located in the northwest of the country. It is the greenest part of the coast. The Zwin and Knokke-Heist nature park area consist of an impressive diversity: beaches, dunes, mudflats, salt marshes, ponds, swamps and forests. All the green areas can be easily reached on foot or by bicycle.

Knokke-Heist. Photos by Irene Paolinelli and
Knokke-Heist. Photos by Irene Paolinelli 

Do not miss the main attractions! Museums, local gastronomy, beaches, nature, water sports.

1. Zwin Nature Park

Photo via
Photo via

The Zwin plain stretches across the borders of Flanders and the Netherlands, about three-quarters of the total area, is on Belgian territory and about a quarter is on Dutch territory. It is an area of pastoral landscape rare in Europe with an exceptional habitat. Wear comfortable boots, waterproof, windproof equipment and take binoculars with you for birdwatching! The landscape offers special plants, such as glasswort, sea lavender and ‘zwinneblomme‘.This soil is a rich and varied source of food for thousands of birds. Throughout the year they are present in large numbers. You can find more information about visiting the park with a guide here.

2. The beautiful beaches and water sports of Knokke-Heist

Photo via Canva
Photo via Canva

Knokke offers many activities for those who love the waves. Windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing… Seven water sports clubs give you the perfect opportunity and conditions for water activities, with qualified instructors ready to help you or teach you new tricks. There is something for everyone.

  •  “Anemos Beach Club”. It is an attractive water sports club and boasts a beautiful beachfront facility surrounded by dunes. They offer a wide variety of courses including catamaran sailing, kite-surfing, SUP-boarding, rafting, beach kiting. They also offer team-building activities.
  • Watersportclub RBSC Duinbergen”. It has mooring facilities for about 250 boats. This club has a bar with a beautiful terrace.
  • River Woods Beach Club”.  It opened in 2010 around three themes: sport, family and party. It offers sailing boats, motorboats, kite surfing, water and beach sports, events and parties during the summer months.
  • RBSC Zoute“. It has a bar with a beautiful terrace. It organises training courses, club events and international competitions. In July and August, they organise sailing schools for children from 8 years old and up.
Surfers Paradise. Photos by Irene Paolinelli
Surfers Paradise. Photos by Irene Paolinelli
  • Knokke Boat
  • Surfers Paradise“. This is the ideal place for those who like a mix of pure surfing vibes and sporty holiday feelings with trendy water sports. Located on the beach at the edge of the famous Zwin nature park. The property has a Californian style with a large terrace with a jacuzzi, hammocks.
  • Lakeside Paradise“. Opened in 2012. It offers wakeboarding, knee-boarding, water skiing and wakeskating. The beach terrace has hammocks, sun loungers, sleeping bags, a hot tub, a trampoline and a wide range of sports activities. The Cuis Inn restaurant offers a full à la carte menu as well as snacks.

3. Horse Riding along the Zwin Nature Reserve

Photo by Irene Paolinelli
Photo by Irene Paolinelli

Follow the Zwin Equestrian Trail in Knokke. Take a pleasant horseback ride through the Zwin nature reserve and its surroundings. The Zwin Riding Trail takes you along both paved and unpaved paths. The Zwin riding trail mostly follows unpaved paths or sand roads. On public roads, the rider is considered a driver, just like a person driving a car or bicycle.

4. Beach bars in Knokke-Heist

Photo via Canva
Photo via Canva

Don’t forget to enjoy a delicious cocktail at these beach bars.

5. Local gastronomy in Knokke-Heist

Photo via Canva
Photo via Canva

With its 5-Michelin-starred restaurants, Knokke-Heist is the most famous gastronomic location on the Belgian coast. You can go from a quick bite to eat in a nice bistro to an endless selection of top-class gastronomic offers: from pub bistro to brasserie to gourmet restaurant. Wherever you dine, you won’t go hungry!

Local products consist of:

  •  “Knocks polder bread”. The Knocks polder bread is proving to be a hit at Philippe’s bakery in Westkapelle. The bread is made from wheat from the Zwin polders, which is processed by a Belgian artisanal miller. According to baker Kristof Van Haecke, you can even hear that the bread is made from local wheat.
  •  “Babelutte“. The history of Moeder Babelutte, dates back to 1850 when Rosalie Desmedt and her husband moved to the seaside town of Heist. One day, Rosalie decided to try a recipe she had learnt from her mother many years before: butterscotch! She wrapped individual pieces of butterscotch in greaseproof paper and sold them to the children of the many wealthy English and French tourists who came to Heist for the summer. Her butterscotch was an instant success and the children soon gave Rosalie the nickname ‘Mère Babelutte‘ (‘Ma Butterscotch‘).
  •  “Hazegras Farmhouse Ice Cream”. At the Hazegras Farmhouse shop, you can choose from 15 different flavours of traditional ice cream, which are made on their farm from fresh ingredients, including milk from their cows, fresh cream and egg whites from their hens.
  •  “T Hof Ter Kalvekete Farm”. Here you can find a wide range of handmade products from the farm, including butter, buttermilk, homemade pudding, chocolate cream, chocolate mousse, rice pudding, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, potatoes, onions, fruit juices.
  • Zoete Polder”. This is a cherry farm, where they brew their cherry-flavoured beer called “Het Zoeteke“. You can also find plums, raspberries and autumn apples. Their fruit is also used to make a range of homemade products, such as jams, fruit tea, apple liqueur and honey.
Photo via Canva
Photo via Canva

Other local products in Knokke-Heist:

  • Isabelleke”. This tart is named after Isabella of Spain (1566-1633), who was the ruler of the Southern Netherlands, to which the region of Zwin then belonged, at the beginning of the 17th century. It is a combination of a rice pudding tart and a frangipane with almonds, chocolate, apricots and plums.
  •  “Duindoornbes Praline”. Isabel and David Maenhout are expert chocolatiers with two handmade chocolate shops in Knokke-Heist since 2005. The pralines are soft-centred chocolates in the Belgian style.
  • Misérable & Riz Condé”. Misérable sponge cake and Riz condé rice pudding were the specialities of Pierre Gaelens, grandfather of the current owner when he opened his patisserie in Knokke in 1923. His grandson is continuing the family tradition.
  • Paljas. This is a traditional, unfiltered, highly fermented beer. Only natural ingredients are used and a combination of 4 different hops gives an intense fresh aroma.
  • North Sea Shrimp. North Sea prawns are a real delicacy. No wonder they are sometimes called the caviar of the North Sea. They are the basis for many culinary recipes. Prawn croquettes are one of the most popular starters. There are numerous local fishmongers in the area.

6. Art, Culture and Museums

This city has always had a special attraction for artists, architects, sculptors and painters. Knokke-Heist invests in art, and you’ll find the art in some unexpected corners: ‘Dune’ by Arne Quinze, for example, an arch built over the entrance to an underground car park, or ‘Hospitality’, which is better known as ‘Hare’ by Flanagan at the end of Sea Dike. You can also admire incredible international works, from Appel to Zadkine, in more than eighty-five art galleries. A must for the cultural experience is undoubtedly Knokke-Heist’s cultural centre, Scharpoord, with art workshops.

Run to Knokke-Heist. Photo by Irene Paolinelli
Run to Knokke-Heist. Photo by Irene Paolinelli

What are you waiting for? Go on an adventure and discover the natural beauty of the North Sea in Belgium!

Author: Irene Paolinelli

Olà, I am Irene. I am Italian, I was born and raised on the Tuscan hills between Lucca and the Sea. Due to study purposes I lived in Valladolid, Spain and in Lisbon, Portugal. A recent mind-opening journey to Brazil enlightened me about social and environmental sustainability that our society needs. Since I was a child, I have been driven by discovering New Cultures and Mastering a variety of Foreign Languages. I am passionate about Sustainable Tourism, Marketing, and Social Impact Projects. "Who lives must be prepared for changes" (Goethe, Italian Journey). 
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