Spend a few hours with a guide exploring Bruges’ historical highlights, where you’ll see artwork by Michelangelo, Gothic cathedrals and a towering belfry. Then, spend an hour cruising the postcard-worthy canals and see step-gabled houses and stone bridges.
Shrimp farming by horseback in Oosduinkerke
Shrimp farming by horseback in Oosduinkerke, Belgium
Head to the beach for a few hours and watch fishermen farm shrimp on horseback — a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity activity. One of the most unusual cultural events in Belgium, this tradition dates back to at least the 15th century, when it was common across Belgium, France, England and the Netherlands. Now, it’s estimated there are only about 15–20 of these fishermen left, all on the Belgian coast.
When you arrive at the beach, you’ll see the fishermen decked out head-to-toe in yellow gear to protect themselves from the cold waters. They use Brabant draft horses for fishing because of their incredible strength and ability to pull a net behind them in chest-high water. You’ll get to watch the fishermen and horses in the water for about 45 minutes, before they come to shore to cook up their spoils in a beachfront cookout.
Spend a few hours at the beach watching fishermen farm shrimp by horseback, a heritage specific to western Flanders and the coastal town of Oostduinkerke. You can start your day from either Bruges or Ghent, and a private driver will bring you to the beach. Oostduinkerke is located in the northwest of Belgium on the North Sea, where the beaches are flat, making the conditions ideal for shrimp farming.
When you arrive at the beach, you’ll meet the fishermen, decked out in bright-yellow rain jackets and rubber boots. The fishermen use Brabant draft horses, which are exceedingly strong and are able to walk through chest-high waters as they drag long, funnel-shaped nets behind them.
The fishing breaks every 30 minutes or so to give the horses a rest, during which the fishermen sort through their nets. The grey shrimp go in wicker baskets hanging from the horses’ sides, while small fish, crustaceans and jellyfish are thrown back into the sea.
The fishing demonstration lasts for about 45 minutes, and is followed by a beach cookout where you can try the fresh shrimp.
The demonstration and cookout is available between April and November, when low tide coincides with daytime hours. After the cookout, your private driver will bring you back to Bruges or Ghent.
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Photos of Shrimp farming by horseback in Oosduinkerke
Other experiences in Bruges
These activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences around where you're staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident's eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can suggest tours and activities, such as cooking classes, that will introduce you to the local ways of life.
Explore the windswept beaches, flat green meadows and reed-lined streams and canals along Belgium’s coast. Your local guide will lead you along a series of paved bike paths through the countryside, seaside resort towns and small, authentic villages.
Explore Antwerp’s legendary Diamond Quarter, a stopover for 86% of the world’s legal raw diamonds, on this three-hour walking tour. Your guide will take you to a workshop where you can watch the gemstones be cut, shaped and polished.
See a world-renowned altarpiece, a bird’s-eye view of the city, a medieval castle and lively market squares on a walking tour of Ghent. Then explore the city’s waterways on a boat tour of the canals, where you’ll be served local delicacies and Belgian beer.
See the fields where soldiers fought on the front lines during World War I on this full-day trip around Flanders with a private guide and driver. You’ll see a preserved trench, burial grounds, museums and memorials.