It’s summer time! While many escape to the south to relax by the sea (after travelling at a snail’s pace on the Autoroute de Soleil with the rest of Belgium), you can enjoy that beach feeling at several open air swimming places in and around Ghent. Read on for where to chill on a hot summer day!
The main Ghent beach is the place to be on a hot day in the city. The sandy beach and the grassy meadow fill up with colourful beach towels and happy Gentenaars as soon as the sun pushes the temperatures over 20 degrees. The atmosphere is lively and you are sure to bump into someone you know.
The main swimming area has a large slide, while the sports beach a few metres further has beach volleyball courts. Besides the main beach area there is also a small krekenplas (creek) for children with benches for easy monitoring by parents.
The designated swimming area is about 360m long and the water is 2m deep at its maximum. There are lifeguards on duty and the water quality is measured regularly (the results are posted online). The cafeteria and toilets are located in the main building.
The Blaarmeersen beach is open every day in July and August between 11am and 7pm. At other times of the year it opens when the weather allows it (11.30am-7pm). The entrance is free, but car parking will cost you 3,50EUR per day.
The main swimming area is not accessible to dogs, but there is a special dog beach and swimming pond at a side arm of the Watersportbaan (see nr. 24 on the map).
The largest indoor swimming pool and sports centre of Ghent also has two outdoor swimming pools. The heated one is accessible all year round, while the ‘recreational’ one opens only in the summer. Additionally, there’s a small children’s pool for the young ones. Next to the swimming pool you can lounge on the green meadows or let the children enjoy the playground. With all the extra facilities for children, it will come as no surprise that Rozebroeken is especially popular with families.
In general, the swimming pool is open between 9am and 6pm, but check the exact opening times online. This is one of the most expensive places to swim in Ghent (full price 9,90EUR for adult Gentenaars), so don’t forget to swipe your UiTpas to collect points for future discounts.
This small swimming pool is a favourite with local families. It is really rather small – the larger of the two pools is 12x30m big, with the maximum depth of 1m60! However, the atmosphere is cosy in a sort of neighbourly way, so it makes for a nice family day out.
There are toilet facilities and a cafe in the main building. The swimming pool is only open in July and August, from noon until 7pm.
This is one of the true natural swimming areas around Ghent. A twisting arm of the Lys river forms a perfect spot for nature lovers and organised swimming has been going on here for more than 120 years. The fenced off meadow is well-kept and clean, while a raft in the water keeps the children happy.
The swimming area is managed by a group of local volunteers, the non-profit De Vrienden van Vosselare Put. The entry price is 2,50EUR. The parking spots around the pond get full fast, so arrive by bicycle if possible.
There is a small cabin with toilet facilities and a cafe where you can get some food as well. The pond is open in July and August almost every day when the weather is nice, from 11am at the weekend. Check the opening times on their Facebook page. During opening times a lifeguard is present and the water quality is monitored regularly. Be aware that dogs are not allowed.
Among the many possibilities to enjoy the outdoors at the Provincial sports centre Puyenbroeck is also a 50m-long outdoor swimming pool. I haven’t tested it out yet, but this one looks the most promising for sport swimmers who like to do laps. Having said that, I would expect it to get crowded later in the day when the families arrive. Besides the large swimming pool, there is also a small splash pool for kids and a large meadow.
If you don’t want to spend the whole day swimming, there are also open air tennis courts, golf, beach soccer playgrounds, a climbing wall, mountain bike routes and a kayak route. In short, if there’s a sport you’d like to try, you can probably do it at Puyenbroeck.
6. Water parcours and windsurfing, Heusden
Heusden lies just east of Gentbrugge – in fact, you could make a cycling trip of it – and this summer it brings an attractive event for outdoor water rats like me.
Or get in touch with the windsurfing club to learn how to windsurf! In fact, it is probably wise to begin on the calm inland water, before you show off your skills on the windy Belgian coast.
*With thanks to the Expats in Gent member Nils for sharing his experience with us!
Have we forgotten your favourite outdoor swimming location? Let us know your experiences and tips below!