In December author Daphne explored Breskens, a bustling little harbor town on the Westerschelde in the province of Zeeland, in the south-western Netherlands. The town lies directly behind the dunes and is well worth a visit.
In this post, you will find out more about the charming harbor town, how to reach Breskens, what to do in Breskens, where to drink and dine, and where to stay overnight.
The charming harbor town has its own fishing port, a marina with 850 moorings, many beach pavilions, a variety of shops, and fantastic terraces. In addition to the beach and the sea, there is plenty to see and to do in Breskens and its surrounding area. Since the 20th century the fishing industry has declined, but its memory lives on in a fishery museum in the harbour. The town is well known for the Visserijfeesten (Fishery Festival), the largest festival in Zeeland and is the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful view of the sea as you stroll along the beach.
Highlights of Breskens:
- Climb the stairs of the oldest surviving cast iron lighthouse of The Netherlands
- Learn how to knit nets at the fisheries museum
- Photograph the Risseeuw mill
- Go for a stroll along the beach
- Try a proper Dutch fish preparation at the Fishery Festival
- Watch the penguins
- Walk the Looplijn trail
- Visit the woodland recreation area ‘Groede Podium’
- Cross creeks at the Groese Polders
- Take the Westerschelde Ferry
- Explore the sea on a former mussel cutter boat
- Enjoy the delicacies of Zeeland, including the Oosterschelde lobsters, Zeeland mussels and oysters
How to reach Breskens?
When you travel by car you can reach Breskens from the west via Antwerp (Belgium) or from the north through the Westerschelde Tunnel, which is the longest tunnel in the Netherlands.
If you don’t have a car, you best can get public transport to Vlissingen and take from there the passenger ferry to Breskens.
The distance between Amsterdam and Breskens is 142 km. The road distance is 234 km.
Activities in Breskens
You’ll find more than enough to see and things to do in Breskens. I have listed the best activities in Breskens for you:
Climb the stairs of the Nieuwe Sluis lighthouse
The lighthouse of Breskens, called ‘Nieuwe Sluis’, is the oldest remaining cast-iron lighthouse in the Netherlands and a popular photography scene. The black and white lighthouse can be seen from far and wide, and officially marks the entrance to the Western Scheldt. It helps shipping between Antwerp and the North Sea to find their way safely.
The lighthouse is open to visitors on weekends from April through October. You can climb the stairs and admire the view across to Vlissingen and the coastline of Walcheren. The entry fee for kids is € 1,50 and for adults (14+) €2,50.
Learn how to knit nets at the fisheries museum
At the harbor of Breskens you can find a fisheries museum (in Dutch ‘Visserijmuseum Breskens’). In the museum you can discover everything about the fishing culture of Breskens, from their superstitions and ships to tracking equipment and extraordinary catches of fossils, shells and other marine treasures.
Furthermore, you can admire a large collection of birds, shells and corals in the museum. There’s also a sea aquarium where various fish live such as sharks, seahorses, crabs, shrimps and starfish. Once in a while you can attend demonstrations and learn how to knit nets, tie knots, and how the auction clock at the fish quay works.
The museum is open from the start of April to the end of October.
Photograph the Risseeuw mill
On the other side of Breskens you can find the Risseeuw Mill, a national monument which is beautiful to visit.
Try a proper Dutch fish preparation at the Fishery Festival
As mentioned before, Breskens is well known for the Visserijfeesten (Fishery Festival), the largest festival in Zeeland. For three days in August the entire village is filled with fish, fun and music. You can find fairground rides, live music, street performances, market stalls, and lots of other activities. And of course there’s no excuse not to try a proper Dutch fish preparation, be it eel in a roll (broodje paling), soused herring or battered fish with a kind of aioli (kibbeling).
Go for a stroll along the beach
In Breskens you can find plenty of long sandy beaches with cozy beach pavilions. The main beach itself is four kilometres long and tracked by a tall dike which makes it the perfect place to go for a stroll.
Visit to the woodland recreation area ‘Groede Podium’
A WWII military site that has been turned into a woodland recreation area… Sounds great right?! Close to Breskens you can find the ‘Speel- en bunkerpark Groede Podium’. Here, you can check out the bunkers and call in at the visitor centre, while there’s a hands-on playground and a farm park for children. Furthermore you can find paved walking and cycling paths and a cafe.
Walk the Looplijn trail
Close to the ferry terminal you can find a walking trail along the waterside, called ‘looplijn’. The trail shows you around everything you need to see on the waterside, from the marina to the village ‘downtown’. The trail ends at the beach, with a truly panoramic view over the Westerschelde and the village.
Watch the penguins
When you visit the marina in Breskens, look out for the red penguins, which look down from a 14 meters high wooden frame. Fun to see!
Cross creeks at the Groese Polders
Between the Groede Podium and the beach of Breskens, you can find the Groese Polders, a peaceful place to go for a walk or bike ride. In the polder landscape you can see plenty of sheep, cows, and birds. There are also creeks to cross on wooden boardwalks or via a neat cable ferry. It’s a beautiful place where you can go for a refreshing walk.
Explore the sea on a former mussel cutter boat
You can also choose to explore the sea! A fun option is to go on a round trip on a former mussel cutter boat that is located at Ponton in Westhaven/Handelshaven. It’s name is ‘De Festijn’. The boat goes across the Westerschelde, where you can see seals lying on the sandbanks. If you’re lucky, you’ll also encounter a porpoise, which is similar to a dolphin.
Take the Westerschelde Ferry
If you have seen everything in Breskens, you can easily take the Westerschelde Ferry to Vlissingen. The ferry is for pedestrians and cyclists only and sails once an hour to Vlissingen and then back to Breskens, with additional services in summer. The crossing takes 23 minutes, and deposits you outside the Vlissingen train station.
Drinking and dining in Breskens
The province of Zeeland is well known for its fish delicacies including the Oosterschelde lobsters, Zeeland mussels and oysters. If you get hungry, visit one of the many seafood restaurants around the fishing port and the Spuiplein. Mussel season is from July to April.
Near the fish auction center, there is a boat in the harbor where you can buy fresh fish. You can eat and buy all kinds of fresh seafood there…. Crab, shrimp, mussels and much more. Highly recommended!
On the beach itself you can also find plenty of beach pavilions serving great dishes. With your feet in the sand, you can have a marvelous breakfast, lunch or evening meal here. The pavilions also serve great coffee and delicious snacks. Nice beach pavilions are the Beach House 25 at the Walendijk or the ‘t Halve Maentje at Nieuwesluisweg 44.
In Breskens you can also find a large selection of other restaurants in the center of the harbor town; steakhouses, Italian restaurants or pancake restaurants (in Dutch ‘pannenkoekenhuis’).
Your accomodation in Breskens
In Breskens you can find plenty of accommodations. Naturally, the best type of accommodation would be somewhere with a sea view… The vintage hotel de Milliano, for example, offers a view of the Westerschelde, and the Appartement aan Zee a view of the sea. Many visitors to Breskens rent a vacation apartment or vacation home (at a vacation park).
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