Breskens in West-Zeeuws-Vlaanderen is the seaside resort par excellence. It has its own fishing port and a marina with 850 moorings.
Bresjes, as we call it, arose from the Breskenszand marshes at the Westerschelde estuary. They were dammed up early in the 16th century and soon afterwards, in 1517, the village was founded.
Given its strategic position, as centuries went by, several forts were built at the village. During the Second World War, the Germans erected forts and bunkers in and around Breskens. Then on 11 September 1944, the village was engulfed in mourning when it was bombed by the Royal Air Force during Operation Switchback. The Allied bombing, intended to liberate the Schelde estuary, killed some 200 people of Breskens. The harbour and parts of the built-up area were hit, destroying much of the village. After the war, Breskens gradually recovered, thanks in part to a surge in tourism and fishing.
You’ll find more than enough to see and do there. With the constant to-ing and fro-ing of ocean-going boats over the Westerschelde, you’ll never have a dull moment in a day at the beach. Then, from the beach, walk east past the ferry terminal and in no time you’re in the centre with its restaurants, shops and terraces. Make sure to get some fresh fish, straight off the boat on the Kaai quayside.
The fishery museum Visserijmuseum spells out the lives of Bressian fisher folk: their beliefs and superstitions, boats, detection equipment and their catches. You’ll learn, hands-on, how to knit nets and tie knots, and how the auction clock at the fish quay works.
Close by, the church of Sint Barbarakerk is well known for its wood carvings and sculptures. They were crafted by Omer Gielliet, an emeritus priest of repute and a sculptor. Be sure too to visit the black-and-white lighthouse – the oldest cast-iron model still standing in the Netherlands.
If you’re using Breskens as a base to look around, you can easily pop over to Vlissingen with the ferry for pedestrians, cyclists and cycles. Earlier, passengers on this centuries-old route passengers were carried in rowing and sailing boats. These days, it’s more like a fast ferry.
The ferry terminal is also the starting point of the ‘Looplijn’ route along the waterside. It connects the marina, fishing harbour and the village ‘downtown’. It ends at the beach, with a truly panoramic view over the Westerschelde and the village.
Further out of ‘town’, a mesh of bike paths and marked routes will bring you to all manner of creeks, polder dikes, farmhouses and villages.
Breskens has all sorts of events all year long. One of the highlight happenings is the annual round of festive fish days. For three happy days the entire village is filled with fish, fun and music. Details and other events in Bresjes are listed on our Events Calendar.