At first glance, Belgiums Ghent is a charming old city with antique houses, a winding network of canals, beautiful medieval churches, cobblestoned squares and fortresses. But those who take their time to get under the skin of the city, soon discover cutting-edge street art and funky cafés. Check out the 7 top things to do in Ghent, Belgium.
How to get to Ghent, Belgium?
- When you’re ouside of Europe it’s best to catch a flight to Brussels.
- From there, catch a train to Ghent. You can book your trainticket online if you want to.
- Check the best rates for hotels in Ghent.
- If you are pressed for time or would like to discover Ghent in a fun and alternative way. Hop on a bike! Join this bike tour to see the loveliest sights in the city and hear a bit about Ghent’s interesting history.
- If you’d like to stay in Brussels, there’s also the possibility to take a day trip from Brussels to Ghent.
Where to stay in Ghent?
If you’re looking for a good hotel in Ghent, I highly recommend staying at NH Ghent Belfort. I mean, the beautiful building in which the hotel is set alone is enough reason to stay there when in Ghent. The location couldn’t be better, next to Ghent’s terrific city hall and within a minute’s walk of important sights like the Belfry and the Saint Baafs cathedral, where you can see the Adoration of te Mystic Lamb. But, back to the hotel. The building may be ancient, the rooms are anything but. Spacious, clean and very comfortable.
Restaurants in Ghent
- Julie’s House
Start your morning at Julie’s House with the best coffee and cakes in town, to be enjoyed in the most beautiful 16th century building.
- Groot Vleeshuis
To taste some great local produce I highly suggest going to Groot Vleeshuis. This grand old market hall is literally filled to the ridge with the best produce to be found in East Flanders: charcuterie, cheeses, small plates and dishes. Don’t forget to taste the local aperitif called RoomeR made from elderflower.
My favourite lunch spot in Ghent is situated a little outside the city centre, but well worth the detour. At Superette you’ll find yourself amongst locals only and you’ll soon understand why it’s always bustling. There’s a small, but great lunch menu of big sandwiches, salads and quiches, all made from organic and local produce. Behind the counter, the most beautiful loaves of bread, spreads, syrups and pies are just begging to be taken home with you. If you’re not hungry, just stick around for drinks.
- De Dulle Griet
Beer lovers don’t need to go any further than Café De Dulle Griet where the biggest and finest selection of Belgian beers can be tasted. If you’re interested in Belgian beers, I highly recommend joining a Belgian Beer Tasting Tour.
- The House of Eliott
Lobster lovers absolutely need to go to The House of Eliott where you can order lobster cooked and prepared in basically every way imaginable.
7 top things to do in Ghent, Belgium
A stroll through Patershol
Patershol is considered Ghent’s most desirable neighbourhood and you won’t need long to see why. The first houses in the quarter, leaning to the centre of town, were built as early as 1329 and were part of The Friary of the Calced Carmelites. Just a few decades ago most of the houses were restored and sold for a pittance, instantly turning Patershol into one of the most popular places to live in the city.
Patershol is also the place to be when it comes to Ghent fine dining. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the mood for sushi or Thai food, you’ll find a restaurant to meet your taste in the neighbourhood. However, since you’re in the Flanders I suggest you go for something more local. My favourite place is ’t Klokhuys where you can order some Flemish specialities like beef stew or waterzooi, I recommend you try some oysters as well.
The Ghent Altarpiece
Instead of going to a museum to see some old Flemish Masters, just pay the St. Baafs Cathedral a visit. It’s the place to admire the beautiful stained glass windows, the Roman crypts and ‘The conversion of St. Bavo’ by Peter Paul Rubens, but first and foremost you visit the cathedral to take in the stunning work by the Van Eyck brothers ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’, also known as ‘The Ghent Altarpiece’. The masterpiece is kept in an especially climate controlled chapel and you have to pay and queue up to see the original.
Climb the Belfry
The Ghent Belfry is almost 100 meters high and is standing tall and proud since te 14th century. You can decide to climb allthe 350 steps to the top or take the elevator halfway there and climb the rest. The view over te city from the top is a very nice reward for all that climbing. Note the dragon weatervane, it has become a bit of a symbol to the city.
Take a boat trip
Discovering Ghent from the water is nothing less than spectacular. Did you know Ghent was one of the largest European cities, back in the Middle Ages? And a lot of buildings along the water date back to those long forgotten eras. It’s such a treat to see all that historical splendour from up close and hear some fascinating facts during a boat trip from either Graslei or Korenlei.
Discover world’s best street art
Although the Van Eyck brothers are definitely famous masters from Ghent, the city has moved on from this and finds itself has the epicentre of a new art movent: street art. World’s most famous street artists are born and raised in Ghent, like ROA and Bué the Warrior, so it’s no surprise Ghent is one of the best cities in Europe to go street art spotting. You can download a map to see where you can find the most beautiful murals.
Taste some Cuberdons
It’s funny to think that the treat that Ghent is most famous for is actually a mistake. Cuberdons, or ‘Ghent Noses’ because of the typical cone shape of the sweet, was an accidental incention by a pharmasist. But actually, his mistake tasted quite good. The cone-shaped sweet tastes like raspberry, is hard on the ouside and nice and goo-ey on the inside. Nowadays, you can buy the treat almost everywhere in the city. But you can buy the real deal at Confiserie Geldof.
See Ghent at night
At the start of the new millennium Ghent’s local counsil came up with a brand new ‘light plan’, which wasn’t just meant to light the city more efficiently. It should also make people feel safer. The side effect of this plan is that all historical buildings in Ghent are brilliantly lit at night. Take an after-dinner stroll to work off that rich Belgian food and enjoy the beauty of Ghent by night. I especially like how Graslei and Korenlei look after dark.
Top things to do in Ghent, Belgium
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Have you visited Ghent? What did you think of it?
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