HomeRoadtrip16 Enjoyable Issues to do in Ghent Belgium

16 Enjoyable Issues to do in Ghent Belgium

Ghent is probably not the primary metropolis that involves thoughts when you consider touring to Europe, and that could be one of many prime causes to go. With out the mass of vacationers that may overwhelm some attractive cities, Ghent, Belgium, is a spot the place you’ll be able to see the sights, wander the streets, and hang around with the locals with out competing for house or being turned off by vacationer touts.

Boat cruising on the river in Ghent Belgium by historic buildings.
Boat on the Lys River

Touring to Ghent virtually looks like discovering a secret. Its beautiful Gothic buildings are combined in with road artwork, waterfront cafes, and even a fort. There are sufficient enjoyable issues to do in Ghent to occupy a complete weekend, if not longer. This stunning metropolis is considered one of our favorites. We’ve had the nice fortune to go to a number of occasions, and we will’t cease singing its praises.

Right here’s a have a look at what to do on this beautiful metropolis.

See the view from the Ghent belfry

City skyline view including rooftops and St. Bavo's Cathedral bell tower.
View of St. Bavo’s Cathedral from the belfry

For the most effective view within the metropolis, head up the belfry (belfort). It’s not typically in Europe that you just discover a 14th-century bell tower the place you’ll be able to take an elevator as an alternative of trudging up 300+ stairs. When that occurs, benefit from it.

The 300-foot-high Belfry of Ghent is a UNESCO World Heritage Website and one of many prime issues to see in Ghent. Completed in 1380, it was the first watchtower for the medieval metropolis, and its carillon introduced the time and gave warnings.

On the best way up, there’s an exhibit concerning the belfry’s well-known dragon weathervane, which has guarded the location because the tower was constructed. There are two earlier incarnations of him in varied states of completeness. You’ll additionally see a the enormous bell referred to as “Roland” and an enormous rotating drum that appears just like the interior workings of a music field, which is chargeable for the music of the carillon. However the true attraction is the view.

Metal dragon figure on display.
One of many outdated dragon weathervanes
View of St. Nicholas Church and downtown Ghent from above.
View of St. Nicholas Church and the town from the belfry

The belfry is the center of the town’s three towers, so it gives an amazing view of St. Nicholas Church and the outdated metropolis middle on one facet and St. Bavo on the opposite. Should you’re all in favour of getting a pleasant picture of St. Nicholas as in our picture above, arrive mid-morning when the solar will probably be behind you (and hopefully not casting too many shadows).

Tour the Citadel of the Counts

Stone exterior of a castle towering above a river.
The imposing Citadel of the Counts

One of many prime points of interest is true within the metropolis middle. The Twelfth-century Citadel of the Counts (Gravensteen) is inconceivable to overlook. With a moat and turrets, the imposing construction looms over the Lys River.

From 1180 till 1353, the fort was the residence of the Counts of Flanders and was closely intertwined within the political happenings. After the Counts left, it was used as a court docket, a jail, and a cotton mill, regularly falling into disrepair. After an intensive restoration, the fort sports activities a singular assortment of torture tools and the odd swimsuit of armor, although furnishings are usually sparse.

View of towers and the city center.
Beautiful view of Ghent from the fort

A forty five-minute audio information gives a bit of bit extra context to the rooms and the fort’s story however is far more leisure than historic data (it’s voiced by a Belgian comic). The gatehouse, ramparts, hold, and stables are open to guests. Just like the belfry, the Citadel of the Counts gives spectacular views from the highest.

Go to St. Bavo’s Cathedral

Black and white interior of a cathedral with sculptures and vaulted ceiling.
Altar of St. Bavo’s Cathedral

There was a non secular constructing on the location of St. Bavo’s Cathedral for over 1000 years. The present Gothic cathedral—full with its 290-foot-high bell tower—is without doubt one of the hottest locations to go to within the metropolis.

The cathedral itself is magnificent. With 4 grand organs, a Baroque excessive altar, a portray by Peter Paul Rubens, and a pulpit made with marble and gilded wooden, the cathedral presents tons to see. However the true motive individuals flock to St. Bavo’s is the Ghent Altarpiece (which you’re not allowed to {photograph}).

Elevated ornate pulpit covered in sculptures.
The ornate pulpit in St. Bavo’s

Formally titled The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, the Ghent Altarpiece is taken into account the primary Renaissance masterpiece. The 20-paneled work was accomplished in 1432 by the Van Eyck brothers and is without doubt one of the earliest-known oil work.

The portray has been stolen, traded, and almost destroyed by the likes of Austrian Emperor Joseph II, Napoleon, and Hitler. Given its age and its troubled historical past, it’s a miracle that the portray survives in any respect. Latest restoration work has cleaned the portray and eliminated earlier “fixes.” The colours now are spectacular—it seems to be prefer it was painted final week moderately than 600 years in the past.

Seeing the altarpiece requires a ticket, which comes with an augmented actuality possibility (St. Bavo’s is in any other case free to enter). Traces might be lengthy for this fashionable website, so if it’s in your checklist of locations to go to in Ghent, going early or late within the day is often higher for avoiding crowds.

Take a canal cruise

Two rows of buildings along a river filled with boats.
Cruising the canals of the town

Don’t miss out on seeing the town from the water. There are a number of choices, however the boat we took leaves from simply in entrance of the Marriott on Korenlei.

In a number of completely different languages, the captain gives a guided tour and a deeper have a look at the historical past of Ghent and its stunning buildings. A canal cruise is the right alternative to relaxation your toes and study a bit of bit on the similar time.

Go on a road artwork stroll

Graffiti-covered alley and spray painted sculpture.
A number of the artwork of Werregarenstraat

Avenue artwork is considered one of our favourite issues to find in a metropolis, and Ghent metropolis middle has a vibrant road artwork tradition. All through the town, there are massive murals by well-known artists in addition to smaller works by up-and-comers. There is no such thing as a scarcity of authorized canvasses for artists to indicate their stuff, and Ghent celebrates their contributions to the town’s artwork scene.

One cease on the should do checklist for a lot of guests is Werregarenstraat, now identified to most as “graffiti alley.” The pedestrian road is a combination of labor. Began through the Ghent Festivities in 1995, the challenge isn’t the identical from one week to the subsequent with new tags and designs showing on a regular basis.

Street art murals with people and animals.
Murals from across the metropolis

Elsewhere within the metropolis are alleys stuffed with cartoon characters, vivid blue bandits on the perimeters of buildings, and every kind of otherworldly creatures. Acclaimed artist and Ghent native Roa has contributed works that includes his large-scale animals.

To find the road artwork by yourself, observe the downloadable information from ‘Sorry, not sorry’ or choose up a map on the tourism workplace that marks lots of the websites.

Discover STAM, Ghent Metropolis Museum

Fashioned by a 14th-century abbey, a Seventeenth-century convent, and Twenty first-century constructing, the bodily construction of STAM, Ghent Metropolis Museum displays the content material you’ll see inside. With a wide range of interactive collections and reveals, the museum traces the town’s historical past starting within the Center Ages and even tasks what its future may very well be. It’s an amazing place to go to to know the town in additional depth.

Attempt the frites

Hand holding a dish of frites.
A number of the greatest frites round

You possibly can’t go a day in Belgium with out having fun with frites, or not less than you shouldn’t. (Energy don’t rely on trip, proper?)

The very best frites stand we discovered is simply outdoors the Butchers’ Corridor. In reality, proper up in opposition to it in a pink alcove. You’ll virtually stroll proper previous it if not for the road of individuals.

The no-frills counter serves nice fries with a wide range of sauces. Attempt them with conventional mayonnaise, our favourite curry sauce, or no matter floats your boat. Escargots and croquettes are fashionable right here, too, for just some euro.

See Saint Nicholas Church

Exterior of church with arched windows and bell tower.
Saint Nicholas Church

Constructed starting within the thirteenth century, Saint Nicholas Church is without doubt one of the most distinguished metropolis landmarks. With turrets on both facet and a central tower, it’s simply one of many prettiest locations to see right here.

Situated close to the Belfry and Saint Bavo’s, Saint Nicholas is the third of the three towers that the town is thought for. Should you start to cross St. Michael’s Bridge subsequent to the Korenmarkt after which flip round, you’ll be supplied with a superb view of those historic buildings.

Ferris wheel in front of large church with multiple towers.
The entrance of Saint Nicholas Church through the Christmas season

The within of the church is pretty typical of historic Belgian church buildings, however it will probably’t maintain a candle to St. Bavo’s (few locations can). It’s price a fast go to to the inside as a result of visiting the church is free, however we discovered the skin to be the spotlight.

Discover Vrijdagmarkt Sq.

People on bicycles in a city square.
The beautiful buildings of Vrijdagmarkt Sq.

One of many oldest and largest squares, Vrijdagmarkt sq. will get its identify from the weekly market held right here. Every Friday and Saturday, the sq. fills with distributors promoting native delicacies, garments, and home items. A statue of the distinguished 14th-century businessman Jakob van Artevelde overlooks all of it.

Statue of a man in the middle of a city square flanked by historic buildings.
Statue of Jacob van Artevelde within the sq.
Row of buildings with step gabled roofs.
Buildings on Baudelostraat

Across the sq. is the Ons Huis (“Home of the Individuals”), the headquarters for the area’s socialist motion, and many locations to eat and drink, some with outside patios. Immediately behind the Van Artevelde statue is Baudelostraat, house to a number of classic outlets. We favored it most for its string of colourful buildings with ornate gables and balconies.

Have a beer at Dulle Griet

Exterior of bar Dulle Griet with neon signs.
Exterior the welcoming Dulle Griet bar

Dulle Griet is without doubt one of the prime bars for beer lovers. With over 500 beers on the menu, it’s onerous to think about something this pub doesn’t have.

Named after the large cannon simply across the nook, beer café Dulle Griet has a comfortable medieval inside with wagon wheels, beer barrels, and many throwback beer ads. There are a lot of nice beers to attempt right here, however the Max is the explanation this place is well-known.

Max beer is available in a large, specially-made glass, full with a picket stand to maintain it upright. Guests have beloved the glass a lot, they’ve tried to take them house (though they’re so massive, that appears troublesome). Dulle Griet has give you a simple answer: get a beer, give your shoe.

When a buyer will get their Max beer, the server rings and bell and a basket is lowered from the ceiling. The shoe goes in, and the basket will get hoisted proper again up. You get your shoe again if you’re completed. It’s probably essentially the most distinctive sort of insurance coverage we’ve seen, but it surely’s all in good enjoyable. I’m not a beer drinker, however my sister beloved it once we went collectively.

Attempt a cuberdon

Bicycle cart selling traditional cuberdon candy at the Groentenmarkt
Vendor promoting completely different flavors of cuberdons

Should you’ve by no means heard of a cuberdon, you’re not alone. This deep purple sugar cone is the town’s signature sweet. Don’t depart with out attempting one.

Cuberdons have a thick sugary shell with a filling of the identical taste. The purple ones, that are most conventional, are raspberry flavored. Different kinds embody apple, strawberry, lemon, and blueberry. On the time of our go to, we bought a combined bag for €5 euro, which is the best method to attempt all of the varieties.

One place to be assured of getting a cuberdon is on the Groentenmarkt adjoining to the Butchers’ Corridor. There, you’ll discover two carts—historic rivals for your small business—piled excessive with the colourful cone-shaped candies.

Go to Korenmarkt Sq.

Former post office building with clock tower and turrets.
1898 The Submit Lodge

The Korenmarket is as shut as Ghent involves having a most important sq., extra due to its location close to a number of most important sights than due to its measurement.

On the nook is the previous publish workplace, which is now outlets and a lodge referred to as 1898 The Submit. There’s additionally the attractive St. Nicholas Church with its bluestone. The sq. is surrounded with a number of historic buildings, which at the moment are bars and eating places which have patio seating. In good climate, the Korenmarkt is like one large outside café.

Pause a minute to have a espresso and do a little bit of buying. The Korenmarkt can be the best place for a bit of individuals watching.

Get pleasure from Korenlei and Graslei

Renaissance buildings along the river.
Views alongside the quays

The quays of the Lys River are beautiful locations to spend a while. Korenlei (Wheat Market) on the left financial institution and Graslei (Grass Market) simply throughout the water on the precise financial institution have historic buildings and a excessive focus of outside cafes.

The websites date again to the fifth century when Ghent was the middle of the wheat commerce within the County of Flanders. A lot of the present buildings had been constructed within the Center Ages, though they’ve been restored and modified over the centuries. We’re suckers for this type of structure, so strolling alongside the banks is fairly dreamy.

Riverside scene with boats and traditional buildings.

A number of the buildings have been became eating places and cafes. In respectable climate, their outside patios fill with individuals having fun with the solar by the waterside with a Belgian beer (or two) in hand. The quays are an amazing place to sit down and revel in life.

Go vegan for the day

Conventional Belgian delicacies is just not precisely identified for being mild. Made up of stews, meatballs, frites, and fried croquettes, numerous meat and potatoes is concerned. However choices are rising.

Ghent calls itself the “Veggie Capital of Europe.” There are extra vegetarian eating places per capita than in all different cities in Europe, and Ghent serves extra vegetarian meals than wherever in Belgium. That is thanks, partially, to its massive scholar inhabitants.

Thursdays are “veggie days.” Dozens of eating places and accommodations provide vegetarian and vegan specialties, and it’s estimated that fifty% of the inhabitants opts for vegetarian choices. Le Botaniste, Greenway, and Lokaal are three favorites which can be at all times close to the highest of the checklist for greatest vegetarian and vegan spots.

Wander the Patershol neighborhood

Brightly colored buildings with carvings on the facade, Temmerman's candy shop.
Confiserie Temmerman

The twisting, turning streets of the Patershol neighborhood are lined with Sixteenth-century homes, artists’ workshops, and eating places. For a second, visiting right here virtually feels such as you’ve stepped again in time.

In a metropolis identified for its meals, locations within the Patershol are on the prime of the checklist. From Turkish to Italian and Japanese to Spanish, there are many cuisines to select from. Whether or not you need quirky, informal, or fancy, you’ll discover one thing scrumptious and welcoming.

Interior of an old-fashioned candy shop.
So many traditional candies to select from

One other spotlight within the Patershol is Confiserie Temmerman, a traditional sweet store with an ornate Baroque exterior. The oldest candy store on the town has been run by the identical household for eight generations. Step inside to see their traditional candies. Should you didn’t cease for cuberdons earlier than, Temmerman is an ideal place to purchase a couple of.

Attend a competition

Christmas market stalls outside a church at night
Christmas market stalls

Ghent has a number of nice festivals and festivals to select from all year long. So many, actually, that its tourism web site proclaims it “Pageant Metropolis.”

Early July brings the Ghent Jazz Pageant. Belgian acts and big-name performers corresponding to Sting, Gregory Porter, Herbie Hancock, and Norah Jones provide live shows for 10 days. In mid-September, guests to the Pageant of Flanders come to see almost 200 classical and world music live shows of all through the town. Collectively, these two occasions have earned the town the title of UNESCO Inventive Metropolis of Music.

Equally vital is the Ghent Festivities (Gentse Feesten), which occurs for 10 days every July. It’s really 4 festivals occurring over the identical interval, that includes music, puppetry, road theater, and dance. The entire metropolis turns into a large artsy sea of musical and theatrical performances, together with mimes, road performers, comedians, buskers, and free music of each style throughout 10 metropolis squares.

People skating on ice rink.
Ice skating at Christmas

In December and early January, Ghent is all concerning the Christmas markets. You possibly can eat, drink, and be merry all through the town with champagne, mulled wine, and melty, effervescent raclette round each nook. There may be ice skating, lights, and loads of alternatives for buying at greater than 150 picket huts unfold out from in entrance of St. Bavo’s to the Korenmarkt. We visited six completely different Christmas markets in Belgium–together with Brussels and Bruges–and Ghent was amongst our favorites.

Different particular occasions embody culinary festivals just like the Vegan Summer season Fest and the Gent Smaakt, the Patershol neighborhood road social gathering, and the annual Movie Fest Gent. There may be virtually at all times one thing particular occurring right here.

Learn how to Get There

In northwest Belgium within the area of Flanders, Ghent is about 35 minutes by prepare from Brussels, which is well-connected worldwide by way of Brussels Airport.

Overhead view of Ghent, Belgium, skyline.
Overhead view of the town

Ghent is roughly half-way between Brussels and Bruges. Some individuals select to go to each Ghent and Bruges in at some point, however we might counsel that itinerary solely as a final resort as a result of each cities (and Ghent, specifically) are price a minimal of at some point. If it’s important to select one or the opposite, these issues may assist you make a selection.

Ghent is roughly one hour by prepare from Antwerp.

16 Fun Things to Do in Ghent

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