Discover Ghent: the ideal destination for your next citytrip

 
 
 

Ghent, the city, is easily overlooked as a tourist destination by travellers. Foreigners usually go for the more obvious destinations in Belgium such as Bruges, for it’s historic sights and Brussels, for a cosmopolitan feel, where as Ghent is literally and figuratively somewhere inbetween. According to Condé Nast Traveler, a Ghent citytrip is one of the most underappreciated treasures of Western-Europe.

This medieval city has a beautiful historic quarter and bags of culture.

Ghent is a city of history, but it’s also a university city as such it has incredible sights and it’s streets are filled with cool, young people.

You can easily lose yourself while wandering in the narrow streets that lead you to beautiful squares with majestic churches, castles and other fascinating buildings, or you can take a stroll on the banks of it’s rivers (Schelde and Leie) and wind up in a bar to taste one of the many famous Belgian beers.

How to get there

Gent is easily accesible. You can come in by train. There’s a direct train from the airport which takes about 1 hour 30 minutes. If you’re already in Brussels the journey will take about 40 minutes of your time. The fastest trains are indicated on the electronic timetables with “IC”, followed by “IR” and finally the “L” trains are the slowest.

There are two main train stations in Ghent: Ghent Sint-Pieters and Ghent-Dampoort. Ghent Sint-Pieters is the most frequented. From there you can take a taxi or the tram takes you directly to the city center in 10 to 15 minutes.

You can also take a taxi from the airport. It takes about 44 minutes and will cost you around 80 euros.

How do you get around

Ghent has one of the largest pedestrianised shopping areas of the world. Because cars are banned from large parts of the city, strolling around is a joy.

Most of the inhabitants get around by bicycle. You can easily rent a bike in the center and there are many bike stands around to make it easy to lock your bike.

Sights

Sint-Michielsbrug

St-Michael’s bridge is the place to be for anyone who wants to take in the most beautiful view of Ghent. From the bridge you can admire the city’s medieval skyline marked by the three towers: St-Nicholas church, the Belfry (which is recognised by UNESCO) and St-Bavo’s Cathedral. You also have an amazing view over the old port at Graslei and Korenlei.


 

Sint-Baafs

The St-Bavo’s Cathedral is filled with beautiful sculptures and paintings including the famous altarpiece “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” better known as the ‘Ghent Altarpiece’ by the brothers van Eyck.


 

Gravensteen

From the battlements of the Gravensteen, the Castle of the Counts, you also have an amazing view across the city at St-Veerleplein. It was build in 1180 and now houses a museum with a fully equiped torture chamber.


 

Museums

The STAM, Ghent city museum, tells the story of Ghent’s evolution from the 14th century to the present day and even provides a glimpse of the future.

SMAK is the city museum for contemporary art and is renowned for it’s permanent collection : Karel Appel, Panamarenko, Andy Warhol,…

Huis van Alijn

Het huis van Alijn has a more local collection. It gives you a whiff of the local folklore.

The Design Museum Ghent has one of the most superb Art Nouveau collections in the country.


Shopping

In the old city center you have a car-free shopping area, one of the largest pedestrianised shopping areas of the world!

You can also do some shopping on the Vrijdagmarkt, Friday market, on Friday- and Sathurdaymornings  for street markets, flee markets or visit the Sunday bird market.


 

Eat

oak

Ghent provides an excellent sample of Flemish cuisine. It’s the place to be for foodies with young dynamic chefs advocating the fine local produce. Ghent is a culinary hotspot on the rise. If you’re interested to explore the culinary side of the city, you will not be dissapointed.

In 2014 a number of restaurants opened their doors.

Chef Marcelo Ballardin and Dominik D’Hooge opened their restaurant Oak Gent in October. They acquired 14 points in the Gault Millau in just one month after opening.

Ghent also houses the three ‘Rock ‘n Roll chefs’ better known as the Flemish foodies. Olly Keulenaere is one of them. His restaurant ‘Publiek’ recently obtained a Michelin star. Kobe Desramaults has his renowned restaurant ‘In De Wulf’ in Dranouter, but in Ghent he has his ‘mistress’ ‘De Vitrine’. His latest project ‘De Superette’ has won the price for most innovative restaurantconcept. Restaurant J.E.F. is the culinary vintage concept of Jason Blanckaerts.


 

Drink

Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant

The old port at Graslei and Korenlei is the most popular location where the locals come and have a drink on the banks of ‘De Leie’. There you have a number of bars which serve fine drinks, cocktails and beer.

If you want to visit authentic pubs to taste a Belgian beer you should go to ‘t Galgenhuisje, Café den Turk or Het Waterhuis aan de bierkant. If you got a taste for jenever you have to go to ‘t Dreupelkot. Jigger’s is listed in the top 50 of Europe’s best cocktail bars.


Sleep

Ghent has a fine choice of luxurious and romantic hotels with a magnificent view of the city center.

The Ghent Marriot Hotel is located in the historic heart of Ghent. It stands on the banks of the Leie and from there you have a view on the famous historic sites of the city.

The Harmony Hotel is located in Patershol. There you can have one of the nicest walks in Ghent through the winding alleys up to the Prinsenhof.


Cultural events

Ghent is a buzzing cultural city and there’s always something happening.

On the Annual Lightfestival, from 29 January until 1 Februari 2015, Ghent bursts with light.

The International Film Festival, in October, is a not-to-be-missed event on the Flemish and international scene.

Ode Gand, in September,  is a grand musical happening that treats you to over 60 performances.

I Love Techno is a world-known annual techno-event that takes place in November.

Gentse feesten

The Gentse feesten, Ghent Festival, is a music and theatre festival that starts on the Sathurday before the 21st of July and lasts a week. The first Gentse Feesten was held in 1843. It’s one of the biggest cultural and popular festivals in Europe.

Gent Jazz festival is held during the Gentse feesten.


Local Specialties

TierenteynYou can take a culinary tour around Ghent and nibble your way through some of the local specialities.

On the Groentenmarkt, there are two vendors who sell local artisan sweets called Cuberdon, or as the locals call it Ghent noses.

One of the other local specialities is the Tierenteyn mustard. It’s a strong rich mustard which is used in Gentse Stoverij, carbonades.

You simply have to taste the Gentse Waterzooi, a Belgian stew based on a chicken broth, as it’s one of the oldest Flemish dishes. You can order it in almost every restaurant or brasserie in the center.