As we’re bound to spend more time exploring our home turfs this summer I would like to introduce you to another Belgian gem: Ghent. I’ve had the chance to explore Ghent (Gent in Dutch, Gand in French) a bit better in the last half year: a wedding + overnight stay, some sightseeing with our visiting Irish friends and a day out with my godson.
How to get there
Ghent is very easy to reach by train from Brussels North, Central or South train stations. It takes between 30 (if departing from South) to 40 (if departing from North) minutes to reach Gent-Sint-Pieters train station.
Once arrived I’d recommend to just explore the city on foot. Ghent is very walkable and this gives you the time to admire the buildings and some of the quirky artwork and graffiti.
As an alternative you can also just take tram 1 which runs from the train station all the way to the historic centre of the city. Pick up a free USE-IT map of Ghent while you’re at it – some great recommendations, especially if you don’t want to spend loads of money.
What to see or do
The old city centre will remind you of Brussels or Bruges but it is wonderful in its own right. The different squares and rivers running through the centre make very it even more charming.
Situated by the river Schelde you can encounter De Krook. The remarkable building not only houses the new city library but also labs and offices from Ghent University and imec and a café. One of my cousins got married in De Krook, so we got to see it in a very different and festive light.
If you like street art Ghent is a good place to go. The city even developed a street art map called Sorry, Not Sorry. You should really check out the street called Werregarenstraatje, also know as Graffiti Street. Here graffiti is tolerated and, as you can imagine, new tags and artwork are being added every week.
Looking for shelter from the Belgian rain? Or in need of a cool activity for kids or teenagers? In this case I really recommend you to try out Virtual Reality (VR). Even if you have done it before, Be Virtual offers you different games and a lot of support. My godson and I tried it out and had a great time!
When to go
Ghent is a lovely city all year round, but there are two particular times when it’s extra nice:
Christmas: in December the Christmas markets are out and the lights and scent of mulled wine make the city even more enchanting.
Gentse Feesten: is a music and theater festival in Ghent that lasts for 10 days in July. There are performances going on wherever you look, and it seems like every corner has been turned into a bar. Very popular of course and definitely worth a visit!
Where to eat
If you are starting the day in Ghent then you should check out O’yo. Whether it is breakfast, brunch, lunch or a healthy take-away, you can find all of those here. They also have glutenfree, lactosefree and vegan options. We went for brunch and did not regret it!
If you’re arriving in Ghent around lunchtime then opt for a healthy and vegetarian lunch at Lekker Gec. The food is bio and they offer a buffet where you pay for the weight of the food you picked out.
The most amazing Italian restaurant was one we just stumbled upon when visiting Ghent with our Irish friends: Eat Love Mercato. A cozy interior, lush food and, as if we’re in Italy, free aperitivo snacks, including pizza fresh from the oven.
Two Belgian chains that I enjoy eating at are Balls & Glory and Bavet. Balls and Glory does handcrafted meatballs, served with a decent portion of mash. Baveton the other hand specialises in that typical Belgian dish: spaghetti bolognaise (I’m not even joking here – Belgians love spaghetti and you can eat it almost everywhere). Oh and bavet means ‘bib’ in Dutch – helping young and old to eat their spag bol in a tidy way 🙂
Where to drink
I’ve enjoyed a nice hot drink (with cake, obviously) at Café Barista. They have two different cafés, but we went to the one on the Meerseniersstraat and admired the drawings on the wall.
Supposedly the biggest bar in Ghent is the Vooruit Café. Open every day for drinks and food, it is a must-see because of the authentic interior and the photo booth :).
These are just a select few of all the nice places in Ghent. What are your favourites?
Curious about other spots in Belgium? Check out my posts about: