Lonely Planet named it “Europe’s best kept secret” and a must see destination in 2011. National Geographic Traveler Magazine listed it as the most authentic historic city in the world. And Ghent truly is a city that comes to life after sunset and has more food options than a supermarket.
When to Go
Visiting Ghent in the months that fall outside of summer will ensure you have more of the city to yourself. The Jazz Festival and “10 Days Off” festival are both in July; while the Festival of Flanders Ghent is in September – October.
How to Go
Ghent lies at the intersection of the E17 and the E40 motorways. Gent-Sint-Pieters is the main train station in the city and the international Brussels Airport at Zaventem is less than an hour’s drive away.
St. Bavo’s Cathedral is an impressive Gothic cathedral that is home to a baroque high altar, a Rubens masterpiece and tombs of the Ghent bishops. Also inside is the majestic altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers – The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.
See where the meat was sold during the Middle Ages by visiting the Great Butchers’ Hall. Nowadays Gandaham hangs from the wooden beams, while visitors purchase East Flemish delicacies and enjoy a bite to eat.
A castle fit for a King but actually built for a Count and Countess. The Castle of the Counts with its towers, a cold dungeon and even a torture exhibition makes this an interesting stop for adults and children alike.
Step back in time at the House of Alijn, a museum set around a peaceful internal garden. Each room shows how ordinary people lived from the beginning of the 20th century through to the seventies.
Hidden from the main streets, Graffiti Street has a colourful appearance courtesy of some talented graffiti artists. Always worth a stop since the art is forever changing.
Eat and Drink
Julie’s House is the place you go to when you are in need of sweet baked goods or a filling breakfast. The rows upon rows of cupcakes are sure to ensure you take something home with you.
Never will you find such an invigorating buzz in such a nice environment as in Pakhuis. If the architecture doesn’t have your jaw dropping, the food certainly will.
Soup lovers will appreciate the Soup Lounge in Ghent. Every day you can choose from the selection of soups and toppings. Your meal comes complete with bread and butter and fresh fruit. Salads and baguettes are also available.
Hotel Harmony is a four star hotel located on the Kraanlei. The luxurious modern rooms are housed in a mansion that up until 1859 was made up of two houses with a stepped gable.
Ghent River Hotel is situated on the right bank of the Leie and is the only hotel in the city that can be reached by boat. The hotel is made up of two buildings: a renaissance house and a rice-mill. The building also served as a cotton spinning-mill in 1873, a warehouse in 1879 and a bakery in 1892.
Located in the historic centre of Ghent opposite the cathedral, the ibis Gent Centrum Kathedraal hotel is located within close walking distance of the key historic monuments. Rooms are simple but comfortable and free wifi is available throughout.
Here are additional options for where to stay in Ghent.