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15 Best Things to Do in Ghent (Belgium)

Locals and tourists alike love Ghent. What’s not to love in the city after all, there is great art, great food and it is one of the countries best kept secrets. Ghent still feels fairly small compared to other cities in Europe and despite being a great place for a break, it is not overrun by tourists and sightseers.

Ghent is a perfect blend of industry and medieval architecture which will appease every travellers European city palette. Nightlife and food are also good with some truly great food being served at a range of restaurants that will suit all budgets. Beer is king in Belgium and Ghent is home to the famous Gruut beer.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Ghent !

1. Be Awestruck By Gravensteen

Castle Gravensteen, Ghent, Belgium

Quite probably the most breathtaking sight in Ghent, Gravensteen is a 12th Century castle built for the count of Flanders. The castle has been sensationally restored to all its former glory after operating for a short time as a cotton mill.

The interior may somewhat lack furnishings but makes up for this with a guillotine and suits of armor. If you want to see what the castle was like all those years ago, there is a slightly silly costume drama set in many of the castles rooms and battlements.

For the best photo of the castle from afar, try St Widostraat.

2. Adore the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb

The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb is thought to be one of the world’s earliest oil paintings and dates back to the early 15th Century. Huge queues to see the work are common and like the Mona Lisa, the history of the painting is much more fascinating than the work itself.

The history of the painting includes an Austrian Emperor “clothing” the nude Adam and Eve as well as a period of time where the work was stolen and hidden in a salt mine.

The painting is open year round for viewings and is almost returned to its former glory although one stolen panel remains missing to this day.

3. See Fine Art at the MSK (Museum of Fine Arts)

MSK Ghent

The MSK art gallery is housed in what looks much like an Ancient Greek temple. The artwork will soon remind you that you are in fact still in Belgium however due to the great collection of works from Belgian and Low Counties artists.

The works range from as early as the 14th century up until the 20th century and English language notes are available for each piece.

The permanent collections are constantly backed up by a series of notable temporary exhibits.

  • 4.  Eat out in Patershol


A well hidden home of many great restaurants, Patershol is the former location of the leather tradesmen in Ghent.

The winding cobbled lanes and houses haven’t much changed from this time and are a great way to experience what Ghent was like many years ago.

All that exploring is bound to make you hungry and, luckily, Patershol is home to a number of good restaurants including t’ Klaverblad which serves French cuisine and is arguably the best place to eat in all of Ghent.

5. Marvel at the Sint-Pietersabdij Abbey


One of the biggest abbeys in all of Belgium, the St Pietersabdij was the centre of Ghent for a long time and the city began to grow outwards from the abbey.

The orchards and gardens are free to explore and are a great place to be on a summer’s day. The abbey itself boats an impressive mural in what was once the monk’s refectory and a state-of-the-art video tour lasting an hour and a half.

If you are rushed you can easily select just a few points from the tour before moving on.

6. See the St Baafskathedraal

St Baafskathedraal

This cathedral is the home of the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb mentioned earlier but it also deserves a visits for its own merits. The building itself is an imposing structure made from an unusual blend of stone and brick with some stunning stained glass windows thrown into the mix.

The mural in the crypts of the building are well worth seeing as is the original Rubens artwork on display.

If you fancy a look at the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb but don’t fancy queuing, there is a print of the work on display in chapel 30.

7. Watch Some Home Movies at Huis van Alijn

Huis van Alijn

This house was formerly a children’s hospice. It has since been restored and is a great museum detailing what life was like in the city between the end of the 18th century to the early 20th century.

Within the museum, there are old shops to explore with accurate period interiors. There are also old wedding photos and family movies which prove to be surprisingly emotional.

You will find that not all of the exhibits are in English but they are straightforward and don’t really require an explanation.

8. See a Dragon at the Belfort


Ghent may not be from a Game of Thrones novel but is still has its own dragon. The belfry dates back to the 14th century and has a dragon sat atop of the tower in weathervane form.

If you want to make the climb to the top you will see two more dragons whilst on your way. There is also an exhibition of bell making but the real attraction for most people that visit the Belfort is the view from the top of the tower. Make sure to see Ghent’s cloth hall whilst you are here.

The hall began construction in the mid 15th century but was not completed until 1903.

9. Grab a coffee from Mokabon


Ignore the bold, brand-new Starbucks and head into Mokabon, the cosy coffee house that is as they were and as they should be.

The cafe is one of the best places to chill out in the city with good snacks and great coffee. The coffee on offer is classic Belgian fare with espresso topped with whipped cream.

Ignore the Starbucks and treat yourself to a proper Belgian coffee.

10. Learn at the Museum of Industry

Ghent Museum of Industry

The Museum of Industry is the place to go if you want to learn about the history of industry in Ghent. The museum is set in a former mill-building (what better place to learn about industry in Belgium) and covers five floors.

Whilst travelling through 250 years worth of industry, you will see and learn about plenty of machinery, which is even still operated on certain days of the week. It is deafeningly loud but luckily earplugs are provided!

As an added bonus, there are great views of the city from the building’s top floor.

11. Learn some more at STAM


If you have room for more learning and knowledge then a visit to STAM is an absolute must. STAM explores Ghent’s history and pre-history by rewinding 70,000 years into the past.

The museum is another old building that has found a new use, formerly it was a nunnery. Interactive exhibits show what Ghent has looked like throughout various periods of time and how the city has evolved.

As if 70,000 years worth of history wasn’t enough, the museum even gives you the chance to look into the future of the city.

12. Shop at the Vrijdagmarkt


This square, which gets its name from the weekly market that still takes place every Friday, was once also the city’s spot for public executions and important city meetings.

The cafes dotted around the square all provide great vantage points for admiring the statue of Ghent’s famous leader, Artevelde who was prominently anti-French.

Nearby is a so-called super cannon, which due to its rather large 250kg balls, was one of the biggest siege cannons in all of the middle ages.

13. Stadhuis

Stadhuis Ghent

Even in Ghent, a city with many beautiful buildings, this building stands out. The Stadhuis, or city hall, took almost a century to build before it was finally completed in 1600.

The architecture is flamboyant and Gothic the building is often referred to as the building with many faces. The rooms of the interior are varied in style but all are stunningly decorated and preserved.

The hall is obviously a popular spot for weddings but tourist access is limited. Hour long tours begin at the tourist office and cost 5 euros per person.

14. Try some Ghent Cuisine

Restaurants in Ghent

The food in Ghent, like in all of Belgium’s big cities, is diverse and tasty. There is truly something for everybody and food lovers will fell right at home.

Some traditional Belgium treats to try are Gruut Beer, the brewery is based in Ghent and is a great introduction to Belgium beer, Stoverij, a hearty Belgian beef stew and Waterzooi, a fish or chicken stew dating back to the middle ages.

If you have a sweet tooth then Belgium is also a great place for chocolate and Ghent is arguably the best of the best. Be sure to try pralines before you leave the city.

15. Hop onto a water tram

Boat Trip in Ghent

For a truly different way of seeing the city, why not try the Ghent’s hop on hop off water tram. There are six stops to embark from or disembark to including the Castle of the Counts and St Peters Abbey.

Not only does the tram get you from A to B but it is a unique way to see some of the city’s sights while you are at it.

As an added bonus, if you buy the Ghent City Card, travel on the water tram is included and you can use it as much as you like for no further cost.

15 Best Things to Do in Ghent (Belgium):

  • Be Awestruck By Gravensteen
  • Adore the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb
  • See Fine Art at the MSK (Museum of Fine Arts)
  • Marvel at the Sint-Pietersabdij Abbey
  • See the St Baafskathedraal
  • Watch Some Home Movies at Huis van Alijn
  • See a Dragon at the Belfort
  • Grab a coffee from Mokabon
  • Learn at the Museum of Industry
  • Learn some more at STAM
  • Shop at the Vrijdagmarkt
  • Try some Ghent Cuisine
  • Hop onto a water tram

15 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Ghent

Written by Jess Lee Updated Dec 27, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

The old city of Ghent (in Flemish Gent; in French Gand) is a picturesque muddle of alleyways rimmed by quaint steeple-roofed buildings running along pretty canals. Along with Bruges , Ghent is Belgium's star architectural tourist attraction, but unlike Bruges, it comes without the tour bus hordes.

A walk through town on a summer's evening, when most of the important buildings are illuminated, is one of the best sightseeing experiences, as is a canal boat ride down the many branches of the Scheldt and Leie Canals that intersect the city.

For history-lovers and architecture fans, Ghent is one of the top places to visit in Belgium, plus its lack of tourists makes it a great place to get to grips with modern local Flemish culture.

Discover how to plan your time with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Ghent.

See also: Where to Stay in Ghent

1. Cathedral of St. Bavo (Sint-Baafskathedraal)

2. the fortress of gravensteen, 3. climb to the top of the belfry (het belfort), 4. cruise ghent's canals, 5. stroll the neighborhood of graslei, 6. explore korenmarkt, 7. saint michael's church and sint-michielsbrug, 8. discover the korenlei canal area, 9. town hall (stadhuis), 10. museum of fine art (museum voor schone kunsten), 11. ghent city museum (stam), 12. visit the old market area, 13. the architecture of vismarkt and kraanlei, 14. walk through the ruins of sint-baafsabdij, 15. museum voor volkskunde, where to stay in ghent for sightseeing.

Cathedral of St. Bavo (Sint-Baafskathedraal)

On the eastern side of Sint-Baafsplein stands the Cathedral of St. Bavo, a majestic building of brick and granite with a Romanesque crypt of its predecessor, Sint-Jans church. Charles V gave the cathedral its present name after he destroyed the old one to build a fortress.

The High Gothic cathedral choir dates from the 13th century, while the late Gothic tower and the main nave were built during the 15th and 16th centuries.

The light interior of the cathedral is richly decorated with some unique paintings. These include The Conversion of St. Baaf by Peter Paul Rubens (1624) and Christ among the Doctors by Frans Pourbus (1571).

The most famous artwork here though is The Altar of Ghent, also known as The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb , renowned as by far the greatest masterpiece of old Flemish painting.

Below the main church, the extensive crypt contains numerous tombs of bishops and a rich treasury. The outstanding Calvary triptych of 1464 by Joos van Wassenhove (Justus van Gent) is also shown in one of the chapels.

Address: Sint-Baafsplein, Central Ghent

Official site:

Sint-Baafskathedraal - Floor plan map

Gravensteen is one of the strongest moated fortresses in Western Europe, surrounded by the River Lieve. It was built between 1180 and 1200 on the orders of Philip of Alsace, the former count of Flanders, on the foundation of an earlier 9th-century structure and was created in the style of Syrian crusader castles. Today, it remains a unique example of the European medieval art of fortification.

In the 14th-century, it ceased to have a military function and was used by the counts for administration of the land. In 1800, it came into private ownership and was converted into a cotton mill and flats for the workers.

Most of the castle's area, including the ramparts, can be toured by visitors. In front of the castle extends the ancient Sint-Veerleplein, possibly the oldest square in Ghent, although the neighboring facades are of 17th-century origin at the earliest. This square was a marketplace but also the site of executions and burnings of the victims of the Inquisition

Address: Sint-Veerleplein 11, Ghent

The Belfry

On the west side of Sint-Baafsplein stands the 91-meter-high belfry, symbol of the city's independence, where the charters of the privileges of Ghent were kept.

The tower was begun about 1300 and by 1338, it was mainly completed. The present-day spire was restored to its original 14th-century form at the beginning of this century and replaced the wooden bell tower of 1380.

It is crowned by a gilded copper dragon, which was first installed in 1377. Today, it is a replica as are the four armed figures at the corners of the platform. Only one of the originals of these survives and can be seen on the ground floor.

You can climb (or take the elevator from the 1st floor) to the top of the tower for great views over the central old town district of Ghent.

The splendid Cloth Hall directly adjoins the belfry. This building (1426-1441) by Simon van Assche was the meeting place of the wool and cloth traders and was converted into a prison in the 18th century. Today, it has a café-restaurant, which is popular with tourists.

Official site:

Kayaks cruising on a canal past the Gravensteen in Ghent

Ghent's canals are an attraction by themselves and provide the most relaxing sightseeing experience in the city.

There are various ways to enjoy Ghent from the canals, ranging from regular public boat tours and private customizable cruises in a traditional tow-barge to kayak rental.

Several different companies run regular public cruise departures from docks in the central city. The typical boat tour lasts 40 minutes and cruises past all of Ghent's major sights, including the belfry and Gravensteen, as well as the canal-side guildhall architecture along the Leie canal.

On the public tours, you can turn up and buy your ticket before you board, but if you want to reserve your ticket, this 40-minute guided boat trip in Ghent , departs from the Graslei port and plies the Leie canal route past all the major sites, including Gravensteen.


Some of Belgium's finest guild houses are along the Graslei Canal. This is an excellent place for a stroll for anyone with more than a passing interest in architecture.

Check out the adjoining Gildehuis der Vrije Schippers (House of the Free Boatmen), built in 1531 in the Brabant Gothic style, and Gildehuis der Graanmeters (House of the Grain Weighers), with its stepped gable that dates from 1698.

Further along, you'll see Tolhuisje (Customs House), a Flemish Renaissance building of 1682, which stands next to the Romanesque Spijker or Koornstapelhuis (around 1200).

The Gildehuis der Metselaars (House of the Masons) from 1527 in Brabant Gothic style completes this unique row of guild houses.

Saint Nicholas's Church in Korenmarkt, Ghent

Ghent's Korenmarkt (Wheat Market) is a historic square that is home to many of the old Guild Houses (Gindenhuis) positioned along the Leie Canal. This was once an important center of trade, and today, it is a lively area known for its lovely architecture and numerous restaurants and cafés.

Each year in late July, the Korenmarkt is the center of a 10-day festival, Gense Fieste, which combines plenty of music, theater, and other entertainment, as well as lots of food stalls.

Bordering the southern side of the Korenmarkt, St. Nicholas Church is one of Ghent's most iconic landmarks. Its exterior is constructed of Tournai bluestone in the Scheldt Gothic style, dating back to the 13th century. Of note are its imposing central tower and an organ made by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

Sint-Michielsbrug (Saint Michael's Bridge)

Saint Michael's Church is located on the western shore of the Leie and is known for its absolute grandeur, a massive Gothic church constructed of Belgian sandstone. The pulpit, altar, and many other parts of the interior are in the Neo-Gothic style, while other styles are represented as well, including an early 17th-century Baroque confessional.

Among the church's treasures are several 18th-century statues; paintings by Baroque artists like van Dyck; and the Relic of Doorn, which was a gift from Mary Queen of Scots.

Next to the church is Sint-Michielsbrug (Saint Michael's Bridge), a beautiful stone-arch bridge known for its spectacular views of the skyline. From here, you can see all three of Ghent's iconic towers, making this an excellent spot for photography. Visit in the evening for a particularly nice view of the city's landmarks illuminated.

Address: Sint-Michielsplein 4, 9000 Ghent

Spring flowers along the Korenlei Canal

The Sint-Michielsbrug leads down to the Korenlei Canal, itself lined by splendid facades and offering the best view of the even finer houses on the opposite bank of the Graslei.

While wandering here, take note of the following houses: No. 15 is the site of the former Hof van Gruuthuse, (House of Duke Egmont), which dates from 1352 and is now replaced by a building with a Neoclassical facade that also encompasses No. 17-19, the Hotel de Ghellinck.

No. 7 along the Korenlei is the Gildehuis der Onvrije Schippers (House of the Tied Boatmen), which is a Baroque building dating from 1739.

Also, pay attention to the beautiful façade of No. 24, Lintworm en Krocht. This was a Romanesque château from the 12th century that was rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century.

Address: Korenlei, central Ghent

Town Hall (Stadhuis)

Built over a long period of time, Ghent's magnificent town hall combines a variety of architectural styles.

On the oldest parts of the building on the Hoogpoort, completed in the style of Bruges City Hall in 1482 and containing the council chambers, the architects Rombout Keldermans and Dominic de Waghemakere built a new wing in the finest late Gothic form, richly decorated with statues.

However, building work on this part, which is best seen from the corner of Hoogpoort and Belfortstraat, was suspended because of religious disputes in 1539.

Only a quarter of the original plan was realized and only the Peace Hall (Pacificatiezaal; actually the courtroom for the Keure, the protectors of the town constitution) and the Marriage Chapel, both 1535, were built.

Work only resumed at the end of the 16th century, so that the wing facing the Botermarkt is in Renaissance style as is the Throne Room on the upper floor.

Address: Botermarkt, Central Ghent

Museum of Fine Art

The main emphasis of the collection here is painting covering the 15th to 20th centuries. The central hall adjoining the entrance hall has eight fine Brussels wall tapestries: three with motifs from the story of Darius (17th century) and five with the theme "Triumph of the Gods" (1717).

Left of this hall are the Old Masters. Prominent are two works by Hieronymus Bosch in Room B: Bearing of the Cross and St. Hieronymus .

To the right of the Tapestry Room are paintings of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially by Belgian artists.

The museum also hosts a wide variety of traveling exhibits on loan from other world-class fine arts museums.

Address: Fernand Scribedreef 1, Liemaeckereplein, Ghent

Official site:

Ghent City Museum (STAM)

Based in the brick buildings of the Cistercian Abbey of Bijloke, the Museum of Ghent is one of the richest in Belgium and showcases a remarkable collection that traces the heritage and culture of the city in a unique historical setting.

The numerous rooms chronologically tell the story of Ghent with exhibits including jewelry, weapons, textiles, books, paintings, religious icons, and ceramics all enhanced by state-of-the-art multimedia displays.

The museum's outstanding centerpoint is the 14th-century refectory with an exceptional brick gable.

The interior walls are painted with frescoes, among which is a 10-meter-long painting of the Last Supper.

As well as the permanent collection, the museum hosts a series of temporary exhibits throughout the year that are housed in the neighboring monastery building.

Address: Godshuizenlaan 2

Official site:

Old Market Area at dusk

The Old Market (Groentenmarkt) began life as a fish market and then in the 18th-century began functioning mainly as a vegetable market. In the medieval era, Ghent's pillory stood here.

On the west side of the market area is the long Groot Vleeshuis, a medieval covered meat market with a guild house, chapel, and numerous gables in the roof. The building originated in 1406-1410 and was restored in 1912.

At the south end of the Vleeshuis is the Penshuizeken (entrails cottage) where the poor were given the entrails of slaughtered animals.

Today, the Vleeshuis building is a rather fine restaurant, but even if you're not hungry, you can walk through to view the interior.

Address: Groentenmarkt, Hoogpoort, central Ghent

Vismarkt and Kraanlei

The superb Baroque building at Sint-Veerleplein No. 5 is the old fish market, built in 1689 according to plans by Artus Quellin.

The gateway depicts Neptune and allegorical representations of the Scheldt (male) and Leie (female).

To the northeast, the Kraanlei Canal adjoins Sint-Veerleplein, all lined with elegant houses.

Immediately on the left is No. 1, the Craenenburgh, then the row of houses De Lelye (No. 3-11), built around 1500 in Brabant Gothic style. No. 13, In den Bleikenmarkt is a former fish shop.

Farther along the Kraanlei is house No. 75, De Klok, dating from the 17th century, with a spiral staircase and decorated with numerous allegorical reliefs. No 77., De Zeven Werken van Barmhartigheid, and No. 79, Het Vliegend Hert , are Baroque 17th-century town houses, decorated with exquisite reliefs

Address: Kraanlei, central Ghent

Ruins of Sint-Baafsabdij

In the east part of the city, across the Slachthuisbrug over the Leie Canal, are the ruins of Sint-Baafsabdij, an abbey founded in 630 by St. Amandus and rebuilt after being destroyed by the Normans in the 10th century.

A gallery of the late Gothic cloisters, the octagonal lavatorium, and parts of the chapter house and the refectory still remain from the original abbey.

The refectory, with its beautiful 12th-century Romanesque frescoes, is home to the Museum voor Stenen Voorwerpen (Museum for Stone Cutting and Sculpture) and contains an extraordinary collection of medieval tombstones, Ghent sculpture, and architectural artefacts from the 12th to the 18th centuries as well as mosaics.

Address: Godshuizenlaan 2, Ghent

Museum voor Volkskunde (Folk Museum)

Immaculately restored in 1962, this former children's hospital - founded in 1363 - is one of Belgium's last remaining Godshuizen. These houses were founded by well-off families for the needy.

In a picturesque courtyard are 18 typical Flemish cottages, all interconnected and now housing the extremely comprehensive Museum voor Volkskunde, which with its notable collection of equipment, documents, and everyday objects provides a vivid picture of Flemish folk life around 1900.

Of particular interest are the restored workshops and living rooms, a dining room, a barber's shop, a cobbler's workshop, an apothecary's shop, a confectioner's bakery, and a candlestick maker's workshop.

Address: Kraanlei 65, Ghent

To see all the famous sights of Ghent and soak up its picturesque scenery, the best place to stay is in the compact and easily walkable city center–preferably within the historic center. Most of the top attractions, such as the Cathedral of St. Bavo and the grand fortress of Gravensteen, lie within a short stroll of each other. Here are some highly rated hotels in this convenient location:

Luxury Hotels:

  • In the heart of the city, overlooking the Korenlei and Graslei Canals, the Marriott Ghent Hotel offers large, comfortable rooms with plush beds.
  • Steps from Ghent's historic center, Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof blends bold contemporary accents with Empire-style elegance and has a wellness center with a pool, spa, and fitness room. The hotel also offers long-stay apartments.
  • Around the corner from the Gravensteen Castle, the boutique Hotel Harmony sits on a picturesque canal in the old town and is known for its helpful staff and lovely canal views.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • In the historic center, opposite the town hall, the stylish NH Gent Belfort is less than five minutes on foot from the cathedral, castle, and belfry, as is the nearby, pet-friendly Novotel Gent Centrum , with a fitness room and sauna, outdoor pool, and children's play areas.
  • Perfect for families and extended stays, the good-value Aparthotel Castelnou is about a 15-minute walk from the historic center. All the apartments come with kitchenettes, and breakfast is included in the rates.

Budget Hotels:

  • On a quiet street, a 10-minute stroll from the cathedral, the boutique Hotel Onderbergen offers clean, stylish rooms, and some accommodate families.
  • If you like old-world elegance on a budget, Erasmus is in a beautiful 16th-century stone building with steep stairs, a few minutes on foot from the historic center. The free breakfast is in an evocative room adorned with oil paintings and antiques.
  • Meters from the cathedral, Ibis Gent Centrum St-Baafs Kathedraal offers compact but comfortable rooms for a good-value price.

More Related Articles on


Medieval Bruges : Tourists who appreciate Ghent's architecture will fall in love with the medieval town of Bruges , a picture-perfect combination of historic buildings and canals. The romantic ambience is everywhere, with narrow streets and flower-lined waterways perfect for a long stroll. Those visiting the city have plenty of day trip options from Bruges , including the nearby beach towns like the ritzy Knokke-Heist resort area or family-friendly Blankenberge , or the nature-lover's Zwin Nature Park .


Flanders' Cultural Center : The center of Dutch-speaking Belgium is Antwerp , a northern city that is well-known for its port, historic architecture, and arts community. Antwerp is home to several excellent art museums, as well as some beautiful churches, most notably the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady . Those staying in the city will have plenty to do, but tourists who want to explore can enjoy a good range of day trips from Antwerp to nearby destinations like medieval Mechelen , Fort Breendonk in Willebrook , Aalst , and picturesque Dendermonde .

Ghent Map - Tourist Attractions

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20 Must-Visit Attractions in Ghent

De Vooruit

The ancient city of Ghent has built up quite the gaggle of attractions through the ages, ranging from charming medieval quarters to contemporary architectural masterpieces. Here are 20 of the canal city’s must-visit spots, including idyllic overgrown ruins and the most coveted artwork of all time.

1. patershol.

Candy Store

Patershol | courtesy of Visit Ghent

Despite its name, the Patershol or ‘Monks’ Hole’ is as picturesque a neighbourhood as they come. Its charming lanes criss-cross each other like cobwebs and its historic houses are occupied by cozy restaurants, galleries and an old-fashioned candy store.

Patershol, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

Patershol | courtesy of Visit Ghent

2. Confectionery Temmerman

Left: confectionary Temmerman | courtesy of Visit Ghent

Old-fashioned confectionery Temmerman inside the Patershol quarter sports a 17th-century Baroque façade on the outside, and a candy paradise inside. Traditional Ghent sweets with wacky names are their bread and butter.

Kraanlei 79, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

Confectionary Temmerman | courtesy of Visit Ghent

3. Castle of Counts

Castle of Counts | courtesy of Visit Ghent

This 12th-century fortress in the middle of the old city was erected as a show of strength by Count Filips of the Elzas to counter the grand houses being built by Ghent’s rich patricians. When it came to restorations in the 19th century, the historical records were approached with the most romantic interpretation possible and the castle now has turrets galore. Inside, a gloomy atmosphere is bolstered further by a visit to the torture chambers in the cellars.

Sint-Veerleplein 11, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

Castle of Counts | courtesy of Visit Ghent

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5. House of Alijn

Museum, Shop

House of Alijn

6. St. Bavo’s Abbey ruins

St. Bavos Abbey ruins | courtesy of Visit Ghent

7. St. Peter’s Abbey

St. Peters Abbey gardens | courtesy of Visit Ghent

It still boasts an authentic monks’ dining hall with impressive ceiling fresco and regularly hosts prestigious exhibits, but the biggest appeal of St. Peter’s is its terraced gardens. Hidden from view by the abbey’s monumental walls, they hold white-blossomed fruit trees, vineyards and a herb garden.

Sint-Petersabdij, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

St. Peter’s Abbey gardens | courtesy of Visit Ghent

8. Dulle Griet canon

Dulle Griet canon | © FaceMePLS / Flickr

On a little waterside square not far from the Vrijdagmarkt sits a massive wrought iron canon in fiery red. Her name is Dulle Griet, after an iconic folk figure of the Lower Countries, but she also goes by the name ‘Red Devil’. At 12,500 tons at the moment of creation around the 1430s, this was one of Europe’s most frightening medieval weapons. It was eventually discovered that she had more bravado than substance though; the canon was fired only once, in a clash with the Spaniards, and was immediately found to be faulty when the cannonball fell lifelessly to the ground.

Grootkanonplein 5, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

Dulle Griet canon | © FaceMePLS / Flickr

9. City Pavilion

City Pavilion | courtesy of Visit Ghent

The City Pavilion by Robbrecht en Daem and Marie-José Van Hee is a terrific example of a contemporary structure that’s been successfully integrated in a historical environment. Although almost oversized, the timber market hall on concrete feet doesn’t feel intrusive to the view of Ghent’s Belfry, nor to any of the surrounding old buildings. If anything, its wood and lit-up interior ceiling lend the area extra warmth.

Poeljemarkt, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

City Pavilion | courtesy of Visit Ghent

10. S.M.A.K.

S.M.A.K. | courtesy of Visit Ghent

Curator for the S.M.A.K. Museum and Flemish art pope Jan Hoet brought notoriety to Ghent in 1986 when he took an exhibit outside of museum walls to showcase works in tens of private homes in the city. Since then the S.M.A.K. has come to hold the largest collection of contemporary art in Belgium, and while Hoet may be gone, bold choices remain part of its DNA.

Jan Hoetplein 1, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

S.M.A.K. | courtesy of Visit Ghent

11. Kouter Flower Market

Food Kiosk, Market

There is nothing better to start a Sunday in Ghent off the right way than a stroll over the flower-filled Kouter market, a city tradition that reaches back centuries. A brass band will often play on the ornate 19th-century gazebo in the middle of the square, and oysters and champagne are sold from another other picture kiosk.

Kouter, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

Sunday flower market on the Kouter | courtesy of Visit Ghent

12. De Vooruit

De Vooruit | courtesy of Visit Ghent

Much treasured by locals in both the past and the present, all-around welcoming hub De Vooruit was originally built to be a socialist palace. Today the renovated monumental building holds film screenings, dance classes, readings, plays, etc. A drink or bite in its grand café or on its recently installed floating terraces is a Ghent must.

Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 23, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

De Vooruit | courtesy of Visit Ghent

13. De Krook

De Krook | © Karen Borghouts / courtesy of Visit Ghent

As the latest architectural masterpiece to be planted in Ghent, the wood-panelled De Krook has been welcomed with open arms. It replaces a formerly seedier part of town with all the comforts and benefits of a contemporary public library.

Miriam Makebaplein 1, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

De Krook | © Karen Borghouts / courtesy of Visit Ghent

14. Appelbrug and Appelbrugparkje

Bridge, Museum, Park

Sitting snug between a fine dining restaurant and a Mediterranean lunch place across from the Design Museum, the small Appelbrug Park on the waterside is one of Ghent’s most idyllic spots. Standing on the new Appelbrug pedestrian bridge leading to Vismarkt square you’ve got a great view of the historical buildings on the other side of the Leie such as the old fishing mines and meat halls.

Jan Breydelstraat 14, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

Appelbrugparkje | courtesy of Visit Ghent

15. Graffitistraatje

Nobody calls the Werregarenstraat by its actual name. The alley is covered top to bottom in legal graffiti drawings, but don’t get too attached when you see one you like. That masterpiece you spotted the other day might well have been covered up by another one the next time you visit.

Werregarenstraat, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

Graffiti alley | © Ella Mullins / Flickr

16. ’t Dreupelkot

t Dreupelkot

‘t Dreupelkot is a traditional Flemish jenever (Dutch gin) bar, run by true connoisseur Pol for over 30 years. More than 50 of his brews are homemade, and after a couple of shots of his pepper variant the brown bar doesn’t seem half as shabby anymore.

Groentenmarkt 12, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

‘t Dreupelkot | courtesy of Visit Ghent | Courtesy of Visit Ghent

17. Groentenmarkt

Market, Belgian

Selling cuberdons on Ghents Groentenmarkt square

18. City Hall

Ghent City Hall

Half Italian palazzo and half ornate Gothic palace, Ghent’s City Hall is one confusing public building. Its popular Wedding Chapel is a singular thing of beauty though, boasting beautiful stained-glass windows.

Botermarkt 1, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

Ghent City Hall | © Adufilms / Pixabay | © Adufilms / Pixabay

Pand | courtesy of Visit Ghent

Besides its geometric courtyard garden and its stately façades, this former Dominican friary is worth a visit thanks to its permanent exhibit: a collection of life-sized photos of the oeuvre of fantastical early Netherlandish painter Hïeronymus Bosch.

Onderbergen 1, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

Pand | courtesy of Visit Ghent

20. Design Museum

Building, Museum

Design Museum | courtesy of Visit Ghent

Ghent’s Design Museum finds itself in a building worthy of its purpose. In a gorgeous 18th-century patrician house with contemporary expansion, a collection of about 22,000 objects is used to present an extensive overview of the development of international design. Highlights include a rich assortment of Art Nouveau and Art Deco items.

Jan Breydelstraat 5, Ghent, Belgium

places to visit in ghent belgium

Design Museum | courtesy of Visit Ghent

landscape with balloons floating in the air


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See & Do

Gent, cultuurcocktail op mensenmaat

What must you absolutely see and what is definitely not to be missed?

The Castle of the Counts

The Castle of the Counts

The Ghent Altarpiece: supreme divine art

The Mystic Lamb: supreme divine art

Vegetarian and vegan hotspots in Ghent

Vegan salad in a bowl

History on the Graslei and Korenlei

Graslei in evening light

Beguinages in Ghent

Woman walking in the Beguinage

Ghent Belfry, world heritage

belfort in winter zonlicht

St Michael’s Bridge, romantic Ghent

Sint-Michielsbrug in avondlicht

St Bavo’s Cathedral: majestic tower

Colorful stained glass windows of the St Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent

Magical Ghent in the evening

Light walk in Ghent

Ghent: City of Art

Ghent – City of Art

Visit Gent's tips for an unforgettable stay

Gourmet rock ‘n’ roll.

Vilhjalmur Sigurdarson

What can you currently do in Ghent?

Sarah and her boyfriend look at a painting that helps tell the story of Ghent in the STAM

Ghent and its festivals

Ghent light festival.

Lichtkunstwerk tijdens het Lichtfestival

Gent Jazz Festival

Mensen op het gras tijdens een festival

Shopping in Ghent, so much fun

Shop in a car-free city centre

Hotels in Ghent

Logeer in luxe - Gent

Must-see attractions in Ghent

Officials unveil the restored exterior panels of "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb", an altar piece painted by the Van Eyck brothers in 1432, at Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent on October 12, 2016. .The restoration of the exterior panels and frames started in 2012, and constitutes the first phase of restauration which will be followed by two other phases for the interior panels and is set to last until 2020. / AFP / EMMANUEL DUNAND        (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb

Art enthusiasts swarm the Sint-Baafskathedraal to glimpse The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (De Aanbidding van het Lams God), a lavish representation of…

Belgium, Ghent


Flanders’ quintessential 12th-century stone castle comes complete with moat, turrets and arrow slits. It’s all the more remarkable considering that during…

places to visit in ghent belgium

Ghent’s Unesco-listed 14th-century belfry (91m) is topped by a large dragon weathervane: he's become something of a city mascot. You’ll meet two previous…

Styled like a Greek temple, this superb 1903 fine-art gallery introduces a veritable A–Z of great Belgian and other Low Countries' painters from the 14th…


Once the country’s biggest abbey, St-Pieters was the original centre around which Ghent grew. Its fabulous wealth evaporated after French revolutionary…

Kasteel Ooidonk

Thought to have been originally constructed around the 13th and 14th centuries, and reconstructed in 1595 after much savagery and repeated pillaging,…

Ghent’s magnificent and flamboyant city hall was started in 1519 but not finished until 1600, by which time it had transformed into a Renaissance-style…

Ghent's best-loved waterfront square, the 'Wheat Market' is where you'll find some of the city's best architecture, including the former post office (now…

Ships have been docking on either side of the River Leie since the 11th century. The area on the east bank is known as Graslei; Korenlei is on the west…


This cathedral's towering interior has some fine stained glass and an unusual combination of brick vaulting with stone tracery. A €0.20 leaflet guides you…

Shoehorned into a 17th-century former nunnery-hospital complex, this fabulous, architecturally striking, ultra-modern museum does a very thorough job of…


The Romanesque twin towers of this iconic church date from the 12th century but the church itself has undergone numerous expansions, renovations and…


Once the city’s forum for public meetings and executions, this large square is named for its Friday market (still held). Tempting cafés sit beneath step…

To admire Ghent’s towers and gables at their most photogenic, stand just west of the little Grasbrug bridge over the Leie at dusk. It’s a truly gorgeous…

Huis van Alijn

Set in a restored 1363 children’s hospice complex, this delightful museum examines everyday life from the 1890s to the present, with a fabulous emphasis…

Design Museum

A vast toilet-roll sculpture humorously marks the back side of this museum, which has a collection specialising in furnishings including baroque, art…

In a five-floor 19th-century mill-factory building, this thought-provoking museum celebrates Ghent’s history of textile production and examines the social…

Museum Dr Guislain

Hidden away in an 1857 neo-Gothic psychiatric hospital, this enthralling mental-health museum takes visitors on a trilingual, multicultural journey…


The imposing and beautiful St Anne's church was designed by architect Louis Roelandt in 1851 but never completed in the true Byzantine-style he envisioned…

Dotted with half-hidden restaurants, enchanting Patershol is a web of twisting cobbled lanes. Its old-world houses were once home to leather tradesmen and…

Ghent’s highly regarded Museum of Contemporary Art is one of Belgium's largest. Works from its 3000-strong permanent collection (dating from 1939 to the…

Slot van Laarne

Located in the village of Laarne, 10km to the east of Ghent, you'll find this impressive moated castle dating to the 12th century. Visits are by guided…

Universiteit Gent Botanical Garden

Home to more than 10,000 species, the pièce de résistance of Ghent's 2.75-hectare botanic gardens is its glasshouses, which contain an impressive…

The Korenlei area is on the west bank of the River Leie; Graslei is on the east bank.

De Wereld van Kina: het Huis

This mishmash of a natural history museum is aimed primarily at school kids. Meet Pterygotus (a man-sized prehistoric lobster), walk through a human body…

Originally the residence of the Count of Flanders and the birthplace of Charles V in 1500, the Prinsenhof was a walled castle with 300 rooms, a zoo and a…

De Wereld van Kina: de Tuin

This 7700-sq-metre garden and hot-garden with more than 1500 plants (plus live bird spiders) has a broader age appeal than its sister museum, the House…

Oude Begijnhof

Ghent has three widely separated begijnhoven; Oude Begijnhof is Ghent's most central. Unlike other surviving areas, there's no remnant enclosing wall so…

Geeraard de Duivelsteen

This 13th-century Gothic castle has had many incarnations; it's been used as a monastery, a school, a seminary, a prison and an asylum. It also housed a…


Ghent's attachment to graffiti as an art form began in this central alley, known locally as Graffitistraatje. The website has a live map showing the…

Statue of Van Eyck Brothers

This statue of the creators of Ghent's world-renowned Adoration of the Mystic Lamb was unveiled here for the 1913 World Expo.

Statue of Jacob van Artevelde

Statue of Ghent's 14th-century anti-French leader.

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Tours & Top Tens

12 Best Things to do in Ghent, Belgium

Last updated on November 6, 2023 by Alex Schultz - Leave a Comment

Once one of the wealthiest and most powerful cities in the whole of Europe, Ghent still proudly showcases lots of fabulous medieval architecture. This is, in part, what makes it so delightful to explore. Located at the spot where the Leie and Scheldt rivers join, its gorgeous center is home to a towering belfry with an impressive centuries-old cathedral, church, and castle to be found alongside its picturesque canal.

Lying in between Brussels , Bruges, and Antwerp, this compact city is often overlooked in favor of its nearby neighbors, although this has changed somewhat in recent years as word spreads about its many charms.

Despite its small size, there are plenty of things to do in Ghent, and its sizeable student population lends it a very lively and youthful feel. With a wealth of interesting historic tourist attractions and fascinating museums for you to check out, Ghent is not to be missed out on when visiting Belgium.

In this post, we'll cover:

12. Vrijdagmarkt


One of the main squares in Ghent, Vrijdagmarkt is named after the lively Friday market that has taken place here ever since the 12th century. Lined by beautiful old guild houses, as well as a couple of wonderful art nouveau buildings, the square is lovely to wander around. At its heart, lies a fantastic statue of Jacob van Artevelde – an important Flemish statesman.

The weekly market is loads of fun to peruse, with all kinds of stalls selling everything from local handicrafts to fresh fruits and vegetables filling the square. Vrijdagmarkt is great to visit at any time of day, as lots of cafes, restaurants, and bars are found here.

Of these, the Dulle Griet is the most atmospheric of the lot. Besides its homely and unique looking interior, you’ll also find 350 or so Belgian beers for you to try.

11. Museum Voor Schone Kunsten

Museum Voor Schone Kunsten

Located just a short walk away from the train station, the Museum of Fine Arts – as it is known in English – boasts a brilliant collection of paintings and sculptures that showcase some of the finest examples of Flemish art.

Taking you from the early 14th century right up until the mid 20th century, its comprehensive collection displays works by such renowned masters as Hieronymus Bosch, Rubens, van Dyck, and Magritte.

While the main focus is on Belgian artists, some international names such as Boudin, Manet, and Tintoretto can be found interspersed amongst them, while temporary exhibitions are regularly held in the museum. Opened all the way back in 1810, MSK is one of the oldest museums in the whole of Belgium and is well worth checking out if you have the time.

10. Korenmarkt


Lying right in the city center, Korenmarkt is surrounded by some of the prettiest and most prestigious buildings in Ghent. You’ll certainly find yourself passing by at least once or twice while in town. Besides being lined by some magnificent old townhouses that nowadays are home to restaurants, bars, and shops, its real show stoppers are undoubtedly the gorgeous old Post Office and the majestic Saint Nicholas Church.

In addition to this, the charming cobbled square is also just a stone’s throw away from the picturesque banks of the Leie river and St Michael’s Bridge, which offers one of the best views in Ghent. A very laidback yet lively place to spend time, the Korenmarkt acts as the main square in town and hums with life at any time of day.

9. Stadhuis (Town Hall)

Stadhuis (Town Hall)

Certainly one of the most unique buildings in the city, the lavishly decorated Town Hall actually exhibits two very distinctive yet equally delightful architectural styles. While one side boasts a beautiful Late Gothic facade, the other displays some lovely Renaissance features and is adorned with elegant columns and pilasters.

These two contrasting forms came about because the Stadhuis took so long to build, and tastes changed in the meantime. Only completed in 1600 after work began on it in 1519, the town hall’s gorgeous interior is just as varied.

Visitors can book to go on an hour-long tour of its finely decorated halls and luxurious stately rooms. Set at one end of the Botermarkt, the Stadhuis lies right next to the Stadshal, not far from the belfry.

8. Patershol


Winding their way here and there, Patershol’s ancient cobbled streets take you past lots of charming old medieval buildings, with cozy cafes, rustic restaurants, and boutique shops dotted about.

Tucked away between Gravensteen castle and the Leie river, this historic neighborhood is a joy to explore, as atmospheric alleys, unchanged for centuries, beckon you on.

Once home to tradespeople and clergymen, Patershol is now a very popular haunt amongst the city’s university students and has lots of welcoming bars where you can spend an evening sampling Belgian beers.

7. STAM Ghent City Museum

STAM Ghent City Museum

Only opened in 2010, STAM is where you want to head if you’re interested in learning all about the city of Ghent’s fascinating history. Set in a couple of fantastic old buildings that used to be part of a nunnery, the museum’s interior is strikingly modern; interactive exhibitions lie next to multimedia displays and an enormous aerial map of Ghent, which you can walk across.

In addition to perusing the many historical and archaeological artifacts, videos, photos, and projections introduce you to life in present-day Ghent – as well as what it may look like in the future. Very well presented and laid out, the award-winning STAM Ghent City Museum will certainly not disappoint.

6. Saint Nicholas Church

Saint Nicholas Church

One of the most impressive and important landmarks in the whole of the city, Saint Nicholas Church has overlooked the center of Ghent ever since work first began on it in the early 13th century.

Paid for by the city’s wealthy merchant class and luxurious guild houses, the church was constructed in the local Scheldt Gothic architectural style using bluey-grey stone from nearby Tournai.

While its cavernous interior is certainly worth checking out, Saint Nicholas is perhaps best viewed from outside. Its slender turrets flanking a magnificent nave and looming bell tower make for a spectacular sight.

5. St Michael’s Bridge

St Michael's Bridge

Spanning the Leie river that runs through the center of town, St Michael’s Bridge is surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful buildings and isn’t too shabby to look upon. Lined by wrought iron balustrades with ornate lamp posts at either end, the cobbled bridge has been used by people to cross the river for centuries. From it, you can enjoy lovely views of the beautiful Graslei side of the river with all of its fantastic old buildings.

Saint Michael’s Church also makes for a fine sight. The undoubted highlight, however, is the breathtaking view you can revel in of the three towers of Saint Nicholas Church, the Belfry, and St. Bavo’s Cathedral standing in a line before you. With so many astounding vistas on show, St Michael’s Bridge is one of the best places to snap photo after photo in the whole of the city.

4. Belfry and Cloth Hall

Belfry and Cloth Hall

Towering to a height of 91 meters, Ghent’s Belfry offers up an incredible view of the city below. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that for centuries, it was used as a watchtower. Completed in 1380, the neo-Gothic campanile is topped by a dragon weathervane, which has since become the mascot of the city. You can see two previous versions of the famous symbol on your way to the top.

Besides the majestic views, visitors can also take a look around the delightful Cloth Hall that is attached to the Belfry.

Exhibiting some fantastic Brabant Gothic architecture, it is in the centuries-old hall that the cloth merchants traded and sold their wares all the way back in the 1400s and 1500s.


Meaning ‘Grass Quay’ in English, Graslei is one of the most picturesque spots in the city; a row of splendid medieval buildings lie along the quayside. Once upon a time a bustling port, the charming quay is now a popular tourist attraction, with cafes, restaurants, and bars found along the banks of the Leie river.

Dating back to the fifth century, Graslei is steeped in history. From the quay, you can now take scenic boat rides up and down the river, learning all about its captivating past as you go.

While it is very idyllic to visit at any time of year, Graslei really comes alive during the ten-day-long Ghent Festivities when lots of music performances and light shows take place on its banks.

2. St. Bavo’s Cathedral

St. Bavo's Cathedral

An enduring symbol of Ghent’s wealth and power in the Middle Ages, St. Bavo’s Cathedral is an imposing building that is home to the third of the city’s towering spires. Built in 1274 atop of two earlier churches, the cathedral features some wonderful Gothic architecture. It was here that the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was baptized.

While its exterior certainly makes for an impressive sight, most people visit for the wealth of religious artworks that lie inside. While Rubens’ Saint Bavo enters the Convent at Ghent and de Crayer’s St Macarius of Gent are masterpieces in their own right, the real show stopper is The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.

Painted by Hubert and Jan van Eyck in the 15th century, the Ghent Altarpiece, as it is also known, is renowned around the world and is one of the greatest artworks to come from Belgium. As such, it is definitely worth checking out. The story behind it is just as fascinating as the marvelous painting itself.

1. Gravensteen


One of the main landmarks in the city, the 12th-century Gravensteen looks appropriately castle-like. A solid keep and gatehouse are protected by ramparts, towers, and a moat. Built to house the Counts of Flanders, the castle was completed in 1180, and the design is based on other fortresses that Count Philip saw while off on the crusades.

While its once intimidating battlements and turrets now make for some fabulous photos, its interior is no less enticing. The keep, for instance, houses some interesting and informative exhibitions on Gravensteen’s history and that of the counts and countesses, while suits of armor and torture devices lie here and there.

Set in yet another pretty spot, just a short distance from the center of Ghent, this magnificent old castle is just one of the city’s most important historical monuments.

Best Time to Visit Ghent

Summer is by far the best time to explore Ghent as the sun is shining and temperatures average 20 to 22°C (68 to 74 °F). Although this is the busiest and most expensive period, there are the countless concerts and events of the city-wide Gentse Feesten to enjoy in July. You can also take boat trips along its canals or attend Rock Werchter and Tomorrowland; two of Belgium’s biggest festivals.

The spring and autumn months are much more relaxed times to visit though the weather is a bit more unpredictable. The city’s sizeable student population means there is still a vibrant feel about the place. In April and May the flowers are blossoming while both September and October, although greyer, have some amazing autumnal foliage.

Outside of these months, Ghent is quite subdued apart from around the Christmas holidays when its charming center is delightfully decorated. While sightseeing is less enjoyable in the cold, there are plenty of cozy places to stop by after exploring its magical Christmas market and roller skating about its rink.

Map of Things to do in Ghent, Belgium

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15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium [With Suggested Day Trips]

Are you planning to travel to Ghent, Belgium  soon? Read our tips below on the things to do in Ghent, Belgium  with suggested tours! You’ll surely have a lot of fun!

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

A confluence of the Leie and Scheldt rivers, the port city of Ghent “Gent” is located. It is the capital and largest city of the Flanders region and the second-largest municipality in Belgium.

Some people might never hear of Ghent before unlike Brussels, Bruges, and Antwerp. Despite being the country’s oldest city, Ghent is truly the gem of Belgium. This unique and romantic place is rich in medieval and classical architecture. The whole city looks like an open-air museum. The vibrant colors enrich the center of trade and culture. Its industrial ambiance is a perfect contrast for the medieval building and spectacular landscape views. This region from Western Europe is not all chocolates, waffles, and beers. 

Other articles you can read:

  • 7 Awesome things To Do in Antwerp, Belgium
  • Things to Do in Gent, Belgium and Our Experience Staying at Design B&B Logidenri
  • 7 Things to Do in Brussels, Belgium
  • 10 Awesome Things to Do in Brussels, Belgium in a Day
  • First-Timer’s Guide to Belgium- Things to Do in Belgium

Let’s all find out what are the things this city has more to offer!

Table of Contents

15 Things that you should do and visit in Ghent, Belgium

1. belfry of ghent.

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

Belfry of Ghent is the iconic symbol of the town is a 91-meter-tall UNESCO World Heritage tallest belfry in the country. This symbolizes the city’s prosperity and independence. If you want, panoramic, 360-degree views of the city, definitely visit the Belfry of Ghent!

Suggested Tour: Private Old Ghent Tour, with a local guide!

2. The Gravensteen

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

Built-in 1180, this medieval structure is known as “Castle of the Counts” in Dutch. In the past, Gravensteen was subsequently re-purposed as a court, prison, mint, and even as a cotton factory. And today, it serves as an armory museum and displays weapons for punishments and torture chambers from the past. 

Suggested Tour: Full-day Private Tour Ghent And Bruges With Limo

3. St. Nicholas’ Church

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

This church was built in the 13th century as a replacement for an earlier Romanesque structure. It features the Scheldt Gothic style that has a blue-gray stone from the Tornai area.

Saint Nicholas church is one of the oldest and most prominent landmarks in Ghent , Belgium . The central tower served as an observation post and carried the town bells until the neighboring belfry of Ghent was built. Inside the church is one of the most romantic organs , built by the famous French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

Suggested Tour: Ghent Like a Local: Customized Private Tour

4. Graslei and Korenlei

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

Graslei and Korenlei are parallel quays stretching along the Leie river. The beautiful facades of the medieval architectures reflect and mirrored in the water creating a picturesque view you can enjoy while sipping in romantic cafes surrounding it.

Suggested Tour: Guided Boat Trip in Ghent

5. Vrijdagmarkt

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

Vrijdagmarkt or “Friday Market” in English is a historic city square in Ghent. Its name came from a tradition way back the 12th century, hosting market stalls during Fridays. These days, they stage a market on Friday morning and Saturday afternoon with bustling locals and tourists. 

6. Patershol

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

Sitting in the shadow of Gravensteen, this historical cobblestone-alley neighborhood is filled with various ethnic restaurants, shops, art galleries, and cafes. A perfect place for a stroll.

Suggested Tour: Walking Tour from Friday Market to the Cathedral

7. St. Bravo’s Cathedral

Things to Do in Gent, Belgium

This 10th-century 89-meter-tall Gothic cathedral is the same place where Charles V was baptized in 1500. It houses Ghent altarpiece or the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, a masterpiece of European art and one of the world’s treasures.

Suggested Tour: Discovery of Ghent from Brussels – Small Exclusive Group Tour

8. St. Micheil’s Bridge

Things to Do in Gent, Belgium

This bridge is the perfect spot for picture-postcard views of Ghent’s 3 famous towers; Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Saint Bavo’s Cathedral and the Belfry of Ghent. You can also see from this point of view the old harbor and Castle of the Counts. Don’t hesitate to take snaps from this majestic bridge!

Suggested Tour: Treasures of Flanders Ghent and Bruges from Brussels Full day

9. STAM Ghent City Museum

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Jonas Van Remoortere (@i.shoot.raw) on Jan 10, 2019 at 11:55am PST

The Ghent City Museum “Stadsmuseum Gent”, (STAM) in short, is the home of the artifact displays and interactive multimedia of the long history of Ghent. With an audio guide during the tour, you can have a glimpse of Ghent’s past, present, and future.

10. Graffiti Street

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

This place is where people express their creative and imaginative side. Graffiti Street is full of random spray-painted art alleys. It constantly changes for this is a public gallery for street artists. Talk about a great background for your Instagram photos!

Suggested Tour: Bike Ghent

11. Citadel Park

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

If you get tired of an all-day tour, it’s time to rest and relax here at Citadel Park. It has a lot of interesting sculptures, botanical richness, fountains and pathways to explore. 

12. Castle of Gerald the Devil – Geeraard de Duiveisteen

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

A 13th-century gothic fortress named after Geeraard Vilain. His nickname was based on his dark complexion and hair color “Geeraard de Duivel”. Throughout history, it has been used as an armory, a monastery, a school, a bishop’s seminary, an insane asylum, and a prison.

Suggested Tour: Private Tour to Belgian Architecture Gem: Ghent

13. Local Belgian Beers

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

Belgium is known for its beers. There are a lot of varieties to try. Usually served in bottles and glass and not in cans. Their unique way of brewing makes them the best in the world. It won’t hurt to try a glass or two cause hey! It’s in Belgium.

Suggested Tour: Belgian Beer Tasting

14. Canal Cruise

15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium

Isn’t it romantic? A boat ride passing by historical buildings. The canal cruise is a must in Ghent. Learning the city’s cultural heritage while gliding by the water is a fantastic way of sightseeing. 

Suggested Tour: Ghent Beer and Sightseeing Adventure

15. St. Bavo’s Abbey

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Stad Gent (@stadgent) on Aug 20, 2019 at 8:30am PDT

This ruin dated back in the 7th century. Can you imagine that? Parts of it were torn down by Charles V during the Revolt of Ghent in 1539 but still, some of its structures are standing. St. Bavo’s Abbey is covered in greenery and to preserve the site, it is only opened for visitors on rare occasions. 

Suggested Tour: Ghent and Bruges Day Trip from Brussels

How to go to Ghent, Belgium from the UK

Via British Airways: (one way)

*From LHR London Heathrow  to BRU Brussels International

Ticket price: $72

Via KLM: (one way)

*From LCY London City   to ANR Antwerp Deurne

Ticket price: $85

* Prices are subject to change. You can visit Skyscanner for more details about the ticket prices.

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15 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium [With Suggested Day Trips]

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Best 14 Things to do in Ghent | Hidden Gem Belgium

This hidden gem located in the Flemish region of Belgium is often overshadowed by the enchanting cities of Bruges and beloved Brussels, but Ghent is certainly not inferior in terms of its beauty. This medieval city looks straight out of a storybook with its picturesque cobblestone streets and charming steeple-roofed buildings. Peaceful canals wind right through the center of the city with a giant castle fortress taking center stage. Besides its wealth of wonderful historical viewpoints, Ghent is known for its soaring beer scene, trendy bars & incredible food spots . Ghent is the perfect place to spend a day filled with plenty of things to do. 

If you are looking for the Bruges kind of charm but without the huge crowds, then Ghent is the right place for you. We absolutely fell in love with Ghent and even dare to say it’s our favorite Belgian city. In case you are planning a trip to Belgium, the hip and chic Ghent must simply be on your bucket list . Otherwise, these 14 things to do in Ghent will hopefully convince you. Whether you are looking for a day trip from another European city or want to spend a weekend in Ghent to completely soak up everything this alluring city has to offer, you will find all the best things to do in Ghent in this post.

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Best Things to Do in Ghent on a Day Trip

Belgium is a great country to explore, with its unique cities, interesting history, and divine cuisine. However, it remains an underrated destination on the European itinerary of many tourists. It might be small, but it’s filled with stunning medieval cities to choose from. When looking for the best city to visit on a trip to Belgium, most people immediately think of Bruges or the capital, Brussels. However, Ghent is a great rival to its neighbors where you won’t find as many tourist hordes. Dive into the vast network of quaint alleyways, narrow canals, and breathtaking gothic architecture .

This gem of Belgium is a vibrant college city , which adds to the lively atmosphere and somewhat hipster vibe that can be experienced in the many bars and restaurants. The city can be easily explored on foot since most of the historic city is car-free while enjoying the gorgeous medieval backdrop. The majority of highlights are within walking distance of each other. So walking or biking is the best way to soak up the city. Since Ghent is way less touristy than Bruges, you will find it easier to fully immerse yourself in the local Flemish culture and have a more authentic experience while roaming around. From medieval quaintness and impressive towers to intriguing bars with famous beers, Ghent has something for everyone. So without further ado, here are the best things to do in the charming city of Ghent. 

READ MORE | Weekend in Ghent | Complete Guide to Belgium’s Best-Kept Secret

TIP | Grab a Ghent City Card

Experience the city of Ghent to the fullest at a good price. This advantage card gives you access to all top attractions, numerous exhibitions, and public transport. Plus it even includes a guided boat tour!

You can purchase the Ghent City Card at the Tourist Office, all participating museums and attractions, and hotels. If you are planning on visiting Ghent for a weekend or more, we recommend getting a city card. For 48 hours the card will cost you €38, while 72 hours cost €44. You will easily get your money’s worth in no time if you are visiting a bunch of the offered attractions since most of the highlights already cost around €10 entrance. 

TIP | Join a FREE guided Walking tour of the city

What better way to explore the historical beauty of Ghent than by joining a walking tour? For FREE! The Legends of Ghent take you on a 2-hour guided walking tour along the highlights of this gorgeous city. An enthusiastic local guide takes you through a journey of the legendary past of Ghent with history and funny stories. Further, they will also provide you with some extra tips, interesting facts, and hidden gems!

These daily tours are for free, the charged fee through the booking link just covers the booking cost. The guides of this tour are local volunteers, so do make sure to leave a tip at the end ;).

Planning a  weekend in Ghent  and not sure where to start? Make sure to check out our step-by-step guide with a 2-day route plan, useful travel tips, and recommendations on where to stay, and eat for your perfect city trip.

1. Admire the St. Michael’s Bridge

For the most famous postcard view of Ghent, head over to the St. Michael’s Bridge (or Sint-Michielsbrug ), a beautiful stone-arch bridge. From this vantage point, you can admire the iconic Three Towers : Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, Saint Nicholas Church, and the Belfry Tower. All at the same time! It also treats you to some magnificent cityscape views over the Lys river (or Leie ), with on your left the Korenlei and the Graslei on your right. The perfect spot to get introduced to the beautiful medieval architecture of Ghent.

2. Walk along the Graslei and Korenlei

The Leie River runs right through the historical center of Ghent and is flanked by two beautiful architectural quays. Located on the right bank of the Leie river you have the Graslei, the quay on the opposite side is the Korenlei. This area historically used to be part of the medieval port. The gothic-style buildings on both sides of the quay played an important economic role during those times. Back then, the buildings at the Graslei used to store herbs and vegetables, whereas the ones on the Korenlei used to hold corn. Once the epicenter of commerce , now it’s the tourist hotspot of the city housing many cafés and restaurants. 

These quays are one of our favorite places to hang out when we visit Ghent. The Graslei and Korenlei, characterized by its many grand facades, is a popular spot amongst locals to relax by the waterside . Definitely, in summer you will see a lot of people hanging out here and enjoying the atmosphere of the city. Whether you are interested in architecture, people-watching, or fancy a stroll along the river, take some time here to enjoy the surroundings.

3. Step back in time at the Castle of the Counts

Did you always want to visit a castle that looks like it’s ripped out of fairytales? Then make sure to take a look at the Castle of the Counts (or Gravensteen ). This medieval castle is set right in the heart of the city surrounded by a moat. It dates back to the 12th century and was originally built by Philip of Alsace as a protection settlement against invaders. This major landmark is the only of its kind in all of Flanders , still having an intact defense system. The well-preserved moated fortress is absolutely majestic to behold.

After completion, it was first the residence of the Counts of Flanders until the end of the 14th century. Afterward, it was used as a supreme court and a prison, from which today an extensive collection of torture equipment has been put on display in the former dungeons. In the 18th century, the whole complex was converted into a cotton and textile factory.

The area was then restored at the end of the 19th century and now functions as a museum. If you have the time and there is only one place you want to visit, then you should head for the castle. There is so much to explore on the inside, from the residences to the stables. The torture museum gives you a glimpse into the brutality of medieval times.

TIP | Make sure to go up on the rooftop for an amazing view of the entire city

ENTRANCE FEE | Adults €13; Students until 26yrs €8; Children from 12-19 yrs €2,7; Children under 12 yrs FREE

OPENING TIMES | Every day from 10 am till 6 pm

4. Sample some local delicacies

Ghent is absolute food heaven for all the gourmets out there. Besides having its own traditional local delicacies , you can find famous Belgian dishes and goodies like fries, waffles, and chocolate all over town.

Try out all the different Belgian Chocolate

Just like in the bigger touristic cities of Bruges and Brussels, there are plenty of myriad artisanal chocolate shops in Ghent. You can get a nice variety of high-quality handmade chocolate at Ch ocolaterie Luc Van Hoorebeke and H ilde Devolder Chocolatier . Pick out a few to try or ask the staff to handpick some recommendations based on your flavor preferences.

A fun & interactive way to explore the city is by joining a chocolate tour . Not only will the guide entertain you with historic tales during the tour, but will also take you to some local chocolatiers to sample and learn more about the world of chocolate .

Taste the typical Ghent candy ‘Cuberdons’ 

The signature treat of Ghent must be the famous Cuberdons . Or as we call it popularly “Gentse Neuzen”, which you could translate as Ghent’s Little Noses. They are purple conical-shaped candies, traditionally with raspberry-flavored gelatinous filling. We Belgians really grew up with this childhood candy and always brings back memories of seeing them in Ghent! These days though you can find cone-shaped candy in all kinds of colors and flavors. You can find a cute food stall on the Groentenmarkt selling them, so stop by to get a small box. 

FUN FACT | There used to be two wagons, known rivals over who makes the best ones, selling Cuberdons on the Groentenmarket. However these days there’s only one left. I guess the one remaining Cuberdon Stall won the famous ‘War of the Noses’?

Buy some vintage mustard

Right on the Groentenmarkt, you can find the famous Tierenteyn-Ver lent shop . This quaint little shop has been around since 1790 and is mostly known for its specialty: mustard . The decor of the shop has remained exactly the same since 1860 with its apothecary-looking shelves. Not only is their mustard the best we have ever tasted, but it’s also a unique gift to take home . The mustard is freshly spooned from a huge wooden barrel in their typical ceramic containers, which looks just adorable! The mustard itself is quite spicy but absolutely delicious (think Dijon mustard). Once you finish the jar of mustard, you can still re-use the cute container to store sea salt for example. Every time we pass through Ghent we get requested to take a bunch home to Moritz’s family in Germany .

Eat like a local and try out the Gentse Waterzooi

This warm hearty dish is another specialty from Ghent. Waterzooi is a soup stew dish made out of fish or chicken together with vegetables in a cream. Back in the Middle Ages, this soup stew was traditionally prepared with fish from the Lys River. Throughout time it got replaced by chicken by housewives as the rivers got more polluted and fish started to disappear. Nowadays you can choose the version that you like at the many restaurants in Ghent that put their own version of the dish on the menu.

5. Try local Belgian products at the Great Butcher’s Hall

The Great Butcher’s Hall (or Groot Vleeshuis ) is the perfect place to sample all kinds of local authentic cuisine. The impressive 15th-century guild house is a former indoor meat market that was converted into a restaurant. They used to hang Ganda Ham up to cure on the vaulted wooden ceilings, an aspect that has been kept in the current concept of the restaurant. The Hall showcases over 175 regional products from the East Flanders region. In the restaurant, you have the chance to try them out as well as an extensive range of local beers. Check out the menu of the Great Butcher’s Hall here .

OPENING HOURS | From Tuesday until Saturday; from 11 am until 6 pm – TEMPORARILY CLOSED

6. Visit the 3 towers

Ghent is often referred to as the city of the three towers , the famous landmarks that define the medieval skyline of Ghent’s city center. You can spot all three of them in a perfect row from standing on the St. Michiel’s Bridge : Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, and the Belfry Tower:

Enjoy the views from the Belfry of Ghent

Just a short walk away from Saint Michael’s Bridge you find one of the most significant landmarks of Ghent. The Belfry of Ghent (or Belfort ) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the year 1380 that you simply cannot miss. The tallest bell tower in Belgium is the center of attention with its 91-meter height. The symbol of Ghent even has a beautiful copper dragon on the top.

During medieval times, the city’s privileges were guarded in a chest by the dragon on top of the tower. For more than 500 years, the Belfry was used as a fortified watch tower and alerted the citizens in case of fire or enemy attacks. The alarm bell that was used to warn the city was named Roland. However, in the 17th century, Roland was melted and turned into a Carillon. On a visit to the Belfry, you can check out the bells and chimes on your way up. There is an elevator available, so you don’t necessarily have to climb the stairs. 

TIP | Climb to the top of the Belfry Tower to catch the best 360° panoramic view of the city

OPENING HOURS | Every day from 10 am to 6 pm, the last tickets sold at 5.30 pm

ENTRANCE FEES | Adults €11 ; Students (19-25) €5 ; Youth (13-18) €2.2 ; Children until 12 FREE

For more information and booking tickets, check the official website of Belfry.

Marvel at the Saint Bavo’s Cathedral

Another must-see iconic tower in Ghent is the one from Saint Bavo’s Cathedral (or Sint-Baafskathedraal ) dating back to the 11th century. Finished in 1569, it took more than 500 years to complete. The cathedral is home to the altarpiece “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” by brothers Hubert & Jan van Eyck from the 15th century. It’s supposedly one of the earliest oil paintings in the world and is the most celebrated masterpiece of Flemish art . The artwork consists of 24 panels, divided over 2 vertical registers.

One of the panels, however ‘The Just Judges’, has been stolen and is until this date not yet recovered. In the meantime, a copy of the stolen panel was put in its place. Further, there’s a manuscript inside the cathedral that holds the four gospels, which is supposedly the oldest preserved book in Belgium dating back to the 9th century.

OPENING HOURS | Ghent Altarpiece: From Mon-Sat: 10 am – 4.30 pm; Sun: 1 pm – 4.30 pm.

ENTRANCE FEE | €12.5 for the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb;  €10 Discount with CityCard Gent ; the cathedral itself is FREE.

For more information and booking of tickets, visit the official website.

Admire St. Nicholas’ Church Gothic Architecture

One of the oldest landmarks in Ghent is the Scheldt Gothic-style St. Nicholas’ Church , which you can’t miss since it’s located right near St. Michael’s Bridge. Built in the 13th century, the church’s tower served as an observation tower over the city until its neighboring Belfry was built. If you decide to take a peak inside, make sure to check out the Organ which is the central treasure. It was built by the famous French organ creator Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.

TIP | Make sure to spend some time looking at the beautiful guild halls next to the St. Nicholas’ church. In particular, Masons’ Guild Hall , where you can see on top of the stepped gable six figures happily dancing.

7. Hop on a Canal Boat Tour

A great way to discover the city from another vantage point is by taking one of the many Canal Boat Tours . Cruise the romantic waterways of the medieval city during a 40-minute tour . You will pass along all the major highlights, even the imposing Castle of the Counts while floating on the River Lys. There are plenty of operators available on-site offering a round-trip, making booking upfront not necessary. Most of the tours take off at the Graslei and Korenlei intersections. The captain of the boat provides you with historical tales during the guided tour, which are available in multiple languages. Most tours are around €9 per person, if you take the Ghent City Card, the boat tour is included!

8. Explore the Patershol District

In the northern part of the historic city, close to the Gravensteen, is the adorable neighborhood of Patershol . Discovering the little alleys of picturesque Patershol is one of the best things to do in Ghent. Often referred to as the culinary heart of Ghent , these cobblestone streets are filled with cozy restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world. From traditional Flemish cuisine to Japanese and Persian, whatever your heart desires. So if you are getting hungry at the end of your day trip, this is the perfect place to wind down!

This area of the city is usually way less touristy, ideal to escape the crowds. Wander around and enjoy some of the authentic architecture and its street paths that originate back to the Middle Ages. In medieval times this area was very poor, housing the workers of the Counts of Ghent. Today it’s probably the most desirable area in town.

From here, find your way to the Kraanlei Waterfront where you can find plenty of art galleries. Perfect to spend the late afternoon for a stroll along the Leie River. It offers some amazing views of the buildings on the other side. Among them is one of the most famous beer cafés in Ghent ‘ Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant ’ .

TIP | If you are a sweet tooth, make a stop at Confiserie Temmerman to get some old-fashioned sweets and Ghent delicacies like the Cuberdons.

9. Pass through the Graffiti Street

Of all the bigger cities in Belgium, Ghent is mostly known as the trendy and more ‘hipster’ one, with a big creative scene. The city even dedicated an entire street just for street artists and their graffiti art. Find your way to the Werregarenstraat , where you can admire the latest graffiti by local amateurs , but also known artists like Bué the Warrior and Roa. This hidden alleyway might be a bit hard to find if you don’t know it’s there. These days the graffiti street is mentioned on Google under its own location, due to its rising popularity.

It’s definitely worth a stroll if you are into street art and it surely gives you some funky colorful pictures. Feeling creative: Go all out and add something amazing yourself! It’s probably the only street in Belgium where graffiti art is not illegal but even encouraged. This of course means, that a week later, this street could look way different than you remember. (Happened to us already)

10. Taste some legendary local Belgian beers

One of Belgium’s most famous specialties is obviously beer! And in this regard, the beer scene of Ghent certainly doesn’t disappoint. Passing by one of the many cozy cafés to try out some Belgian beer is a must thing to do while in Ghent. While roaming around the city you will pass plenty of bars to choose from. Yet there are a few specific ones worth mentioning. 

Dulle Griet

One of the most unusual bars must be Dulle Grie t , located on the Vrijdagmarkt. This place boasts a selection of over 500 Belgian beers , the largest in all of Ghent. The interior is absolutely special, with a lot going on, so you will come eyes short. The funniest part of visiting the Dulle Griet is the tradition of trading your shoe for beer . It’s like a deposit for ordering a special boot-shaped beer, and you get your shoe back after settling the bill. 

Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant

Our personal favorite is He t Waterhuis aan de Bierkant , a typical “brown pub” (or Bruine Kroeg ) that apparently was once a brothel. It’s a beloved spot amongst beer lovers, definitely in summer when you can enjoy their terrace on the waterfront. It’s located right in the historic center and you will pass it by several times. They have 165 beers on the menu to choose from, but we suggest trying the Delirium Tremens , which is brewed right outside Ghent. Order some cold-cut platters with mustard (they serve the one from Tierenteyn-Verlent !) which pairs amazingly with beer. This is a typical Belgian thing to do, enjoying a beer with some cheese on the side. Now relax and soak in the beautiful views!


Another typical Belgian beer pub is the Trollekelder , which comes with a fun interior theme of Trolls . the pub is set in a 15th-century basement which lends itself to a cozy atmosphere. There are more than 300 beers to choose from, of which their own Trollenbier. A fun fact is that the basement used to be a library until the 1980s.

Barrazza Café

Last not but least, our favorite hidden gem,  Barrazza café . This lovely place gives you a view over the river Lys and if you are lucky you can get a sunny seat right next to the water. You can take this quite literally since you are sitting right on the banks of the river. Enjoying a drink here almost feels like you escaped the hustle and bustle of the city. On the opposite side, from Kraanlei Waterfront, you will catch a great view of the café in between buildings.

11. Go to the market at the Vrijdagmarkt

One of the main squares in Ghent is the Friday Market (or Vrijdagmarkt ), which holds a rich (but dark) history. This was the place where public executions were held back in the day. The last one took place in 1863, after which the square luckily transformed into a happier gathering place.

Most buildings on the Vrijdagmarkt are all rather new compared to the rest of the historic city. The majority were built in the 19th and 20th centuries. Only the white building with the tower remains from medieval times. In the middle of the square, there is a statue of Jacob Van Artevelde , a prominent historical figure of Ghent. He was a cloth merchant who sided with England during the Hundred Year’s War. This was to end the boycott of English wool imports, for which Jakob became a local hero by saving Ghent’s textile trading. On the statue, you can see Jakob pointing in the direction of England.

Beautiful 18th-century guild halls surround the bustling market square housing many bars and restaurants. One of the famous pubs is the Dulle Griet , which serves the largest selection of beers in all of Ghent. The bar has the funny tradition that when you order a Max beer, served in a boot-shaped glass, you have to give your shoe as a deposit. No worries you will get it back afterward! 

As the name already suggests, the weekly market on Friday takes place here as well. A tradition that dates back to the 12th century! It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Ghent if you happen to be in town on a Friday. The favorite Belgian snack that you should try on the market is typical fries with mayonnaise! It just doesn’t get any more Belgian than that.

12. See the Castle of Gerald the Devil

Located a little bit further from the 3 famous towers, stands another castle in town. Built in the 13th century, the castle was named after knight Geeraard Vilain, who went by the nickname Geraard de Duivel (or Gerald the Devil). Throughout the centuries this castle served many purposes, such as a knight’s residence, an arsenal, a school, a monastery, a prison, and even a lunatic asylum. The sight gained more popularity in recent years through its appearance in the Belgian comic book The Adventures of Nero .

Unfortunately, the buildings can’t be visited on the inside. There is however a cozy lunch bar located on the side to enjoy.

13. Walk through the abstract City Pavilion

One building that sticks out against the medieval landscape of Ghent is the modern City Pavilion (or Stadshal ). The piece of architecture has always been a subject of discussion and remains today something you either love or hate. The pavilion was constructed as an open space for concerts and other events in 2012. It was part of a project to revamp the historical square, but due to its modern look, the construction received a lot of criticism. What are your thoughts about it? Have you seen it on a trip to Ghent? Let us know in the comments what you think!

TIP | When walking around this area of town keep your eyes open for the Coin Route (or Muntenroute). 

The idea of the route was to visualize the trading route that went all the way from Bruges to Cologne. Thousands of coins were built into the road surface over a distance of 1km. The clusters of coins tell a piece of history of its surroundings through the engraved drawings.

14. Visit one of the many museums in Ghent

If you want to squeeze in a museum visit, Ghent doesn’t fall short, there are plenty to choose from.

STAM |  Ghent City Museum, where you can learn more about the history and the citizens of Ghent.

SMAK | Lovers of contemporary art can’t afford to miss this place. The museum is the perfect reflection of Ghent’s dynamic and rebellious vibe through art. The museum displays thought-provoking art through innovative exhibitions from both local Belgium artists as well as international artists.

House of Alijn | Takes you through the daily life of Ghent citizens in the 20th century.

Design Museum Ghent | Set in an 18th-century mansion, the Design Museum showcases a selection of applied arts and industrial designs from 1450 to the present day. You can find design collections from different periods such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Modernism.

MSK | The Museum of Fine Arts has an impressive art collection going from 16th-century Flemish primitives to 20th-century surrealist pieces.

Of course, there are many more things to do in Ghent besides the main landmarks, but we wanted to sum up the must-dos for your first time visiting. Thinking of spending a weekend in Ghent? Then make sure to check out our complete 2-day Ghent itinerary guide where we provide a ready-to-go route, useful tips, the best places to stay, and where to go to have mouthwatering food.

Maps of all the best things to do in Ghent

For your convenience, we have created an interactive map pinpointing all the mentioned sights and locations. This Google Maps link is freely available for you to open, save, and use as a helpful guide during your upcoming trip to Ghent.

Fun Tours & Experiences in Ghent

Joining a tour can be a great way to make the most of your visit and gain valuable insights from knowledgeable guides. Here are some fun tours & experiences for your Ghent trip:

Where to stay in Ghent

We suggest staying close to the city center if it’s your first time spending a weekend in Ghent. This way you are within walking distance of all the major highlights and can truly enjoy the atmosphere of this lively city. Since Ghent is less known than Bruges or Brussels, you can definitely find some great-value hotels.

BUDGET | B&B HOTEL Gent Centrum  

The perfect base to explore the city of Ghent from, its central location just can’t be beaten. This stay offers everything you need for a basic, clean & comfortable room.

MID-RANGE | Yalo Urban Boutique Hotel Gent  

Design hotel with a breathtaking rooftop bar that overlooks Ghent. They have their in-house restaurant and bar to enjoy and offer private parking on-site if you come by car.

LUXURY | 1898 The Post

A gorgeous boutique hotel located in the iconic former 19th-century post office building at the Korenmarkt. The rooms are decorated with antique furniture pieces in combination with a sleek design. Guests can enjoy a seating area with an open fireplace that overlooks Ghent, as well as an in-house cocktail bar called The Cobbler.

Ghent Essential Resources

FLIGHTS |  Find the best deals for flights to Belgium with  Skyscanner .

TRANSFERS |  Ready to travel to your next destination in Europe? Book your bus or train tickets via  12go .

HOTELS |  Browse  for a place to stay in Ghent, from budget hostels to luxury hotels.

TOURS & ATTRACTIONS |  For booking the most fun experiences, check out  GetYourGuide   or  Viator .

We hope this Best Things to do in Ghent post helped you out. You can show some ❤ and support for the blog and help us share more adventures! Our travels are entirely self-funded, so any show of support is greatly appreciated. It allows us to keep writing helpful travel guides and gather information to make it easier for people to discover the world.

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A perfect one day in ghent: itinerary + best things to do.

With its network of narrow canals, red-brick buildings and magnificent Gothic architecture, Ghent is one of Belgium’s glittering jewels. And as this is a small city, a day trip to Ghent (Gent in Flemish) will allow you to hit its highlights with ease.

But what are the best things to do during one day in Ghent?

This is where I can help you. I used this lovely city as a base to explore other places in Belgium and put together a Ghent 1-day itinerary to make sure that I didn’t miss the good stuff.

I’ve also included more things to do in Ghent if you are there for two or three days, plus advice on where to stay, how to get there and how to get around.

stone bridge crossing a canal in ghent surrounded by medieval buildings

Some articles on this website contain affiliate links. This means that I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases . Read the full disclosure here .

view of church and cityscape with tramlines from high vantage point


  • Gaze in wonder at The Adoration of Mystic Lamb
  • Take in the view from St. Michael’s Bridge
  • Climb Ghent’s Belfort
  • Visit Gravensteen
  • Join a Belgian beer tour with a local (find out more here )

HOW TO DO A GHENT DAY TRIP: Ghent is 30 minutes by train from Brussels or Bruges.


CURRENCY: Euro. Cards are widely accepted.

LANGUAGE SPOKEN: Most locals speak Flemish, which is similar to Dutch. Many people speak English.


Is One Day Enough for Ghent?

You can cover most of Ghent’s main attractions in one day. However, I recommend allowing two days to do this in a more relaxed way.   I used Ghent as one of my bases for spending a week in Belgium . From here, I took a day trip to lovely Leuven and ate my way through the best chocolate shops in Bruges . 

Best Things to Do in Ghent in a Day: A Self-Guided Walking Tour

It is easy to hit the highlights of Ghent in one day on a self-guided walking tour.

From the starting point at St. Bavo’s Cathedral to the endpoint at Graffiti Street, the total distance is less than two miles . I suggest that you break off at the halfway mark for a relaxing boat cruise.

Here is a map to help you on your way. For an interactive map with walking directions, simply click here or on the image itself.

map of the best things to see in ghent in one day

But if you prefer someone else to take care of the arrangements for you or you want to benefit from local knowledge, join an organised walking tour . This is also one of the best ways to meet people as a solo traveller .


1-Day Ghent Itinerary

St. bavo’s cathedral & the mystic lamb.

Our day in Ghent begins with one of the world’s artistic masterpieces, Jan van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb .

Housed in the Gothic St. Bavo’s Cathedral (Sint-Baafskathedraal), the so-called Ghent altarpiece has survived wars, fire and theft. It has been restored to its former luminous glory and is sited in the cathedral’s Villa Chapel.

mystic plamb painting showing group of people worshipping a lamb

St. Bavo’s Cathedral is also home to a typically energetic Rubens painting ( St Baaf entering the Abbey of Ghent ) and a massive marble and oak Rococo pulpit , representing the Tree of Life.

ornate marble and oak pulpit


After you exit St. Bavo’s Cathedral, take a short detour to take a look at Gerald the Devil.

old grey stone turreted building by side of canal

Don’t be fooled by the name. A devil has never lived in this sombre 13th-century fortress. 

Staring life as a knights’ residence, it has been used as an arsenal, a monastery, a school, a bishop’s seminary, a 17th-century institution for the mentally ill and a home for male orphans.


Across from the cathedral, on the west side of the main square, is the UNESCO-listed Belfort of Ghent (Ghent’s Belfry).

Built from blue-grey limestone ferried from Tournai, work started on this tower in 1313. The building was tinkered with many times over the centuries and its current dragon-topped spire dates from the 20 th Century.

Take the elevator to the roof of the belfry for windy views over the city centre. The entrance is on the south side of the adjoining Lakenhalle, Ghent’s historic Cloth Hall .

view over streets of ghent from high vantage point


Ghent’s striking City Hall or Stadhuis is a building of two halves.

The later section, dating from the 1580s, is pure Italian Renaissance with its perfect symmetry and majestic columns and pilasters. But turn the corner, and the flamboyant façade is pure Gothic. This style was intended for the entire building until the collapse of the wool trade killed the finances.

elaborate carved exterior of medieval building with spire in background


St. Nicholas’s Church (Sint-Niklaaskerk) is a few minutes walk from Ghent’s City Hall. This Gothic church was built from blue-grey Tournai stone and was completed in the 13 th Century.

exterior of st nicholas church in ghent belgium

Step inside to take a look at the Baroque high altar and its representation of the Last Judgement.

wooden carving of cherub in church


No day in Ghent is complete without stopping to admire the view from St. Michael’s Bridge (Sint-Michielsbrug). This landmark was built in 1913 to offer visitors to the Great Exhibition the best vantage point to view the city’s skyline.

woamn walking across a bridge towards a gothic church

To the south, there is the handsome Gothic Sint-Michielskirk . In the opposite direction is Tussen Bruggen , Ghent’s oldest harbour and its iconic quays, the Graslei and the Korenlei.

exterior of st michael chruch in ghent with reflection in blue water of canal


Back in medieval times, Ghent’s boatmen and grain weighers were essential to the fortunes of the city. A lasting legacy is the row of gorgeous guildhouses that line the Graslei, the gable of each decorated with a symbol indicating its function.

row of gabled medieval buildings along the side of a canal in ghent belgium


On the opposite side of the harbour, the Korenlei is home to an ensemble of 18 th Century merchants’ houses built in the Neoclassical style. Take a look at the Guildhouse of the Unfree Boatmen at number 7 which has a façade that features exaggerated dolphins and lions.

row of medieval houses reflected in the canal of ghent in belgium


Now it’s time to rest those feet. You deserve it.

Boats depart the Graslei and the Korenlei for a 50-minute trip along Ghent’s canals. This is an excellent way to learn more about the city.

people on a canal boat tour on a sunny day



We are now going to make our way towards Ghent’s castle via Jan Breydelstraat. This is one of the city’s prettiest streets and is lined with inviting shops and restaurants.

pretty medieval street in ghent


old grey stone castle surrounded by water

The hulking and forbidding walls and turrets of Het Gravensteen, or the castle of the counts in Flanders, look like they have been lifted straight from a child’s storybook. It was first built in 1180 to intimidate and protect Ghent’s unruly citizens in equal measure.

A kitsch (and overlong) self-guided tour takes you through its main buildings, passing medieval military hardware and instruments of torture along the way. From the castle’s wall, there are lovely views over Ghent’s city centre.

view of a medieval square with tower of church in background through a stone window frame

Northeast of Het Gravensteen is the Patershol, a picturesque labyrinth of brick terraced houses, dating from the 17 th Century. This was once the heart of the city and is a good spot to grab a bite to eat.


statues of king pointing in a grand square in ghent

For centuries, the Vrijdagmarkt was the political heart of Ghent and the site of public meetings and executions. The imposing statue in the middle of the square is that of the guild leader Jacob van Artevelde.


graffiti on wall in ghent belgium

From the artwork in Brick Lane in my home town of London to checking out the MUAS Initiative in Málaga , I try to seek out street art wherever I am. Visiting Ghent was no exception.

Street artists are let loose with their spray cans on Werregarenstraat, otherwise known as Graffiti Street. It’s worth taking a detour to this narrow alleyway to look at works by artists such as Roa and Bué the Warrior.


group of people sitting around table with belgian beers

If you are staying overnight in Ghent, you must join this excellent beer tour with a local guide.

Beer is one of the things for which Belgium is famous and prior to World War II, there were over 100 breweries in Ghent. Today’s brewers have rediscovered Ghent and both microbreweries and larger breweries are booming.

Liselot, our super-enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, introduced us to five types of Belgian beer in three bars. At the end of the tour, she provided personalised recommendations for beer that is widely available in Belgium.

In case you’re wondering, I should go for Gulden Draak Quadruple, a mere 10.7% ABV. Cheers.


Other Great Places to Visit in Ghent, Belgium

But perhaps you are spending two days in Ghent (or longer) and want to squeeze in more sights. Here is my pick of the best of the rest.


St. Peter’s was a Benedictine abbey founded in the 7th Century by St Amand. It thrived during the 14th and 15th Centuries, growing into a sort of abbey village with farms, gardens, homes and estates.

Its garden is gorgeous and has a fine courtyard and vineyard. But the highlight for me was clambering up to the organ for a view over the fabulous Renaissance Our Lady of St. Peter’s Church.

the aisle of a magnificent renaissance church with grey stone pillars


This folklore museum is housed in a former children’s hospital, St Catherine’s Hospital, the only conserved almshouse in Ghent.

row of white almhouses with terracotta roofs and courtyard with tables and chairs

The almshouse was founded in 1363 to resolve a long-running blood feud between two of the city’s patrician families: the Rijms and the Alijns. Think of them as the Flemish version of the Montagues and Capulets in Romeo & Juliet .

The museum’s rooms depict life and work in 19th and 20 th Century Ghent with reconstructions of living spaces and shops.


Ghent’s Fine Art Museum displays over 600 pieces from its collection of about 9,000 works, spanning the Middle Ages to the first half of the 20th century. These works are arranged thematically, starting with Religion and ending with Progressives vs Conservative (I liked room 16: Travelling around the World).

painting of people at a wedding feast

If contemporary art is more your thing, head across the road to the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, or the S.M.A.K. for short. It’s not my cup of tea but its collection is considered to be the most important of its kind in Flanders.

Is the Ghent City Card Worth It?

Like many cities, Ghent has a tourist pass – CityCard Gent – that offers free or discounted admission to its main attractions from €38. It also includes a boat tour and bicycle rental for one day.

But is the Ghent City card good value ?   I’m not usually a massive fan of these city cards but, for me, it was a travel bargain. Like any of these city cards, you will need to do the maths to work out if it is the right choice for you.   You can pick one up at the city’s tourist information centre or at participating attractions.

READ THIS NEXT : Is the Ghent City Card Worth It?

How to get to Ghent from Brussels or Bruges

Ghent is located at the midpoint of the train line between Brussels and Bruges. From either city, it’s a 30-minute journey.

Trains are frequent and not expensive.

The only downside is that Ghent St. Peter’s Station is a 30-minute walk from the historic city centre. However, if you are feeling weary or want to save time, tram line 1 runs from the station to the city centre every ten minutes.

wall mural of ships in old port of ostend

Thanks to Eurostar, you could even take a day trip to Ghent from London . You will need to change trains at Brussels Midi / Brussels Sud.

For example; if you caught the first Eurostar train from London St. Pancras International at just after 8 am, you would be ready to start your day in Ghent at midday. The last train for London departs Brussels just before 9 pm.

Getting Around Ghent

Ghent is a very walkable city. Its main attractions are spread over a small area and the best way of getting around is on foot.

Where to Stay in Ghent

If you are staying overnight in Ghent , base yourself in its historic centre to be close to the attractions included in this one-day itinerary.

Here are my top choices:

Snooz Ap Holiday & Business Flats

I stayed at this superb apartment in the heart of the historic city centre, which is a great self-catering choice in Ghent. The washing machine, Nespresso machine and roof terrace were welcome bonuses.

room in a rental apartment with sofa table and chair and kitchenette


Here are some other choices of accommodation that may suit other tastes and budgets:

B&B Inn Between

If you are looking for a first-rate accommodation choice that is closer to the train station, this could be it. This 4-star B&B has gardened fabulous reviews.


B&B The Verhaegen

Push the boat out and stay at this guesthouse housed in a historic building in the heart of the city. There is also a peaceful garden in which to relax after a hard day’s sightseeing.

READ THIS NEXT: Where to Stay in Ghent, Belgium: The Best Areas for All Travellers

Visiting Bruges and Ghent in One Day

As Bruges and Ghent are only 30 minutes apart by train, it is possible to visit them both in one day.   These two cities are very walkable. Whilst there are similarities between Bruges and Ghent cities, they each have something unique to offer.   However, visiting both of these cities in a day will be a rushed experience. Furthermore, you will need to be highly selective in what you see and very organised to make the best of your day.      My advice is to spend a day in both cities if possible. If that’s not an option, then pick a city.   But life isn’t always perfect. If you are short on time, I recommend joining an organised day tour to make the most of your precious day.   This day trip to Ghent and Bruges from Brussels is affordable and has excellent reviews.

Is Ghent Safe for Solo Travellers?

Belgium is an easy country for solo travellers, even if you are travelling alone for the first time . It has an excellent infrastructure, relatively affordable accommodation, a rich history and buzzing nightlife in the main cities.   Keeping safe is a key concern of female solo travellers . Ghent is a friendly city with locals, students and tourists enjoying its attractions, bars and restaurants. Even after dark on weekdays, I felt safe.   That said, a little bit of common sense goes a long way. Watch out for pickpockets, especially in popular tourist areas and transport hubs. Remain vigilant and keep your belongings close to you. If you have a safe at your accommodation, use it to store valuables. 

bicycle chained alongside a pretty canal in ghent belgium

Thank you for reading my guide to what to do in Ghent for a day

Whilst Ghent is not as well-known as either Brussels or Bruges, ignore it at your peril.   It attracts a fraction of the visitors descending on these two cities which has to be a good thing. If you ever visited Bruges on a weekend day in summer, you will know what I mean.     It has history and culture in spades, friendly locals, glorious architecture and meandering canals. And if that’s not enough, Ghent also has a lively restaurant and bar scene and is home to a growing number of breweries.    I hope that you have a wonderful day in Ghent. If you’ve enjoyed this guide, take a look at my other Belgium articles to help you plan your trip:

  • A Perfect 1-Week Belgium Itinerary by Train
  • 11 Awesome Reasons to Visit Mechelen, Belgium
  • One Day in Leuven, Belgium: Top 10 Things to Do
  • 10 Reasons to Visit Hasselt: Belgium’s Hidden Gem
  • One Day in Brussels: Itinerary and Best Things to Do
  • How to Find the Best Chocolate in Bruges, Belgium 

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About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at [email protected] or follow her on social media.

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Home » Europe » Belgium » 17 Best Things to Do in Ghent

17 Best Things to Do in Ghent

By Author Laura Longwell

Posted on Last updated: October 22, 2023

Ghent may not be the first city that comes to mind when you think about traveling to Europe, and that may be one of the top reasons to go. Without the mass of tourists that can overwhelm some gorgeous cities, Ghent, Belgium, is a place where you can see the sights, wander the streets, and hang out with the locals without competing for space or being turned off by tourist touts.

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

Traveling to Ghent almost feels like discovering a secret. Its stunning Gothic buildings are mixed in with street art, waterfront cafes, and even a castle. There are enough fun things to do in Ghent to occupy a whole weekend, if not longer. This beautiful city is one of our favorites. We’ve had the good fortune to visit multiple times, and we can’t stop singing its praises.

Here’s a look at what to do in Ghent.

See the view from the Ghent belfry

Tour the castle of the counts, visit st. bavo’s cathedral, take a canal cruise, go on a street art walk, explore stam, ghent city museum, visit butchers’ hall, try the frites, see saint nicholas church, explore vrijdagmarkt square, have a beer at dulle griet, try a cuberdon, visit korenmarkt square, enjoy korenlei and graslei, go vegan for the day, wander the patershol neighborhood, attend a festival.

Ghent skyline view including rooftops and St. Bavo's Cathedral belltower.

For the best view in the city, head up the belfry (belfort). It’s not often in Europe that you find a 14th-century bell tower where you can take an elevator instead of trudging up 300+ stairs. When that happens, take advantage of it.

The 300-foot-high Belfry of Ghent is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the top things to see in Ghent. Finished in 1380, it was the primary watchtower for the medieval city, and its carillon announced the time and gave warnings.

On the way up, there’s an exhibit about the belfry’s famous dragon weathervane, which has guarded the site since the tower was built. There are two previous incarnations of him in various states of completeness. You’ll also see a the giant bell called “Roland” and a huge rotating drum that looks like the inner workings of a music box, which is responsible for the music of the carillon. But the real attraction is the view.

Metal dragon figure on display.

The belfry is the middle of the city’s three towers, so it provides a great view of St. Nicholas Church and the old center of Ghent on one side and St. Bavo on the other. If you’re interested in getting a nice photo of St. Nicholas as in our photo above, arrive mid-morning when the sun will be behind you (and hopefully not casting too many shadows).

Stone exterior of Castle of the Counts above the river.

One of the top Ghent attractions is right in the city center. The 12th-century Castle of the Counts (Gravensteen) is impossible to miss. With a moat and turrets, the imposing structure looms over the Lys River.

From 1180 until 1353, the castle was the residence of the Counts of Flanders and was heavily intertwined in the political happenings. After the Counts left, it was used as a court, a prison, and a cotton mill, gradually falling into disrepair. After an extensive restoration, the Castle of the Counts sports a unique collection of torture equipment and the odd suit of armor, though furnishings are generally sparse.

View of towers and Ghent city center from Gravensteen castle.

A 45-minute audio guide provides a little bit more context to the rooms and the castle’s story but is much more entertainment than historical information (it’s voiced by a Belgian comedian). The gatehouse, ramparts, keep, and stables are open to visitors. Like the belfry, the Castle of the Counts provides spectacular views from the top.

Black and white interior of a cathedral with sculptures and vaulted ceiling.

There has been a religious building on the site of St. Bavo’s Cathedral for over 1000 years. The current Gothic cathedral—complete with its 290-foot-high bell tower—is one of the most popular Ghent tourist attractions.

The cathedral itself is magnificent. With four grand organs, a Baroque high altar, a painting by Peter Paul Rubens, and a pulpit made with marble and gilded wood, the cathedral offers lots to see. But the real reason people flock to St. Bavo’s is the Ghent Altarpiece (which you’re not allowed to photograph).

Elevated ornate pulpit covered in sculptures.

Officially titled The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb , the Ghent Altarpiece is considered the first Renaissance masterpiece. The 20-paneled work was completed in 1432 by the Van Eyck brothers and is one of the earliest-known oil paintings.

The painting has been stolen, traded, and nearly destroyed by the likes of Austrian Emperor Joseph II, Napoleon, and Hitler. Given its age and its troubled history, it’s a miracle that the painting survives at all. Recent restoration work has cleaned the painting and removed earlier “fixes.” The colors now are spectacular—it looks like it was painted last week rather than 600 years ago.

Seeing the altarpiece requires a ticket, which comes with an augmented reality option (St. Bavo’s is otherwise free to enter). Lines can be long for this popular site, so if it’s on your list of places to visit in Ghent, going early or late in the day is usually better for avoiding crowds.

Two rows of buildings along a river filled with boats.

Don’t miss out on seeing the city from the water. There are several options, but the one we took leaves from just in front of the Marriott.

In several different languages, the captain provides a guided tour and a deeper look at the history of Ghent and its beautiful buildings. A canal cruise is the perfect opportunity to rest your feet and learn a little bit at the same time.

Graffiti-covered alley and spray painted sculpture.

Street art is one of our favorite things to discover in a city, and Ghent city center has a vibrant street art culture. Throughout the city, there are large murals by well-known artists as well as smaller works by up-and-comers. There is no shortage of legal canvasses for artists to show their stuff, and Ghent celebrates their contributions to the city’s art scene.

One stop on the must do list for many visitors is Werregarenstraat, now known to most as “graffiti alley.” The pedestrian street is a mixture of work. Started during the Ghent Festivities in 1995, the project is never the same from one week to the next with new tags and designs appearing all the time.

Street art murals with people and animals.

Elsewhere in the city are alleys filled with cartoon characters, bright blue bandits on the sides of buildings, and all kinds of otherworldly creatures. Acclaimed artist and Ghent native Roa has contributed works featuring his large-scale animals.

To discover the street art on your own, follow the downloadable guide from ‘Sorry, not sorry’ or pick up a map at the tourism office that marks many of the sites.

Formed by a 14th-century abbey, a 17th-century convent, and 21st-century building, the physical structure of STAM , Ghent City Museum reflects the content you’ll see inside. With a variety of interactive collections and exhibits, the museum traces the city’s history beginning in the Middle Ages and even projects what its future could be. It’s a great place to visit to understand the city in more depth.

Interior of Butchers' Hall with hams hanging from ceiling.

Originally a covered market, the Butchers’ Hall on Groentenmarkt Square dates back to the 15th century. Its impressive wooden vault was built entirely without nails, and those rafters now support traditional drying Ganda Ham, a local specialty.

With a nod to its roots, the Butchers’ Hall is the best place for finding authentic East Flemish food in Ghent. This is no small feat considering that there are more than 175 traditional regional culinary products, and the Butchers’ Hall has them all. In addition to the ham, you’ll find delicious Tierenteyn mustard, Breydel bacon, numerous local beers, cheeses and cheese croquettes, and so many other tasty things.

The products at the Butchers’ Hall can be bought individually or put together in a gift pack, and many are wrapped to get through Customs if you want to take them home. To try the food in the moment, check out the on-site restaurant.

Hand holding a dish of frites.

You can’t go a day in Belgium without enjoying frites, or at least you shouldn’t. (Calories don’t count on vacation, right?)

The best frites stand we found is just outside the Butchers’ Hall. In fact, right up against it in a red alcove. You would almost walk right past it if not for the line of people.

The no-frills counter serves great fries with a variety of sauces. Try them with traditional mayonnaise, our favorite curry sauce, or whatever floats your boat. Escargots and croquettes are popular here, too, for just a few euro.

Exterior of church with arched windows and bell tower.

Built beginning in the 13th century, Saint Nicholas Church is one of the most prominent city landmarks. With turrets on either side and a central tower, it is easily one of the prettiest places to see in Ghent.

Located near the Belfry and Saint Bavo’s, Saint Nicholas becomes the third of the three towers that the city is known for. If you begin to cross St. Michael’s Bridge next to the Korenmarkt and then turn around, you’ll be provided with a fabulous view of these historic buildings.

Ferris wheel in front of large church with multiple towers.

The inside of the church is fairly typical of historic Belgian churches, but it can’t hold a candle to St. Bavo’s (few places can). It’s worth a quick visit to the interior because visiting the church is free, but we found the outside to be the highlight.

People on bicycles in a city square.

One of the oldest and largest squares, Vrijdagmarkt square gets its name from the weekly market held here. Each Friday and Saturday, the square fills with vendors selling local delicacies, clothes, and household items. A statue of the prominent 14th-century businessman Jakob van Artevelde overlooks it all.

Statue of a man in the middle of Vrijdagmarkt Square.

Around the square is the Ons Huis (“House of the People”), the headquarters for the region’s socialist movement, and lots of places to eat and drink, some with outdoor patios. If you missed the frites stand by the Butchers’ Hall, there’s another great option here—Frituur Jozef fry wagon.

Directly behind the Van Artevelde statue is Baudelostraat, home to lots of vintage shops. We liked it most for its string of colorful buildings with ornate gables and balconies.

Exterior of bar Dulle Griet with neon signs.

Dulle Griet is one of the top bars for beer lovers. With over 500 beers on the menu, it’s hard to imagine anything this pub doesn’t have.

Named after the massive cannon just around the corner, beer café Dulle Griet has a cozy medieval interior with wagon wheels, beer barrels, and lots of throwback beer advertisements. There are many great beers to try here, but the Max is the reason this place is well-known.

Max beer comes in a giant, specially-made glass, complete with a wooden stand to keep it upright. Visitors have loved the glass so much, they’ve tried to take them home (although they’re so large, that seems difficult). Dulle Griet has come up with an easy solution: get a beer, give your shoe.

When a customer gets their Max beer, the server rings and bell and a basket is lowered from the ceiling. The shoe goes in, and the basket gets hoisted right back up. You get your shoe back when you’re finished. It’s possibly the most unique kind of insurance we’ve seen, but it’s all in good fun. I’m not a beer drinker, but my sister loved it when we went together.

Bicycle cart selling traditional cuberdon candy at the Groentenmarkt

If you’ve never heard of a cuberdon, you’re not alone. This deep purple sugar cone is the city’s signature candy. Don’t leave without trying one.

Cuberdons have a thick sugary shell with a filling of the same flavor. The purple ones, which are most traditional, are raspberry flavored. Other kinds include apple, strawberry, lemon, and blueberry. At the time of our visit, we got a mixed bag for €5 euro, which is the easiest way to try all the varieties.

One place to be guaranteed of getting a cuberdon is at the Groentenmarkt adjacent to the Butchers’ Hall. There, you’ll find two carts—historic rivals for your business—piled high with the colorful cone-shaped candies.

Former post office building with clock tower and turrets.

The Korenmarket is as close as Ghent comes to having a main square, more because of its location near several main sights than because of its size.

On the corner is the former post office, which is now shops and a hotel called 1898 The Post. There’s also the beautiful St. Nicholas Church with its bluestone. The square is surrounded with several historic buildings, which are now bars and restaurants that have patio seating. In nice weather, the Korenmarkt is like one giant outdoor café.

Pause a minute to have a coffee and do a bit of shopping. The Korenmarkt is also the ideal place for a little people watching.

Renaissance buildings along the river.

The quays of the Lys River are lovely places to spend some time. Korenlei (Wheat Market) on the left bank and Graslei (Grass Market) just across the water on the right bank have historic buildings and a high concentration of outdoor cafes.

The sites date back to the 5th century when Ghent was the center of the wheat trade in the County of Flanders. Most of the current buildings were built in the Middle Ages, although they have been restored and modified over the centuries. We’re suckers for this kind of architecture, so walking along the banks is pretty dreamy.

Riverside scene with boats and traditional buildings.

Some of the buildings have been turned into restaurants and cafes. In decent weather, their outdoor patios fill with people enjoying the sun by the waterside with a Belgian beer (or two) in hand. The quays are a great place to sit and enjoy life.

Traditional Belgian cuisine is not exactly known for being light. Made up of stews, meatballs, frites, and fried croquettes, a lot of meat and potatoes is involved. But options are increasing.

Ghent calls itself the “Veggie Capital of Europe.” There are more vegetarian restaurants per capita than in all other cities in Europe, and Ghent serves more vegetarian meals than anywhere in Belgium. This is thanks, in part, to its large student population.

Thursdays are “veggie days.” Dozens of restaurants and hotels offer vegetarian and vegan specialties, and it’s estimated that 50% of the population opts for vegetarian options. Le Botaniste, Greenway, and Lokaal are three favorites that are always near the top of the list for best vegetarian and vegan spots .

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

The twisting, turning streets of the Patershol neighborhood are lined with 16th-century houses, artists’ workshops, and restaurants. For a moment, visiting here almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time.

In a city known for its food, destinations in the Patershol are at the top of the list. From Turkish to Italian and Japanese to Spanish, there are lots of cuisines to choose from. Whether you want quirky, casual, or fancy, you’ll find something delicious and welcoming.

Interior of an old-fashioned candy shop.

Another highlight in the Patershol is Confiserie Temmerman , a classic candy shop with an ornate Baroque exterior. The oldest sweet shop in town has been run by the same family for eight generations. Step inside to see their classic candies. If you didn’t stop for cuberdons before, Temmerman is a perfect place to buy a few.

Christmas market stalls outside a church at night

Ghent has lots of great festivals and fairs to choose from throughout the year. So many, in fact, that its tourism website proclaims it “Festival City.”

Early July brings the Ghent Jazz Festival . Belgian acts and big-name performers such as Sting, Gregory Porter, Herbie Hancock, and Norah Jones offer concerts for 10 days. In mid-September, visitors to the Festival of Flanders come to see nearly 200 classical and world music concerts of throughout the city. Together, these two events have earned the city the title of UNESCO Creative City of Music.

Equally significant is the Ghent Festivities (Gentse Feesten), which happens for 10 days each July. It’s actually four festivals happening over the same period, featuring music, puppetry, street theater, and dance. The whole city turns into a giant artsy sea of musical and theatrical performances, including mimes, street performers, comedians, buskers, and free music of every genre across 10 city squares.

People skating on ice rink.

In December and early January, Ghent is all about the Christmas markets. You can eat, drink, and be merry throughout the city with champagne, mulled wine, and melty, bubbling raclette around every corner. There is ice skating, lights, and plenty of opportunities for shopping at more than 150 wooden huts spread out from in front of St. Bavo’s to the Korenmarkt. We visited six different Christmas markets in Belgium –including Brussels and Bruges–and Ghent was among our favorites.

Other special events include culinary festivals like the Vegan Summer Fest and the Gent Smaakt, the Patershol neighborhood street party, and the annual Film Fest Gent . There is almost always something special happening here.

How to Get There

In northwest Belgium in the region of Flanders, Ghent is about 35 minutes by train from Brussels, which is well-connected worldwide via Brussels Airport.

Overhead view of Ghent, Belgium, skyline.

Ghent is roughly half-way between Brussels and Bruges. Some people choose to visit both Ghent and Bruges in one day , but we would suggest that itinerary only as a last resort because both cities (and Ghent, in particular) are worth a minimum of one day. If you have to choose one or the other, these considerations might help you make a choice .

Ghent is approximately one hour by train from Antwerp.

places to visit in ghent belgium

Laura Longwell is an award-winning travel blogger and photographer. Since founding Travel Addicts in 2008, she has written hundreds of articles that help over 3 million people a year get the most out of their travel. In that time, she has visited nearly 60 countries on 5 continents, often returning to favorite destinations over and over again. She has a deep love of history, uncovering unexpected attractions, and trying all the good food a place has to offer.

In addition to Travel Addicts, Laura runs a site about her hometown of Philadelphia—Guide to Philly—which chronicles unique things to do and places to see around southeastern Pennsylvania. Her travel tips and advice appear across the web.

17 Best Things to Do in Ghent

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Joanna Damon

Thursday 20th of October 2022

Ghent has one of the most famous works of art in the world and I don't think you even mention it, The Ghent altarpiece also has an interesting history as it was looted by the Nazis and returned by the Monuments Men - not just a movie. Otherwise very helpful.

Laura Longwell

Friday 21st of October 2022

Huh? There are three entire paragraphs about it.

Wednesday 14th of September 2022

We just got back from Ghent, and I must say its one of the most beautiful European cities I've seen so far. If you like cafe culture and history, it's one of the best. The Mystic Lamb display (and St. Bavo's, in general) is one of the most spectacular religious settings you'll find in Europe. We don't go back to many places as we prefer to discover new ones instead, but we'll be coming back to Ghent.

Agreed. It's one of our favorites. We've been twice but will definitely return when we have the opportunity.

Caroline Abettan

Monday 22nd of November 2021

I'm glad I found your blog. great pictures

Jacqueline Sargent

Thursday 2nd of July 2020

My daughter has won a scholarship to a uni in Ghent. I cannot wait to share this information with her. Thank you!

Congratulations to her! Ghent is absolutely lovely. I hope she enjoys it and that you get to tag along for a visit.

Saturday 15th of February 2020

Thank you for all the helpful info. I love how it's packed with succinct info! Can't wait to get to Ghent!

Sunday 16th of February 2020

Ghent is fabulous! One of our very favorite places in Europe. Have a great trip :)

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20 Best Things to do in Ghent – Museums, Attractions and Festivals

October 6, 2023 | Posted in: Belgium

Ghent is a historic city located in the Flanders region of Belgium. Ghent's origin dates back to the 10th century, but then grew to become one of the largest and richest cities in northern Europe by the 13th century due to its thriving cloth trade industry. However, the city went through an economic decline in the 16th century. Today, Ghent has transitioned into a modern city and is considered one of Belgium's best-kept secrets.

Ghent's well-preserved mediaeval architecture makes it a popular tourist destination. The city center is car-free, and landmarks like the 14th-century Belfry tower and 12th-century St. Bavo's Cathedral draws many visitors daily. Inside St. Bavo's Cathedral lies one of Ghent's most prized treasures – the 15th-century Ghent Altarpiece, an intricate polyptych altarpiece featuring paintings by Jan van Eyck. Ghent is also home to Gravensteen Castle, which was built in 1180 and houses a museum today.


When visiting Ghent , climbing the belfry's 366 steps rewards visitors with panoramic views of the city and its many church spires. At night, Ghent's architecture and riverfront are illuminated, giving the city a magical charm. The city celebrates with the lively, 10-day Ghent Festivities each July. Foodies will enjoy the region's specialty dishes like waterzooi stew, as well as praline chocolates and cone-shaped cuberdons candies.

Listed below are the best things to do in Ghent.

  • Tour Gravensteen Castle. Gravensteen Castle is a medieval castle in central Ghent, Belgium. Originally built in 1180, it has many original features like imposing stone walls, towers, central keep and moat. Visitors can explore dungeons, see torture devices and medieval artifacts. Located at Sint-Veerleplein 11, the castle appeals to history and architecture lovers. Admission is 13 € ($14, £11). Open daily 10am-6pm.
  • Climb the Belfry of Ghent. The Belfry of Ghent is a 13th century bell tower in Ghent's historic center. At 91 meters tall, it offers panoramic city views. Its spire has a golden dragon weathervane from 1377. The tower contains a carillon with 54 bells and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors can take the lift or climb 366 steps to the top. Located off Sint-Baafsplein, the belfry appeals to sightseers and photographers. Admission is 11€ ($12, £10). Open daily 10am-6pm.
  • Eat local culinary delicacies in Ghent. Ghent has signature local delicacies like the purple conical raspberry-flavored candy called cuberdon and the vegetable stew Gentse waterzooi. The Great Butchers' Hall displays over 175 regional products. Ghent is a haven for vegetarians with “veggie days” on Thursdays in restaurants. Foodies flock here for the diverse cuisine.
  • Stroll through the streets in Patershol. Patershol is a historic neighborhood with cobblestone streets and medieval architecture dating to the 12th century. Once home to leather traders, it is now a trendy district with restaurants, bars, galleries and cafés. Located by the Castle of the Counts, it offers charming ambience. Patershol appeals to photographers and foodies.
  • Discover the House of Alijn. The House of Alijn in a former children's hospital illuminates daily life in 20th century Ghent through recreated shops, exhibits and artifacts. Located at Kraanlei 65, it appeals to all ages. Hands-on exhibits bring history to life. Admission is 9€ ($9.50, £7.70). Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm, closed Mondays.

1. Tour Gravensteen Castle

2. climb the belfry of ghent, 3. eat local culinary delicacies in ghent, 4. stroll through the streets in patershol, 5. discover the house of alijn, 6. explore the friday market in vrijdagmarkt, 7. discover ghent’s graffiti, 8. marvel inside st bavo's cathedral, 9. wander through the ruins of medieval st. bavo's abbey, 10. enjoy romantic views from st michael's bridge, 11. appreciate the gothic architecture at st nicholas church, 12. relax at a canal-side cafe on graslei and korenlei, 13. experience magical light installations at the ghent light festival, 14. cruise along on a boat trip on ghent’s medieval waterways, 15. find peace in st peter's abbey's secluded gardens, 16. stroll through citadelpark, 17. shop for flowers at the kouter flower market, 18. discover the contemporary art at s.m.a.k museum, 19. view masterpieces at the museum of fine arts, what are the best museums in ghent, what are the best things to do in ghent with kids and toddlers, how many days do you need in ghent, what are the best festivals taking place in ghent, what are the best things to do in belgium.

Gravensteen Castle is a medieval castle located in the heart of Ghent, Belgium. Gravensteen Castle, also know as “Castle of the Counts”, was originally built in 1180 by Philip of Alsace, who was inspired by the crusader castles he saw during the Second Crusade. Gravensteen Castle served as the residence of the Counts of Flanders until 1353, when it was converted into a courthouse and prison. Gravensteen Castle is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Belgium and Europe. The castle has many original features intact, including the imposing stone walls and towers, the central keep and the moat. Visitors can explore dungeons, view torture devices and see exhibits of medieval weapons and armor.

Gravensteen Castle is located in the old town of Ghent, at the address Sint-Veerleplein 11, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Ghent is situated in the Flanders region of Belgium, around 30 miles (50 km) northwest of Brussels. The nearest train station is Gent-Sint-Pieters Station, which has regular trains from Brussels and other major Belgian cities. From the train station, tram lines 1 and 4 stop at the Gravensteen tram stop, just a short walk from the castle entrance. Alternatively, the castle can be reached by car, with parking available at nearby garages.

what to see in ghent

Gravensteen Castle is suitable for visitors of all ages, especially those interested in medieval history and architecture. Families with kids will enjoy exploring the castle's towers and dungeons. Admission costs 13 € ($14, £11) for adults, with discounted rates for seniors and students aged 19-25 and free entry for children under 19. The castle is open daily, with hours from 10am to 6pm with last admission at 4:40pm . Guided tours are available to enhance the experience and audio guides are included with admission. Visiting Gravensteen Castle offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in medieval Ghent and Belgium's history.

The Belfry of Ghent is a medieval bell tower located in the historic center of Ghent, Belgium. It stands 91 meters (299 feet) tall and is one of the Three Towers of Ghent, along with the Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas Church towers. The address of the Belfry of Ghent is Sint-Baafsplein, 9000 Gent, Belgium.

The Belfry of Ghent was built between 1313 and 1380 and served as the city's watchtower, treasury and archive. It was part of the set of Belfries in Belgium and France that were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The tower is renowned for its Brabantian Gothic architecture featuring a stone spire designed by architect Jan van Haelst.

A notable feature of the Belfry is the golden dragon weathervane that tops its spire. This statue was made in Bruges in 1377 and installed on the tower around 1380. The dragon is a symbolic guardian of the city that has watched over Ghent for centuries. Inside, the tower contains a carillon with 54 bells that regularly chime. Visitors can take a lift or climb the 366 steps to reach the top floor belfry and take in panoramic views over Ghent.

36 hours in ghent

To reach the Belfry of Ghent, travelers can take public transit to the Gent Korenmarkt stop. This stop is served by tram lines 1 and 4 as well as bus N4. The tower is just a short walk from the tram and bus stop. Alternatively, the tower can be reached by car or on foot from most places in the compact city center of Ghent.

The Belfry of Ghent is an ideal activity for adults and older children interested in architecture, history and panoramic views. There is an admission fee of 11€ ($12, £10) for adults, with discounted rates available for seniors, students, children and visitors with disabilities. Children under 12 years can enter for free. The tower is open daily from 10AM to 6PM, except on January 1st and December 25th.

The Belfry of Ghent offers visitors the opportunity to climb one of Belgium's most important medieval towers and UNESCO sites. Exploring the tower provides insight into Ghent's history and symbolism while taking in views from the top is a highlight of any trip to this historic Belgian city.

If you’re into your food, Ghent is definitely the city for you. As well as its own traditional delicacies, Ghent is known to be a culinary center that features different cuisines from not just Belgium but all over the world.

One signature delicacy that you have to try is the famous “cuberdon” or “neuzeke” that is a conical purple candy, traditionally raspberry-flavored (though they also come in a few other flavors). Two wagons sell these on the Groentenmarkt and are known to be vicious rivals of each other.

Another local dish is the Gentse waterzooi, which is a delicious vegetable-based stew.

If it’s authentic cuisine you want, then the Great Butchers’ Hall is the place to go. There are over 175 traditional regional products from East Flanders and all of them are showcased and sold here. There’s also a restaurant where you can try them and an infinite amount of East Flemish beer.

one day in ghent

The hall itself is an impressive relic, with a great vaulted ceiling where Ganda ham would have been hung up to dry.

Despite all the local meats, Ghent is a haven for vegetarians, calling itself the “Veggie Capital of Europe”. There are more vegetarian meals served here than anywhere else in Belgium and more vegetarian restaurants per capita than anywhere else in Europe! Thursday is “veggie day” where restaurants fill their menus with non-meat options.

Patershol is a picturesque historical quarter located in the Belgian city of Ghent. Situated in the shadow of the famous Gravensteen Castle along the River Leie, Patershol features charming cobblestone streets lined with medieval architecture dating back to the 12th century. The neighborhood gets its name from the Carmelite Fathers or Paters, who established a monastery here in 1329.

Patershol was once a working-class district occupied by leather tradesmen, then fell into decline during the 19th century with the rise of industrialization. However, beginning in the 1970s, a major renovation project restored many of the buildings and helped transform Patershol into one of Ghent's trendiest and most desirable neighborhoods. Today, Patershol is known for its vibrant restaurant scene, independent shops and lively nightlife. The narrow alleys are filled with outdoor cafe terraces, while the historic houses now contain intimate bistros, quirky bars, art galleries and more.

what to see in Ghent Belgium

Patershol, despite its popularity, still retains an authentic, old-world charm. Patershol is located in the heart of central Ghent, between the Lys and Scheldt Rivers. The neighborhood is  bounded between Veldstraat, Hoogstraat and Kraanlei. Nearby landmarks include Gravensteen Castle, Graslei, Korenmarkt square and St. Michael's Bridge. The city center of Ghent is only a 10-15 minute walk away.

Visitors can easily reach Patershol by public transportation or on foot. Driving and parking is not recommended due to restrictions in the medieval city center. Once in Ghent, exploring Patershol and the surrounding attractions is best done on foot.

Patershol offers something for visitors of all ages and interests. Foodies flock here for the diverse cuisine, while history buffs admire the medieval architecture. The car-free streets provide a safe, walkable environment for families. Nightlife seekers enjoy bar-hopping in the evenings. Photographers capture charming streetscapes. And architecture enthusiasts study the historic building styles.

There is no admission fee to simply explore and experience the Patershol district. However, visitors will need local currency to purchase food, drinks, souvenirs and such from the local businesses.

The House of Alijn, also know as Huis van Alijn, is a museum located in the heart of Ghent, Belgium at Kraanlei 65, 9000 Ghent. It is housed in the only remaining medieval almshouse in Ghent, which was founded in 1363 by the Alijn family as an act of peace after a murder between two feuding families, the Alijns and Rijms. The House of Alijn offers a unique glimpse into the everyday lives of people in Ghent throughout history, with a focus on the 20th century.

The museum's collection includes thousands of objects, photos and audiovisual materials that provide an intimate look at the daily rituals, traditions and habits of ordinary people in the 1900s. Exhibitions recreate shops, living rooms and other spaces from the past century, allowing visitors to experience Belgian life through the decades. The House of Alijn brings history to life in an accessible way through the stories of common people.

The museum also has a traditional Flemish tavern on site where visitors can enjoy local beers and snacks. The environment is family-friendly, with special events and activities tailored towards children. The House of Alijn is located in central Ghent, about a 10 minute walk from the Gravensteen Castle and the Graslei canal area. It is easily accessible by public transportation, with the nearest tram stop being Gravensteen. Drivers can find paid parking nearby.

House of Alijn

The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 10am to 5pm. It is closed on Mondays. Tickets cost 9€ ($9.50, £7.70) for adults, with discounted rates available for senior citizens, youth, children and families. Free entry is offered on the Sunday mornings (10.00 – 13.00) and during Ghent Festivities for Ghent residents and Children under 19. Reduced prices are also offered for youngsters, children, UiTPAS Ghent and groups of 15 people and more. Guided tours in English can be booked in advance for 45€ ($48, £39).

The House of Alijn provides a unique perspective into Belgian cultural heritage. Its exhibitions and activities bring history to life in an immersive way, making it an ideal museum for visitors of all ages interested in learning about Ghent's past through the lens of ordinary people.

Vrijdagmarkt is a historic city square located in the center of Ghent, Belgium, also known as one of the oldest and largest squares in Ghent, spanning roughly 100 meters by 100 meters. Vrijdagmarkt translates as “Friday Market”, hosts a market every Friday morning, dating back to 1199. On Fridays, the square fills with market stalls selling fresh produce, breads, cheeses, meats, flowers and household goods. Saturdays feature stalls selling new wares like clothing and leather goods. Vrijdagmarkt offers something for everyone – it's a great place to pick up groceries, shop for unique items, admire the architecture or stop for a drink at one of the many lively terrace cafes surrounding the square.

At the center of Vrijdagmarkt stands a bronze statue of medieval statesman Jacob van Artevelde, known as the “wise man” of Ghent. It is the oldest statue in Ghent, erected in 1863 and commemorates Artevelde's role in the city's 14th century prosperity. The square is lined with picturesque medieval step-gabled buildings such as the Toreken bell tower and the Gothic Lakenmetershuizen (Cloth Measurer's House).

ghent points of interest

Vrijdagmarkt is located in central Ghent, about 37 kilometers (23 miles) northwest of Brussels. It can be easily reached by public transportation, including bus and tram, with the closest stops at Bijlokekaai, Vrijdagmarkt and Korenmarkt located right around the square. Pedestrians can simply follow the charming cobblestone streets from sights like Graslei and Korenlei to reach the market square.

The market and surrounding cafes attract all ages and make a lively atmosphere for singles, couples, families, students and retirees. The square offers something for everyone with options for shopping, dining and sightseeing. Admission to Vrijdagmarkt itself is free and open to the public. However, any purchases at the market stalls or food/drinks at the cafes will incur additional costs.

Ghent’s artistic side is clearly visible in its incredible street art. The city has provided areas for legal graffiti, which has encouraged whole generations of street artists, including internationally famous artist ROA with his recognizable rabbits and birds.

One street which is worth a visit is the Werregarenstraat, known as “graffiti alley” or Ghent's graffiti street , of which the artwork covers every surface and changes continuously. The Tweebruggenstraat is also a great place to discover some really innovative legal street art.

You can take a Concrete Canvas tour (get a map from the Tourist Information point or download online) by yourself or go on this guided bike tour to learn more about street art in Ghent.

graffiti in ghent

St Bavo's Cathedral, also known as Sint-Baafs Cathedral, is a Gothic cathedral located in Ghent, Belgium. The full address of St Bavo's Cathedral is Sint-Baafsplein, 9000 Gent, Belgium. St Bavo's Cathedral stands on the site of a former wooden chapel built in 942 and consecrated by Transmarus, Bishop of Tournai and Noyon. Traces of this original chapel can still be seen in the crypt of the current cathedral. Construction on the Gothic cathedral began around 1274 and lasted until 1569. The cathedral has an impressive 89 meter (292 feet) tall bell tower.

In 1539, St Bavo's became a cathedral when the Diocese of Ghent was established. Previously, it was the site where Charles V was baptized in 1500. St Bavo's Cathedral is most famous for housing the Ghent Altarpiece, a 15th century polyptych painting by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck. This artwork, also known as The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, is considered one of Van Eyck's masterpieces and a highlight of early Northern Renaissance art. The cathedral also contains other notable works, including Rubens' painting Saint Bavo Enters the Convent and Belgium's largest cathedral organ, built in 1935.

Visitors to St Bavo's Cathedral can see the ornate Gothic architecture, view the historic religious artworks and listen to organ concerts. The cathedral crypt contains Romanesque traces of the earlier wooden chapel, including frescoes. The cathedral offers guided tours, augmented reality experiences and audio guides to enhance the visitor experience.

saint bavo cathedral things to do ghent

St Bavo's Cathedral is located in the heart of Ghent, so it is easily accessible by public transportation. The cathedral is also within walking distance of Sint-Pieters Station. The admission fee to Ghent Altarpiece costs €12.5 ($13, £11) with alternative options of an Augmented Reality Tour for €16. Access to the cathedral is free. The cathedral is open daily, with hours from 8:30am to 5:30pm Monday to Saturday and 1pm to 5:30pm on Sundays. It stays open late, until 6pm, in summer months. The altarpiece viewing hours are 10am to 5pm daily and 1pm to 5:30pm on Sundays.

St Bavo's Cathedral is best suited for adults interested in art, history and architecture. The altarpiece and religious artworks make this an intriguing visit for art lovers. Historians will appreciate the Romanesque crypt and learning about the role of the cathedral over centuries. Photographers are drawn to capture the Gothic architecture. The cathedral can also be rewarding for families, couples and solo travelers wanting to experience an iconic Ghent landmark.

The Ruins of St. Bavo’s Abbey are the remnants of a 7th century Benedictine abbey located in Ghent, Belgium. The abbey was founded in 630 AD by Saint Amandus and named after Saint Bavo, whose remains were brought there after his death. St. Bavo's Abbey is situated at Voorhoutkaai 43 in Ghent, close to the confluence of the rivers Lys and Scheldt.

St. Bavo's Abbey holds great historical significance, having been an important religious center in medieval times. It experienced its peak during the 11th century but was later destroyed in 1540 on the orders of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V as punishment after the Revolt of Ghent. Today, the ruins are one of the oldest sites in Ghent and the only surviving remnant of the abbey is thought to be its oldest wall.

The ruins are an oasis of greenery and tranquility nestled amidst the hustle and bustle of modern day Ghent. Visitors can wander through the remains of the Romanesque church, cloisters and courtyards, now overgrown with ivy and dotted with medieval stone artifacts. Tall hornbeam bushes outline where abbey buildings once stood. It's like stepping back in time to imagine monastic life centuries ago.

Ruins of St. Bavo’s Abbey

As a unique site, the ruins are best suited for adults interested in history, architecture, religion or enjoying nature in the city. Families with older children may also appreciate exploring the ruins. There is no admission fee, just a suggested donation to contribute to preservation efforts.

The Ruins of St. Bavo’s Abbey are only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 2-6 pm due to their fragile state, so advance planning is recommended. This special opening schedule along with the abbey's air of mystery, storied past and stunning setting make it an intriguing, almost mystical place to visit in Ghent. St. Bavo's Abbey ruins offer a vivid glimpse into medieval times in one of Europe's historic cities.

St Michael's Bridge (Sint-Michielsbrug in Dutch) is a stone arch bridge spanning the Lys River in the heart of Ghent, Belgium. The bridge connects the St Michiels neighbourhood on the east bank with the Patershol neighbourhood on the west bank. It was built between 1905-1909 in place of an old turntable bridge on the site.

St Michael's Bridge is considered one of the most romantic spots in Ghent. It provides stunning views of the Graslei and Korenlei canals lined with picturesque medieval buildings, as well as the three famous towers of Ghent's skyline – the Belfry, St Bavo's Cathedral and St Nicholas Church. The bridge is the only place in the city where you can see all three towers in one panoramic view. In the middle of the bridge stands a beautiful central lantern with a bronze statue of St Michael, the patron saint of Ghent. These scenic views make St Michael's Bridge the ideal spot for taking photos of Ghent's gothic charm. The bridge comes alive at night when the historic buildings are illuminated, offering a fairy tale vibe.

saint michael's bridge

The bridge is located at Sint-Michielshelling in Ghent's historic centre, about 350 meters southeast of the Belfry and 550 meters northwest of St Bavo's Cathedral. The full address is Sint-Michielshelling, 9000 Gent, Belgium.

St Michael's Bridge can be easily reached on foot from anywhere in the compact city centre of Ghent. It is about a 10 minute walk from top attractions like Graslei, Korenlei, Gravensteen Castle and the Town Hall. If travelling from the train station, you can take Tram 1 from Gent Sint-Pieters station to the Korenmarkt stop, which is 350 meters away.

Visiting St Michael's Bridge is free and open to people of all ages and interests. Its romantic ambience makes it popular with couples, families and photographers. The bridge also offers a pleasant strolling experience.

St Nicholas Church is one of the oldest and most prominent landmarks in Ghent, Belgium. This imposing Gothic church was begun in the early 13th century to replace an earlier Romanesque structure destroyed by fire. St Nicholas Church stands out for its grand scale and elaborate Gothic design. The exterior is constructed from blue-grey stone sourced from Tournai, Belgium, which gives the church its distinctive color. Other notable features include the 76 meter high tower above the crossing of the nave and transepts and slender turrets at the corners of the building.

Inside, marvel at the beautiful stained glass windows, including two large 19th century works by Jean-Baptiste Capronnier. The ornate Baroque high altar has life-sized marble statues of the apostles and an intricately carved pulpit dating from 1867. One of the treasures of St Nicholas Church is its historic romantic organ, built in 1856 by renowned French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. This impressive instrument is considered one of the finest 19th century organs in Belgium.

saint nicholas church

St Nicholas Church is located in central Ghent at Cataloniëstraat 4, steps away from the bustling Korenmarkt (Grain Market). The church stands alongside other famous medieval landmarks, including the Belfry of Ghent and Saint Bavo Cathedral, which together form the iconic skyline of historic Ghent.

Visitors can take tram line 1 from Gent-Sint-Pieters station to the Korenmarkt stop, just 1 minute walk from the church.

St Nicholas Church is open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm, with shorter hours on Mondays from 2pm to 5pm. Admission to explore the interior and appreciate the architecture is free. Due to its central location, imposing architecture and historic significance, St Nicholas Church appeals to visitors of all interests and ages. Tourists fascinated by medieval Europe, church architecture, Belgian history and Gothic design will find a trip to St Nicholas Church highly rewarding.

The historic Graslei and Korenlei streets are located along the Leie River in the heart of Ghent, Belgium. The streets run parallel to each other on opposite banks of the river, connected by the iconic Sint-Michielsbrug (St. Michael's Bridge) and Grasbrug bridges. Graslei and Korenlei formed the old port area of Ghent dating back to the 11th century when the city was a major trading hub.

Graslei, meaning “Herb Quay”, features rows of medieval guildhalls, warehouses and patrician houses, many dating back to the 12th century. The picturesque buildings boast distinctive gables in Gothic and Renaissance styles. Korenlei, “Corn Quay”, across the river, is equally charming with stone buildings from the 14th and 15th centuries. Both quays were restored for the 1913 World Exhibition held in Ghent, preserving their historic character.

Notable sights along Graslei include the 13th century De Graslei building, the 16th century Guild House of the Free Sailors (Gildehuis der Vrije Schippers), the 17th century Corn Measurers House (Korenmetershuis), the 17th century Toll House (Tolhuisje) and the 12th century Warehouse ‘t Spijker. Korenlei is home to the 14th century Guild House of the Compulsory Sailors (Gildehuis der Onvrije Schippers) and elegant townhouses.

The iconic Sint-Michielsbrug bridge in the neo-Gothic style dates from the early 20th century. The smaller Grasbrug bridge leads to the Graslei and offers scenic views of the river and quays.

graslei waterfront

Graslei and Korenlei is located in the heart of Ghent at Graslei, 9000 Gent, Belgium. The streets can be easily accessed on foot from the city center and Korenmarkt area. Public transportation options include bus and tram lines that stop at Korenmarkt.

The scenic quays draw tourists and locals alike. Visitors can stroll along the riverbanks, relax at one of the many outdoor cafes, admire the medieval architecture or take boat tours for unique views of the city. There are also museums nearby like the Design Museum Gent. The streets host events and festivals throughout the year.

Admission to Graslei and Korenlei is free and the streets are pedestrian-friendly, making them ideal for people of all ages and accessible to strollers and wheelchairs. The charming streets bring Ghent's history to life and showcase the city's medieval harbor and architectural heritage. They remain some of the most picturesque spots along the river in Ghent.

The Ghent Light Festival is a free light art event held in Ghent every three years. The festival takes place throughout the historic city center of Ghent, with light installations and projections displayed on the facades of buildings, bridges, squares and parks. The event showcases works by local and international light artists, transforming Ghent's medieval streets, canals and monuments into a dazzling spectacle after dark.

The first Ghent Light Festival was held in 2011. Since then it has become one of Belgium's largest and most popular cultural events, attracting over 800,000 visitors during the most recent edition in 2021. A key draw is the festival's imaginative use of light and projections to reveal Ghent in a new way. Buildings and public spaces that are familiar by day take on a magical, dreamlike quality at night. The festival also promotes Ghent's reputation for innovation, building on the city's award-winning lighting plan implemented in the late 1990s.

The Ghent Light Festival takes place in the historic city center of Ghent, Belgium. Ghent is located in the Flanders region about 30 miles/50 kilometers west of Brussels. The installations and projections are concentrated in the medieval core around sights like Graslei, Korenmarkt, St. Bavo's Cathedral, Gravensteen Castle and St. Nicholas' Church. Information points and signage help guide visitors along a 5-7 kilometer loop highlighting the light artworks.

ghent light festival

The festival is designed for pedestrian access. Public transportation by train, tram or bus is recommended for reaching the city center, as parking is extremely limited. Gent-Sint-Pieters, the main railway station, is situated 2 kilometers from the festival area. Various bus and tram lines also provide convenient connections. Walking and cycling are ideal for moving between installations once inside the car-free zone.

The Ghent Light Festival appeals to all audiences. The illuminated artworks create a family-friendly atmosphere at night. The event attracts couples, groups of friends, students, photographers, artists and design enthusiasts. Visitors of all ages are welcome to experience this unique showcase of lighting design and interactive technology against the backdrop of Ghent's historic architecture.

Admission to the Ghent Light Festival is free. All of the light installations and projections can be viewed at no cost. Some sections of the route may become crowded during peak times. Waiting or returning at less busy hours can allow for a more relaxed, unhurried experience.

Visitors are advised to dress warmly, as late January evenings in Ghent average around 5°C (41°F).

Who doesn’t enjoy a calm and relaxing city boat trip? There are 40-minute boat cruises along the river Leie that you can hop on from Graslei as well as a number of other pick-up points. There aren’t many better ways of experiencing a city than from the water and these trips give you a unique view of the waterfront, as well as being a let-up for those hard-working legs!

The route will take you past the medieval quay, the Old Butcher’s Hall and the Gravensteen and more. There’s on-board commentary in different language options filling you in on insider facts and the boats can be open or covered to shelter from all weathers.

Book your boat ride here.

ghent boat ride

St Peter's Abbey, also know as Sint-Pietersabdij, is a former Benedictine monastery located in the city of Ghent, Belgium. Founded in the 7th century, the abbey has a long and rich history dating back over 1300 years. Throughout the Middle Ages, St Peter's Abbey was one of the most influential and prosperous religious institutions in Flanders. At its peak, the abbey owned land and villages not just in Belgium but as far away as England. The abbey complex grew to resemble a small village, with farms, gardens, residences and other buildings sprawling across its grounds.

Today, the abbey is no longer active but portions of the medieval complex still stand. The magnificent abbey church, built in the 17th century Baroque style, is a highlight. Visitors can also see the medieval dining hall and cloisters dating to the 12th century. The abbey is located in central Ghent at Sint-Pietersplein 9, 9000 Gent, Belgium. It sits atop one of the highest spots in Ghent, offering nice views over the city.

St Peter's Abbey is renowned for its beautiful enclosed garden and vineyards behind the main abbey complex. This hidden oasis of greenery is a favorite spot where locals and students come to relax. The ruins of the old abbey buildings next to the gardens provide an evocative glimpse into the abbey's medieval past. For tourists visiting Ghent, the abbey's garden is a must-see attraction.

St Peter’s Abbey / Sint Pietersabdij

The abbey can be easily reached by train, bus or car. Ghent's main railway station, Gent-Sint-Pieters, is located just a 20 minute walk away. Several city bus lines also stop at the Heuvelpoort or Gent Zuid stops, both a short 5-10 minute walk from the abbey entrance. If driving, there is an underground parking garage located beneath St Peter's Square in front of the abbey.

St Peter's Abbey serves as an exhibition space and museum today. Visitors can tour portions of the abbey complex and view rotating exhibits focused on cultural, historical and artistic themes. A fun option for families is the virtual movie guide voiced by a digital monk named Jean-François Alison. This interactive experience takes you through various areas of the abbey while following a mystery.

Entry to the permanent exhibit, cloisters, courtyard and gardens at St Peter's Abbey is free for all visitors. Access to the special exhibitions requires paid tickets. The abbey is open daily except Mondays from 10am to 6pm. St Peter's Abbey appeals to visitors of all ages interested in history, architecture, museums and gardens.

Citadelpark is a large urban park located in the city center of Ghent, Belgium. It covers an area of about 89 acres and is situated on a hill between the rivers Scheldt and Leys. The address of Citadelpark is Citadelpark, 9000 Gent, Belgium. Citadelpark was created in 1875 on the site of a former citadel built by the Dutch between 1819-1831. The citadel was one of the largest and most modern fortresses in Europe at the time, but became obsolete and was converted into an infantry and artillery barracks until 1870. When the city purchased the grounds in the early 1870s, the fortifications were demolished and the area was turned into a public city park.

There are around 780 trees in the park, representing over 100 different species, including some exotic specimens. The park showcases winding paths, ponds, artificial grottoes, rose gardens and a music pavilion. Many of the trees have name tags identifying their species, which makes for an educational botanical walk.

Citadelpark is also home to several cultural institutions and monuments. The Museum of Fine Arts, the S.M.A.K. Museum of Contemporary Art, the ICC Convention Center and the Citadelpark Velodrome cycling track are all located within the park grounds. Various sculptures are scattered throughout, such as the statue Tigers Contesting a Prey from 1910. During the summer, the park hosts outdoor concerts at the 19th century cast iron music kiosk.


The easiest way to reach Citadelpark is by public transportation. The park is about 1 km south of Ghent-Sint-Pieters train station. If driving, there is metered street parking along the surrounding roads and a few parking lots near the entrances.

Citadelpark appeals to a wide audience. The lush gardens, ponds and woodland paths make it a relaxing place for adults to take a stroll. Families enjoy picnicking on the lawns and exploring the playground. The park is also popular with students and young people, who meet there to play sports, read or just hang out on nice days. Visiting one of the museums would appeal to arts and culture lovers.

Entry to Citadelpark itself is free and open to the public year-round. The park is open 24 hours a day, though some areas may be closed at night. Special exhibits and museums cost extra. Access to the botanical garden and rose garden may require paid entry at certain times.

Kouter flower market is a weekly open-air flower market held in Kouter square in the heart of Ghent, Belgium. The address for Kouter square and the flower market is Kouter, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. The flower market takes place every Sunday morning, from 8am to 1pm and offers a wide variety of flowers, plants and other gardening items for sale.

Kouter flower market has a long history dating back over 250 years. The tradition of selling flowers on the square on Sundays first began in 1772, initiated by local horticulturalist Toontje Verstuyft. Since then, Kouter's flower market has continued weekly on Sundays, becoming an integral part of local Ghent culture. Today, the market features flower sellers set up around the spacious square, providing locals and visitors alike with fresh-cut blooms and potted plants.

Kouter square comes alive on Sundays with the vibrant displays of flowers in all hues, fragrances wafting through the air and bustling crowds strolling through. Locals frequent the flower market to purchase blooms and plants for their homes and gardens, while visitors come to take in the sights, sounds and scents that create the market's cheerful atmosphere. The flower sellers are also special, as they passionately maintain the long-standing tradition of providing fresh regional flowers and expertise to customers.

Kouter Bloemenmarkt Gent

In addition to the flower market itself, Kouter square offers other Sunday morning attractions. The central bandstand hosts free concerts by local brass bands, serenading market-goers. There are also food stalls selling breakfast items and the iconic Blue Kiosk serving champagne and oysters al fresco. The surrounding streets feature cafes and eateries lively with brunch crowds.

Admission to enter Kouter square and flower market is free.

S.M.A.K Museum or Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, is a museum of contemporary art located in Ghent, Belgium. S.M.A.K opened to the public in 1999 and is housed in a former 1930s casino building in Citadelpark, opposite the Museum of Fine Arts. The museum has quickly gained a reputation for its outstanding permanent collection and thought-provoking temporary exhibitions.

What makes S.M.A.K special is its diverse collection of post-1945 Belgian and international art. The permanent collection includes major works by famous artists such as Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon and Joseph Beuys. Every four months, S.M.A.K showcases a rotating selection of pieces from its collection alongside original and bold temporary exhibitions. The museum serves as a dynamic platform for artistic experimentation and innovation. Under the direction of Philippe Van Cauteren, S.M.A.K spotlights contemporary artists from around the world, keeping a pulse on shifting societies.

S.M.A.K is located at Jan Hoetplein 1, 9000 Gent in Citadelpark, Ghent's largest city park. The nearest train station is Gent-Sint-Pieters, about a 12 minute walk or short bus ride away. To reach S.M.A.K by car, drivers can take exit 8 Gent Centrum from the E40 highway, follow signs to Gent Centrum and turn right on Citadelpark. There is parking available in the lot in front of S.M.A.K and the Museum of Fine Arts.

S.M.A.K Museum

S.M.A.K welcomes visitors of all ages and backgrounds. The constantly changing exhibits provide appeal for art enthusiasts and novices alike. Families will enjoy the children's workshops in the Imaginary Museum in Citadelpark. The museum's variety of events, such as curatorial lectures, also draw diverse crowds. After taking in the art, visitors can relax at the museum's cafe.

General admission to S.M.A.K is €15 for adults and €13 for senior citizens and students. Children under 18 enter for free. The museum is closed on Mondays and certain holidays. Visitors can purchase tickets at the door or online in advance. Holders of the CityCard Gent also receive free admission. Special guided tours and workshops may have additional fees.

The Museum of Fine Arts (Dutch: Museum voor Schone Kunsten, MSK) is an art museum located in Ghent, Belgium. Situated on the east side of Citadelpark, the museum houses a large permanent collection of art spanning from the Middle Ages to the mid-20th century. The museum focuses primarily on Flemish art from the Southern Netherlands, but it also contains several European paintings, with a strong representation of French pieces. In addition to its permanent collection, the Museum of Fine Arts organizes temporary exhibitions and other public programs throughout the year.

The Museum of Fine Arts possesses around 9,000 works, 600 of which are on permanent display in the galleries. Highlights of the medieval and Renaissance collections include masterpieces by Hieronymus Bosch such as St. Jerome at Prayer and Christ Carrying the Cross, as well as Jupiter and Antiope by Anthony van Dyck. The museum has an extensive selection of Northern Baroque art, including works by Peter Paul Rubens and Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Later artistic movements like Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Expressionism and Surrealism are also well-represented with paintings by Théodore Géricault, Gustave Courbet, James Ensor and René Magritte, among others.

Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts is located at 1 Fernand Scribedreef in Ghent, Belgium. It can be easily reached by public transportation, with the nearest tram stop at Ledeganckstraat and several buses stopping at Sint-Jacobsplein just a 5-10 minute walk away. By car, parking is available at the pay lot on Sint-Pietersplein, about a 15 minute walk from the museum. Admission costs 13€ for adults, 7€ for visitors over 65 and teachers and is free for those under 19 years old. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday 9:30am-5:30pm and Saturday-Sunday 10am-6pm.

20. Tour the Ghent City hall

Ghent City Hall, known locally as Stadhuis Gent, is a historic town hall located in the heart of Ghent, Belgium. The ornate building sits on the corner of Hoogpoort and Botermarkt in the city center. Construction on Ghent City Hall first began in the early 16th century, with additions and expansions continuing over the next few centuries. The result is a striking blend of late Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles.

What makes Ghent City Hall so special is its contrasting facades. The Hoogpoort side exhibits the flamboyant Gothic style of the early 1500s, with detailed stone carvings and statues occupying the many niches. Meanwhile, the Botermarkt side displays a more restrained Renaissance design from the turn of the 17th century, with rows of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns and pilasters. Despite the differing appearances, the two wings seamlessly come together to form one impressive building.

Inside, visitors can explore 51 rooms over 4 floors, including the ornate Pacificatiezaal with its black-and-white labyrinth floor, the Oostenrijks Salon adorned with 18th-century portraits and the stately Troonzaal throne room. Perhaps most popular is the late Gothic wedding chapel, cherished for its stained-glass windows and network vaulted ceiling. Over 300 couples tie the knot in this romantic room every year.

Ghent City hall

Ghent City Hall is located in the heart of the city at Botermarkt 1, 9000 Gent, Belgium. It sits right off the Grote Markt central square, just steps away from other top attractions like the Belfry of Ghent. The nearest major public transportation hub is Dampoort Railway Station, about 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) away. From there, the town hall can be reached in a quick 10-15 minute walk. Otherwise, buses and trams regularly run through the area.

Visiting Ghent City Hall is suitable for all audiences, including families with kids and solo travelers. Guided tours are offered daily in several languages for a fee. The tours provide fascinating insight into the architecture and history behind one of Ghent's most significant landmarks. Otherwise, the exterior and surrounding plaza can be enjoyed at no cost, making it a budget-friendly activity.

Find below the best museums in Ghent.

  • Museum of Fine Arts (MSK). The Museum of Fine Arts (MSK) is the oldest museum in Belgium, founded in 1798. It displays over 600 masterpieces spanning from the Middle Ages to the present day, including works by Bosch, Rubens, Van Eyck and Magritte. The museum is located next to Citadelpark and houses paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and tapestries. Key highlights are the Ghent Altarpiece and the ongoing restoration of this 15th-century polyptych. Visitors can observe the restoration process on weekdays. The museum has an extensive permanent collection as well as rotating temporary exhibitions. The MSK is considered one of the best museums in Ghent.
  • S.M.A.K. (Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art). S.M.A.K., the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, focuses on avant-garde works created after 1945. Established in 1975, it moved to its current location in Citadelpark in 1999. The museum rotates through its collection of installations, videos, paintings and sculptures by both Belgian and international contemporary artists. It aims to make contemporary art accessible, especially to younger audiences. Notable pieces include works by Panamarenko, Marcel Broodthaers and Andy Warhol.
  • STAM Museum. The STAM or Ghent City Museum, immerses visitors in the story of Ghent from the Middle Ages to today. Housed in the 14th-century Bijloke Abbey, it uses artifacts, archival materials and interactive multimedia to showcase the city's history. Key highlights include walking on an aerial photo of Ghent, 3D scale models of buildings and viewing the giant painting ‘The Apotheosis of Charles V' up close. The museum opened in its current form in 2010.
  • Design Museum Gent. Design Museum Gent collects, preserves and exhibits Belgian and international design from 1860 to today. It is located in an 18th-century mansion and modern wing, hosting temporary thematic exhibitions as well as showcasing its permanent collection. Key design styles represented include Art Nouveau, Art Deco, postmodernism and contemporary design. Exhibits explore the connection between design and societal trends. The museum dates back to 1903 and became city-run in 1958.
  • Huis van Alijn. The House of Alijn illuminates daily life and traditions in 20th-century Ghent through a nostalgic collection of everyday objects, archival photographs and footage and recreated environments. Located in a former children's hospital, it evokes Ghent neighborhood life through the decades of the 1900s with hands-on exhibits. Key highlights include recreated shops, a vintage movie theater and opportunities to make your own radio plays. The museum opened in its current form in 2000.


Listed below are the best things to do in Ghent with kids and toddlers.

  • Gravensteen Castle. Built in 1180, Gravensteen is a 10th century medieval castle located in the heart of Ghent, Belgium. Kids will love exploring the stone chambers, walking along the castle walls and checking out medieval weapons and artifacts. An audio tour brings the castle's history to life through stories of its inhabitants. Young imaginations will be sparked climbing winding staircases, peering out of arrow slits and learning about medieval life. The torture chamber is handled appropriately for kids who can appreciate some spookiness.
  • St. Nicholas Cathedral. At the 13th century St. Nicholas Cathedral, kids can marvel at the huge pipe organ, one of Belgium's most important romantic organs. The unusual position of the tower in the middle of the building is an interesting architectural feature. Kids can get creative describing the sounds of the organ and making up stories about why the tower was built in the center.
  • Belfry of Ghent. The Belfry of Ghent offers stunning 360 degree views of Ghent from 91 meters up. Older kids can climb the 366 steps to the top for a rewarding workout. At the top, spot the dragon guarding the city. Due to the steep, narrow steps, the belfry is not suitable for younger children.
  • St. Bavo's Cathedral. The famous 15th century Ghent Altarpiece is housed at St. Bavo's Cathedral. Kids can enjoy an augmented reality tour bringing the painting's story to life with flying teapots. The soaring arches, decorated chapels and elaborate details like the ornate pulpit provide lots to observe and discuss. Let imaginations run wild coming up with stories about the lives of people in the altarpiece.
  • Patershol Neighborhood. With its cobblestone streets and medieval buildings, exploring the Patershol neighborhood transports kids back in time. Kids can skip along the stone streets, play eye spy searching for architectural details and make up stories about the people who lived in the tiny houses centuries ago. Patershol is also full of cute restaurants to take a break at.
  • Korenlei and Graslei. Walking along the canalways at Korenlei and Graslei allows kids to imagine life as a trader sailing to Ghent centuries ago. Comparing the narrow medieval buildings with more modern structures is an interesting way to observe how cities change over time. Fun bridges to peer over and boats going by make for an engaging walk.
  • Vrijdagmarkt Square. At Vrijdagmarkt square, weekly markets have been held since 1199. Kids will enjoy browsing the stalls, sampling tasty treats and watching street performers on market days. Locating the narrow 15th century Toreken building hidden among newer structures and learning about public events that took place in the square brings history to life.


Ghent can be sufficiently seen in 2-3 days. Ghent is a compact city that can be easily explored on foot or by bike. The historic city center containing the main attractions is quite small and walkable. Ghent's top sights like Gravensteen Castle, Saint Bavo's Cathedral, Belfry of Ghent, Graslei and Korenlei canals and Patershol neighborhood can all be seen in 1 day. An extra day allows you to visit more museums like the Ghent City Museum, Museum of Fine Arts and Design Museum. Two days is ideal to also see the outer neighborhoods by bike, do a canal boat tour and indulge in Ghent's food scene. Three days gives time for day trips to nearby Bruges, Brussels or Antwerp. While Ghent has enough sights and activities to fill 2-3 days, it is small enough that you won't need much more time to see the highlights. Ghent can feel fully explored in a compact visit of 2-3 days.

When is the best time to visit Ghent?

The best months to visit Ghent for pleasant weather are May through September. During these months, high temperatures range from 18°C (64°F) to 23°C (73°F) while lows stay between 9°C (48°F) and 14°C (57°F). There are about 15-20 days of rainfall per month in the May to September period.

Ghent has an oceanic climate, with mild temperatures throughout the year. The warmest month in Ghent is July, when average highs reach 23°C (73°F) and lows are around 14°C (57°F). The coldest month is January, with average high temperatures of 7°C (44°F) and lows of 2°C (36°F).

Precipitation falls year-round in Ghent, though the wettest month is August which sees an average of 80 mm (3 inches) of rain. The driest month is April, with around 56 mm (2 inches) of rainfall on average.

July and August tend to be the most popular travel months, as they have the warmest weather. However, Ghent can get crowded and hotel rates are higher during summer. For thinner crowds and lower prices, April, May, September and October are good options with mild temperatures and fewer tourists. Winters are chilly, with highs around 7°C (44°F), but Ghent Christmas market and holiday events make December lively.

Listed below are the best festivals in Ghent.

  • Gentse Feesten. The Ghent Festivities (Gentse Feesten) is an annual 10-day long cultural festival held in Ghent, Belgium during July. Dating back to 1843, it is one of the biggest festivals in Belgium and Europe with around 1.5 million visitors each year. The festival starts on the Friday before July 21st, which is Belgian National Day, with a wide range of free musical performances, street theatre, exhibitions, events for children, fairs and parades spread throughout the historic city center. Major crowd pullers include the medieval costume parade, an international puppetry festival, dance parties and concerts on multiple stages along the picturesque Graslei canal. The festival retains a rebellious spirit from its early anarchist days in the 1960s and offers visitors a vibrant celebration of Flemish culture.
  • Gent Jazz Festival. The Ghent Jazz Festival (Gent Jazz Festival) is an outdoor music festival held annually in July at the Bijloke site in Ghent. Renowned jazz artists from Belgium and around the world perform on multiple stages over several days. The festival started in 2002 and has featured stars like Herbie Hancock, Snarky Puppy, Gregory Porter and Janelle Monáe. Visitors can enjoy lunchtime concerts in the courtyard of Restaurant Lof or late night DJ sets. The festival combines top international acts with emerging Belgian talent to create a diverse musical lineup. For jazz enthusiasts, it is a summer highlight in Ghent.
  • Festival of Flanders. Festival of Flanders, also know as Festival van Vlaanderen, is dating back to 1958, is a 3-week long international music festival held in Ghent and East Flanders during September-October. Focusing on classical music, it features over 180 concerts and 1500 musicians. The festival opens with a spectacular concert along the Ghent canals called OdeGand. It aims to make classical music accessible with events like “Parklife”, a musical bicycle tour through the countryside. Top orchestras like the London Philharmonic have performed here along with stars like Joyce DiDonato. The festival is known for innovative programming in historic venues.
  • Ghent Film Festival. The Ghent Film Festival in October presents over 100 feature films and 50 shorts. It focuses on “the impact of music on film” and hands out awards for best film and best soundtrack. The festival has premiered work by renowned directors like Ken Loach, Paolo Sorrentino and Nanni Moretti. In addition to screenings, it programs film music concerts, exhibitions and seminars. The festival first started in 1974 and has grown into one of Europe's leading film events.
  • Ghent Light Festival. Taking place every 3 years in late January, the Ghent Light Festival illuminates the city with light installations and projections by international artists. Historic buildings and public spaces become an atmospheric backdrop for a 10-day spectacle. The festival highlights Ghent's reputation for innovative lighting design. It offers visitors a new perspective on the city's gothic architecture and winding canals after dark. The event includes light walks, tours, performances and family-friendly activities.

Light festival Ghent

Listed below are the best fun things to do in Belgium all-year-round.

  • Rafting or Kayaking in the Ardennes. Navigate the rivers of the Ardennes, especially the Lesse, Ourthe and Semois. Experience diverse terrains, from calm waters to challenging rapids.
  • Attend a music festival. Attend in Belgium's vibrant festival scene. Events include the world-famous Tomorrowland, historical Gentse Feesten and diverse Dour Festival.
  • Ghent boat trip. Experience Ghent from its canals. Tours reveal historical sights like the Gravensteen and Old Butcher’s Hall, mainly from Graslei and Korenlei harbors.
  • Durbuy Labyrinth. Navigate a massive maze in Barvaux near Durbuy, with varied annual themes and added attractions, including eco-gardens and wooden labyrinths.
  • Chocolate-making Workshop in Brussels. Dive into Belgium's chocolate culture. Workshops in Brussels teach the art of chocolate-making, producing mendiants and pralines.

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Best things to do in Ghent

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25 Things to Do in Ghent: Discovering the Best of Ghent

This article may contain affiliate links. This means we receive a small commission whenever you book or purchase something through our links (at no extra cost to you!). You can find more information in our disclaimer .

This article may contain affiliate links. This means we receive a small commission whenever you book or purchase something through our links (at no extra cost to you!). You can find more information in our disclaimer.

 Are you looking for things to do in Ghent? Then you’ve come to the right place!  

Ghent, Belgium is known for its grand display of palaces, parks, museums , and the historical background that comes from it.   

Today, besides all the historical places , Ghent is also a paradise for the gastronomic adventurer . With international and local cuisine and other sumptuous tours in the area, visiting Ghent is undoubtedly an experience you should not miss.   

I live only 30 minutes from Ghent and have visited the city many times! It’s one of my favourite places in Belgium.  However, if you are coming from Paris , Antwerp or Brussels , there are best transportation options to get to Ghent fast.

Join me as I list some of the most popular places I visited myself that I highly recommend for you to check when you visit Ghent.    

 In my list, you will find the most popular places to visit and some hidden gems in Ghent.

 Let’s check them out!   

Ghent River

  13. Embrace the Beauty of Nature in Several Ghent Parks    

Nature Park Ghent

Babs Rodrigus is a travel addict at heart and loves to explore her home country Belgium and the rest of the world – preferably with her wife and kids. She’s all about showing you the most mesmerising spots in this tiny European country and making you see how great it truly is.

When she’s not travelling, Babs loves to read, write, eat chocolate (hey, Belgian remember) and sing Frozen songs with her daughter.

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Top 10 Hotels in Ghent Belgium

Top 10 Hotels in Ghent Belgium

Ghent is a splendid city and what better place to start and end your day than in one of its finest accommodations! We’ve listed the top 10 Hotels in Ghent, Belgium for you to pick your favourite one and enjoy your stay in this charming city. This article may contain affiliate links. This means we…

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places to visit in ghent belgium

20+ Unique and Fun Things to do in Ghent, Belgium

Last Updated: April 15, 2021

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places to visit in ghent belgium

Wondering what to do in Ghent, Belgium? In this article, I’m sharing all my top tips for unique things to do in Ghent, along with hidden gems and quirky sights you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Enjoy!

I’ve made it no secret that I’m low-key obsessed with Belgium , a country that I consider among the most underrated in Europe.

And if I had to pick an underdog among underdogs, it may just be the vibrant city of Ghent, the capital of East Flanders and the third biggest city in Belgium just behind Brussels and Antwerp.

What‘s so special about Ghent exactly?

Well, how many places allow you to be a time traveler, beer connoisseur, art snob, and quirky hipster all at once?

(I hope you don’t have a quick answer to that, otherwise I’d be deeply embarrassed)

In short: there are SO many awesome, fun, and unique things to do in Ghent that it’s impossible not to love this city. Add on a bit of hipster pride that it’s not overrun by fellow tourists and boom – you have a perfect city break.

No doubt, this will be place you’ll want to visit A-Ghent as soon as possible, so here’s a list of what to do in Ghent during your visit, whether it’s your first or your tenth.

The Top Touristy Things To Do In Ghent

Let’s start with the touristy must-dos – the top Ghent attractions that are (in my opinion) actually worth it!

Take a Canal Tour

Much like in other canal-rich cities like Amsterdam or Bruges , taking a joy ride along Ghent’s scenic canals is a very worthwhile experience in the name of both history and… laziness.

After all, Ghent’s waterways are deeply intwined with the city’s lengthy history.

It was way back in the late middle ages that Ghent originated as a settlement here at the confluence of both the Scheldt and Leie rivers.

This strategic location is what allowed Ghent to become one of the wealthiest cities back in the day, and today you get to reap the rewards by gliding along the water and seeing all the pretty things they did with their money.

There’s a huge variety of cruise and boat services that are offered in Ghent, but I’d recommend booking an open-top one ( this one is less than 10 euros when you book online) because I did one that had a glass roof and it wasn’t great for photos.

Boats on the river in Ghent

Enjoy the view from St Michael’s Bridge

I love a good bridge, and I’m thrilled to report that St Michael’s Bridge (one of the top attractions in Ghent) actually lives up to the hype.

It’s here that you’ll get some of the prettiest views in the city (from the ground level anyway), with prime landmarks such as Ghent’s three main towers in view.

It’s also a wonderful place for very vain photo opportunities. Allow me to demonstrate.

Travel blogger on St Michael's Bridge in Ghent

Go Church Hopping

The grandeur and diversity of churches in Ghent are tough to beat. I know it doesn’t sound like the most thrilling experience in the world, but church hopping is actually one of the best things to do in Ghent.

Here’s why: there’s so many, and they’re all beyond cool.

From churches housing famous masterpieces to churches that have been converted in food/flea markets, Ghent has it all.

Here are a few Ghent churches to put on your list:

  • Saint Bavo Cathedral: The oldest parish church in Ghent, and home to world-famous artworks including a Rubens painting and the infamous Ghent Altar piece (more on this later)
  • St.Nicholas’ Church: A beautiful central church made of Tournai bluestone and constructed in the local Scheldt Gothic style 
  • St Michael’s Church: A Roman Catholic church known for its Neo-Gothic interior and impressive Baroque paintings

Ornamental church interior in Ghent Belgium

Climb the Ghent Belfry

For a truly mindblowing view over Ghent, look no further than the Ghent Belfry, widely considered to be the best view in town.

Once upon a time (back in the early 15th century), the city’s top secrets were locked up here in a chest belonging to the Belfry’s safe. Today, this Ghent attraction is hardly a secret, but a visit is worth it, especially considering there’s a lift that takes you up after just a few flights of stairs.

TIP: Buy a skip the line ticket in advance here to avoid waiting.

View of Ghent's skyline from the Ghent Belfry

Clamour Over the Ghent Altarpiece

Whether you’re fond of art, or not all, you’ll have likely heard about the Ghent Altarpiece, AKA the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb , a complex 15th-century painting comprised of 18 panels housed in Ghent’s Saint Bravo Cathedral.

Long story short: the Ghent altarpiece tells the story of the Bible with remarkable attention to detail, so much that it’s considered one of the most incredible masterpieces of all time.

And well, with that kind of popularity comes consequences… namely that it’s widely considered one of THE most stolen artworks in history.

Today, you can marvel at this masterpiece behind a swanky €30m glass case, a protective measure that will hopefully prevent any further thefts. With that kind of pricey case though, you can expect that visitors will need to cough up a bit of cash to see it up close, which is why admission tickets are 12.50 per adult.

Definitely a bit steep, but worthwhile if you’re keen to see a historic piece of art.

Visit Gravensteen Castle

Now it’s time to travel back to the 12th century, all the way to the early days of Gravensteen Castle, also known as the Castle of the Counts, one of Ghent’s top attractions.

What once harboured gripping screams of torture and functioned as a residence of royalty, prison, and even a cotton factory, today is an unmissable attraction, and one of the most popular touristy things to do in Ghent. And for a very good reason.

Inside these sturdy medieval walls, you’ll find museums revealing weapons and armour used extensively in ancient warfare as well as a unique collection of… torture items, if you’re into that.

PS: For an extra cherry on top of your torture war sundae, climb up the castle to soak in panoramic rooftop views of Ghent.

Tourists in front of Gravesteen castle in Ghent

Wander Around Patershol

Ready for another lovely stroll? Welcome to Patershol – oft considered the coolest neighborhood in Ghent.

For nostalgic souls like me, a visit here is a must.

In Patershol (AKA the culinary heart of Ghent), you’ll find dreamy cobbled alleys packed with trendy bars and traditional eateries, plus plenty of great opportunities for shopping. It’s a lovely and charming escape from the more congested areas of Ghent, and a great place to grab a bite too.

Travel blogger walking in front of beautiful storefronts in Ghent

Enjoy Ghent by Night

There’s a lot to do in Ghent during the day, no doubt, but avoid food coma-ing at your hotel right after dinner, because exploring Ghent by night is full of rewards.

After all, Ghent boasts an award-winning light plan that illuminates the city in such beautiful ways, they’ve genuinely won international accolades for it. Of course, the setting being lit isn’t too shabby either.

Through this plan, many of Ghent’s most important monuments are thoughtfully lit at night, which provides both extra safety and photogenic ~~ drama ~~, both things I’m a huge fan of.

Of course, besides prettiness, Ghent by night has a lot to offer.

Think countless nightclubs and DJs playing til the morning, buzzing pubs and cultural events, live jazz concerts, and much more waiting to be discovered. (That is, if you don’t fall into a food coma)

Historical centre of ghent by night

Explore Ghent’s Graffiti Street

When Ghent opened up an alley in its city centre to legal street art back in 1995, graffiti artists across the city responded enthusiastically, and it’s a tradition still preserved today on Werregarenstraat.

And while this alley (connecting the streets of Hoogpoort and Onderstraat) has become a touristy attraction in its own right, its original purpose wasn’t to attract tourists.

Rather, it was to prevent the most valued historic buildings and walls in Ghent from getting sprayed on, which apparently worked pretty well!

Since this Ghent attraction is right in the city center, it’s definitely worth a quick walkthrough, but don’t expect to spend too much time here or get your expectations up too high.

To be honest, there are way better murals and street art in the city (more on that later), but this is just one of those quintessential Ghent activities you should check off your list.

Graffiti filled alley in Ghent, Belgium

Follow the steps of Ghent’s oldest wall at St. Bavos’ Abbey Ruins

Can’t get enough of Ghent’s historic charm? Well then, head to Abbey Ruins of St.Bavos, where you can walk in the footsteps of some… seriously tumultuous history.

While much of the abbey is today in ruins, perfectly manicured shrubs and columns have been placed along the abbey’s former perimeter so you can get a feel for what it was like back in the day.

This abbey actually dates back to the 7th century, where it stood for almost 900 years until Charles V ordered its destruction in 1540.

Today, the ruins are open only a few days a week ( hours here ), but the altar is still sometimes used as a performance stage!

Visit a Cool Art Museum that Likely Has an Awesome Abbreviation

As Belgium’s resident “cool kid” (in my opinion anyway), it shouldn’t be surprising that Ghent is full of art galleries and museums, with an exciting and diverse selection for every interest.

Funnily enough, I noticed most of the museums have fun abbreviations too. Here are some museums to add to your list:

  • SMAK: A must for unconventional and contemporary art lovers (particularly those who enjoy provocative exhibitions)
  • STAM: The Ghent city museum, which tells the history of the city through gigantic aerial maps and multimedia

Stop by the controversial Stadshal (City Pavilion)

In the heart of Ghent’s historic center, you’ll find a striking modern pavilion known as the Stadshal (or City Pavilion in English).

This open canopy made of wood, concrete and glass has divided public opinion since its introduction in 2012, with many locals angry at the modern design placed just a stone’s throw from the city’s most historic monuments.

Love it or hate it, you have to admit it looks pretty cool:

City Pavilion in Ghent, Belgium

Admire the architecture of the Ghent Sint-Pieters Station

While Antwerp is commonly praised for having the world’s most beautiful station, and Liège’s train station was featured in Guardians of the Galaxy, Ghent’s central station is worth some admiration too.

… I only wish someone had told me earlier, because I completely missed it, so don’t make the same mistake as me. Meanwhile, here’s a stock photo to convince you:

Ghent main stration entrance hall

Beer and Foodie Things to do in Ghent

Beer and food are two wonderful reasons to visit Ghent, which has a reputation as one of Belgium’s top foodie cities. Here are some wonderfully fun things to do in Ghent that relate to food and drink.

Drink Beer From a Glass so Precious, They Take Your Shoe as a Deposit

Wait a minute. Your shoe as a deposit? Yep, welcome to Belgium!

Apparently, stealing glasses is such a thing in Belgium that certain bars have begun fighting back . Some have adopted electronic anti-theft tags, while others (such as Dulle Griet  in Ghent) have pulled out some seriously creative stops to protect their priciest glassware.

Namely, they take a shoe of yours as a deposit when you order one of their Max Van Het Huis beers, which come in comically lengthy glasses (pictured below).

Shoes dangling in a basket above a bar in Ghent

Sure, hopping to the bathroom because you’re missing a shoe isn’t glamorous, but sipping a giant beer as your shoe screams for help from above sure is!

Giant special beer glasses at Dulle Griet in Ghent

Enjoy a treat so beloved, it sparked a turf war

If you thought a shoe deposit was bizarre, allow me regale you with tales of the almighty Cuberdon, a traditional Belgian candy that has become entrenched in local Ghent folklore thanks to two petty vendors in Groentemarkt.

The year was 2011, and local businessman Carl Demeestere had just begun selling Cuberdons at his bakery. The conical nose-shaped candies (which contain a crisp sugary shell and a gooey, jammy interior) were a smash hit with locals and tourists alike.

To his horror however, a rival vendor by the name of Sonny Breine began selling Cuberdons shortly after, unsubtly right in front of Demeestere’s bakery.

What ensued would become known locally as the “war of little noses” – Demeestere opened up his own stall right next to Breine’s, the two began openly heckling each other in public, and once they even got in an open fist fight that resulted in both losing their licenses temporarily.

While today the war seems to be over, and Breine has long left his stall, drama has continued to unfold in recent years with Brein’s successor dumpling a literal bucket of water on Demeestere’s head.

Drama aside, if you want to taste the treat that inspired this soap opera of water buckets, brawls, and incessant hostility, go ahead and try a Cuberdon – those very same stalls are still there today.

Cuberdon candies in Ghent, Belgium being sold in plastic packs

Sample some of the best vegetarian food in Europe

A little known fact about Ghent is that it’s actually known as the veggie capital of Europe , with plenty of plant-based options found all around the city.

So, if you want to participate in a tradition that’s uniquely Ghent, consider taking part in the city’s Thursday Veggie day, during which over 100 restaurants and hotels in the city go vegetarian for the day, offering tasty options throughout the day that are all meat-free.

Holy Food Market in Ghent, belgium

Have a coffee break at a used book cafe with FREE COOKIES

10,000 books, a wall full of free cookies, and truly tasty cappuccinos…

Truly, is there anything better?

One of the best things to do in Ghent when you’re in need of a break is to visit Le Bal Infernal, a lovely and cozy café that is filled wall to wall with used books, as well as cookies on the house.

No, I’m not joking. Please go. I miss it deeply.

Coffees and cookies on a wooden platter in Ghent cafe

Go On an Epic 6-round Beer tour

While it’s fairly easy to DIY your own beer tour around Ghent (just hurl yourself at the closest bar and get belligerent), there are certainly more dignified and cultured ways to get your buzz on.

If you’re hoping to get some local insight into beer culture, as well as find where to drink beer in Ghent away from the more touristy locales, then booking a beer tour like this one is a great Ghent activity to consider. Not only does it take you to three different bars, you also get 5 beer tasters and a mini chocolate tasting too.

Sample local Ghent specialties at the Great Butcher’s Hall

In Groentemarkt just steps from the aggressive nose-candy vendors, you’ll find Ghent’s Butcher’s Hall, where local specialty Ganda ham hangs from the ceiling like a fun, meaty decoration.

This spot is a must-visit for foodies because it’s now home to the Centre for East Flemish Regional Products, meaning you can find all sorts of local goodies to taste and buy, like beer, mustard, ham, and cheese.

Ghent hams hanging from the ceiling in the Ghent Butcher's Hall

Enjoy a Chocolate Tour

If there’s one thing that could be superior to the cold pint of craft beer, then it must be chocolate.

Fortunately, Belgium is known for its (nose-shaped, feud-inspiring) sweets and chocolate.

Again, it’s pretty easy to DIY your own chocolate tour of Ghent, but if you want insider tips and local insight, then booking a chocolate tour like this one is definitely the way to go.

Colourful chairs in front of Ghent storefronts selling chocolate

Learn how to cook Ghent specialties with a local

Ghent is a foodie city through and through, and one of the best ways to experience this is through learning how to make your own classic Belgian dishes from scratch!

This cooking class takes place in a Ghent kitchen/garden where a local expert will guide you through the preparation of your own Belgian classics, which of course you get to eat after. There’s definitely no better way to get acquainted with local cuisine than this.

Couple walking across the street in Ghent, Belgium with the Belfry in the background

Quirky and Offbeat Things to do in Ghent

Now, what is there to do in Ghent that’s a bit unusual or offbeat? In a city with shoe deposits and nose candy turf wars, surely you can expect an oddity or two. Well, I’m happy to report that there are plenty of fun and unusual Ghent activities to choose from. Here are a few.

Celebrate the birth of new Ghent babies

Celebrate the birth of stranger babies? Why not?

At the gorgeous Ghent square of Sint-Veerleplein, you’ll find a peculiar streetlight installation that (when flashing) means a baby has just been born in the city!

In collaboration with the Ghent City Council, artist Alberto Garutti dreamt up this adorable installation in 2011.

It’s known as Ai Nati Oggi (“For Those Born Today”) and the concept is simple: a button installed in a local maternity ward allows parents to signal the birth of their child to the city with a flashing light.

Today, that light can be found in Sint-Veerleplein, one of the oldest squares in the city, sharing real estate with cozy pubs and iconic landmarks such as the Castle of Counts.

Ahh, yes – once a square for executions, now a square for flashing baby lights. Gotta love it.

 Sint-Veerleplein in Ghent, Belgium

Enjoy Peace And Quiet At Ghent’s Beguinages

For a peaceful escape from the busiest and buzziest patches of Ghent, consider seeking temporary refuge in a Beguinage.

These Beguinages are where enclosed communities for devout women were created back in the 13th century.

Today, they are UNESCO World Heritage Sites seen throughout the province of Flanders, where you’ll find 30 total including in Bruges and in Antwerp .

As for Ghent, you’ll find three here, all of which make for an excellent little walk:

  • Great St Elizabeth Beguinage 
  • Old St Elizabeth Beguinage
  • Small Beguinage Our Lady ter Hoyen

Quiet beguinage in Ghent, Belgium

Grab a Drink at Ghent’s Tiniest Microbar

You can grab a drink anywhere in Ghent, with hundreds of restaurants and pubs at your disposal, but if you’re looking for something quirky and unique to do in Ghent, what about the smallest one?

Once upon a time, ‘t Galgenhuisje had two rather grim functions: first as a tripe house where they sold entrails deemed too unsanitary for the Butchers’ Hall, and also as a waiting area where condemned men and women awaited execution.

Today, ‘t Galgenhuisje is Ghent’s smallest cafe, exploding with great reviews, whether it’s for their hospitality, variety of Belgian tap beer, friendly service or picturesque setting.

Say hi to Ghent’s answer to Mannekin Pis

For those who have not yet known the joy of Belgium’s most famous tiny peeing boy statue, let me fill you in: the Mannekin Pis is a Brussels icon, and arguably the city’s most famous tourist attraction… although whether or not it’s a tourist trap is fiercely up for debate.

Yes it really is just a fountain of a tiny peeing boy.

But don’t worry – Ghent has something similar! If you’re looking for “off the beaten path” tiny peeing statues, then boy do I have just the activity for you.

Lena, Nestor & Luna can be found happily peeing in the Kraanlei above Nestor Restaurant. You’re welcome.

Statues of little children in Ghent, Belgium

Or Visit a Troll-themed Bar In a Centuries-old Basement

Tucked away in a 15th century basement, Trollekelder is an authentic beer café in Ghent that not only excels in delivering an old fashioned pub ambiance, but does so with a dash of troll-themed details.

This bizarre fairytale setting was once a book shop up until the 80s. Today, it’s an intimate hideaway known for its outstanding array of specialty beers… not that you needed any further incentive than “troll-themed bar”.

Cool and Alternative Things to do in Ghent

Wondering what to do in Ghent for a bit of an alternative experience? Here are some ideas!

Hunt for epic street art

I’ve already said that I find Ghent’s Graffiti Street pretty overrated, but here’s the good news: Ghent is actually filled with tons of cool and beautiful street art – all you have to do is hunt it down!

Artists from around the world have left a legacy of street art in Ghent, and you can find it all over.

From statues dedicated to nature and realistic 3D graffiti art to funky and colourful murals representing fantasy and culture, there’s plenty to see!

Click here for a list of murals you can visit.

Tall 3D mural on a wall in Ghent, Belgium

Go On an Urban Mountain Bike Sightseeing Tour

There’s tons of wonderful ways to discover Ghent – on foot, by boat and also (if you’re athletically inclined) by mountain bike.

If you’re looking for one of the more unique things to do in Ghent, check out this highly rated urban mountain biking tour which takes you to hidden gems and alternative sights in Ghent with a local.

Check out De Krook

De Krook is a relatively new public library in Ghent, but its striking and unique design make it a worthwhile place to visit for lovers of architecture.

Modern De Krook Library in Ghent, Belgium

Perched on a river bend in Ghent once used to unload coal, this thriving and modern library is known for its outstanding modern architecture and unique activities including a Maker’s Lab, 3D printing facilities and plenty of workshops for visitors.

Paddleboarders on the river next to the Krook public library in Ghent

Go shopping at Dok Noord

If regular shopping on the main drags of Ghent is too mainstream for you, head to Dok Noord, a former factory that has been converted today into a trendy shopping complex with dozens of shops, entertainment services and even leisure/fitness facilities on the top floor.

Go For a Swim in Belgium’s Oldest Indoor Swimming Pool,

To continue Ghent’s string of random accolades, did you know Ghent is also home to Belgium’s oldest indoor swimming pool?

The Van Eyck swimming pool in Ghent is a beautiful facility that boasts some seriously gorgeous art deco and offers a chance to ogle architecture, hang with locals and get a refreshing workout in all-in-one.

And despite being Belgium’s oldest indoor pool/bath house, it’s also considered fairly new as it was completely refurbished back in 2001.

As a bonus, a special lounge on the first floor allows you to chill out after your swim for a chance to properly appreciate the architecture.

Did I miss any of your favourite fun things to do in Ghent?

Let me know in the comments!

My Go-To Travel Favourites:

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🍯 Honey: For finding coupons automatically

🏨 For searching hotels

📷 Sony A7IV: My (amazing) camera

✈️ Google Flights : For finding flight deals

🌎 WorldNomads: For travel insurance

🎉 GetYourGuide: For booking activities

1 thought on “20+ Unique and Fun Things to do in Ghent, Belgium”

Amazing! You describe places in a way that inspires me to travel and see the world. Thank you very much for that. Greetings from Canada.

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11 Best Things to Do in Ghent in One Day (2024)

The centre of Ghent in Belgium

When looking for places to visit in Belgium, most people will immediately think about the medieval city of Bruges or Brussels , the country’s capital. Ghent, however, is a great alternative where you won’t find as many tourists!

This city’s stunning historic centre is full of cobblestone streets, medieval buildings and charming alleyways to get lost in. I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in Belgium , and as I am from this country , I visited this city plenty of times.

Whether you’re looking for a fun day trip from Brussels or want to spend the weekend exploring a new city, you will find the best things to do in Ghent in one day in this post. From the city’s most famous tourist attractions to its hidden gems!

This guide also includes insider tips as well as the best time to visit Ghent and other useful information.

Best Things to Do in Ghent in One Day

1. visit the three medieval towers.

Is Ghent worth visiting - the three towers

Ghent is sometimes called “the City of the Three Towers” due to three of its most famous landmarks standing in perfect row. From first in row to last, these are the three towers of Ghent:

St. Nicholas’ Church

This Scheldt Gothic-style church is one of the oldest and most famous landmarks in the city. It was built in the 13th century, and its central tower served as an observation post until the neighbouring Ghent Belfry was built.

The St. Nicholas Church that you can see today is the result of major restoration works that began in the 19th century.

Belfry of Ghent

With its 91 m (298 ft), the Belfry of Ghent is the tallest bell tower in Belgium . This is a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s well worth a visit.

Its construction started in 1313, and when it was finished, the Belfry didn’t only serve as a bell tower, but it also served as a fortified watchtower and place of storage for important documents.

During a visit to the Belfry , you can climb its stairs or take the elevator to the top while checking out the tower’s bells and chimes on your way up.

St. Bavo’s Cathedral

This beautiful church was finished in 1569, but it took a whopping 500 years to complete it.

What makes St. Bavo’s Cathedral so famous is that this is the place where the Van Eyck brothers’ world-famous Ghent Altarpiece can be found. This work of art is also called the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, and it consists of 18 panels, of which one has been reproduced after being stolen.

2. Walk by the Stadshal

Stadshal in Ghent

The Stadshal, or City Pavilion in English, is right next to the Belfry of Ghent (#1 on this list) and this is a piece of architecture that you will either love or hate.

It was constructed as part of a project to redevelop the squares of Ghent’s historic city centre in 2012 and serves as an open pavilion for concerts and other events .

Due to its modern look in the middle of Ghent’s historical surroundings, the Stadshal received a lot of criticism. It remains a structure that some people adore and others hate until this day and I belong to the second group of people .

Fun fact : The Stadshal is often nicknamed “Schapenstal”, which means “sheep shed” in Dutch.

3. See Geeraard de Duivelsteen Castle

Geeraard de Duivelsteen Castle in Ghent

Constructed in the 13th century, this castle is just 100 m (328 ft)) from St. Bavo’s Cathedral (#1 on this list) and it has a pretty rich history.

This castle was named after the knight Geeraard Vilain, whose nickname was Geraard de Duivel (which means “Geeraard the Devil” in Dutch) due to his dark complexion and hair colour.

Over the centuries, the castle has had many functions. It served as a location for the gatherings of knights, as an armoury, a school, a lunatic asylum, a prison, a fire station and a national archive.

In modern culture, the castle gained popularity due to its use in the popular Belgian comic book series The Adventures of Nero .

Although it is a beautiful building, the interior of the Geeraard de Duivelsteen Castle cannot be visited . So if you’re short on time, this is a place you can easily skip.

4. Walk through Ghent’s Graffiti Street

Graffiti Street art in Belgium

Keep an eye open for street art when you’re exploring the streets of Ghent! The city is filled with work from artists like Bué the Warrior and Roa (both of their works can also be found in Doel, Belgium’s ghost town ).

There’s one alley in particular where you will find lots of graffiti art. Here, street artists can create as much art as they want, which means that this alley looks different every week. This street’s name is Werregarenstraatje and is nicknamed “Graffiti Street”. It’s just a 5-minute walk from St. Bavo’s Cathedral (#1 on this list).

If you’re into street art and would like to do a street art city walk , you can find a map with an overview of most murals on the Visit Gent website .

5. Admire the Graslei and Korenlei

Ghent in Belgium

This is one of my favourite places to visit in Ghent and if you’re asking me, this place alone makes Ghent worth visiting .

The “Graslei” and “Korenlei” are two streets located along the banks of the River Lys. In the olden days, herbs and vegetables were stored at the Graslei, while wheat was stored at the Korenlei.

This is the perfect place to take a break and enjoy the atmosphere of the city. The area was once part of the medieval port of Ghent and hence, it was the city’s commercial centre.

Today, many locals flock to this place to relax by the water when the weather is nice and I can understand why. The Graslei and Korenlei are home to houses with stunning medieval facades and there are plenty of nice places to sit and enjoy the view.

Tip : Don’t forget to walk up the stairs of St. Michael’s Bridge while you’re there. You will have a beautiful view of the Graslei and Korenlei from here.

6. Marvel around Gravensteen Castle

Gravensteen Castle in Ghent Belgium

The Gravensteen Castle, meaning the “Castle of the Counts” in Dutch, is located right in the city centre of Ghent. This is one of the most famous historical landmarks in Belgium and a place you cannot miss during a visit to Ghent.

This castle was the residence of the Counts of Flanders from 1180, when it was built, until 1353. After it was abandoned, it served as a courthouse, a prison and a cotton mill.

If you visit the Gravensteen Castle today, you will have the chance to wander around its hallways and learn more about its rich history. There’s a torture museum here as well and the equipment that can be found here was used to make people confess during the time that the castle served as a prison.

When you reach the top floor of the castle, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Ghent and its three towers.

Tip : Head to Hoofdbrug for the best view of the Gravensteen Castle.

7. Take a boat tour

The centre of Ghent in Belgium

Taking a boat tour on the canals is a great way to see Ghent’s medieval city centre and photograph the city’s most famous landmarks from a different angle.

When I took a boat tour here, it came with an audio guide, which made it the perfect way to learn more about this city.

You can either book boat tours in Ghent or online via GetYourGuide.

8. Explore the Patershol District

Patershol medieval district

One of the best things to do in Ghent is to explore the medieval Patershol District, one of the city’s most authentic neighbourhoods .

In ancient days, this was the area where the workers for the Counts of Ghent lived. It used to be a very poor neighbourhood, but today, it’s one of the most desirable areas in town.

You will find cobblestone streets and alleys here, all following the original street paths from the Middle Ages.

All in All, Patershol is a charming, car-free area filled with little shops, cafes and restaurants. This is a must-see area on a visit to Ghent!

Tip : Stop by Confiserie Temmerman if you have a sweet tooth. This traditional confectionary was founded in 1904, and it’s famous for its old-fashioned sweets and Ghent delicacies.

9. Take a break on the Vrijdagsmarkt

Dulle Griet beer cafe in Ghent

The Vrijdagsmarkt is a beautiful market square with a rich but dark history. It’s here that people were publicly executed back in the day. Luckily, though, the last execution took place in 1863, and the square has changed a lot since then.

The white building with a little tower is the only remaining building from ancient times. All the other ones were built in the late 19th century or 20th century.

Today, the Vrijdagsmarkt is a bustling square full of pubs, including the Dulle Griet . This café offers the largest selection of beer in Ghent (and drinking Belgian beer should definitely be on your European bucket list ).

If you’re visiting the Vrijdagsmarkt on a Friday or Saturday, you will find a market full of food stalls and fish here. The square is also home to the statue of Jacob van Artevelde, a prominent figure in Flemish history.

Fun fact: If you want to taste Max Beer , the Dulle Griet’s beer, you will have to give the bar your shoe in return. This beer is served in a boot-shaped glass and you will get your shoe back if you bring back the glass in one piece.

10. Visit the ruins of St. Bavo’s Abbey

Sint Baafsabdij in Ghent

Visiting St. Bavo’s Abbey is one of the best free things to do in Ghent. This is one of the city’s hidden gems and it’s one of my favourite places!

St. Bavo’s Abbey was founded in the 7th century to convert the locals to Christianity. The monks had to flee the abbey in the 9th century because it was raided by Vikings, but they were able to return here a few decades later.

This is a beautiful and mysterious place with a rich history. What makes it even better is that it’s completely free to visit !

Make sure to check the opening hours in advance if you’re planning on visiting it, though. The abbey is only open a few days a week from April to November .

11. Visit a museum (or more)

Dr Guislain Museum

If you enjoy visiting museums, then why not visit some of Ghent’s most famous ones?

From the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art ( S.M.A.K. ) and the Museum of Fine Arts ( MSK ) to quirkier museums like the House of Alijn (which revolves around daily life in the 20th century), Ghent is home to plenty of interesting museums!

My personal favourite is the Dr. Guislain Museum , a very unique museum that’s housed in Belgium’s first psychiatric hospital.

Depending on your interests, you could also head to the Design Museum , the Ghent City Museum or the Museum of Industry .

Tip: If you like visiting museums, it’s good to know that there’s an abundance of interesting museums in Brussels too.

The Ghent Festivities (Gentse Feesten)

Top thins to do in Ghent

If you find yourself in Ghent in late July , you will see that the city is transformed into a huge cultural festiva l. The Ghent Festivities (or Gentse Feesten in Dutch) last for ten days, and during this time, the city is filled with free concerts, theatres, exhibitions, parades and more!

It’s a fun experience, and you will get to enjoy the city in a completely different atmosphere at this time of the year.

On top of all that, another great thing about the festivities is that you will find delicious street food around every corner!

What to Eat in Ghent

There’s a lot of great food in Ghent , you will find my top recommendations below.

One of Ghent’s local specialties are cuberdons. This raspberry-flavoured candy is shaped like a nose and that’s why they’re called “neuzen” or “neuzekes” (noses or little noses) in Dutch.

According to the legend, this candy was invented by accident. When a batch of medicinal syrup turned hard on the outside and remained fluid on the inside, pharmacist De Vynck decided to open up a candy shop. The so-called “cuberdon” soon became popular and you could find it in nearly every street in Ghent by the end of the 19th century.

Cuberdons or neuzekes, Belgian candy

Waterzooi is another speciality from Ghent . This is a stew made of fish or chicken, vegetables, egg yolks and cream.

During the Middle Ages, waterzooi was eaten with fish, not chicken. Unfortunately, the rivers of Ghent became more polluted and the fish disappeared, hence the chicken version of the stew. You will find hundreds of restaurants serving their own version of this dish in the city.

French fries, waffles and chocolate

Apart from Ghent’s local specialities, a visit to Belgium is not complete without trying some delicious fries, waffles and Belgian chocolate . After all, these are some of the things Belgium is most famous for .

Map of the Best Things to Do in Ghent in 1 day

How to Get to Ghent

Ghent is located in the Belgian province of East Flanders, right between Bruges and Brussels . This is a walkable city that you can reach by:

  • Train : Take the train to Ghent Sint-Pieters (this is a 30-minute ride from Brussels or a 25-minute ride from Bruges). The train station is a 30-minute walk from the centre of the city, but you can also take the tram.
  • Car : Ghent can easily be reached by car but keep in mind that it’s not free to park your car in the city centre.
  • Day tour : You can visit Ghent as part of a day tour from Brussels that also includes Bruges. This is an easy and relaxing way of visiting both cities. Check out my post about visiting Ghent and Bruges in one day if this is something that you’re interested in.

Tip:  I highly recommend using   Discover Cars  if you want to rent a car in Belgium. This company compares car rental companies so that you can get the best rates.

The Patershol district

Best Time to Visit Ghent

The best time to visit Ghent is in April, May and June   or September and October . Not only will the weather be at its best at this time of the year, but the city won’t be too crowded either.

Belgium can be visited all year long, though. You can find an overview of the weather that you can expect according to the seasons below:

  • Spring (April to June):  Spring is a great season to visit Ghent. At this time of the year, the temperature will be between 9°C and 25°C (48°F and 77°F).
  • Summer (July to August):  Summer is the most crowded time of the year as it’s a school holiday in Belgium. You can expect temperatures between 21°C and 34°C (70°F and 93°F) at this time of the year.
  • Autumn (September to November):  Autumn is also a great season to visit Ghent. During this season, temperatures will be between 10°C and 27°C (51°F and 81°F).
  • Winter (December to March):  Ghent can get pretty cold during the Winter, with temperatures between -6°C and 5°C (21°F and 42°F).

Where to Stay in Ghent

You will find plenty of hotels, hostels and Airbnb’s in Ghent, it all depends on your personal taste and budget. You will find my top recommendations below.

  • 1898 The Post ( ⭐ 9.2/10): Located in the heart of Ghent, this hotel is situated in a beautiful historic building – the city’s former post office. The rooms are stunning, they’re decorated with antique furniture and they all offer a view over the city.
  • Rodelijv ( ⭐ 9.1/10): This beautiful hotel is located in a quiet street in the city centre and it offers amazing rooms with all the amenities you will need. It’s set in an old building that’s recently been renovated.
  • KaBa Hostel ( ⭐ 8.4/10): If you’re on a tight budget, KaBa Hostel is the place for you. This hostel is located in a quiet street in the centre of Ghent and it offers nice and clean rooms.

Check out my post featuring the best heritage hotels in Ghent or this guide with the best hotels in Ghent for more options.

Things to do in Ghent in one day

Things to Do in Ghent in One Day: Final Thoughts

Ghent is one of Belgium’s hidden gems and it’s often overlooked compared to cities like Brussels and Bruges.

This is one of my favourite cities in Belgium, though, and one that is definitely worth adding to your Belgian itinerary . The city’s three towers, Gravensteen Castle and Korenlei will make sure to impress you. On top of that, Ghent is easy to reach from other Belgian cities.

I hope that you have found exactly what you were looking for in this guide and that it will inspire you to spend one day in Ghent.

Read more about Belgium:

  • 8 Best Heritage Hotels in Ghent
  • Is Ghent Worth Visiting? 9 Reasons to Visit Ghent
  • Belgium Itinerary: The Best of Belgium in 3, 4 or 5 Days
  • Backpacking Belgium: A Local’s Guide
  • 28 Famous Landmarks in Belgium Worth Seeing
  • 30+ Best Day Trips from Brussels
  • 12 Epic Hikes in Belgium
  • 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Belgium

My other Belgian city guides:

  • How to Spend 24 Hours in Brussels
  • How to See the BEST of Bruges in One Day
  • Most Amazing Things to Do in Dinant
  • Antwerp in One Day: 9 Things to Do

Belgium Travel Planning Guide

🛫 Find the cheapest flights to Belgium on  Skyscanner . 🏨 Find the best accommodation via  Booking  or  Hostelworld . 🚃 Use Omnio to book public transportation in Belgium. 🚗 Rent a car with  Discover Cars   to get the best rates. 💰 Get travel insurance via  Visitors Coverage , one of the best-reviewed travel insurance companies. 📋 Don’t forget to  check if you need a visa  to visit Belgium

Pin it for later: Did you find this post helpful? Save it on Pinterest and follow me on Instagra m and Facebook for more travel tips and inspiration.

Things to do in Ghent in one day

Laura Meyers

Laura Meyers is the founder of Laure Wanders. She was born in Belgium and has travelled to over 40 countries, many of them solo. She currently spends most of her time between Belgium and South Asia and loves helping other travellers plan their adventures abroad.

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Awesome article! We went to the Ghentse Feesten this summer and absolutely loved it. So cool to see the local artists perform there on stage. Hoping to go to the Christmas Market in Ghent later this year. I (Ine) am from Belgium myself. Traveling in Albania now, but planning to be back in Belgium for the holidays this year.

Thank you, Ine! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the Ghentse Feesten, I love it too! Have a blast in Albania, it’s such a beautiful (and underrated) country.

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Your blog is very helpful. I’llbe visiting Ghent in early August. My grandfather was born in Kanegem and Grandmother in Nevele. I’m hoping to visit the both towns. What is the best way to this?.

Hi Roxann, thank you so much, I’m glad you find it helpful! 🙂 You can reach Nevele directly from Ghent by bus (De Lijn). If you want to go to Kanegem, you will have to take a train to Tielt first, then take the bus from here.

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The Complete Visitor’s Guide to Ghent, Belgium

LAST UPDATED: 2/3/24 – Visitor’s Guide to Ghent, Belgium

While France and Germany might get more accolades from travel publications, Belgium has every bit as much charm. In addition, the food is fantastic, and the people couldn’t be any nicer. I simply fell in love with the country the moment I landed. 

But it wasn’t the big cities of Brussels and Antwerp that really won my heart.  Instead, it was the smaller towns like Ghent and Brugge that really made me fall in love with Belgium.

Ghent Has Incredible Restaurants and Beer

Located at the confluence of the Scheldt and Leie rivers, the city of Ghent couldn’t be prettier. Much of the city is built up around these rivers, which intersect the city and give it its charm. The city’s incredible canal system is part of what has made Ghent such a popular tourist destination. Beyond its beauty, the city of Ghent is also well known for its cuisine and its beer.

In fact, according to the local tourism industry, there are 653 restaurants and 620 cafes in Ghent. And in those restaurants and cafes, there are over 250 kinds of beer available. This doesn’t even include the amazing chocolate you can buy in stores around the city. Nor does it include the delicious Belgian waffles that street vendors sell in bunches. In short, Ghent is a foodie’s dream come true.

Ghent Belgium

An All-You-Need Guide to Ghent, Belgium

In this guide to Ghent, Belgium, I am going to give you all of the information you need. Using this information, you will be confident in planning a successful trip to Ghent.  In addition to covering the best times to visit Ghent, I also discuss the best ways to get there. This way, you can maximize what you can see and do during your visit.

Speaking of your visit, I also discuss the top things to see and where to eat while you’re there. And if you are spending multiple days in Ghent, I give you some great accommodation recommendations as well. With this information in hand, planning your trip to see Ghent should be a breeze.

Ghent Visitor Guide Navigation Menu

At a glance.

Before you start making any travel plans, you need to be sure you meet the country’s entrance requirements. This includes all of the passport, VISA, and immunization requirements for Belgium.

In addition, you need to make sure you have a clear understanding of what languages they speak in Belgium. This way, you can plan any translation needs you may have. Not only that, but you will need to know what currency they use.

Knowing this, you can plan to exchange currency before your trip if necessary. I have included this key information in my guide to Ghent, Belgium below for you to review.

Passport, VISA, and Immunization Requirements

Travel Passport

To assist you in navigating the legal requirements for visiting Belgium, I outline the key entry requirements below. I have included a link to my Belgium Passport, VISA, Customs, and Immunization Requirements for Visitors Guide, which you will want to review.

I have also linked to my article on the EU’s new ETIAS VISA requirements. These guides will give you all the information you need to ensure you are allowed entry into Belgium. This includes the VISA, passport, customs, and immunizations requirements and recommendations.

Packing Tips

Carry-On Bag

Outside of knowing the entry and immunization requirements, there is no pre-travel task more important than packing. Don’t worry, I am here to make sure you are packed and prepared for your trip. I have included links to my packing resources in my travel guide to Ghent, Belgium below for you to review.

Top Things to See and Do in Ghent

Ghent, Belgium

Before planning your itinerary, you need to have an idea of what you would like to see in Ghent.  There is a lot to see and do in the city, so you need to plan your time wisely.  To assist, I have listed the top attractions for you to review in my guide to Ghent, Belgium below.

Ghent Attractions Map

View Larger Map

The Gravensteen

The Gravensteen

Translated to mean the “Castle of the Counts”, the Gravensteen dates all the way back to 1180. It is a very cool medieval castle that is definitely worth checking out. The castle was the residence of the Counts of Flanders until 1354 and has served various other purposes throughout its life. 

While the castle is really impressive to see from the outside, especially from the water, I would not recommend the tour of the inside.  If you do want to tour the inside of the castle, it is open for visitors between 10:00am and 5:15pm daily, and an audio tour with headphones is available.

St. Michael’s Bridge (Sint-Michielshelling)

St. Michael's Bridge

One of the prettiest spots in all of Ghent has to be on the St. Michael’s bridge .  Known locally as Sint-Michielshelling, the bridge is in the epicenter of everything that makes Ghent the charming city that it is.  From the bridge, you can capture a picture of all three of Ghent’s famous towers in a row. 

If this weren’t reason enough to visit the bridge, it is also just a stone’s throw from the Old Fish Market and the Gravensteen.  Or if you would just prefer to sit and people-watch for a bit, then St. Michael’s Bridge is a great place to do that as well.

St. Bavo’s Cathedral (Sint-Baafskathedraal)

St. Bavo's Cathedral

One of the most visible and easily recognizable features of the city of Ghent is the tower of St. Bavo’s Cathedral .  Located in the heart of the city of Ghent, St. Bavo’s church is the city’s oldest parish church and one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Belgium. 

There is a ton of history behind this amazing church, so after you are done admiring its beauty from the outside, I would strongly recommend paying the inside of the church a visit to learn more about its past.

St. Bavo’s Abbey (Sint-Baafsabdij)

Bavo's Abbey (Sint-Baafsabdij)

Another can’t-miss stop when visiting Ghent is St. Bavo’s Abbey .  The abbey twice survived attacks by Vikings, but much of the complex was destroyed by the order of Emperor Charles V and a coercion castle was built on the site. 

Included in the St. Bavo’s Abbey complex is St. Abbey’s church, which includes the oldest standing wall in the city of Ghent.   I would highly recommend touring the remains of this once-beautiful abbey as it can teach you a lot about the history of the area.

Ghent Belfry (Belfort)

Ghent Belfry

Another of the can’t-miss landmarks in the skyline of the city of Ghent is the Ghent Belfry , which is otherwise known as the Belfort.  If you are looking at the city’s skyline, it is the middle tower in the famous row of three towers that dominate the city’s skyline. 

Not only is it one of Ghent’s most visible buildings, but it is also one of the city’s most beautiful.  With a stone dragon, seemingly guarding the entrance to the city, the tower is both foreboding and beautiful. 

It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its beauty and historical significance.  I would strongly recommend touring this beautiful building and learning more about it and the wonderful city it stands in.

The Ghent Canals (Graslei and Korenlei)

Ghent Belgium Canals

One of the city’s most noticeable landmarks and the pride of the people of Ghent are the canals that run through the city.  The Ghent Canals have been used by ships to travel through the city since the 11th Century and they have played an important role in the culture of the city ever since. 

In addition to their practical use, they are also part of what makes this city so beautiful and charming.  There are few things better than an afternoon or evening walk along the canals in the city of Ghent.


As one of the oldest and most lively quarters in the city of Ghent, the neighborhood of  Patershol is a must-stop destination when visiting Ghent.  In addition to a plethora of wonderful restaurants and shops, this area is also home to some of the city’s best festivals and events.

Take a Canal Cruise

Ghent Belgium Canal Cruise

No trip to Ghent is complete without a ride on the canals.  Ghent is such a beautiful city and the best way to take in that beauty is from the water.  If you are interested in learning more about the boat rides in Ghent, there is some great information you can review on the Visit Ghent website .

Try the Belgian Waffles

Ghent Belgium Waffles

I will admit, that one of my favorite parts of visiting Ghent was indulging in the absolutely delicious Belgian waffles (over and over).  I am sorry, but they are so good.  If you visit Ghent and don’t try the waffles, you are really missing out on one of life’s most delicious treasures.   

Unlike in North America, waffles are eaten with either fresh fruit or chocolate on top (both equally as delicious) and whipped cream, instead of with maple syrup.

Have Some Belgian Beer

Ghent Belgium - Belgian Beer

With over 250 different types of local beer to choose from, Ghent is a beer lover’s dream come true.  When you visit Ghent, make sure you try at least a few of the local brews.  If you are really into beer, you can also take a beer tour that will allow you to sample some of the more popular brews from the area.

How to Get to Ghent, Belgium

Ghent Belgium

The city of Ghent is located in Northwestern Belgium in the Dutch-speaking part of the country.  It is a very short train ride from the larger cities of Brussels and Antwerp and relatively close to both Paris and Amsterdam. 

In fact, if you wanted to combine a visit to Ghent with a trip to either France or the Netherlands, you could probably even fit a visit to Ghent in as a day trip from those countries.  However, I would certainly recommend you stay more than a day because there is so much to see and do. 

To help give you a better understanding of where Ghent is located in proximity to some of the other popular tourist destinations in Western Europe, I have created a map with estimated travel times to Ghent from various cities. You can review this map in my guide to Ghent, Belgium below.

Getting to Ghent Map

There are three primary languages spoken in the country of Belgium, with Dutch being the prevalent language spoken in Ghent and the rest of Northern Belgium. 

If you are traveling to other cities in Belgium during your visit, you will want to keep the different lingual regions of Belgium in mind.  To help you understand where each language is primarily spoken, I have included a map for you to review in my guide to Ghent, Belgium below.

Belgium Regions Map

Best Time to Visit Ghent, Belgium

Ghent Belgium Bicycles

Ghent is a city that is fun to visit year-round, but depending on what you are planning on doing when you visit, there may be certain months of the year that are better for you to visit than others. 

To assist you in determining which month is best for you to visit, I have included some information for you to review in my guide to Ghent, Belgium below.

Average Temperature (°F)

The first factor that you will want to consider when deciding when it would be best for you to visit Ghent is the temperature.  The temperature in Ghent is fairly mild year-round, but it can get a bit chilly during the winter months of December through February. 

The months of June through September typically see the warmest temperatures, so if you plan on spending a considerable amount of time outside, these might be the best months for you to visit.

Average Precipitation (Inches)

The other weather-related factor that you will want to consider when planning your trip to Ghent is the amount of rain that you can expect to see when you visit. 

To give you an idea of what the typical rainfall is throughout the year, I have included the chart below for you to review.  As you can see, the Autumn months of October and November typically see the most rainfall, with February through April seeing the least amount of rain.

Where to Stay in Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

One of the most important decisions you are going to have to make when planning your trip to Ghent is where you will stay.  When you travel, the accommodations you choose are oftentimes amongst the biggest expenditures for your trip. 

So not only do you need to be comfortable where you are staying, but you also need to be comfortable with how much you are paying to stay there.  Finding the right accommodations for your trip involves looking at the amenities, the location, and most importantly, the price. 

If you are starting to plan your trip to Ghent and want some hotel and hostel suggestions, I have included some great options at different price points for you to review in my guide to Ghent, Belgium below. 

As always, don’t be afraid to expand your search to room-sharing sites such as Airbnb or VRBO if you aren’t finding a hotel or hostel that meets your needs.

Ghent, Belgium Hotels Map

Where to Eat in Ghent, Belgium

Ghent Belgium Food

When most people plan a trip, the primary focus is on how to get there, where to stay, and what is on the list of things to see and do.  What many travelers neglect to plan, is where to eat when you are there. 

Granted, it is sometimes fun to be spontaneous when choosing a restaurant while traveling, and it is always smart to get recommendations when you arrive.  However, it can also be advantageous to have some ideas of restaurants you would like to try during your trip written down beforehand as well. 

This way you can be assured that you won’t miss out on a highly recommended culinary experience that you will regret.  To help you decide on some restaurants to add to your list, I have included a list of some highly recommended options. You can review this list in my guide to Ghent, Belgium below.

Recommended Tours and Excursions in Ghent

Ghent, Belgium Bicycles

There is an abundance of amazing things to see and do in the Ghent area and one of the best ways to experience those things is on a tour.  If you are looking for fun tours and excursions to fill out your trip, I have included some category links to recommended tours and excursions you can review in my guide to Ghent, Belgium below.

Ghent, Belgium Photo Gallery

Ghent is one of those cities where it is nearly impossible to visit and not come away with some incredible pictures to share.  I was able to capture a bunch of great shots when I visited and have shared some of my favorites with you in the gallery below.

If you would like to see more of my travel photography, I would also encourage you to give me a follow on Instagram . Putting this blog together to pass on my free guides, itineraries, and travel photography tips is a lot of work and your support in the form of a follow-on Instagram would be so very much appreciated!

Guide to Ghent Belgium

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Published by Josh Hewitt

Avid traveler and photographer who loves to see new places, meet new people, and experience new things. There is so much this world can teach us, we just need to explore! View all posts by Josh Hewitt

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Fantastic guide. I visited for a day a few years back but it looks so much more spectacular with the sun shining and clear blue skies. Might have to try and go back soon! Belgium’s a vastly underrated country with the exception of Bruges.

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Agreed!! Bruges will be my next Belgium guide. That city is unreal 😀👍

I look forward to it! It’s somewhere I need to go back to!

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An excellent comprehensive guide on a great place to visit. I must say though that the audio guided tour of Gravensteen Castle was one of my daughter’s favourite things in Belgium. Kayaking around the waterways was also great fun!

Thank you so much for reading and the kind words! And thank you for sharing your personal experiences in Ghent. I didn’t get a chance to go kayaking while there. I’ll have to add that to my to do list for my next visit. 😀

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Really great guide. Maybe interesting to mention how to travel by taxi too, like or other reputable companies. That’s a struggle to do as a tourist from personal experience.

Thanks so much for the feedback and the kind words!!

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So true!!!! Such an underrated wildlife destination for sure!!! It is on my list of places to visit!

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One Day in Ghent, Belgium: The 14 Best Things To Do

Last Updated on: 15th January 2024, 09:36 pm

Nestled in the heart of Flemish-speaking Belgium,  Ghent is a gorgeous city with a rich historical heritage alongside a quirky, modern spirit. Ghent has been overshadowed in recent years by its more popular Belgian counterparts like Antwerp and Bruges.

Ghent is a hidden gem of Europe waiting to be discovered. Ghent has some of the most beautiful Cathedrals in Europe and makes a perfect day trip for those  staying in Brussels  – so here is what to do on a day trip spending one day in Ghent!

Planning a Last-Minute Trip to Ghent? We’ve Got You Covered! 🏨 Great Hotels for an Overnight in Ghent ✈︎ The Ghent Marriot Hotel (Overlooking the main canal in Ghent, perfectly central) $$$ ✈︎ Hotel Chamade (Two blocks from train station, right by tram, comfortable) $$ ✈︎ Monasterium PoortAckere ( Converted Monastery ! Older hotel, some rooms with ensuite) $-$$ 🛵 Best Activities and Tours in Ghent ✈︎ 50-Minute Guided Boat Tour on Canals (My favorite activity in Ghent! Great photo opportunities.) ✈︎ Small Group Chocolate Tour (Highly-rated, Ghent is a center of chocolate in Belgium!) ✈︎ Day-Tour from Brussels: Bruges and Ghent (A guided tour to see two of Belgium’s best cities!) 💶 Travel Insurance ✈︎ Do not forget to purchase comprehensive travel insurance before you leave for Barcelona! I use SafetyWing Travel Insurance and have always been very happy with their service and pricing!

Discovering Ghent in One Day

A mineret-like tower and glass awning in front of the brick train station in Ghent, Belgium

Ghent is very easy to get to from Brussels. It’s a great idea to stay in Brussels to be able to make wonderful day trips to areas like Bruges and Antwerp, which you can easily visit in one day!

Unlike Bruges and Antwerp above, though, Ghent isn’t much to look at when you first pull into the train station – but just wait! Walk into its historic town center and  Ghent is a remarkably picturesque city .

Ghent is known all over Belgium for its historic significance, incredible art, and culinary delights. Inside Ghent you’ll find a stunning  medieval castle , winding canals, religious art, and endless bridges. 

Even if you only have one day in Ghent – Ghent is absolutely worth visiting and should not be missed on your trip to Belgium. 

Exploring  Ghent in one day  is a challenge, but is absolutely possible! I traveled to Ghent from Leuven – which is even further than Brussels – and spent an amazing day in this  Unesco World Heritage Site  city. There are plenty of  things to do in Ghent , so follow this itinerary to make the most of Ghent in one day and discover the most amazing things to do in Ghent, Belgium. 

Canals in Ghent with boats moored to the edges and historic homes with lots of windows and a cloudy sky in Ghent

Traveling to Ghent for a Day Trip 

The best way to get around Belgium is  by train . Belgium’s train system is efficient and while not the cheapest in Europe it is still relatively inexpensive. You can  easily buy tickets online  per route so you can use them at any time of day. 

If you are  staying in Brussels during your trip to Belgium , travel from  Brussels to Ghent  takes less than an hour and is very pleasant. 

When you arrive in Ghent, at the Gent-Sint-Pieters Train Station, you might be surprised it doesn’t exactly look like all the tourist photos below! Ghent is a large city and the canals and tiered guild houses that made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site are only in the Historic Center.

A fountain with two gysers and a tall statue with guns on top memorializing a war outside of the train station in Ghent against a blue sky

It’s at least a  20-minute walk  from Ghent Train Station to the city center. A better idea? One of my best Ghent travel tips is to  take the buses or trams! 

If you buy a Ghent Card for the day, free public transportation comes pre-loaded onto it. If you are on your own, just download the  DeLijn app   onto your phone and you can easily by a public transport day pass or individual tickets for 2.50 Euro each. 

Just be careful and don’t get on the tram going the wrong way like I did! I got quite the unexpected tour of Ghent.  🤦🏽‍♀️

A mural with intricate geometric patterns and landscape paintings inside half circles in the Ghent train station.

One Day In Ghent: 14 Best Things To Do in Ghent

Ghent has so much to do, and with only  one day in Ghent  you are going to want to start early to have enough time! I advise trying to arrive at the Historic Center around 9 am.

It’s easy to grab breakfast at any train station in Belgium to enjoy on the train then you can start your day fueled and ready to go! Follow this  Ghent itinerary  to make the most of your one day in Ghent! 

Morning in Ghent: Take Canal Tour and Visit Gravensteen Castle

A canal in Ghent with beautiful historic Guildhouses.

1. Take a Canal Tour in Ghent

One of the top things to do in Ghent is to take a boat tour through Ghent’s gorgeous canals! The  best time to take a canal tour is the morning  for two reasons: the light is gorgeous for photographs and a canal tour will give you a great orientation to Ghent. You can also beat the crowds in the morning – which is always a plus! 

On your guided tour of the canals in Ghent, you will not only see the highlights of the city centre by boat ride, but also get a little further into the “real” Ghent where people live and work and go to school. You’ll pass truly beautiful buildings like the new Ghent library and your local guide will point out a lot of quirky, fun houses and share a lot about the city’s history. 

There are many  wonderful boat tours in Ghent   to choose from. To make sure you get a seat I recommend  booking ahead of time online .

If you want to play things by ear for your Ghent day trip, you can always purchase at the kiosks near where the boats leave from, at  Groentenmarkt,  at the Vleeshuisbrug which is a short walk from the main historical city.

Most canal tours cost between 8 and 10 Euro per adult and can be experienced in different languages (English is almost always offered!). The different companies offer slightly different types of boats and length of tour, but they are all great options I honestly wouldn’t spend too much energy on which is best and go with what fits in your schedule and budget. 

A view of historic buildings in Ghent against a dramatic sky.

2. Take a Free Walking Tour of Ghent

Like so many cities in Europe, there are plenty of options for so-called “Free Walking Tours” of Ghent. If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land or are interested in a deeper historical exploration of Ghent, a walking tour is a great way to start your Ghent day trip. 

Most likely, with only one day in Ghent , you won’t have time to do a canal tour  and  a walking tour – so you can choose which you prefer. 

There are a number of companies providing Free Walking Tours of Ghent – perhaps the best known is  Legends of Ghent  which provides a daily tour at 10:30 am (that goes until 1:30 so be prepared for lots of walking!), a nighttime tour if you do  stay in Ghent overnight , and even a tasting tour – yum!   

Remember – Free Walking Tours in Europe aren’t, technically, supposed to be completely free and it’s customary to generously tip your guide. 

places to visit in ghent belgium

3. Explore Gravensteen Castle, the Castle of the Counts

Gravensteen Castle, which translates to “ Castle of the Counts ,” is an incredible medieval fortress constructed in the late 12th century. Gravensteen was built during the reign of  Philip of Alsace,  the Count of Flanders and throughout the Middle Ages it served as a residence for the Counts of Flanders. It’s a prime example of medieval architecture in Belgium and frankly one of the coolest castles you can visit in all of Europe! 

Over the centuries, Gravensteen witnessed a huge number of historical events, including battles, sieges, and political developments. Gravensteen also played an important role in the many conflicts between the Counts of Flanders and the citizens of Ghent over the years. 

In the 19th century, sadly Gravensteen was falling apart, and there were discussions about demolishing the castle in Ghent. However, it was eventually  restored in the 19th and 20th centuries,  preserving its historical significance and allowing it to be open to the public.

Today you can visit Gravensteel Castle and stroll along its medieval towers. You can buy your  ticket online here  or at the gate.  Do not forget the audio guide!  It’s wonderful and well worth it 

You also have the option to climb the battlements for panoramic views over Ghent’s historical city! 

Lunch Time in Ghent: Savor Local Delicacies, and Wander Ghent’s Cobblestone Streets

A bowl of soup in an enamel bowl with a large chunk of brown bread to the left.

4. Savor Ghent’s Culinary Treasures

Anyone visiting Ghent, even for only one day in Ghent, needs to take time to enjoy the local Belgian cuisine! There are lots of great restaurants in Ghent, but wherever you go make sure to try local delicacies such as Ghentse Waterzooi (creamy stew), Belgian fries with their delicious sauces, and Belgian Waffles . And, of course, don’t forget about having a good old Belgian Beer along with it all! 

For a quicker meal, but utterly delicious, stop by Soup’r – a little restaurant that serves amazing soups with tons of accoutrements, as well as sandwiches on the most delicious bread. It’s at Sint-Niklaastraat 9 – a stone’s throw away from the canals and cathedrals of Ghent. 

5. Sit by Ghent’s canals like a local

One of the best things to do in Ghent is to take whatever Belgian foods you order and sit by the canals! There are a few lovely restaurants right along the canal in Ghent if you’re looking for more sit-down fare, but for to-go foods in Ghent, it’s great to have a picnic by the canal.

It will be easy to spot where to do this because all the students and locals enjoy sitting by the canals during lunch hour and afternoon! It’s delightful to watch the boats go by and get an up-close sense of daily life in Ghent this way! 

A tall square tower on the left against dramatic clouds in Ghent

6. Climb the Belfry of Ghent, Ghent’s Bell Tower

The Belfry Tower in Ghent is located near two of Ghent’s major churches, Saint Bavo’s Cathedral and Saint Nicholas’ Church. The Ghent Belfry was originally built in the 14th century when it was part of the city’s cloth hall and served as a symbol of Ghent’s prosperity and autonomy during medieval times.

 The Belfry of Ghent is part of a group of belfries in the Flanders region of Belgium, which were prominent structures in medieval cities.for the best views over the historic city of Ghent!  Ghent’s Belfry is one of the tallest belfry in the region and is a great spot for the best views over Ghent. 

You can buy your ticket to the Ghent Belfry online to save time, or when you get there. As of 2023, a regular adult ticket costs 11 Euro, with discounts for young persons and students. 

The Stadhuis in Ghent an intricately carved front with niches and statues and flags.

7. Walk up the Botermarkt Street

​Very near Ghent’s Bell Tower is Botermarkt Street. This is the old market of Ghent. Here you can see Ghent’s (somewhat controversial) Stadshal – a modern recreation of Ghent’s rooftops.

You can also see Ghent’s Stadhuis – the beautiful town hall with amazing carvings all along it! (It doesn’t quite beat the one in Leuven though – which is one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Belgium!) 

places to visit in ghent belgium

Afternoon: Ghent’s Cathedrals and Ghent’s Museums

You can’t go to Ghent, even for one day, without visiting at least one of Ghent’s beautiful and famous churches.

With only one day in Ghent, I advise you to choose one Cathedral to visit.

Of course, I recommend Saint Bavo Cathedral for the Van Eyck Altarpiece “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” but Saint Michael’s Church and St Nicholas Church are wonderful choices as well! If you have time I highly recommend you visit one of the  Museums in Ghent.  

A huge altarpiece behind glass with one person looking at it.

8. Visit St. Bavo’s Cathedral and the Van Eyck Altarpiece 

Aside from being one of the largest and most stunningly beautiful  Cathedrals in Europe , St Bavo’s Cathedral is one of the most famous and storied pieces of religious art in the world: the Van Eyck Altarpiece , also called the ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.’ This is truly one of the most incredible pieces of art I’ve ever seen and is well worth the admission price to see – it’s also one of the biggest tourist attractions in all of Belgium!

Aside from simply being stunningly detailed and symbolic, the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb is known as the most stolen painting in history! 

A tall painting showing lots of people in dynamic poses by Rubens in St. Bavo's in Ghent

Created by the Flemish artists Jan van Eyck and his brother Hubert van Eyck, first the Ghent Altarpiece was taken during the  French Revolution in 1794  and briefly displayed in the Louvre before being returned to Belgium.

The worst blow came in 1934 when the lower left panel, called the Just Judges, was stolen from the Van Eyck Altarpiece overnight – it has never been recovered but many Belgians and Art Historians dream of being the one to find it! There is a copy in place today – but honestly it’s just not nearly as incredible as Van Eyck’s original work. 

Later the Nazi’s looted the Ghent Altarpiece in 1942, and it was finally recovered by Allied Forces in 1945. 

​St. Bavo’s Cathedral itself is a wonderful example of gothic architecture with beautiful stained glass windows and a soaring nave. Don’t miss some of the other art treasures inside, such as paintings by Rubens!

9. Visit St. Michael’s Church

The outside of St. Michael's Cathedral in Ghent

St. Michael’s Church is another gorgeous Gothic Cathedral in Ghent that dates back to the 10th century when it was founded by Bishop Notger of Liège. The original church was constructed in the Romanesque style, and fragments of this early structure can still be seen in the church today.

In the 13th century, the church underwent significant renovations and was transformed into the Gothic style. 

St. Michael’s Church is known for its impressive Gothic architecture , with soaring vaulted ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows. It’s also known for the art inside, including a magnificent Baroque high altar and a carved pulpit. The Ghent Altarpiece was originally housed in Saint Michael’s Church before being moved to Saint Bavo’s Cathedral.

You can find St. Michael’s Church just past St. Michael’s Bridge near one of the nicest areas of canals in Ghent – the bridge offers a beautiful view of the church and some of the famous guildhouses in Ghent. 

Even if you only have one day in Ghent, I recommend popping inside St. Michael’s Church at least briefly! 

10. Visit St. Nicholaschurch

St. Nicholaschurch is very near Ghent’s Belfry and St. Bavo’s Cathedral.  Saint Nicholas Church was started around 1200. It was commissioned by the local guilds and merchants who wanted a church that would rival St. Bavo’s Cathedral.

Like the other two main churches in Ghent, St. Nicholaschurch is built in the Gothic architectural style. In medival Ghent, St. Nicholas’ Church served as a place of worship for the city’s merchants and guild members. It was also used for important civic functions and meetings.

St. Nicholaschurch originally had a tall bell tower, but it was severely damaged in a storm in the 15th century and was subsequently shortened. The current tower is still impressive!

11. Visit MSK – Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent

Even with only one day in Ghent, the Museum of Fine Arts is a must-visit for art enthusiasts in Ghent! I recommend doing this towards the mid-late afternoon. In the summers you’ll beat the heat and this makes a great capstone to your day before heading back to Brussels or enjoying dinner by the canals of Ghent. 

The MSK Ghent has an impressive collection of old masterpieces, including works by famous artists such as Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and Jan van Eyck.

For those who prefer more modern art, The Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent also features an extensive collection of 19th and 20th-century European art . including works by artists like James Ensor, Gustav Klimt, René Magritte. 

The best way to get to the MSK Museum in Ghent from the historic center is to hop on Tram 1 heading towards “Flanders Expo”. There is a stop on that line right in front of the art museum! Otherwise, it’s about a 20-25 minute walk from the city center. 

A modern building with two wooden points against a dramatic sky

​12. Visit STAM – The Ghent City Museum

The Ghent City Museum is another of Ghent’s museums that is well worth visiting, even with only one day in Ghent!  This   museum in particular might warrant visiting in the morning, as it will give you a comprehensive overview of Ghent and its history. It’s also a nice capstone to your one day in Ghent! 

STAM offers a comprehensive overview of the history of Ghent. Using a combination of artifacts, multimedia displays, maps, and interactive installations,  the STAM tells the story of the city from its early origins to the present day. One of the coolest features of STAM is a large-scale model of the city of Ghent that allows visitors to explore the city’s layout and development over time.

Don’t miss that STAM offers excellent panoramic views of the city from its rooftop terrace! It’s a great place to relax for a few moments and enjoy a gorgeous view of Ghent, Belgium! 

13. Visit S.M.A.K. – The Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent

For those who prefer more contemporary art to historic art, Ghent is an amazing place for modern art! Not only is Ghent known for amazing street art (see below) but the SMAK Museum, or Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent is world-renowned! 

Some street art in Ghent on the side of a building

S.M.A.K. boasts an extensive and diverse collection of contemporary artworks spanning a lot of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, and installation art. It’s particularly known for site-specific installations and contemporary art installations that engage with the museum’s architecture and spaces, providing visitors with immersive and unique experiences.

14. Explore Ghent’s Amazing Street Art Scene

​Ghent is a real hub in Belgium and in Europe for Street Art . You’ll have a chance to view some of the most famous pieces on your Canal Tour in the morning, and probably continue to explore Ghent’s Street Art throughout your day in Ghent! Major Belgian street artists like ROA, Strook, and Bue the Warrior all have famous murals in Ghent. 

Don’t forget to check out Werregarenstraatje (Graffiti Street) – a legal zone where artists are encouraged to express themselves. The Graffiti is always changing and gives a real contemporary pulse of the city and its art! 

Other Suggestions of Things To Do in Ghent

If you have more time in Ghent, or you are there on Sundays or Fridays, you should check out the  markets in Ghent. 

The Flower Market in Ghent is famous and is held on Sundays. It is held on the  Kouter  and you can immerse yourself in gorgeous flowers and plants of all varieties, while picking up some delicious Belgian street food delicacies. 

Sundays also boast a Book Market in Ghent on the Ajuinlei.

The Friday market is also famous and has lots of delicious local foods to try. It’s held on the square that shares its name: Vrijdagmarkt. 

Saint Nicholas Basilica Amsterdam in sunset with its shadow reflected in the canal with tour boats on it. The Basilica has three domes.

Where to  Stay in Brussels  for a Day Trip to Ghent

If you’re planning to take a day trip to Ghent while you visit Belgium , and perhaps other great day trips in Belgium like a day trip to Leuven or Antwerp or – of course – Bruges, then you should definitely consider staying near one of Brussel’s main train stations.  This map shows the two main train stations in Brussels as well as some great accommodation options in Brussels!

Where to Stay in Ghent, Belgium

 You may choose to stay overnight in Ghent to give you more than one day in Ghent – since there’s so much to do! If you choose to do so, I recommend paying that little bit extra to stay in the historic center, near the canals, to fully embrace the beauty of Ghent by night and enjoy every minute of your trip to Ghent! 

Three great hotel options in Ghent, Belgium at different budget points are:

1898 The Post ($$$) is perhaps the best hotel in Ghent right in the historic center! It’s such a beautiful property and would make an amazing treat after your day in Ghent!

At a more budget price, the B&B Petit Prince is a highly-rated hotel in Ghent that combines comfort with being a bit more budget-friendly!

You can also choose to stay in a converted Monastery in Ghent! The Monasterium PoortAckere is an older property but with gorgeous architecture and is perfect for spiritual travelers (all are welcome of course!).

Enjoy your One Day in Ghent! 

There are so many highlights of a day in Ghent it’s hard to summarize them, but Ghent is really a must-see city in Belgium for its art, castle, churches, and romantic canal atmosphere!

It’s so easy to get to Ghent from Belgium on the train that everyone should really make sure they have at least one day to spend in Ghent on their Belgium Itinerary! 

Of course, with any list of suggested activities – you can and should always adapt this list to fit  your  interests – whether that’s culture, food, art, or just enjoying the local atmosphere. However, you spend your day in Ghent, soak up every moment in this truly charming Belgian city! 

Flights and Trains – I know everyone recommends SkyScanner…but I’ve never loved it. I simply use Google Flights for most of my searches and set alerts for routes I’m interested in to nab cheap flights. Travel Insurance – It’s so important to have peace of mind that you are covered for any health needs, accidents, or even travel delays when you are on a trip. I recommend: – Safety Wing insurance . It’s great for short trips and for digital nomads traveling for months or years at a time. Their rates are seriously affordable. I simply wont leave home these days without a Safety Wing Travel Insurance policy. Credit Cards – I am a big fan of the American Expresss Platinum Card and have used them for over 6 years now. It offers 5x points on all flights (any airline!) and hotels booked through Amex Travel, built-in travel insurance , access to the biggest network of airport lounges – it’s a no-brainer despite the annual fee! Apply for the American Express Platinum Card here and for a limitied time get 80,000 bonus points (that’s easily enough for a round-trip flight to Europe from the USA!) on signup. Language Learning – Want to brush up on your French, Spanish or another language before traveling? I’ve made huge progress (and had a lot of fun) using private tutors through italki . With rates as low as $8 per hour (seriously!) and friendly, highly experienced tutors you can make quick progress and have fun while doing it. Sign up for italki here to check out their teachers.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means I earn a small commission for products or services mentioned on this site. As always, all opinions remain my own.

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12 Best Things To Do In Ghent, Belgium

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Belgium is an incredible country to explore! Yeah, it might be relatively small when it comes to size but don’t let that fool you at all. There are some stunning places in Belgium all across the country, with Ghent being no exception. It’s one of those Belgium cities that has a little something for everyone and a heap of the best things to do in Ghent that are dotted all around the city. 

Now, after places like the incredible city of Brussels and historic Bruges , Ghent is easily up there as one of the top spots to see whilst exploring Belgium.

Better still, it’s small enough to explore for a short break if you’re short on time. 

This is exactly why I wanted to share some of the best things to do in Ghent when you visit. It’s the kind of place that’s steeped in history and a perfect little stop as part of a wider trip, too. 

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Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Ghent when you visit. Have the best time! 

1.) Find Gravensteen Castle

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Now, for me, visiting Gravensteen Castle is easily one of the best things to do in Ghent and a must-see spot for sure. Built during the 12 th century for the count of Flanders, it’s totally stunning and is probably one of the best castles I’ve seen in Belgium.

Once inside, make sure to take the audio tour, too. Now, I’m not usually one for audio tours in themselves (they can be quite dry) but this one is totally funny.

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Take a wander and discover more about the castle rooms or the battlements. It’s like stepping back in time. 

Afterwards, pop over to the Oak Restaurant for an evening dinner. They’ve created an 8-course dinner that is so tasty and is perfect for a little holiday treat. 

2.) Visit Saint Bavo’s Cathedral

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Over 800 years old, Saint Bavo’s Cathedral is a totally iconic spot to see when exploring Ghent.

It’s both stunning inside and out and well worth a gander during your walk around the city. 

The cathedral itself is worth the time to visit with lots of artwork on display and there is a copy of the painting everyone is queuing for in chapel 30, ok it isn’t the original but saves you time if you are in a hurry.

Once inside, make sure to see the Ghent Altarpiece, which is called the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. It is believed to be one of the world’s earliest oil paintings dating back to the 15 th century and one of the most important in all of Belgium. For such a small city, the cathedral is totally imposing and iconic. 

3.) See the MSK Art Gallery

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The MSK Art Gallery is in a building that looks like it belongs in Ancient Greece with its imposing columns. That being said, it’s Belgium you’re in and, for me, its got to be one of the best places to explore European artwork. 

Once here, you’ll find lots of Belgian and Dutch art, alongside the Van Eyck tryptic that is currently being restored here. Some of the artwork dates from the 14 th century and reaches all the way to the present day. It’s a great spot to visit if you love art and even better if the weather looks a little grumpy.

That being said, if you’re not into your art, you might want to give this one a miss! 

4.) Explore Patershol

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Patershol is a totally picturesque part of the city and exploring it is easily one of the best things to do in Ghent. Better still, it’s a great area to visit when you are feeling hungry, too; there are loads of restaurants here.

Now, it’s traditionally an area where leather tradesmen were located on the cobbled streets, though it’s so much more today.

Once here, hop into t’Klaverblad, it’s a totally yummy French restaurant that’s perfect for lunch. That being said, if you’re only feeling peckish, pop into one of the traditional pubs here and grab yourself a Belgian Beer and kroakemandels . They’re a little like fried peas and pretty tasty.

5.) Visit Saint Peter’s Abbey

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Now, it might be a little far from the centre itself, but if you’re interested in historical spots in Ghent, then Saint Peter’s Abbey is a great place to go. 

Once inside the abbey, explore the exhibitions, halls and abbey, too. Though, in my opinion, this audio tour is quite cheesy! 

If you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a table at Allegro Moderato, they serve up a wine-paired seasonal menu that is so good.

For an incredible tour of Ghent, book this 3-hour guided tour of the city by bike. It’s a small group tour that will get you all around the historic centre of the city and the suburbs, too! 

6.) Go up the Belfry of Ghent

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Built within the 14 th century and a dragon sits on top of the weathervane and is one of the medieval towers that completely overlooks the city itself.

Now, you can climb to the top of the tower to get some incredible views across Ghent itself. That being said, if you don’t fancy the stairs, there’s also a lift that’ll take you to the top! This makes it totally easy to visit and is well worth going up. 

It really is one of the best things to do in Ghent if you’re looking for some views over the city. 

7.) See the museums of Ghent

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One of the best things about Ghent is that it’s got a shed load of museums and cultural sites to visit once you arrive. 

Now, two museums I really recommend you visit, are; the MIAT, and STAM. Firstly, the MIAT is where you can learn about the city’s industrial history, it is a former mill and the exhibits are on five floors and give you a proper insight into how Ghent changed over the centuries.

You will discover 250 years of industry through machinery that is still operating. Though, if this sounds a little tedious to you, maybe give this one a miss. 

Alternatively, STAM goes a little further back into history, 70,000 years. This building was formerly a nunnery, and the exhibits show how life and the city have evolved through time. It’s pretty interesting and a great spot on a rainy day. 

8.) Explore Vrijdagmarkt

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Not too far from Gravensteen, Vrijdagmarkt is one of Ghent’s stunning squares to see.

Now, the Vrijdagmarkt was named after the Friday market that is still held here every week here. This all means Friday is a great day to visit if you want to see the square in action. 

Oh, and don’t forget to spot the statue of Artevelde that dominates the square, too.

9.) See the stunning Stadhuis

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Ghent has so many beautiful buildings for you to see and one that particularly stands out is the Stadhuis or the city hall. It’s a totally stunning building and well worth keeping your eyes peeled for. 

Apparently, It took almost a century to be completed in the year 1600 and it still stands today; those builders must have been good! 

10.) Try some tasty grub

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When you come to Ghent you will be impressed by the food, it is diverse and tasty. Gruut Beer is locally produced and one of the country’s tastiest tasting beers.

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You should also try Stoverij, a tasty Belgian beef stew, or Waterzooi, a fish stew that has existed since the Middle Ages. Honestly, you’ll be stuffed. Now, if you’re really hungry, pop into Du Progres (on Korenmarkt 10) that make the juiciest Chateaubriand and varkenswangetjes that is so good! 

11.) Saint Nicholas’ Church

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Easily one of the oldest buildings in all of Ghent, Saint Nicholas’ Church is a spot you have to see in the city. Honestly, it’s huge and you kinda can’t miss it! 

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Once inside, make sure to explore the building and see the wooden pulpit that is so ornate. Plus, It’s right in the centre of the historic centre of Ghent so it’s so easy to visit. 

12.) Stroll through Graslei and Korenlei

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Perched on the city’s Leie River, exploring Graslei and Korenlei is easily one of the best things to do in Ghent during a short trip. You see, it gives you a real taste of the history of the city and it’s totally picturesque. 

Best Things To Do In Ghent (17)

The merchant houses are so ornate and the whole area is filled with little shops and cafes where you can literally whisk away a day.

Better still, if you’re feeling like it, hop onboard one of the small boats that tour the city through the historic canals. For the best tour, You should book this Ghent boat cruise of the medieval centre that’s just so gorgeous.

You’ll get to see all the main sights, including; St Bavo’s Cathedral the old guild halls and so much more. It’s a great way to give your legs a rest and see Ghent from a different perspective. 

Best Things To Do In Ghent (14)

Afterwards, pop over to Sint-Michiel bridge for a lovely view across to Gravensteen and the medieval quay itself.

Best Things To Do In Ghent (16)

It really is a special area of the city. 

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5 Fun Things To Do In Ghent, The European Youth Capital Of 2024

S ituated in central Belgium , Ghent has long been relatively sidelined in favor of more famous  cities like Bruges  and Brussels. However, in 2024, Ghent will take the spotlight as the European Youth Capital. This title recognizes the city’s efforts to empower and involve young people in all aspects of urban life. This energetic vibe is evident in the city’s mix of medieval architecture, modern culture, and  a thriving youth scene . Whether you’re in town for a long time or just passing through, here are a few exciting activities to do in Ghent.

1. Explore the Design Museum

This one-of-a-kind museum chronicles design evolution from the Middle Ages to the modern era. In addition to permanent collections of furniture, ceramics, textiles, and graphic design, the museum also hosts rotating exhibitions showcasing the work of cutting-edge designers. The museum also offers workshops, guided tours, and educational programs for young visitors.

2. Join the Ghent Festivities

Experience this 10-day music, culture, and art celebration held every July. The festival draws millions of visitors from all over the world, who enjoy the vast and colorful schedule of music, shows, street art, and parades. The festival also strongly emphasizes youth participation and empowerment, with several events created by and for young people.

3. Discover the Patershol

Patershol is a lovely, historic neighborhood with numerous restaurants, cafes, and taverns. You can try local dishes like waterzooi (a creamy stew with chicken or fish), stoverij (a beef and beer stew), and cuberdons (cone-shaped chocolates with a soft center). You can also enjoy the nightlife since Patershol has numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues.

4. Learn About the History and Culture of Ghent at the STAM

Visit STAM, the city’s museum housed in a former abbey. The museum tells the story of Ghent from its origins to the present day, using interactive exhibits, multimedia, and objects. You can also visit the museum’s garden, which features a giant aerial photo of the city and a labyrinth made of hedges.

5. Have Fun at the Blaarmeersen

Blaarmeersen is a recreational park with activities suitable for people of all ages and interests. You can swim, kayak, sail on the lake, play tennis, golf, or volleyball on the fields, or relax on the beach or in the woods. The park also has a playground, a skate park, and a climbing wall for kids and teenagers.

sunrise city view of Ghent, Flanders, Belgium


Maccabi Haifa advances in Europa Conference League. Second-leg draw at Gent played with no fans

The Associated Press

February 21, 2024, 2:41 PM

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GHENT, Belgium (AP) — Ten-man Maccabi Haifa held Gent to a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their playoff Wednesday to advance to the Europa Conference League round of 16 on a 2-1 aggregate score.

Haifa had won the opening leg 1-0 in Budapest, Hungary a week ago. Israeli national and club teams are playing their home games in neutral countries because of the Israel-Hamas war .

Frantzdy Pierrot gave the visitors an early 1-0 lead with a deflected shot. Tarik Tissoudali equalized in the second half before Haifa defender Daniel Sundgren received his second yellow in the 72nd minute and was sent off.

Pierrot also scored in the opening leg.

The game was played without fans because of fears of riots linked to the war. Protests calling for a cease-fire have been taking place regularly in Ghent.

The remaining second-leg games in the third-tier competition are scheduled for Thursday.

More soccer:

Copyright © 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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