Ghent (or Gent), located in the Flemish region of Belgium, has achieved a rare balance between historic medieval town and a hipster/student friendly hangout, brimming with well-preserved castles and cathedrals neighbouring trendy bars and modern art.
My experience of this town may not be the most typical (I was on a hen do) but I made time to see the sights. Here’s a few things that will keep you entertained when visiting this Belgian city:
Explore the Bars
Ghent has its share of small, quirky bars, from one serving every type of gin imaginable out of a space that looks like a shop from the 1800’s (‘t Dreupelkot) to tiki-themed cocktail corners to underground clubs. Expect a varied, but memorable, night out.
A word of advice, this isn’t the place to wear heels due to the rough cobbled streets, a lesson some of my friends learned the hard way (to the entertainment of the locals). And it turns out it can be difficult to fit a party of 15 into some of Ghent’s niche watering holes!
Take a Boat Ride
Like Bruges, Ghent’s most scenic route is along its waterways and there’s plenty of spots to hop onto a tour canal boat.
Along the way, you’ll spot the city’s charming architecture, historic buildings, and some of Ghent’s street art.
Learn the Art of Chocolate Making
Chocolate is serious business in Belgium, and Ghent offers some great places to shop for upmarket sweets and a few places to get stuck in learning the tricks of the trade.
My lesson took place at Galerie Ganache. The third generation master chocolatier knew his stuff, and while we didn’t master his skills, we had a lot of fun creating (and later eating) some pieces.
Visit a Castle
One of Ghent’s most dominating landmarks is Gravensteen, a 12th century castle. The castle has a long, turbulent history, which you can learn about through guided tours. In addition to the grounds, visitors can see the castle’s recently renovated interior, which also hosts an extensive weapons collection.
Several times a year, the castle also hosts medieval events and banquets. Find out more about admissions and opening times here.
See the Cathedral
Ghent is home to the Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, an 89-meter-tall Gothic structure that has stood in the heart of the city for over 1,000 years.
Always open to visitors, it is also home to the famous “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” painting at the alter piece (with its own visitor times).
I knew very little about Ghent before visiting, but I’m glad I had a weekend there, and have to say, it was a great spot for my friend’s hen party!
Have you been to Ghent? What would you add to this list?