Ghent, like other cities in Belgium, attracts tourists with its beautiful medieval architecture and charming cobblestone streets. Similar to many other old, not so big European cities, all the sites of interest are gathered close to one another in the heart of the city. So, you could easily get the most of Ghent in just one day and these are the highlights of what was once the world’s second biggest town!
The three towers of Ghent
When you look at the skyline of Ghent you can’t miss the three majestic towers that hover over the city. St. Nicholas church was one of the first buildings in the medieval settlement, the church of the fishermen which were the main inhabitants of Ghent and the main watchtower untill the watchmen moved to the Belfry. The Belfry is in the middle and it was ´home´ to the riches of the city. It is also a symbol of the city independence, and the dragon on top of the tower serves as Ghent’s guardian. You can climb to the top of the Belfry tower and enjoy a splendid view of the whole city. The third one is the St. Bavo cathedral. It stands where once stood a Romanesque church ruins of which can still be seen in the crypt. The cathedral also houses a great deal of important artworks.
The large old square lies between St. Nicholas church and the Lys (or Leie) river and today it offers a variety of cafes, bars and restaurants. It also connects the main shopping streets of Ghent and is the location of the annual Ghent festivities.
You might also like: Zurich – The Essential Guide
This is the ‘cradle’ of the city and part of the medieval port on the river Lys. The very first builduings of Ghent are situated here and are all related to the fishermen. This is probably one of the most picturesque and crowded sites of the city. On both banks of the river one can find cafes, bars and the Marriot which actually used to be a brothel.
The count´s castle
There is an actual castle in the heart of Ghent! It used to be the residence of the Counts of Flanders and today it is open to the public. Inside there’s a museum of medieval torture devices which is worth a visit! The castle is a venue for different events, too. One can even get married in it!
Explore Ghent by boat
The historic center of Ghent is actually the confluence of the two rivers Lys and Schelde. And one of the best ways to explore the city fast and also to learn interesting facts about it is by hopping on a boat trip. There are many of those and they are super budget-friendly – around 7-8 euros for an hour long trip. I highly recommend going on one!
But there are other possibilities to get the most of Ghent on water. Do it like the locals – rent a kayak! It really surprised me how many people actually did that. Or, you could also rent a private boat and enjoy a picnic or a glass of wine while soaking in the sun.
I, personally, am not the biggest fan of guided tours – I prefer exploring on my own. But if touring with a local guide is your cup of tea, I´d recommend looking up ¨Ghent Authentic¨. These are custom tours which you can arrange pretty much however you want. They also offer several standard tours which include different aspects of the city like cultural sites, shopping spots and etc.
Let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions/recommendations for Ghent (or Belguim) comment down below!
Pin this for later!