You might be spending all your week working at the European Parliament as an intern, you might have chosen the city as your freelance base, you might also be studying, or you might be looking for the perfect job in Brussels, whatever you are doing, a weekend getaway to Ghent is exactly what you need right now.
Often dismissed in favor of more touristy villages like Bruges and Antwerp, Ghent is no-doubt, my favourite. Thanks to its gorgeous historical buildings, narrow, cobbled street and, of course, cafes and independent shops. Just top it all with beer and fries and you might well have just found the best travel destination in Belgium.
Weekend Getaway to Ghent
Gent (or Ghent) is a port city in the northwestern part of the country, which was a renonwed Middle-Ages city-state. Today, is a main university hub and it attracts students from all over the country and beyond.
1. Explore Gravensteen Castle
Photo by Sabrina Andrea Sachs
This beautiful medieval castle which dates back to the 12th century is the first must-see on our list. Then, walk over the bridge to the Jan Breydelstraat, and take in the view!
2. Admire the masterpiece by Jan Van Eyck
Don't miss the opportunity to admire the Ghent Altarpiece, one of the best painting in Belgium at the Cathedral of Saint Bavo.
3. Buy an Istagrammable bouquet at Kouter Flower market
There are flowers and plants all over Instagram. So why don't pick a bouquet and take some super-instagrammable pictures for your gallery while you are in Ghent?
4. Rent a boat and sail around
At the Coupure, you can rent your own boat for an hour to sail around the canals of Ghent. If you are not an expert sailor, you can always take a guided tour at the Korenmarkt. Note: while this attraction is quite expensive in Bruges, the Ghent alternative is affordable and it also features an interesting historical description of the city.
5. Buy books!**
Wherever I travel to (and even if I own a Kindle), I ALWAYS buy a book (or ten!). My favourite bookstore in Ghent is RIOT. Half bookshop, half gallery, this quirky space in the Dampoort neighbourhood, is run by the city’s young creatives.
6. Sit at a cafes and enjoy life passing by
My favourite cafe in Ghent is Julie's House on Kraanlei. This is a very cute tearoom with a large selection of coffees and teas on the menu. Lots of homemade cakes, tarts, cupcakes and muffins are also available.
7. Get a bike and do like Belgians do
One of my favourite way to explore new cities is by bike. Especially when they are little and bike-friendly like Ghent. So, don't miss the unique opportunity to ride through the park and the cobbled streets, like the locals do.
8. Beer and fries combo all day long..
Belgians are really proud of their beers, people in Ghent even say that their beer is the best in the world. And while French and Belgian still debate about the true origins of fries, you better get some. Just to be on the safe side.
9. Go vinyl shopping**
Despite its tiny size, Ghent features a thriving number independent record stores. And the best part is that some, like Music Mania and Vynilla, have been open for decades, so nothing to do with hipster trends and such. A visit to Consouling, Wool-E-Shop and Dune Records is also a must especially if you like live DJ sets and lied back vibe.
10. Graffiti by ROA and other street artists
Locals love graffiti and street art so much that Ghent now has its own open-air “Werregarenstraat”, graffiti alley. World-known artist ROA was born in Ghent and some of his signature rabbits are still here to be admired.
Nestled between France and Germany and right in the middle of Europe, tiny Belgium is often overlooked by the tourists. But size doesn't matter - in this case - the country is filled with European culture, medieval towns, impressive art, Renaissance architecture, and cute villages. Especially in Ghent, of course.
Read more about Belgium, Brussels and Brugges:
5 Charming Places in Brussels You Should Visit
What to Eat While in Brussels: A Guide
Moving to Brussels – Best Belgian Blogs and Websites
TOP 5 Reasons Why You Should Study in Brussels
Day Trip from Brussels to Bruges
Top 5 Secrets of Brussels
How to Get a Job in Belgium