Ghent’s rivers and canals have been the city’s lifeblood for centuries. Water adds an extra dimension to a city, and that is also the case in Ghent. This walk will take you to the banks of the Lys and Scheldt, two rivers with their own unique character. The Scheldt is stubborn, rebellious and dark, while the Lys is charming, touristy and picturesque.

8,4 km - 11 200 steps

Good to know

  • This is a relaxing, leisurely walk along the water with a mix of historical buildings, idyllic hidden green spots and contemporary architecture. Away from the hustle and bustle, yet within walking distance of the historical centre.
  • This walk forms a loop with the start and end point at Sint-Pietersplein square, but you can easily shorten the route, starting and ending the walk wherever you want.  
  • Walking time: half a day. If you intend to stop regularly for a drink and/or a visit, you should reserve an entire day.

Along the river Scheldt

You set off at Sint-Pietersplein square. This is the highest point of Ghent (29 metres!) and the beating heart of the student neighbourhood. The square offers the best view of the monumental Booktower. Enter the impressive Our Lady of St Peter's Church, the design of which is directly based on that of Saint Peter's Basilica Rome.

Passing by St Peter's Abbey and its idyllic vineyard, you go downhill to the banks of the river Scheldt. From here, you zigzag from the contemporary architecture of Artevelde University of Applied Sciences to the idyllic Muinkpark pocket park and from the iconic Vooruit art centre to the monumental De Krook library, the place to be for students.

Here, the river Scheldt flows under Laurentplein square in the direction of the Wijdenaardbrug bridge. This is the site of Ghent’s oldest harbour and a wonderfully tranquil spot in the heart of the city centre. The lowered quays of De Reep then take you to Portus Ganda.

De Krook

At the confluence of the rivers Lys and Scheldt

Standing on the semicircular jetty projecting into the water of Portus Ganda, you can imagine yourself on the prow of the Titanic. Flanked by Belgium’s oldest swimming pool, the Van Eyck swimming pool, and the wonderfully tranquil St Bavo's Abbey, you will feel king of the world. This spot, at the confluence of the rivers Lys and Scheldt, is the original core of the city. Did you know that the name Ghent comes from the Celtic word ‘Ganda’, which means confluence?

Portus Ganda

Along the river Lys

From Portus Ganda, now follow the river Lys upstream. You will cross several neighbourhoods: Waterwijk with the Baudelo chapel and the Museum of Industry, the multicultural Oudburg neighbourhood and the authentic medieval Patershol area with the Caermersklooster monastery (now Kunsthal).

After crossing the small bridge over the Lieve canal, you reach a picture-perfect spot which offers the best view of the Castle of the Counts, surrounded by a moat.

Het Gravensteen

Along the Lieve canal

Now you have to retrace your steps. Stroll along the Lieve canal that has wound through the beautiful Prinsenhof site since the Middle Ages. In this oasis of calm, with its cobbled alleys and the large Augustinian friary, you can experience the essence of Ghent.


Back to the river Lys

Completely relaxed, you leave the Prinsenhof site and pass through the hidden Appelbrugparkje pocket park to reach Graslei and Korenlei. Once an important medieval harbour, now one of the city’s must-see attractions. While boats pass by on the river Lys, you can admire the row of spectacular houses on Korenlei. At the crossing of Korenlei and St Michael's Bridge, you have the best view of Ghent’s three mythical towers: St Bavo's Cathedral, the Belfry and St Nicholas' Church.


If you want to enjoy your walk along the water a little longer, follow the green banks of the Lys via Pand, Ketelvest and Coupure up to the Bijloke site, which boasts a renowned Music Centre and STAM – Ghent City Museum. After passing the huge plane tree on Van Duyseplein square, which is over 100 years old, you will finally return to Sint-Pietersplein square.