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Discovering Ghent: 4 reasons to visit the underrated Belgian city

Discovering Ghent: 4 reasons to visit the underrated Belgian city

3 jun 2016Stadshuis - Josie Middleton

When planning a visit to Belgium, you may start by browsing the capital city of Brussels, or the esteemed Bruges or Antwerp. For some reason, the central-Belgium city of Ghent is often overlooked by tourists — only recently has the city been embraced for its fantastically vibrant culture, beautiful landscape and exciting attractions. With all the development of a fully-fledged European city, but without the commercialisation, Ghent offers the perfect opportunity to experience all the thrills of Belgium without the congestion.

To help you plan your visit to Ghent, we have compiled a list of our four favourite things to do in the city, ranging from attractions, to restaurants, to places where you can relax. Ghent offers something for all different types of visitor, so be sure to find an activity that is perfect for you so that you can get the most out of the subtle but magnificent city.

Gravensteen - Castle of the Counts

This impressive castle, constructed in the Middle Ages, is a must-see for anyone interested in military history or architecture. Primarily used for defensive purposes from the 12th century onward, the castle is complete with a moat, turrets and even arrow slits for tactical defence and attack.
While the buildings have since been restored to retain their structural integrity, original fixtures still remain in the castle. You will even find some apparatus that has stayed there throughout time, such as torture devices, a guillotine, and various coats of arms to indicate the many families who have resided inside the castle over the years. Admission times and prices vary based on seasonality, so be sure visit visitgent.be for accurate details.

Museum of Fine Arts

For those with an interest in culture and the arts, the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts (Museum voor Schone Kunsten) is one of the most-esteemed art galleries in the nation of Begium and is certainly worth a visit for its catalogue of art, if not for the impressive exterior structure of the building itself. While you should check out the diary of exhibitions that are due to be featured at the museum, its permanent fixtures include the iconic Christ Carrying the Cross by Hieronymous Bosch, as well as the modern masterpiece Portrait of a Kleptomaniac by Théodore Géricault.

Winding waterways

Ghent, much like Amsterdam, can be characterised by its quaint cobbled streets and calm waterways that interlink throughout the city. Whether it’s the city-centre canals that intersect the residential areas, or the beautiful river Leie that eventually flows into the grand Scheldt river, one would not find it difficult to experience the city from a unique position on the water. This New Year cruise from The River Cruise Line will see you travel through four of Belgium’s major cities, taking full advantage of the Scheldt river to float effortlessly between Antwerp and Ghent. A fantastic experience that makes the most of the nation’s fantastic natural landscape, and a mode of transport that has been utilised for centuries.

Vibrant culture

One of the real joys of Ghent is that as well as plenty of charming cafes, restaurants and chill spots being spread throughout the area, there is also an exciting group of new clubs, music venues, and cocktail bars that have recently been opened by young people in the city. Ghent is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance period, and is quickly becoming one of the most accommodating destinations in central Europe for people of all backgrounds. Sphinx Cinema and café, for example, features an arthouse cinema room with an adjoining complex for specialist food and beverages. This is just one of the many exciting establishments that are popping up across Ghent, with the city only looking to keep on growing.

Now is an exciting time to visit Ghent, and you can be sure to find something that you love doing while visiting one of the most exciting yet under-celebrated regions in central Europe.

Stadshuis - Josie Middleton
Gravensteen - Josie Middleton
Oude haven - Josie Middleton