When visiting Belgium, one stop you won’t want to overlook is Ghent. Located between Bruges and Brussels, this idyllic city offers an abundance of places to explore. From visiting popular sites like Saint Bavo’s Cathedral and Gravensteen Castle to taking a stroll around the Market Square, you will find plenty of things to do in Ghent, Belgium to keep you busy!
Top 10 Things to Do in Ghent Belgium
Ghent may be a small university town, but it certainly packs a lot of cool experiences for travelers. Here’s a look at some of the top activities you must try while on your trip.
1. Walk along St. Michael’s Bridge
One of the most Instagrammable places in Ghent is St. Michael’s Bridge.
This was once a flat turntable bridge, but at the beginning of the 20th century, it was replaced with the more modern styling that you see today.
While not Medieval like most of the city, it does have some of the most spectacular views of important sites that sit along the canal.
2. St. Bavos Cathedral (Ghent Altarpiece)
Probably one of the most popular things to do in Ghent, Belgium is to see the Ghent Altarpiece.
This work of art, considered one of the best of the Northern Renaissance, was once stolen (during WWII) and now is featured prominently inside Saint Bavo’s Cathedral.
The cathedral does a wonderful job of explaining the history of the cathedral and the altarpiece in an augmented reality experience.
While you don’t have to do the augmented reality version of the tour, it really does set the stage for the significance of the masterpiece.
3. Ghent Town Hall
One of the most unique buildings in Ghent is the town hall. This building looks different depending on what side you are viewing it.
The façade on the Hoogpoort side is Gothic, the Botermarkt side is Renaissance style with Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns.
4. Royal Dutch Theater
Located between St. Bavo’s Cathedral and the Belfry, The Royal Dutch theater has performances March-November.
While you can tour the theater, seeing it from outside is pretty impressive.
On the ground level, you will find the NTGent Café where you can grab a coffee and use the free internet access.
The Belfry tower is an absolute must-see in Ghent!
Completed in the 1380s, the belfry served many purposes over the centuries.
First and foremost it is a bell tower, where the bells ring to announce the time and as a warning for intruders.
Second, it served as a fortified watchtower for guards to watch over the comings and goings of the city.
Lastly, it was used as the place where city privileges were kept.
Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site where visitors can enjoy the beauty from below in the town square, or climb to the top to see the spectacular view of Ghent.
6. Ghent Marketplace
Those wanting to do some shopping or grab a bite to eat should head to the Market Square in Ghent.
Depending on the day you visit you will find everything from flowers to books lined on tables and stalls in the market. Here is some of what you may find during the weekend in Ghent:
- Friday: Food Market, Vegetable Market, and Flea Market
- Saturday: Flower Market, Flea Market, and Craft Market
- Sunday: Flower Market, Book Market, Flea Market, and Craft Market
7. Saint Nicholas’ Church
While in the market, take time to look at Saint Nicholas Church.
It is unique in that the tower is in the back of the church instead of the front, like most others.
8. Canal Tour
Give your feet a rest for an hour and take a boat tour of Ghent.
Starting in the beautiful medieval harbor of Ghent, your tour guide will explain various sites you will see as you sail along the River Leie.
9. Gravensteen (Castle of the Counts)
A trip to Ghent should include visiting Gravensteen. It is the only remaining medieval castle with a moat and defensive walls in Flanders.
inside the castle, visitors will be able to explore various rooms while listening to an audio guide that details the history (with a humorous approach).
The Castle of the Counts boasts a unique collection of torture equipment that this featured inside one of the rooms and some judicial items in another.
Besides that, it lacks much in the way of detail of past historical items.
What you will find are beautiful views and a glimpse into life during its occupancy.
10. Try the Belgian Waffles & Fries
When it comes to food that Belgium is known for, there are two popular items that everyone agrees on: Belgian waffles and Fries.
Waffles are found covered in chocolate, hazelnut spread, fruit and whipped cream.
Fries are the perfect crispyness and come with a popular andalouse sauce, which is a combination of mayonnaise, tomato paste and red peppers.
When it comes to visiting Belgium, there are certain cities you don’t want to overlook. Ghent is one of those. It is beautiful and is filled with so many historical details, that you will want to take your time exploring.