base your stay in ghent
it's the perfect place to explore Belgium
If you look at a map, you’ll notice Ghent is situated in the center of Belgium’s most popular cities which makes it the perfect base for exploring by train.
- Ghent to Brussels: 30-40 minutes (east)
- Ghent to Bruges: 20-30 minutes (west)
- Ghent to Antwerp: 1 hour (north)
ABOUT EACH CITY:
Brussels, the capital of Belgium is the largest of the cities and while it’s a bit more commercialized, what it lacks in charm it makes up for in food options. It’s also where I experienced the best Belgian Fries which you can read about here
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Bruges an adorable fairytale city that’s much smaller and doesn’t need more than a day or two to explore but highly recommend visiting! Check it out here
Next, there’s Ghent. Not only is it centrally located but it’s also the perfect mix of small town and mid-size city which means there is plenty of shopping and restaurants but also has quaint areas that give it a “small town” feel.
How much time is needed in Ghent?
5-7 nights is perfect and allows time for day trips to Bruges, Brussels, and Antwerp which are well connected by train.
things to see
Gravensteen: A medieval castle that dates back from 1180. It was the residence of the Counts of Flanders until 1353 and has since been re-purposed as a court, prison, and cotton factory. It was restored between 1893–1903 and is now a museum and a major landmark in the city.
Saint Michel’s Church and Sint- Michielsbrug (Saint Michael’s Bridge): A neo-gothic bridge built in 1910, St. Michael’s Bridge is arguably one of the best vantage points in the city. Situated on the River Leie, next to St. Michael’s Church, it looks towards the city center so from the bridge you can see the three towers of Ghent which include St. Nicholas’ Church, the Belfry, and the Saint Bavo Cathedral all of which I highly recommend visiting.
Korenmarkt: A square in the historic center and one of the city’s most important and famous tourist locations. It connects Ghent’s two busiest shopping streets, Veldstraat and Kortemunt, and is surrounded by several historic buildings, which today house bars, restaurants, and terraces.
Graffiti Street: It is said that Graffiti Street was created by the city to allow artists to create while keeping street art contained to a specific area, keeping Ghent’s historic architecture preserved. Since everyone is welcome and free “to go for it and create”, Graffiti Street never looks the same from one week to the next.
Saint Nicholas’ Church: A 13th-century Gothic-style church and one of the oldest landmarks in Ghent.
Graslei and Korenlei Canal: Stop by Albert Heijn, a grocery store located at Korenmarkt, and grab yourself supplies to enjoy a picnic on the Canal.
When friends ask for Ghent recommendations, I always tell them about Juffrouw Strik. The pink tables, chairs, and wooden menus are what initially caught my eye but it’s the amazing hot chocolate and waffles that make this my number one recommendation.
They have a variety of chocolates with a wooden stick in the middle that acts as a “stir-able chocolate spoon”. When mixed with the milk, it creates delicious hot chocolate with the perfect amount of sweetness. While they offer flavors such as caramel, coconut, and mocha, I recommend going with their most traditional flavor speculoos which is a type of spiced shortcrust biscuit enjoyed in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, and really tasty!
In my Bruges blog post which you can read here, I share my favorite “fully loaded waffle” but for a no-frills waffle, Juffrouw is my favorite because it’s so perfectly made that it doesn’t require any toppings. I also think the complimentary brownie that accompanies the hot chocolate and the complimentary Belgian chocolate that accompanies the waffle, is a lovely touch!
where to stay
During my time in Ghent, I stayed in one of my favorite Airbnb’s to date. The hosts are both avid travelers which largely influenced their decor. The large bedroom held small mementos from their travels around the world and the wall decals were perfectly fitting for a fellow traveler who also has a serious case of wanderlust.
The waterfall shower was in a bathroom nearly as large as the bedroom and was certainly luxurious. Speculoos cookies and Belgian waffles both plain and chocolate were left at the “sweets station” and were a real treat.
I would recommend this Airbnb ten times over, unfortunately, during my stay the hosts informed me that they were currently building a new home, and once it was complete this property would no longer be available. The time has officially arrived and while their home is no longer available for bookings, I went ahead and linked some fabulous options below.
Industrial minimalist apartment with terrace
Room Type: Airbnb – Private Apartment
Rooms: 1 bedroom – 1 bath
(photos below courtesy of Airbnb)