It was Valentine last week and we decided to celebrate it in Ghent. We’ve already been to Antwerp, Bruges and Brussels. Ghent was the last one of the fantastic four beautiful Belgian cities left to do together.
It was my first time to Gent and I had no exception whatsoever on what to find: I was with Erwin and that was enough to make any day Valentine and any city romantic. Except Ghent was pretty mushy… even for us!
Truth to be told, Ghent is the least touristy of the four Belgian cities. I still don’t understand why a city that enchanting is still kept hidden from the average traveler. But then again, less tourists means we’ve got the city all to ourselves!
Or maybe not, I loved Ghent too much to keep it a secret. Just like Bruges it offers a lot of cute medieval streets, canals and local delicacies. You will find below a small guide to why you should go to Ghent, how to get there, where to stay, where to eat/drink and things to do there.
1-Why you should go to Ghent in 15 pictures slideshow
2-How to get there
- By train from Brussels-South Railway Station. It is a 28-31 minutes train ride.
- By car the distance is 57.2 km . So depends on traffic it should take from 30 minutes to an hour.
- By train: 2h16 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal station. You will need to buy two different tickets one with Thalys( from Amsterdam to Antwerp -1h15 minutes) then another one from Antwerpen Centraal Station to Gent -Sint Pieters (55 minutes)
- By car: Distance to drive is 223 km. All depends on traffic it can take from 2h30 to 4 hours
- By train: It’s a 2h05 minutes from Gare du Nord. You will need to buy two different tickets one with Thalys (From Gare du Nord to Brussel- Zuid -1h22 minutes) then another from Brussel-Zuid to Gent -Sint Pieters (28 minutes)
- By car: Distance to drive is almost 300 km. All depends on traffic by should take between 3h30 hours to maybe 4h30 hours
3-Where to stay
We booked the Sandton Grand Hotel Reylof. This hotel is magnificent: old house yet modern, Louis XIV style. It is perfect for a Valentine getaway, anniversary or a romantic surprise. The rooms are cozy and the bed is very comfortable. The location is perfect: 5 minutes walk to the center. The hotel restaurant is top notch. Price is very affordable for a Grand Hotel: 120 euros per night. Parking is not cheap though: 28 euros
4-Where to eat
Breakfast: Huize Colette . I am not a breakfast person but I became one after having breakfast at Huize Colette. Although our first choice was Maison Elza (but it was closed), Huize Colette was perfect. I still remember my just out the oven gluten free bread, the italian hazelnut paste (not nutella), the butter and strawberry jam.
Lunch: The weather was sunny and beautiful on that day so we decided to buy some belgian fries from Hooiaard and sat by the Graslei. The Graslei is a street in the historic city center of Ghent, Belgium, located on the right bank of the Leie river. The quay opposite of the Graslei is called Korenlei. Both quays were part of the medieval port and are now a cultural and touristic hotspot of the city, with a high concentration of café patios.
Dinner: Restaurant & Bar Lof for refined dining, this restaurant was definitely well spotted. The food was even too pretty to eat.
Mosquito Coast: We loved the concept of this restaurant: it is traveler’s bar. The food is good not excellent. The place is very laid back, the decoration is very nice. We loved the vibe there, we definitely would go back for a cocktail.
5–Where to drink
Hot Chocolate: Huize Colette we loved the place so much that we decided to come back for a hot chocolate. And we were right to do so. I chose the black chocolate with marshmallow, Erwin chose the one with chilli and honey. Man his choice was wayy better than mine! We highly recommend this place for Hot Chocolate.
Beer: Gruut : Maybe it’s a brewery, maybe it is a tourist trap. We were in Belgium and having a beer there is a must. The beers we were served were delicious especially the white beer. The place is very cool, that is why I would recommend.
Cocktails: Mosquito Coast as I have indicated above, we would go back for some cocktails!
6-Things to do in Ghent
1- Visit the Gravesteen Castle: It’s a preserved 10th century moated castle with an armory museum, plus panoramic city views.
2- Have a Belgium Beer: well it’s beer and chocolate actually!
3- Visit the 89 meters tall Gothic Cathedral Saint Bavo: It’s the Cathedral where Charles V was baptised & home of Van Eyck’s masterpiece, the Ghent Altarpiece
4- Have lunch by the Graslei Street: The Graslei Street is the meeting place par excellence. Young and old, inhabitant and visitor, everyone meets on one of the many café patios or simply by the water. This is the thriving heart of the inner city.
5-Walk around the beautiful Ghent: it takes only a few hours to see everything in Ghent. It is a walking city!
6- Have the famous Belgian fries: you can have that at any Belgian city, and you should!
7– Enjoy the fine cuisine in Ghent: restaurants are so busy with serving quality food that they care less about having Michelin stars.
8-If you are Vegetarian, that’s the city for you: most restaurants in Ghent have an extensive Vegetarian menu. It is considered the Vegetarian capital in Belgium. Every Thursday is Veggie day!
9– Check the Graffiti street alley- Werregarenstraat : although the graffiti walls were very much fenced because they alley was closed for construction, they were nice to check. They will be open again starting March 2017. So definitely visit, we will too!
10-Do a boat trip on the canals: it only costs 7 euros. Sightseeing boats to see Gent from the water is a good idea.
I hope you go to Ghent soon and I hope this small guide will help you walk around the beautiful Ghent. I know we are definitely coming back there!