Ghent, The Best kept Secret of Belgium

Ghent is a city that many do not know about when planning their first trip to Belgium. It’s rich history began the year of 630. It is now a town of about a quarter million residents with many things to see and do.

Belgium is known for its beer, waffles, frites (frys), chocolate and architecture. Ghent is magical at all of those things.

Ghent is the English name for the city. Often you will come across different spellings such as Gent which is Dutch and Gand which is French.

When looking in to where to go in Belgium I came across the website http://www.touropia.com. This was very helpful because they have ample posts about all countries in Europe. They have them ranked according to their favorites. This website helped us to make the decision to stay in Ghent.

Information Center

When you arrive go to the Information Center. It is interactive (has a large touch screen desk) and has gorgeous canal views out back. They have a 48 hour city card that is around 30 Euro. It includes almost every tour and all the public transportation throughout Ghent. If you do two or more things that are included on the card it is worth it.

Canal Cruise

Included on the city card is a canal cruise. We experienced an awful one in Amsterdam so we were hesitant to jump on another boat. This was 100 percent different because it was lead by a guide that gave many interesting facts and pointed out things we may have missed. Its open air boat was comfortable and relaxing.

Bierhuis

This is a gathering place for anyone who enjoys beer. They have many different kinds of beer to chose from, great people watching, and canal views.

The beer is strong in Belgium so consider yourself warned. We enjoyed the Duvel Triple Hop Citra the most. It is 9.5 percent alcohol which is similar to a bottle of wine.

Gravensteen Castle

The story of this castle dates as far back as the 1100s. It has a church sanctuary, outdoor toilets (holes in the stone on the outer edge of the castle), a torture chamber that still smells like death, and gorgeous views of the city from the top.

We enjoyed the audio guide that was included in the city card. It was informative, interesting, and you got to go at your own pace.

Belfry Tower

This tower is the tallest in Belgium at 91 meters high. It has the best 360 degree views of the city. Hopefully, you will get lucky to be up their when there is something going on in the square. There was an outdoor concert in front of the Cathedral when we arrived at the bottom. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the top they cleared out.

There is an elevator that brings you to the top of the tower and very few stairs to climb, but only if you want to. This tower chimes hourly and has 53 bells. This is included with the Gent city card.

Graffiti Alley

We came across this colorful alley as we were strolling the streets. It is a major LEGAL graffiti destination. Located off of Werregarenstraat you will find almost 50 meters of vibrant street art.

St Bavo’s Cathedral

The Cathedral has the art work The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb and other famous paintings. The city card also gets you inside to see the famous art work.

There is a man that comes out daily to bring his big bubble wand to the square. This is a common thing in Europe. If you are lucky he will let you try it.

Sunday Flower Market

Admire the flowers while a band plays at the pavilion in Kouter Square. They sell flowers 7am to 1pm each Sunday in the summer. They had seasonal flowers galore, and even if you just go for the music, the people watching is fantastic.

The Great Butchers Hall

Located in Groentenmarkt there is a meat mecca. As shown in the picture below there are ham legs hanging from the ceiling. Currently it is a casual restaurant, and indoor meat and cheese market.

We never ate at this restaurant we just wanted to see what this is all about.

Gent-Sint-Pieters Train Station

Arriving in to this train station was everything I thought a train station would be in Europe. The detail on all the walls and ceiling is amazing. The ceilings are painted with such character and detail.

Throughout the years they have done a lot of work to it since it is the 3rd most trafficked train station in Belgium. The kiosks were hard to translate to English so talking to a ticketing agent helped us when we arrived in town.

Dinner off the Leie Canal

Many restaurants line this canal. They have fabulous patios for watching people as they walk by. Most of the canals in Ghent are beautifully lined with flowers making for a wonderful view of all the boats cruising up and down.

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