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Things to Do in Ghent: Unlocking the Secrets of Belgium’s Hidden Gem
Welcome to Ghent, a captivating city nestled in the heart of Belgium. Known for its medieval architecture, rich history, and vibrant cultural scene, Ghent offers a plethora of experiences for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, or a foodie looking to indulge in Belgian delights, Ghent has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll explore the top things to do in Ghent, unveiling its hidden gems and providing you with an unforgettable journey through this charming destination.
Marvel at the Ghent Altarpiece:
Begin your Ghent adventure with a visit to the Saint Bavo’s Cathedral to witness the breathtaking Ghent Altarpiece, also known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. Considered a masterpiece of Flemish art, this 15th-century polyptych is a true treasure, showcasing intricate details and sublime beauty.
Take a stroll along the Graslei:
Immerse yourself in the medieval charm of Ghent by wandering along the picturesque Graslei. Admire the row of historic buildings lining the waterfront and soak in the scenic views of the old guildhalls, reflecting in the tranquil waters of the Leie River. It’s a perfect spot for a leisurely walk and some Instagram-worthy photos.
Explore the Ghent City Center:
Get lost in the labyrinthine streets of Ghent’s city center, known as the “Patershol.” Discover hidden alleys, quaint squares, and charming cafes as you meander through this enchanting neighborhood. Let the cobblestone streets guide you to hidden gems and unexpected delights.
Climb the Belfry of Ghent:
Ascend the iconic Belfry tower for panoramic views of Ghent’s skyline. The climb may be a bit steep, but the breathtaking vistas from the top are well worth the effort. Marvel at the city’s rooftops, spires, and the winding waterways that add to Ghent’s unique character.
Visit the Castle of the Counts:
Step back in time as you explore the imposing Castle of the Counts, also known as Gravensteen. Wander through its medieval halls, climb the battlements, and imagine the tales of knights and noble families that once inhabited this fortress. It’s a must-visit for history buffs and castle enthusiasts.
Discover the Ghent Street Art Scene:
Ghent is not only a city of history but also a thriving hub for street art. Take a street art tour and uncover colorful murals, thought-provoking graffiti, and urban art installations that adorn the city’s walls. Let the vibrant street art scene ignite your imagination.
Sample Belgian Chocolate:
Indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to Ghent’s finest chocolatiers. From traditional pralines to artisanal chocolate creations, Ghent is a haven for chocolate lovers. Treat yourself to a delectable assortment of Belgian chocolates and savor the rich flavors that Belgium is famous for.
Enjoy a Gentse Waterzooi:
Dive into Ghent’s culinary scene by trying the local specialty, Gentse Waterzooi. This creamy stew made with chicken or fish, vegetables, and herbs is a comforting and flavorsome dish that will tantalize your taste buds. Pair it with a Belgian beer for the perfect culinary experience.
Explore the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts:
Delve into the world of art at the renowned Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent. This impressive institution houses an extensive collection of Flemish and Dutch masterpieces, including works by Van Eyck, Rubens, and Bosch. Immerse yourself in the artistic heritage of the region.
Take a Boat Tour on the Canals:
Discover Ghent from a different perspective by embarking on a leisurely boat tour along its picturesque canals. Drift under ancient bridges, past historic buildings, and through lush greenery as you learn about Ghent’s history and architecture. It’s a relaxing and informative way to see the city.
Visit the Saint Nicholas’ Church:
Admire the Gothic splendor of Saint Nicholas’ Church, an architectural gem located in the heart of Ghent. Step inside to marvel at its towering ceilings, intricate windows, and ornate decorations. Don’t forget to look up and admire the stunning vaulted ceiling.
Immerse Yourself in Design at the Design Museum Gent:
Explore the world of design at the Design Museum Gent, which showcases a wide range of objects representing various design movements and styles. From furniture and fashion to graphic design and contemporary art, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of design.
Wander through the Ghent Flower Market:
Get lost in a riot of colors at the Ghent Flower Market. This vibrant market, held every Sunday, is a haven for flower enthusiasts. Stroll among the stalls, inhale the fragrant aromas, and perhaps pick up a beautiful bouquet to brighten up your day.
Discover Ghent’s Beguinages:
Step into the peaceful oasis of Ghent’s beguinages, which were once home to religious women known as beguines. These UNESCO World Heritage sites offer a glimpse into the lives of these women who sought spiritual devotion and communal living. Enjoy the tranquility and architectural beauty of these serene spaces.
Experience the Ghent Light Festival:
If you happen to be in Ghent during the Ghent Light Festival, you’re in for a visual treat. This biennial event transforms the city into a dazzling display of light installations, projections, and performances. Join the crowds as the city comes alive with magical illuminations.
Relax in the Citadel Park:
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and unwind in the peaceful surroundings of the Citadel Park. This sprawling green oasis offers a respite from urban life, with manicured lawns, picturesque ponds, and majestic trees. Pack a picnic, take a leisurely stroll, or simply soak up the serene atmosphere.
Experience Ghent’s Music Festivals:
Ghent is a city that knows how to celebrate music. From the Ghent Jazz Festival to the Ten Days Off electronic music festival, there are numerous opportunities to experience live music in this vibrant city. Immerse yourself in the rhythm and beats that fill the air during these lively events.
Visit the Ghent City Museum (STAM):
Uncover the fascinating history of Ghent at the City Museum (STAM). Through interactive exhibits, multimedia presentations, and historical artifacts, this museum tells the story of Ghent from its early beginnings to the present day. Gain a deeper understanding of the city’s evolution and its role in shaping Belgian history.
Cycle along the Lys River:
Rent a bicycle and pedal your way along the scenic Lys River, which winds its way through Ghent. Enjoy the picturesque views of the riverbanks, pass quaint villages, and breathe in the fresh air as you explore the charming countryside surrounding the city. It’s a great way to get active and see the sights.
Discover Ghent’s Bookshops:
Ghent is a haven for bookworms, with a wealth of independent bookshops waiting to be explored. From antiquarian stores to cozy literary cafes, Ghent’s book scene is thriving. Lose yourself among shelves filled with literary treasures, and perhaps find a new favorite read to accompany you on your journey.
In brief, Ghent is a city that captivates with its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene. From admiring the Ghent Altarpiece and exploring medieval streets to indulging in Belgian delicacies and immersing yourself in art and music, there are countless things to do in Ghent. So, lace up your walking shoes and get ready to uncover the secrets of this hidden gem. Ghent awaits with open arms, ready to enchant and inspire you at every turn.