Postcard from Belgium – things to do in Ghent

Postcard from Belgium – things to do in Ghent

It is no secret that I like visiting Belgium – a lot. From its majestic capital Brussels, to the quaint medieval town of Bruges and pretty city of Ghent,  Belgium is a little under-rated on the tourist map in my opinion.

We had long ago planned to visit Ghent on route to Amsterdam and decided to continue with this plan despite terrorist attacks in Brussels the day before. I’m so glad we did.

Here is my postcard of things to do in Ghent – a pretty medieval city of canals, waffles and enticing looking bars and restaurants.

Ghent – a medieval city in Belgium

postcard from ghent belgium

A Flemish city

Located on the confluence of the rivers Scheldt and Leie, Ghent rose to prominence in the middle ages and was the birthplace of Holy Roman Emperor, King of Germany and King of Italy Charles V (1500-1558). Now the capital of Flanders, a university city and the fourth largest in Belgium,  Ghent retains its small town feel and medieval heritage with the added bonus of city attractions.


Things to do in Ghent


Graslei Harbour

Graslei Harbour Ghent Belgium

During our afternoon in Ghent, we wandered its pretty streets. The atmosphere was quiet and sombre given the events of the previous day however we could tell the city would usually be a thriving hub of activity. The city centre is mainly pedestrianised except for bikes and trams. Medieval buildings hover over cobbled streets and the old Graslei harbour.

Gravensteen Castle

gravensteen castle ghent belgium

 

The imposing Gravensteen castle (Castle of the Counts) dating from the 12th century looks over the city. This looks like it would have been a proper working castle to me. As opposed to a decorative one.

We didn’t make it to the top but I am sure the views from the ramparts are amazing. Take a peek inside Gravensteen Castle.

Ghent Belfry

ghent belgium sights

You can spot the Belfry of Ghent from vantage points around the city. It is the tallest belfry in Belgium and is on UNESCO’s world heritage list. Since the 14th century, it has been used to sound the time, and issue warnings and alarms.

Market squares in Ghent

The open spaces of the Vrijdagmarkt and Korenmarkt with their outdoor cafe seating and beautiful surrounds also attract a buzz of students and street vendors adding to the atmosphere. By the time we visited the Vrijdagmarkt everyone was heading home for their Easter break. I love the image of this lone cyclist taking a short cut across the square.

vrijdagmarkt ghent belgium

What we ate in Ghent

I can confirm the steak frites are great in Ghent. As are the waffles. And the chocolate. As you would expect in Belgium. There are several local chocolatiers and I recommend Chocolaterie van Hoorebeke for their amazing pralines.

cuberdon - things to eat in ghent

We also sampled the local delicacy – cuberdon, translated into English as “Ghent noses”. Fortunately, they taste much nicer than they sound. They are pyramid shaped fruit jellies made with raspberries and yes they are delicious! My favourite discovery was the ”

My favourite discovery was the “sneeuwballen” or snowballs. These sweets are little puffs of vanilla flavoured soft meringue covered in a thin layer of dark chocolate and dusted with icing sugar. You don’t have to look too far to find these treats as they are sold in the main squares by street vendors.

Accommodation in Ghent

We like to stay in unusual accommodation when possible however on this occasion a central location and on-site parking were the main requirements. From the Ghent Marriott you can easily reach all the major sites of the town on foot even with a couple of toddlers in tow.

The hotel is modern and comfortable and we slept soundly before our onward journey to Amsterdam.

I commend the professionalism and tact with which the staff at the hotel managed their guests’ concerns over security.

Book the Ghent Marriott hotel or Read reviews on Tripadvisor

Reasons to return – things we missed

As we wandered the streets of Ghent we couldn’t help but notice all the little restaurants and boutiques showcasing local and international cuisine and design.

toy shop ghent belgium

Through open windows, we could see finishing touches being put on enticing menus and table settings. I saw tapas and pintxos bars, fine dining establishments, and elegant cafes. None of them suitable for a couple of 2-year-olds and their slightly frazzled parents!

restaurant ghent belgium

 

More things to do in Ghent

✪ the local Design Museum has an excellent reputation

✪ The Ghent Altarpiece (otherwise known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb) is a 12 panel masterpiece that has been moved/stolen (depending on who you ask) across Europe over the centuries

✪ Discover the thriving street art culture

✪ Take a boat tour of the converging rivers

I’m looking forward to returning to Ghent again soon. Maybe next time without kids in tow so we can explore the galleries, restaurants and independent shops at leisure!

 

what to do in ghent belgium


Discover our travels in Belgium

Brussels for families | Our reasons for travelling to Belgium just after the Brussels terrorist attacks


Ghent, Belgium - things to do in the pretty medieval city


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59 Comments

  1. Pen
    30th March 2016 / 12:22 AM

    Looks stunning!

    • 30th March 2016 / 11:28 AM

      It was very beautiful Pen x

  2. Sarah N
    30th March 2016 / 10:06 AM

    I will be in Ghent in May and Am looking forward to my visit even more after reading this post K…

    • 30th March 2016 / 11:29 AM

      Hooray! You will love it. Am sure you are staying somewhere much more glam though ?

  3. 30th March 2016 / 6:36 PM

    I’ve never been to Ghent and was excited to read your post. I love cities that have so much history and cute little restaurants and boutiques. The photos of the “Delicacies from Ghent cuberdon raspberry jellies and “sneeuwballen” or snowballs” was so interesting. I have never seen that.

    • 30th March 2016 / 9:20 PM

      I hadn’t seen them either but we gobbled them up! It was Easter after all ?

  4. 30th March 2016 / 7:45 PM

    These photos are gorgeous! I’ve never been to Belgium so I wasn’t sure what to expect when reading about Ghent, but it looks like a fairytale! Those snowball things look so weird and delicious – I wish you could mail them to Guatemala!!

    • 30th March 2016 / 9:15 PM

      Thank you Laura. The snowballs are so delicate they even got squashed on the way to the hotel but they were still yummy (if a little ugly!)

    • 30th March 2016 / 9:14 PM

      Thanks Marteen. I do like to understand the historical context and glad you did too ?

  5. 30th March 2016 / 8:34 PM

    Belgium is one of my favorite countries I’ve been to! I’m planning a trip back there in June and will be going to Ghent and Bruges! I loved walking the streets of both those cities a couple years ago, so relaxing and fun! And so much great food and beer 🙂

    • 30th March 2016 / 9:13 PM

      Lucky you Kaylene! I am jealous ?

  6. 30th March 2016 / 8:37 PM

    Looks like a gorgeous place, good on you for not letting fear win and prevent you from experiencing this place!

    • 30th March 2016 / 9:12 PM

      Thanks for the lovely comment Jasmine. Ghent is so pretty and we are so glad we made the trip

  7. 30th March 2016 / 9:43 PM

    Have been meaning to make it to Ghent- I like the look of Gravensteen Castle particularly! 🙂

  8. 30th March 2016 / 9:55 PM

    Ghent looks stunning and as though it exists in an entirely different time. I’ve never been, but I’m completely infatuated with the idea now!

    • 30th April 2016 / 10:19 AM

      It is so beautiful Patricia. Hope you get there very soon x

  9. 30th March 2016 / 9:58 PM

    I love hotels that are centrally located! The Ghent Marriott sounds amazing!

    • 31st March 2016 / 4:27 PM

      Thanks Anshula, it was great

  10. 31st March 2016 / 3:06 PM

    Loved the post 😀 It really ecouraged me to visit Belgium, where I haven’t been yet. And I agree that attacks should make us stop to travel. And I agree that chocolate is the best in the world 😀

    • 31st March 2016 / 4:27 PM

      Thanks Ulli. The chocolate is absolutely amazing. Yum!

  11. 31st March 2016 / 9:18 PM

    The food sounds delicious! Waffles, chocolates, fries, candy, yeah, I’m all about that. The building photos are so enticing. I’m glad you braved the scariness and traveled anyways.

  12. 1st April 2016 / 6:20 PM

    Ghent looks absolutely beautiful! Putting it on my list to visit when I backpack Europe this summer 😀

  13. 2nd April 2016 / 1:35 PM

    Beautiful photos! The food sounds wonderful as well. 🙂 #wkendtravelinspiration

    • 2nd April 2016 / 7:35 PM

      thanks Karen, the food was pretty tasty!

  14. 2nd April 2016 / 3:02 PM

    Ghent is certainly on my list of ‘must-see places’. Even though I used to live only 10 kilometres from the Belgian border I never got “that far”… I think one secret of an enjoyable visit is to pick the right time; as I understand Ghent can get very busy during peak summer season.

    • 2nd April 2016 / 7:34 PM

      I expect it would be incredibly busy in the height of summer Juergen. we tend to avoid trips at that time of year for that reason ? Hope you mange to see this Pretty city. Thanks for stopping by

  15. 3rd April 2016 / 12:40 AM

    Stunning views from Belgium,I really like these architectural features of buildings.

    • 3rd April 2016 / 10:46 AM

      Me too Amila, you can just feel the history oozing from the walls!

  16. 3rd April 2016 / 3:33 AM

    I am little bit obsessed with Belgium lately. First, there are very enticing blog posts like this. Then, I follow several people based on Belgium on Instagram. The architecture, the food and the markets attract me a lot. I want to return to Europe this year. Hope Belgium is in the plans.

    • 3rd April 2016 / 10:45 AM

      I’m glad someone else thinks it’s cool! Hope you make it there x

  17. 3rd April 2016 / 2:11 PM

    You’re right Katy, for some reason Belgium just doesn’t make it on many travelers’ lists. But we love it! I haven’t been to Ghent yet but your article makes me want to go! Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!

    • 4th April 2016 / 3:48 PM

      Thanks for the lovely comment Jim, I am putting Antwerp on the top of my next to visit in Belgium list. Any tips gratefully received

  18. 4th April 2016 / 1:54 PM

    We loved Ghent and spent a week exploring this quirky town.

    • 4th April 2016 / 3:46 PM

      Lucky you Paula, I would love to have had that much time to explore. Thanks for dropping by

    • 14th May 2016 / 4:24 PM

      Great, it’s such a pretty place. I know you’d enjoy it Becky

    • 21st June 2016 / 11:30 AM

      I am very sure you would love Ghent Tanja. Maybe a stop on your next trip to London?

    • 21st June 2016 / 11:31 AM

      Yes, 3 cheers for Belgium and their street art, chocolate and pretty cities. Thanks for stopping by Catherine

  19. 21st June 2016 / 12:33 PM

    Cuberdon and sneeuwballen sounds like something to try out, if I visit Ghent. Enjoyed your postcard from Ghent.

  20. 21st June 2016 / 2:18 PM

    I love the medieval towns of Europe – we’re so fortunate to have them all relatively close. Ghent looks beautiful. You’ve definitely convinced me to visit. I’ve only visited Bruges so clearly need to see more of Belgium.

  21. 21st June 2016 / 3:02 PM

    The architecture you’ve featured is stunning. And I also like your section on What We Missed – I can totally relate to that with my 2 year old and 1 year old in tow. The raspberry jellies look curious too.
    #citytripping

    • 21st June 2016 / 4:46 PM

      Thank you. We always miss a lot travelling with the kids but we also see and experience things we wouldn’t have considered before we had children.

  22. 21st June 2016 / 4:14 PM

    Ghent is so pretty!! Im so sad I havent made it there yet! I first went to Belgium in 2015 and fell in love…hard! I love everything about it! #CityTripping

    • 21st June 2016 / 4:39 PM

      Maybe we should start a Belgium fan club ? I’m not joking either. Interested in being sponsored by chocolate brands ??

  23. 21st June 2016 / 4:52 PM

    I somehow have yet to visit Belgium but it is definitely on the list! I love that the city centre is pedestrian friendly and I simply can’t wait to try cuberdon raspberry jellies!

    • 21st June 2016 / 5:03 PM

      It’s a foodie paradise Lauren. Yum!

  24. 21st June 2016 / 7:48 PM

    Belgium does have some beautiful medieval buildings – I saw that Ghent has been used for period dramas as it’s so unspoiled as well, and it’s really tempting to visit (not least because of those chocolates and sweet treats, yum). It must have been a strange time to be in Belgium, I’m glad you felt you were still able to go (and I’m sure the Belgians would have felt the same). This is definitely one for my list with my daughter. Thanks for linking up to #citytripping

    • 22nd June 2016 / 9:25 AM

      Thanks Cathy. I think it’s an easy weekend trip for when you are locked into the school schedule. Those chocolates are amazing aren’t they?

  25. 21st June 2016 / 9:27 PM

    Well done you for cracking on with your trip despite the terror attacks. I can imagine that wasn’t an easy decision to make. Ghent looks a fantastic city to visit. The castle magnificent, the food delicious and I would love wandering around its medieval streets. It certainly looks very quiet. We’ll have to go visit sometime. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • 22nd June 2016 / 9:22 AM

      Thanks Elizabeth. Having read your posts I think Ghent is definitely a Wander Mum destination 🙂

  26. 22nd June 2016 / 3:50 AM

    I completely agree in that Belgium is an under-rated country to visit. Of all my travels, the meals and food I had in Brussels were the best. #citytripping

    • 22nd June 2016 / 9:21 AM

      Glad you enjoy Belgium too Corey. Judging by the outpouring of love for the country I might need to make some I ❤️ Belgium t-shirts. Thanks for stopping by

  27. 22nd June 2016 / 12:18 PM

    I would love to visit Ghent one day! We’ve been on two Eurotunnel road trips – once to north France and once to Bruges. I like your travel guide – when we visit I’ll be sure to ensure I’m not too scruffy!
    #CityTripping

    • 22nd June 2016 / 2:41 PM

      Thanks Mandy. I love a road trip. Ghent is very doable from London. Hope you make it there soon!

  28. 22nd June 2016 / 8:14 PM

    I never made it to the center of Ghent, the one time I attempted to go! I ended up lost somewhere in the backstreets of the train station. 🙁 But I did hear some university students say, “Ghent is so much cooler than Bruges. Bruges is for old people.”
    I like them both!!! 😀 Thanks for showcasing how beautiful Ghent is, and I think Belgium has the best combination of French and Dutch cuisine! #citytripping

    • 23rd June 2016 / 9:24 AM

      Too funny Christy. I have no idea what is cool anymore (if I ever did!!) but I like both Bruges and Ghent too ?

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