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Top 12 Best Things to do in Ghent, Belgium

What are the top attractions to visit in Ghent?

River Lieve Ghent photo via Pixabay

Bucket List: Top 12 Best Things to See and Do in Ghent, Belgium

Known as the center of rich medieval culture and history in Belgium, Ghent has become more popular as a must-visit holiday destination. With its massive public squares and marketplaces, you will surely enjoy exploring the city and discovering hidden gems all-day long! Ghent also houses countless medieval monasteries that are simply captivating and amazing to the eyes. You definitely shouldn’t miss one of the Abbey of St. Bavo.

Things to do in Ghent Belgium photo via Pixabay
Things to do in Ghent Belgium photo via Pixabay

Aside from Ghent’s undeniable authentic beauty as a chance for tourists to have a glimpse of the Old World Belgium, the city is also known for its spectacular food culture. You’re certainly in for a great gastronomic adventure here at Ghent, especially if you’re a vegetarian! There are several veggie buffets around the city and organic shops and markets.

Oh, and the nights out are also absolutely on the next level here at Ghent, blessed with multiple wild music bars, cocktail bars, and dance temples around the city. See? And there’s a whole lot more to discover! Here are the 12 Best Things to do in Ghent, Belgium!

Visit the House of Alijn

House of Alijn in Ghent by LimoWreck via Wikipedia cc
House of Alijn in Ghent By LimoWreck – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

If you want to immerse yourself in Ghent’s rich culture and history, visiting the House of Alijn should definitely be on your list. The museum displays a vast collection depicting the wonderful yet ordinary life of people in the 20th century. Aside from being a museum, the House of Alijn is also a renowned almshouse called the Children of Alijn Hospice, where the old, the sickly, and street children are taken care of.

The House of Alijn promises a one-of-a-kind experience to everyone, especially if you are visiting with children. It also has many feel-good adventures waiting for tourists where they can go back to the memories of the past through colorful photo albums, classical films, hopscotch, knucklebones, and even Play-Doh!

Witness the Beautiful Graffiti of Ghent

Graffiti of Ghent photo via Pixabay
Graffiti of Ghent photo via Pixabay

Ghent is known worldwide as a melting pot of rich culture, history, tradition, and education. The city also designated an area where street artists can freely express their masterpieces called Graffiti Street. In here, everyone is welcome to explore and admire the beautiful artworks made by the creative minds of Ghent artists in a wide alley filled with colorful graffiti and street art.

Graffiti Street is also a perfect destination to take excellent Instagram-worthy pictures. Some of Ghent’s most famous street artists are Roa and Bue the Warrior, and all of their artworks are featured here at Graffiti Street!

Marvel at the Enchanting Beauty of The Ruin of St. Bavo’s Abbey

St Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent by Moody 75 via Wikipedia cc
St Bavo’s Cathedral, Ghent By Moody 75 – originally posted to Flickr as Sint-Baafskathedraal (St. Bavo’s Cathedral) Ghent Belgium October 2008 056, CC BY-SA 2.0, cc

Another must-visit tourist destination in Ghent is the hidden oasis of The Ruin of St. Bavo’s Abbey. This Romanesque church combines the enchanting beauty of its historic charm and modern artistry. Tourists are guaranteed to fall in love as they are taken back to the 11th century when Amand of Ghent attempted to convert the inhabitants to Christianity.

The “Oldest Wall in Ghent” can also be found in The Ruin of St. Bavo’s Abbey, attached to the Abbey Church. In this day and time, the historical landmark now serves as an antique stage where performances and gatherings are held to relive the abbey’s grand culture.

Fall in Love with the Ghent Light Festival

Ghent Light Festival by VisitGhent via Flickr
Ghent Light Festival by VisitGhent via Flickr

One of the most awaited festivals in Ghent is no other than the Light Festival. This mind-blowing and visually aesthetic festival is held every three (3) years, where international light artists collaborate to create a world-class presentation to the citizens and guests of Ghent, Belgium.

Some of the city’s classical buildings are beautifully retrofitted with light decorations, 3D Light Shows are held, street performances, dancing fountains, and many more are all waiting for you during Ghent’s Light Festival. So be sure not to miss it!

Cruise Along the Mesmerizing Medieval Waterways

River Lieve Ghent photo via Pixabay
River Lieve Ghent photo via Pixabay

We all know that Ghent is a city of breathtaking medieval structures, right? From churches, classical buildings, edifices, and most importantly, canals. One of the most beautiful things to do in Ghent is to enjoy a lovely cruise along River Lieve.

Situated along the calm waters of River Lieve are countless mesmerizing landmarks such as St. Bavo’s Cathedral and St. Nicholas’ Church. You also shouldn’t miss out on Ghent’s spectacular works of architecture like the Town Hall, St. Michael’s Church, and the stunning Castle of Gravensteen. Trust me, it’s going to be an unforgettable experience.

Have a Nice Picnic in Citadel Park

Citadel Park Ghent by Marc Rychaert via Wikipedia cc
Citadel Park Ghent by Marc Rychaert via Wikipedia cc

One of Ghent’s most iconic places to visit that you shouldn’t miss is Citadel Park. This massive park is situated on a hill between two rivers: Scheldt and Lys. Before it became the botanical playground today where visitors could freely ride a bike, play with animals, and explore nature, the Citadel Park first became one of the largest military barracks in Europe until 1870.

Citadel Park is a popular spot in Ghent where locals can easily take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and just have a breath of fresh air.

Witness the Extraordinary Beauty of Gravensteen Castle

Gravensteen Castle via Pixabay
Gravensteen Castle via Pixabay

Ah, of course! The Gravensteen Castle is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful major tourist attractions here in Ghent. This medieval castle is coined as “The Castle of the Counts” because it once became the residence of the Counts of Flanders, which were the rulers of the country of Flanders.

Today, Gravensteen Castle serves as a reminder of how skillful and crafty our ancestors were because of this remarkable work of architecture. The castle, originally built in 1180, is primarily made up of sandstone and limestone. The beautiful castle is now turned into a museum and has ultimately become one of the major historical landmarks of the city of Ghent.

Cross the Iconic St. Michael’s Bridge

St Michael's Bridge Ghent by Simononly via Wikipedia cc
St Michael’s Bridge Ghent By simonly -, CC BY 2.0, cc

With Ghent’s medieval and old-world ambiance featuring classical buildings, cathedrals, and churches, it’s obvious to say that the city is considered to be one of the most romantic places on Earth. I’m sure that going for a simple walk at night around this city can already be called a date!

Well, while you’re at it, I suggest that you head over to the iconic St. Michael’s Bridge. This picturesque destination is considered the most romantic place in all of Ghent. Take your time to enjoy the 360-degree panoramic view of the city featuring The Castle of Counts, St. Michael’s Church, Old Fish Market, and many more.

Drop by the Famous S.M.A.K. Museum

Ghent City Museum for Contemporary Art by Cristina Pastor via Wikipedia cc
Ghent City Museum for Contemporary Art By Cristina Pastor – Own work, Public Domain, cc

Another perfect destination in Ghent that embodies the rich culture and history of the city is the S.M.A.K. Museum. If you’re wondering, S.M.A.K. is an abbreviation for Stedelijk Museum Voor Actuele Kunst, which means the City Museum for Contemporary Art.

The S.M.A.K. The museum is known worldwide to exhibit some of the art culture’s most beautiful yet intriguing collections that emerged after World War II. I’m sure that you’ll all have a great time here for everyone who loves and admires contemporary art.

Wander Around the Kouter Flower Market

Kouter Flower Market by VisitGhent via Flickr cc
Kouter Flower Market by VisitGhent via Flickr cc

Casually strolling around the peaceful ambiance of the city on a Sunday morning will surely be one of your favorite things to do here in Ghent. The addicting calmness of the city, the relaxing ambiance, and the picturesque backdrops of classical buildings will absolutely make you fall in love.

And to further ease your mind, drop by the Kouter Flower Market to buy some freshly-picked flowers, enjoy an impromptu concert along the streets, and finally, have a fantastic breakfast in any cafe or restaurant around the corner. All of these are possible when you come and explore Ghent’s magnificent Kouter Flower Market!

Offer Prayers at the St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church, Ghent by Heraclitus2000 via Wikipedia cc
St. Nicholas Church, Ghent By Heraclitus2000 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

No one finishes their tour in Ghent without visiting the iconic St. Nicholas Church. Since it was constructed in the 13th century, this church has long been considered the city’s oldest and most prominent religious landmark. St. Nicholas’ Church features a classical Scheldt Gothic Style that is particularly common for structures around the area.

Aside from St. Nicholas Church’s undeniable beauty, it also houses one of the country’s most important instruments, the Cavaillé-Coll Organ.

Experience Vrijdagmarkt

Terraces on the Vrijdagmarkt during Summer by Demmester via Wikipedia cc
Terraces on the Vrijdagmarkt during Summer By Demeester – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

Finally, one of the best yet simplest ways to truly enjoy your tour in Ghent is by wandering around the Vrijdagmarkt. This central square is the perfect landmark where tourists can really enjoy the rich culture of Ghent by exploring historical sites such as the Statue of Jacob van Artevelde, binge drinking in pubs surrounding the park, and scoring great deals in the surrounding shops of Serpentsrtaat and Baudelostraat. Well, now’s your chance! Shop ’til you drop!

Our Top Hotel Picks for Ghent, Belgium

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Ghent, Belgium Travel and Tour Packages

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