This post was written by Sivan, our Student Travel Expert Contributor!
A hidden gem right outside Brussels, Ghent is the perfect place to spend the day wandering along cobblestone streets.
Everywhere you turn in this town it looks like it was ripped from the pages of a storybook. With canals running through, a giant castle, and a beautiful cathedral’s Ghent is incredibly picturesque.
Want to discover the charm of this little city? Here’s how to spend 24 hours in Ghent, Belgium!
Getting to Ghent
Ghent is easy to reach by train from all Belgian and European cities. The main train station is Gent-Sint-Pieters, which is half an hour away from the central station in Brussels.
From the train station, you can easily walk or take the above-ground tram into the city center.
Ghent is forty-five minutes from the international Zaventem Brussel Airport. From the airport, you can head to the Brussel-Nationaal-Luchthaven train station and catch a short train to Ghent.
The Brussels South/Charleroi airport is about seventy minutes from Ghent but is reachable by train or bus. There are shuttles nine times a day that travels to and from the airport and Ghent.
Where to Stay in Ghent
Hotel Gravensteen: Located in a 19th-century building and right near all the main attractions, this the perfect place to stay for a classic Belgian experience.
Hotel Ghent River: This hotel overlooks the river Leie and is the only hotel that can be reached by boat. It is a combination of a renaissance house from 1518 and a cotton factory from 1857. History combined with elegance makes this a very special place to stay in the city.
Hotel Harmony: A beautiful, highly-rated hotel located on the waterfront in the oldest district of Ghent.
Novotel Gent Centrum Hotel: Extremely conveniently located in the center of the city, this mid-range hotel offers clean, modern accommodations for a competitive price.
Hotel de Flandre: A nice historical, boutique hotel with all the necessities.
What to Eat in Ghent
Boon: Right outside the Gravensteen castle sits this little coffee shop that serves up fresh big salads, pastries, and refreshing drinks.
Julie’s House: Perfect for a sweet treat pick-me-up in the middle of the day, Julie’s is famous for amazing cakes, cupcakes, coffee, and tea. Take a seat or a slice to go, but be sure to take your friends since their portions are quite large!
Pub De Dulle Griet: This historic tavern sits in the middle of Vrijdagmarkt square and serves over three hundred and fifty different types of beer. Sift through the extensive menu or ask the bartender for a suggestion.
If you are ready to take on a challenge, you can order a MAX beer served in a genuine coach glass. When you order, the waiter will take your shoe as collateral, put it in a hanging basket and you will get it back when you finish!
Waffle By the Water: When you are walking down Graslei or Korenlei on the outs of the canals, be sure to stop and grab a waffle. The ones sold on the streets tend to be the best.
Munch on your waffle while sitting on the edge of the canal for the perfect view. Try out the waffles at Chez Albert for a real treat!
What to Do in Ghent
Gravensteen Castle: As you walk around the city, you can’t miss Gravensteen Castle. It sits right on the corner of the road like any other building, but its grandeur is unmissable. Take in the sights from the perimeter or take a tour through in the inside for ten euro.
Saint Michael’s Bridge: The Saint Michael’s Bridge connects two sides of Ghent and it is the only place in the city you can see Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, Saint Nicholas’ Church, and the Belfry Tower at the same time. Perfect photo opp!
Graffhti Street: Walk through this hidden alleyway to see walls covered in creative graffiti and if you are feeling inspired, you can buy a can of spray paint and add to the art.
The only rule is if you can’t cover anything that you can’t make better yourself!
Beer Tour: Taste your way through Ghent with Belgian beers on this 2.5-hour beer tasting tour of Ghent!
Shopping: There are lots of cute little boutiques scattered throughout the city as well as the main shopping street, Groot Vleeshuis. Check out the Vrijdagmarkt on Friday mornings and Saturday afternoons for cheap convenience items, clothes, and some street food.
Canal Tour: A canal tour is a great and efficient way to see the city. You can take a tour for around 7 Euro.
Medieval Towers of Ghent: Saint Bavo’s Cathedral was built over a thousand years ago and is free to visit, but be sure to check the hours online before you go.
Saint Nicholas’ Church is architecturally beautiful and is free to enter. Climb to the top of the Belfry Tower (eight Euro) for an epic view of the city.
Museums: Ghent is littered with all kinds of museums from the Dr. Guislain Museum, to the Design museum, to the museum of fine arts, to Museum Arnold Vander Haeghen. Be sure to check the websites for entrance fees and opening hours!