Last weekend, I was given the opportunity to explore the city center of Ghent. Before going, I had no clear plan of what I wanted to see or do, so I decided that I would just stroll around and see what would come my way 🙂 This is quite new to me, since I’m normally one that loves to plan in advance or at least walk around with a city map or so!
Since I want to spare you with my complete walk-through of Ghent, as I walked across some squares and streets multiple times (maybe got lost a little bit 🙂 ), I will highlight the places that I’ve discovered and let you be free to organize or plan your visit the way you want!
My first stop was the Korenmarkt where you have the Saint Nicholas Church which is a late gothic church with some amazing architectural details. From here, you can walk towards the Sint-Michiels bridge which is a must-see attraction if not for the instragram-worthy pictures 😉 . You will see plenty of people taking pictures either below or on top of the bridge. I have to admit that I did the same, but purely because you can see so many beautiful building from here.
Next, I walked alongside the Leie river and if you stay on the left side of the river you will start to see the Gravensteen which is the 10th century castle in the middle of the city. Alongside the river, make sure you look up as the buildings are so wonderfully preserved and/or restored.
Since it was well over lunch time, I decided that a quick lunch would be a welcome break. Right opposite the Gravensteen, there is nice place named BOON which is all about bio products. Here, I opted for a latte macchiato and the soup of the day which was the zucchini soup. Having never had a zucchini soup before, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. The soup was delicious and the sesam bread that came with it was just as delicious as the soup 🙂
Dulle Griet & Shopping Area
After having eaten this delicious meal, I continued my discovery in the city center and walked through some very small but quaint streets that led me towards the “Dulle Griet” which is a red cannon from the 15th century. Since this monument is on the shopping streets, I couldn’t resist to do some shopping myself 🙂
Belfort & Graffiti Street
The Belfry of Ghent is similar to the one in Mechelen which I visited last year, and safe to say they all look similar but doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit or have a peek inside. Since I was a bit short on time and the weather really wasn’t that great (too much rain!), I didn’t go inside or even have a detailed look (unfortunately).
However, in the nearby area, you can plenty of architectural beauty or if you’re more into street art, then the Graffiti Street is something for you. This very small street or ally is full of graffiti (on the walls and on the ground) and it’s not just for everyone to pick up a spray can or paint and have a go at it. There are some unwritten rules (or so I’ve heard from guides and locals) that dictate that you cannot paint over an existing piece if you cannot make it better. There are also some events organized whereby artists can show off their skills. Walking through the street, you see the normal graffiti but I’ve also found some really nice designs.
How to Get Here
Arriving in Ghent, depending on your type of transportation, can be tricky… There are a couple of train stations near the city center, so this would be one of the preferred options. Since I had to come from the other side of the country (yes, Maasmechelen is the other side compared to Ghent 🙂 ), I preferred the car especially since I couldn’t stay overnight.
There are a couple of parking garages spread over the city center and if you don’t mind walking a bit (less than 1,5 km), you can find some very cheap ones such as Savaan or Ramen. Since I would be at the NH Belfort in the evening and would have to walk in the dark, I went for the parking garage at the Savaanstraat which is one of the cheapest ones and within 800m walking from the hotel. For a full day, I had to pay 14 EUR which is even cheaper than some of the parking garages in other cities that are not as big as Ghent.
Where to Stay
Even though I didn’t stay overnight, I’m still familiar with at least one chain in the city and that is the NH hotels. In Ghent, I would recommend the NH Belfort since it’s in the city center and has an underground parking accessible for hotel guests. The NH hotel has some splendid facilities, and if you’re familiar with the chain, you know what I’m talking about. For those that don’t, the rooms are not too big and not too small so that it’s worth the money. Other facilities include excellent food and friendly service 🙂
This is a relatively short guide to Ghent as the weather was bad (raining all day!), so couldn’t spend too much time exploring the city center… Still, I hope you enjoyed reading my short adventure and hope you continue along my adventures nearby and faraway 🙂