Ghent is Flanders’ best kept secret. Here’s why! Belgium has so many beautiful cities from its capital of Brussels to the medieval city of Brugge. But did you know about Ghent? This city is slowly becoming more known to tourists, but for now is a lesser known travel destination located in East Flanders. Visiting Ghent is easy! The capital of its province, Ghent lies in the east between Antwerp and Brussels making it a perfect choice for any day trip. After Antwerp, Ghent is the biggest city in Flanders. Follow along our travel guide or you might get lost. Ghent is known for its iconic medieval castle and its multitude of markets.
Bruges might be the most well-known medieval city in Belgium, but Ghent is no slacker! On your visit to this city, you’ll soon stumble across the 12th century Castle of the Counts (Gravensteen) and the impressive Saint Bavo's Cathedral. Until the 1600s, Ghent was a major powerhouse of Belgium. You can still find traces of the medieval past in its beautiful buildings all over the city, the museums, and its artsy culture.
Visiting Ghent is always unique. The city changes from day to day as more markets pop up and more artists make their mark. From book markets to sustainable stalls, there is always some place to go in the city. Bring along your spray paint and get to creating your masterpiece in graffiti Alley! Or discover the industrial past of Ghent in its museum. The medieval foundations of the city of Ghent never change, though! Ghent’s city centre is as beautiful as ever, so whatever your plans Ghent always has something for you to do on its doorstep.
The Ghent Guide
Ghent is truly Belgium’s hidden gem. It’s getting more touristy and well-known to outsiders but if you have the chance definitely go explore this charming medieval city. Ghent is the capital of East Flanders. It’s a thriving city with artsy vibes combined with historic sights as far as you can see. 15th century buildings sit side by side with contemporary art galleries. If you’ve ever seen a photo of Ghent, you’ve probably seen Gravensteen (aka The Castle of the Counts) and Ghent’s pretty canals.
Thanks to Ghent’s central location in the Flanders region, it’s a convenient city to visit if you happen to be in Bruges or Antwerp.
Coming to Ghent for a shopping trip? Ghent is an alternative choice and is known for its markets and vintage shops. Come by on a Friday or the weekend to see the local flea market. There are some super specific markets too, like the Kouter flower market and Book market on Sunday mornings. Don’t miss the Biomarkt on Friday mornings to see all the fresh fruit and veggies from local and sustainable farms of East Flanders.
Ghent has plenty of cute sights to see in the city. A day of urban exploration of Ghent will take you to medieval times and back in its architecture. Like Bruges, Ghent is known for its canals. Walking around the canals or taking a trip by boat is one of the best ways to see some of Ghent’s stunning architecture.
Don’t miss the Saint Bavo Cathedral in the main square. It's 89m high and one of the symbols of the city. Just a short stroll away is one of the big symbols of Ghent, the beautiful Gravesteen castle, that was once home to a bunch of Counts.
Looking for arts and culture experiences in Belgium? Look no further than Ghent. Ghent is a city that has styles from medieval art in museums to graffiti art on Werregarenstraat. Wander the city centre around Vrijdagmarkt for local fashion boutiques to see unique pieces. Art lovers are spoiled for choice.
Ghent has been around for ages, seriously they found stuff from the Iron Age out here. A great city to explore for history buffs, Ghent has tons of museums to choose from. One historic thing every tourist to Ghent sees at least once is the Ghent Altarpiece in St Bavo's Cathedral. Ghent has some unexpected surprises too in its museums. There’s even a museum inside Belgium’s first mental asylum, now dedicated to supporting mental health. You never know what gems of history you’ll find.
You can visit Ghent in any season and have a good time, but the city really lights up in July during the festival Gentse Feesten. Ghent gets busiest in the summer, during the height of the tourist season.
You can easily get to Ghent by car from two major highways (E40 & E17). Brussels is around 45 minutes away by car, but traffic can make that much longer if you’re driving at a busy time.
Fly into Brussels National Airport. From there, it’s a 1 hour train ride to Ghent.
Gent-Sint-Pieters station is the nearest train station. You’ll have no trouble getting a train to Ghent - it’s the 4th busiest station in Belgium. You can catch a train from the major cities of Belgium to Ghent (including from Bruges, Brussels, Ostend, Leuven, Liege, Antwerp and more). The fastest trains are IC.
Eurolines offer regular bus trips into Ghent from Amsterdam, Brussels, and London. It’s probably the cheapest way to get into Ghent, but the trip will take a bit longer!
Ghent’s city centre is easy enough to get around on foot as the city isn’t that big. You can also get the tram or bus to help you get around quickly. Gent-Sint-Pieters station is a 30 minute walk away from the city centre. You can also catch a bus or tram from the station into town.
Long story short, Ghent is divided into 6 sections for drivers and getting around from one section to another can be annoying if you’re not used to the area thanks to the red lined bike roads, one way streets, and forbidden entries. Getting around in Ghent by car can be done, but we don’t recommend it for tourists. Best to park your car and go around by foot, bike or public transport to save yourself the trouble.
Ghent is cyclist friendly. Keep your eyes peeled for cobbled streets and trams and you’ll be fine. You can rent a bike
New to Ghent? When you arrive at the train station, pick up the free map of Ghent with all the public transport info to help you get around or see De Lijn’s website for live bus info. Ticket prices vary (around 1.60 at ticket machines, more when you’re on the bus), so it’s best to buy tickets in advance.
Address: Sint-Veerleplein 5, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Telephone: +32 9 266 56 60