Renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture, Ghent is a fascinating port city with a vivid industrial history. Its atmospheric canal-side buildings include the guildhalls of Graslei, which are packed with quirky bars and alfresco restaurants frequented by the lively student population.
Things to do in Ghent
For the best views of Ghent, take the elevator to the upper gallery of the 14th-century Belfry, which is the tallest of its kind in Belgium. It adjoins the 15th-century Cloth Hall where you can discover the role of local merchants played in the Flemish cloth industry.
A short walk away is the magnificent St. Bavo's Cathedral, with an exterior that fuses Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture. The interior is filled with valuable sculptures and paintings, such as the 24-panel altarpiece by Jan van Eyck titled "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”.
Don’t miss a visit to Gravensteen Castle in the north of the historic centre, built by Count Philip of Alsace after returning from the Crusades. Climb the ramparts to take in the views across Ghent’s rooftops and church spires, then visit the small armoury museum and former torture chamber.
Want to learn more about Ghent’s industrial history? Visit the MIAT museum, set within an early-19th-century cotton mill on the banks of the Leie River. It showcases the textile history of Ghent through historic machinery and gives a fascinating look into the social conditions surrounding industry in the city.
Getting around Ghent
Ghent is a 30-minute train ride from Brussels. From Gent-Sint-Pieters station, it’s a 10-minute tram ride into the city centre, where you can easily explore on foot. There’s also a water tram which provides a scenic route to the city’s attractions.