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Allie Hartmann

The 17 Best Things To Do in Ghent, Belgium, in One Day

Discover the enchanting city of Ghent, nestled in the heart of Belgium, where history and culture blend seamlessly with vibrant modern life. As you explore the best things to do in Ghent, prepare to be captivated by its medieval architecture, lively arts scene, and the welcoming charm of its streets and canals.

A must-visit is the Gravensteen, a majestic castle in the city center that offers a glimpse into the past with its imposing fortifications and panoramic views.

For beer enthusiasts, indulging in the rich flavors of Belgian beer is non-negotiable, with numerous breweries and bars dotting the city, each offering a unique taste of Ghent’s brewing heritage.

Whether planning a day trip or a more extended stay, the places to visit in Ghent promise an unforgettable experience. They combine the tranquility of quaint cafés with the bustling energy of its market squares and cultural festivities. Dive into the heart of Ghent and discover all it has to offer!

Ghent Belgium

Top 3 Tourist attractions in Ghent:

In this article, we present the 17 best sights in Ghent, Belgium that you should definitely explore during your city break. We have summarised the 3 most popular activities and an insider tip for you in advance:

Ghent belgium canal cruise

1. Canal Cruise!

Experience the enchanting beauty of Ghent, Belgium, from its historic waterways. Glide past medieval architecture and charming bridges on a serene canal cruise, a must-do that offers a unique perspective of the city’s rich heritage and breathtaking scenes. Don’t miss this unforgettable journey!

Gravensteen Castle

2. Gravensteen Castle!

Step into the past at Gravensteen Castle in Ghent, Belgium, a majestic fortress dating back to the Middle Ages. Explore its storied halls and imposing battlements, and immerse yourself in the rich history of the Counts of Flanders. A visit here is truly a journey through time!

Beer tour in Ghent

3. Beer and Food Tours!

Indulge in Ghent’s culinary delights with beer and food tours that showcase the city’s best flavors. Savor artisanal Belgian beers and local gastronomy in a vibrant, historic setting. It’s a perfect blend of culture and cuisine, making it a must-do for any food lover!

Unser Geheimtipp:

Street Food im Viertel Trastevere!

Lernen Sie das malerische Viertel Trastevere mit einem lokalem Guide besser kennen. Während dieser Food-Tour testen Sie sich durch sämtliche römische Spezialitäten. Wer italienisches Essen liebt ist hier genau richtig!

01

Gravensteen Castle, a.k.a Castle of the Counts

Gravensteen Castle

Gravensteen Castle, one of the oldest fortresses in Belgium, is a must-visit on any day in Ghent. This medieval marvel not only captivates with its historical grandeur but also offers an immersive glimpse into the past, making it one of the best things to experience in the city.

As you step through the robust gates of Gravensteen, you enter a world preserved since the 12th century. The castle’s imposing walls and defensive moat set the scene for a journey back in time.

The museum showcases a collection of medieval artifacts, including authentic weapons and armor, which highlight the castle’s storied past as a center of power and intrigue.

Venture up the ancient spiral staircases to the ramparts and be rewarded with panoramic views of Ghent’s skyline, a stunning tapestry of Gothic spires and modern architecture.

The castle’s banquet hall, with its vast windows and soaring arches, offers a spectacular setting where history comes alive. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, architecture admirer, or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, Gravensteen Castle promises a memorable day. Its rich history and breathtaking views are compelling reasons to include this magnificent castle in your Ghent itinerary.

02

Canal Cruise

Ghent Canal Cruise Tourists

A canal cruise in Ghent is undoubtedly one of the top things to do for anyone looking to capture the essence of this charming city.

This delightful tour in Ghent offers a unique view of Ghent from its serene waterways, making it a perfect day trip for both relaxation and exploration.

As you glide along the gentle currents, the cruise takes you through the heart of Ghent, offering a picturesque panorama that encapsulates the city’s historic grandeur and vibrant contemporary life.

From the comfort of your boat, you’ll see an array of stunning sights: age-old bridges arching gracefully over the water, the famous Gravensteen Castle standing majestic against the city skyline, and the quaint, colorful facades of old merchant houses lining the banks.

Each turn brings a new vista, each more captivating than the last, allowing you to experience the city’s rich architectural tapestry and bustling atmosphere from an entirely different perspective.

Whether you’re a history buff, a photography enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful escape, the canal cruise offers a compelling way to appreciate Ghent’s beauty. Don’t miss out on this quintessential tour in Ghent. It’s not just a journey through the city’s canals but a voyage back in time and a chance to create lasting memories.

03

Food Tours

Guided Food Tour in Ghent Belgium

Embarking on a food tour in Ghent is the perfect way to experience its culinary delights, making it an excellent spot for food enthusiasts planning a weekend there.

As you explore the city, you’ll taste its unique flavors and soak in the vibrant atmosphere that makes Ghent a must-visit destination.

These food tours guide you through various restaurants in Ghent, each offering a glimpse into the local cuisine and culture. From traditional Belgian dishes like stoofvlees (beef stew) paired with hand-cut fries to inventive dishes crafted by up-and-coming chefs, your palate is in for a treat.

The city’s culinary scene is a tapestry of old-world charm and contemporary innovation, making each dining spot an exciting adventure.

As you wander from one eatery to another, you’ll also see Ghent’s beautiful medieval architecture, bustling market squares, and serene canals, adding a scenic backdrop to your gastronomic journey. It’s an enriching way to spend a day or an entire weekend in Ghent.

For those looking to experience and stay in Ghent, a food tour offers more than just meals—a taste of the city’s heart and soul. Don’t just visit; immerse yourself in the flavors and stories of Ghent.

04

Beer Tour

Beer tour in Ghent

Beer tours in Ghent offer a tantalizing experience for any beer enthusiast, making them a compelling reason to visit. Known for its rich brewing traditions, Ghent has so much to offer regarding artisanal beers and historic breweries.

These tours allow you to taste some of the finest brews and dive into the deep-rooted beer culture that Ghent is known for.

As you meander through the city’s cobblestone streets on one of Ghent’s acclaimed beer tours, you’ll visit various local pubs and breweries to sample a wide range of Belgian beers—from robust Trappist ales to refreshing wheat beers.

Each stop provides a new flavor and a story, highlighting the craftsmanship and tradition behind Ghent’s beer scene.

The tour guides are often beer aficionados, providing insightful commentary on the brewing process and the history behind each brew. This is a fantastic way to learn about Ghent’s past and present, seeing the city through the lens of its beloved breweries.

Whether you’re a seasoned beer connoisseur or a curious traveler, Ghent’s beer tours promise a delightful exploration of the city and its beers. So come, visit Ghent, and raise a glass to the rich tapestry of tastes this charming city offers.

05

Chocolate Tour

Belgium chocolate tour

A chocolate tour in Ghent is an absolute treat for the senses and a must-add to your itinerary if you plan a trip there. This delightful experience is perfect for anyone looking to indulge in one day in Ghent, offering a deliciously sweet perspective on this historic city.

As you wander through Ghent’s charming streets on your chocolate tour, you’ll find an array of boutique chocolatiers, each with unique creations that showcase the mastery of Belgian chocolate-making.

From decadent pralines to creamy ganaches, the variety of chocolates you’ll taste is as diverse as the city.

Each stop on the tour not only allows you to sample exquisite chocolates but also gives insights into the artistry behind them. The chocolatiers take pride in their craft, often sharing their techniques and the history of chocolate in Belgium.

This interaction adds a personal touch that makes the tour even more special. Beyond the chocolates, the tour offers a chance to see Ghent’s beautiful medieval architecture, lively market squares, and picturesque canals, enhancing your city experience.

Whether you’re a chocolate lover or simply looking for a unique way to explore Ghent, a chocolate tour promises a memorable day filled with sweet discoveries. Don’t miss this delicious aspect of your trip to Ghent!

06

Altstadt Tour (Old town tour)

Ghent private walking Tour with Guide

Embarking on a tour of Ghent’s Old Town (Altstadt) is an absolute must for anyone planning a day trip to Ghent. This journey through the historic center of Ghent is absolutely enchanting, revealing the city’s medieval heart and vibrant cultural tapestry.

As you stroll through the winding cobblestone streets, you’ll be captivated by the well-preserved architecture that harkens back to the Middle Ages.

The Old Town is home to many of Ghent’s most iconic landmarks, including the imposing Gravensteen Castle, whose towers and ramparts offer a glimpse into the past and dominate the cityscape with medieval grandeur.

Throughout your tour, you’ll discover charming squares lined with quaint cafes and artisan shops, perfect for enjoying a coffee and soaking up the local atmosphere.

The bustling marketplaces, still vibrant with the hustle and bustle of daily life, offer a taste of local crafts and delicacies. Ghent’s Old Town is not just a step back in time; it’s a lively center of contemporary culture where history and modernity blend seamlessly.

Every corner offers something new to explore, from historical museums to contemporary art galleries. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or simply searching for a picturesque day out, Ghent’s Old Town tour is an unforgettable experience that beautifully showcases the essence of this historic city.

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Shopping in Patershol

Shopping in Ghent Patershol

Shopping in Patershol, a charming neighborhood in Ghent city, offers a delightful and unique experience that complements any tour of Ghent.

Known for its picturesque streets and vibrant atmosphere, Patershol is the perfect place to explore boutique shops and local artisans that reflect the city’s rich cultural tapestry.

As you meander through the narrow, cobblestone lanes of Patershol, you’ll encounter an eclectic mix of stores selling everything from handmade jewelry and bespoke clothing to vintage books and fine Belgian chocolates.

Each shop invites you in with its character and specialties, offering a shopping experience you won’t find in typical retail outlets.

Beyond shopping, Patershol is steeped in history, with beautifully preserved buildings that date back to the Middle Ages. This historic backdrop enhances your shopping trip, making it not just about what you buy but also what you see in Ghent. The area’s cozy cafes and local eateries provide delightful spots to relax and soak in the ambiance after a fulfilling shopping spree.

Whether you’re looking for unique gifts, artisan crafts, or a pleasant day out, shopping in Patershol is a must. It enriches your visit and gives you a deeper appreciation of Ghent city’s creative and historical essence. Don’t miss this charming district on your next visit to Ghent!

08

Belfry Tower

Ghent Belgium Belfry Tower

The Belfry of Ghent, an iconic symbol of the city’s independence and prosperity, is a must-visit for anyone planning to get to Ghent.

As the tallest belfry in Belgium, Ghent Belfry offers not only a rich historical experience but also provides some of the best panoramic views of the city.

Standing 91 meters tall, this UNESCO World Heritage site allows visitors to immerse themselves in the history that shaped Ghent. Once you ascend the tower, you will be greeted by the breathtaking vista that stretches across every part of the city.

This vantage point shows how the old blends with the new in Ghent’s diverse landscape.

The Belfry is not just a tower; it’s a gateway to the past. Inside, you’ll find a museum that narrates the tower’s story through interactive exhibits and preserved artifacts. The carillon, comprising 54 bells, still plays concerts that fill the city air with melodious chimes, echoing through the streets of Ghent.

Visiting the Belfry is more than just sightseeing; it’s an experience that connects you to the heart of Ghent. No trip to this city would be complete without stepping into this historical monument, which stands as a proud reminder of Ghent’s enduring spirit and cultural heritage.

09

STAM Ghent City Museum

STAM Ghent city museum

If you want to delve into the rich tapestry of local history and culture during your time in Ghent, a visit to STAM, the Ghent City Museum, is essential.

This modern museum is a treasure trove of art in Ghent and a vibrant center of storytelling, offering a comprehensive overview of the city’s past and present.

STAM is cleverly set in a beautifully restored abbey, with modern additions that blend seamlessly with the historic architecture.

As you wander through the museum, you’ll be taken on a chronological journey through Ghent’s history, from its medieval roots to its contemporary urban development.

Interactive displays and innovative multimedia installations bring the narrative to life, making history accessible and engaging for all ages. The museum’s permanent collection is complemented by temporary exhibitions focusing on various aspects of Ghent’s culture and history, ensuring there are always new things to discover.

These exhibitions highlight everything from notable historical events to local art movements, enriching your understanding of what makes Ghent unique. If you’re planning to go to Ghent, allocate time for STAM.

It offers a fascinating insight that will enrich your visit and deepen your appreciation of this dynamic city. Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, or simply curious, STAM is a captivating destination that promises to enhance your Ghent experience.

10

MSK Museum of Fine Arts

MSK Museum of Fine Arts Ghent

The MSK (Museum of Fine Arts) in Ghent is a true gem of Belgium and a pivotal stop on any art lover’s trip to Belgium.

Recognized as one of the 12 best art museums in the country, MSK offers an impressive collection that spans several centuries, highlighting European and Belgian art from the Middle Ages to the mid-20th century.

As you explore the museum, you will encounter works by renowned masters such as Bosch, Rubens, and Magritte, each piece showcasing the rich artistic heritage that Ghent is easily known for.

The beautifully designed galleries provide a tranquil and inspiring environment, perfect for discovering Ghent through its artistic expressions.

The museum captivates visitors with its permanent collections and excites them with a dynamic roster of temporary exhibitions that delve deeper into specific themes or showcase contemporary artists. Each visit offers new insights and a fresh perspective on the art world.

Visiting the MSK is a beautiful way to fall in love with Ghent, as it encapsulates the city’s cultural vibrancy and historical depth. Whether you’re an art aficionado or simply curious about the artistic legacies here, the MSK stands out as a must-visit during your journey through Belgium.

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11

St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church in Ghent

St. Nicholas Church, with its towering spires and majestic facade, stands as one of the most beautiful architectural landmarks in Ghent.

This medieval church is a testament to the city’s rich history and a centerpiece that Ghent deserves to be proud of.

As you step inside, you will be enveloped by the serene ambiance and struck by the intricate beauty of the church’s interior.

The stained glass windows cast colorful patterns on the stone floors, while the soaring arches draw your eyes upward, creating a sense of awe and tranquility. St. Nicholas Church offers a vivid insight into the religious and cultural history of Ghent, making it a key destination for anyone interested in the city’s historical fabric.

Ghent has so many sights to explore, but the church is unique for its blend of architectural styles, including Scheldt Gothic, which is native to the region. Each corner of the church tells a story, from its ancient organ to the art that adorns its walls.

Visiting St. Nicholas Church allows you to connect deeply with Ghent’s spiritual and historical essence. It’s a must-see for its breathtaking beauty and the peaceful respite from the bustling city life outside its walls.

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St. Bavo's Abbey

St. Bavo's Cathedral Ghent Belgium

St. Bavo’s Abbey in Ghent is a captivating site that beautifully reflects the rich historical tapestry of the city. Traveling to Ghent would be incomplete without a visit to this serene and spiritual place, which stands as a testament to the city’s medieval past.

As you wander through the ruins of St. Bavo’s Abbey, you’re transported back to the early Middle Ages, when this was a thriving center of religious life.

The remaining stone walls and arches evoke a sense of timelessness, allowing visitors to imagine the monks who once lived and prayed here. The abbey is set in a tranquil garden, providing a peaceful retreat from the bustling city streets.

One of the most fascinating things about Ghent is its ability to preserve its history while integrating it into the city’s vibrant life, and St. Bavo’s Abbey is a perfect example of this. The site also features an audiovisual installation that brings its history to life, offering narratives that enrich visitors’ understanding and appreciation.

Ghent deserves recognition for its careful stewardship of such historic sites. A visit to St. Bavo’s Abbey not only offers a glimpse into the city’s spiritual and architectural heritage but also provides a reflective space to ponder the city’s centuries-old story.

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St. Bavo's Cathedral

Ghent Mystic Lamb

St. Bavo’s Cathedral is a breathtaking landmark in the heart of Ghent, renowned not only for its stunning Gothic architecture but also as the home of one of the world’s most revered artworks, the Ghent Altarpiece.

Known as “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb,” this masterpiece by Jan van Eyck is considered a pivotal piece in art history due to its intricate detail and pioneering oil painting technique.

Visiting the cathedral offers an immersive journey into both spiritual and artistic realms. The towering vaults and stained glass windows create a majestic atmosphere that enhances the experience of viewing the altarpiece.

The panels of the Ghent Altarpiece unfold in a narrative that captures the essence of divine and human interplay.

The central panel depicts the Mystic Lamb, symbolizing Jesus Christ, worshipped by groups of angels, prophets, and saints. Beyond the Altarpiece, the cathedral is filled with art and historical artifacts, providing a comprehensive view of religious and cultural shifts over centuries. Each chapel and corridor has its own story, adorned with works by other Flemish masters and rich decorations.

Anyone traveling to Ghent must visit St. Bavo’s Cathedral. It offers a unique opportunity to witness Van Eyck’s transformative art and absorb its profound spiritual and historical significance.

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Graslei and Kornenlei

Explore Graslei and Kornenlei Ghent

Graslei and Korenlei, set along the banks of the river in Ghent, are indeed one of the few places that encapsulate the essence of Belgium’s rich history and architectural beauty.

This picturesque area, with its row of historical buildings reflecting in the calm waters, is considered one of the best places to visit in Ghent, rivaling the scenic canals of Bruges and the vibrant streets of Brussels.

As you stroll along Graslei and Korenlei, you will be greeted by the stunning façade of the medieval guild houses that have stood the test of time.

These buildings are some of the finest examples of architecture in Ghent, each telling a story of the city’s prosperous past during the medieval wool and grain trade.

The charming cobblestone paths and the serene waterfront setting provide a perfect backdrop for a leisurely walk or a cozy café sit-down. Visitors to Graslei and Korenlei can also enjoy boat tours, which offer a unique vantage point of the area and the opportunity to learn more about the history and significance of these buildings.

Whether you’re soaking up the atmosphere at a riverside café or capturing the perfect photograph of the historic skyline, a visit to Graslei and Korenlei promises a memorable blend of beauty, history, and culture, making it a must-see during your trip to Belgium.

15

Vrijdagmarkt

Vrijdagmarkt in Ghent Belgium

Vrijdagmarkt, located in the heart of Ghent, is probably one of the best places in Belgium to experience the vibrant local culture and historical significance of a traditional European market square.

This bustling plaza has been a center of social and commercial activity for centuries, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Belgium.

As you step into Vrijdagmarkt, you’re greeted by an array of charming cafés and shops that line the perimeter, each offering Belgian hospitality.

The square is dominated by the imposing statue of Jacob van Artevelde, a historical figure who points towards England, symbolizing Ghent’s medieval trade connections.

Surrounding this are some of the most significant and architecturally interesting buildings in Ghent, each with its own story. The lively atmosphere of Vrijdagmarkt is especially palpable during the weekly market days when vendors fill the square with colorful stalls selling everything from fresh produce to artisan crafts.

It’s a place where Ghent’s past and present converge, offering visitors a chance to mingle with locals and soak in the authentic Flemish culture. Visiting Vrijdagmarkt offers a unique glimpse into the heart of Ghent and Belgian life, whether you’re coming from Brussels, Bruges, or anywhere else. It’s an ideal spot for anyone looking to enrich their travel experience with genuine local flavor and history.

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Hop-on-hop-off Water Tramway

Hop on Hop off Canal Cruise Ghent Belgium

Experience Ghent uniquely and delightfully with the hop-on hop-off water tramway, a favorite among visitors looking to capture the best views over Ghent.

This charming mode of transportation offers convenience and some of the most stunning perspectives of the city’s historical and architectural beauty.

Gliding along the waterways, you’ll enjoy unparalleled views of major Ghent attractions, including the majestic Gravensteen Castle, the picturesque Graslei and Korenlei streets, and the towering spires of St. Bavo’s Cathedral.

Each stop along the route offers an opportunity to explore Ghent’s rich heritage up close, allowing you to hop off at your leisure and rejoin the tour at your convenience.

The water tramway offers the best views and an informative commentary that enriches your understanding of Ghent’s history and landmarks. It’s a relaxing yet insightful way to see the city, perfect for first-time visitors and those who wish to revisit their favorite spots.

Whether coming from Brussels, Bruges, or staying within Belgium, the water tramway in Ghent is an excellent addition to your itinerary. It provides a scenic and memorable experience, making it a superb way to explore Ghent’s vibrant life and stunning vistas.

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St. Michael's Bridge

St. Michaels Bridge Ghent Belgium

St. Michael’s Bridge in Ghent is a stunning architectural feat and a central spot for fun things to do and see in the heart of Belgium.

This iconic bridge offers some of the most picturesque views in the city, making it a must-visit for anyone returning to Ghent or exploring it for the first time.

Standing on St. Michael’s Bridge, you are surrounded by a panoramic vista with historical gems like the Gravensteen Castle, the medieval towers of St. Bavo’s Cathedral, and the old post office.

It’s the only place in Ghent where you can capture all three significant city towers in one glance, a perfect photo opportunity and a moment to cherish.

The bridge itself is a piece of art, with its elegant balustrades and street lamps that light up beautifully at night, adding to the romantic ambiance of the city. Whether you’re visiting during the day or evening, the bridge offers a tranquil spot to pause and soak in the atmosphere of Ghent.

Visitors often find themselves drawn back to Ghent for experiences like St. Michael’s Bridge, where the beauty of Belgium is displayed in full. This spot combines fun, history, and stunning scenery, ensuring that every visit is memorable.

Editor: Hi! I’m Allie, and welcome to my travel blog. Born and raised in Texas and moved to Germany 8 years ago on a quest for self-discovery. Follow me on this great adventure as I’ll be your trusted travel guide, sharing my experiences, insights, and tips from my journeys around the globe.