Ghent (Dutch: Gent, French: Gand) is a city in East Flanders in Belgium. Ghent is a city with a population of a quarter of a million, with rich history. At the same time, Ghent has a relatively high share of young people, and a significant seasonal student population.
During the Middle Ages, Ghent was one of the richest and most powerful cities in Europe. It was once considered the second largest city north of the Alps, after Paris. The impact of this rich past can be clearly seen when viewing the imposing architecture of churches and the houses of rich traders. The whole of the city center is restored in this fashion, and still breathes the atmosphere of a thriving late-medieval city state. As the city council made the center free of cars, it is now a very welcoming and open area, which does not fail to impress even the people who live there.
Unlike Leuven, another university town in Flanders, youth is not the only category of people living there. There is an interesting mixture of foreigners who came to live there, or artists, among the native people of Ghent. This mixture makes the people more tolerant and open-minded. This atmosphere seeps into every aspect of city life than the smaller provincial cities or the bigger city of Antwerp.
Ghent is only a 30-minute train ride away from Brussels and is on the line from Brussels to Bruges and the coast. If you're planning to visit Bruges and Brussels, definitely stop over in Ghent as well. There are also direct trains to Brussels Airport (BRU IATA), Antwerp, and Lille.
There are two train stations in Ghent, 1 Gent-Dampoort. and 2 Gent-Sint-Pieters. . Gent-Sint-Pieters is the main station, to go to the center, take tram 1 (until 3 Korenmarkt. ). Journey time is ten minutes. Gent-Dampoort is located closer to the center (about 15 minutes walk), but only trains coming from/in the direction of Antwerp stop there.
If you're visiting from Bruges, Brussels or Antwerp during the weekend, it's much cheaper to get a return ticket (special rate: weekend return).
The dense highway network in Belgium allows you to access Ghent easily by car. Two main highways E40 (Liège-Brussels-Ghent-Bruges-Ostend) and E17 (Antwerp-Ghent-Kortrijk-Lille) cross at Ghent. Brussels and Antwerp are 40 min away, Bruges 30 min. During rush hour you can easily double these times.
The two biggest airports nearby are Brussels (Zaventem, Belgium) and Lille (France). Direct trains are available from Brussels Airport to Ghent.
The center of Ghent is quite small, so you can walk around on foot. However, the main station (Gent Sint-Pieters) is not in the city center, but takes a walk of about half an hour. The best option is to take the tram, which takes you directly to the center in 10 to 15 minutes.
A bicycle is the recommended way to get around in Ghent. However, there are many roads with cobblestones that make cycling a shaking experience. Also make sure you stay clear of the tram rails. Nevertheless, you will see you are not alone on your bike: many inhabitants use bikes to get around. Even the former mayor uses his bicycle all day! There are many bike stands around to make it easy to lock your bike (important!). Many one-way roads are made two-way for bikes.
The transport system is Ghent is excellent and usually on time. A single ticket costs €3 and can be bought in the bus/tram or from ticket machines near stops, such ticket is valid for an hour's travel on all trams and buses. If you are planning to stay for a while, buy a pass for €14, it is valid for 10 trips within the city and can also be used in other Flemish cities (such as Antwerp or Bruges). The trams are the quickest and most comfortable way to travel, especially from the railway station to the city centre.
Note that if the bus/tram stop has a ticket machine, you will have to buy the ticket there, as the bus/tram driver will not sell you one in this case. You can also buy a ticket through SMS if you have a Belgian cell phone, instructions are on the poles at each stop. The transportation company is De Lijn.
In the Lijnwinkel kiosk (located near Sint-Pieters train station), you can get free map of city and surroundings, with all bus and tram lines.
- 1 Belfort en Lakenhalle (Belfry and Cloth Hall), Emile Braunplein (tram 1 or 4 to Sint-Baafsplein), ☎ . daily 10:00 — 18:00; free guided tours of Belfry Easter vacations and May-Sept Tues-Sun 2:10, 3:10, and 4:10pm.
The Belfry was a symbol of the city's autonomy, begun in 1313 and completed in 1380. This municipal tower holds the great bells that have rung out Ghent's civic pride through the centuries. Take the elevator to the Belfry's upper gallery, 66m high, to see the bells and take in fantastic panoramic views of the city. The Cloth Hall dates from 1425 and was the gathering place of wool and cloth merchants. €8 adults, free for children under 19.
- 2 Sint-Baafskathedraal (St. Bavo's Cathedral), Sint-Baafsplein (tram 1 or 4 to Sint-Baafsplein), ☎ .
Cathedral: Apr-Oct Mon-Sat 8:30-18:00, Sun 13:00-18:00; Nov-Mar Mon-Sat 8:30-17:00, Sun 13:00-17:00.
Mystic Lamb chapel and crypt: Apr-Oct Mon-Sat 9:30-17:30, Sun 13:00-17:00; Nov-Mar Mon-Sat 10:30-16:00, Sun 13:00-16:00.
Don't miss this cathedral. Rather unimpressive exterior of Romanesque, Gothic, and baroque architecture. However, the interior is filled with priceless paintings and sculptures, including the 24-panel altarpiece "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb", completed by Jan van Eyck in 1432. Simply spellbinding, this work was commissioned by a wealthy city alderman in 1420. Original Alterpiece "Adoration of Mystic Lamb" temporary and partial closed. Since April 2010 a scientific study and conservation works are in progress. Visitors can follow the activities trough a glass wall). Other art treasures in the cathedral include Rubens's restored "The Conversion of St. Bavo" from 1623. Cathedral: Free admission; Mystic Lamb chapel and crypt: €4 adults (+€1 audio guide in English, recommended), €1.50 children 6-12, free for children under 6.
- 3 Het Gravensteen (Castle of the Counts), Sint-Veerleplein (tram 1 or 4 to Sint-Veerleplein), ☎ . Apr-Sept daily 9:00-18:00; Oct-Mar daily 9:00-17:00. Closed Jan 1, Dec 24-25 and 31.
Built by Count Philip of Alsace, count of Flanders, soon after he returned from the Crusades in 1180 with images of similar crusader castles in the Holy Land. If its walls (2m thick), battlements, and turrets failed to intimidate attackers, the count could always turn to a well-equipped torture chamber inside. You can view relics of the chamber in a small museum in the castle. Climb up to the ramparts of the high central building, the donjon, which has great views of Ghent's rooftops and towers. €10 adults (movie guide included), €6 Discount (groups of min. 15 p, +55 years, 19-26 years), Free: -19 years, companions of the disabled persons, €3 Movieguide.
- 4 Sint-Niklaaskerk (St Nicholas's Church), Korenmarkt (entrance on Cataloniestraat) (tram 1 or 4 to Korenmarkt), ☎ . Mon 14:30-17:00; Tues-Sun 10:00-17:00. A mixture of surviving Romanesque elements of the Flemish architectural style known as Schelde Gothic, the impressive 13th- to 15th-century church was paid for by Ghent's wealthy medieval merchants and guilds. In recent years, it has undergone extensive renovation work that's still ongoing. The tower is one of the "three towers of Ghent" - in fact, it was the first of the three to grace the city skyline. Free admission.
- 5 Vooruit, Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 23, ☎ . With its strong socialist tradition, Ghent is laden with historic buildings testifying to power of the social-democratic movement. The cooperative 'Vooruit' (Progress) was running shops, bakeries, a newspaper, a cinema and a cultural centre for the labour movement. Some of the buildings are exquisite examples of late 19th/early 20th century art nouveau and art deco. Main examples can be found on Vrijdagsmarkt (the headquarter 'Ons Huis' - Our House - still in use today by the trade union) and the Kunstencentrum Vooruit on Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat, cultural temple of the labour movement and today in use as an Arts Centre and concert hall.
- Groentenmarkt, Korenmarkt & Vrijdagmarkt. Groentenmarkt (literally: vegetable market, Korenmarkt (literally: corn market) and Vrijdagmarkt (literally: Friday market) are 3 public squares in central Gent. These 3 squares are in close proximity and feature classic buildings, cafes and restaurants.
- Leie. The Leie is a canal-like river going through the city. Along much of the river, there are walkways, and near the city centre one can see classic buildings along the banks. At the south end of Lindenlei (a street along the Leie south of the city centre), one can see a somewhat old-fashion drawbridge.
- 6 Graslei. The medieval harbour is a beautiful setting with many historic buildings, including the house of the Grain Weighers, the toll house, and the Guildhall of the Free Boatmen, fronting onto the river Leie.
- 7 Groot Begijnhof Sint-Elisabeth (Old Saint Elisabeth Béguinage), Begijnhofdriespark (1 km west of Gravensteen). This béguinage (dutch: begijnhof) was founded in 1234 and was soon named after Saint-Elisabeth who was canonized in 1236. The last beguines departed from here in 1874 for the new Sint-Amandsberg béguinage.
- 8 Begijnhof Sint-Amandsberg, Engelbert Van Arenbergstraat or Jan Roomsstraat (About 1¼ km east of Korenmarkt; ½ km east of Station Gent-Dampoort). This begijnhof (Béguinage) has several curved streets. Gates are off of Engelbert Van Arenbergstraat or Jan Roomsstraat.
- 9 Begijnhof Ter Hoye, Lange Violettestraat (about 1¼ km south-east of Korenmarkt). This béguinage (begijnhof) has several streets.
- 10 City Hall (Stadhuis), Botermarkt 1 (near Korenmarkt). There is a Gothic facade facing the street Hoogpoort and a Renaissance facade facing the street Botermarkt. (Botermarkt literally means butter market.) Indoors, there are different styles. The belfry is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- 11 Graffiti alley, Werregarenstraat (between Hoogpoort and Onderstraat). Where the local graffiti artists are allowed to do their work. Although other around the town on buildings are of better quality and artistic value.
- 12 Groot Vleeshuis (Meat house), Groentenmarkt 7. See the hams hanging from the timbers of the roof which is constructed without the use of nails.
- 13 Rabot (Old Gate), Opgeëistenlaan 1. 15th century gate over the canal into the city. The canal used to connect the town to the north sea but now stops at this gate which is framed by 1960's housing blocks.
- 14 Campo Santo Cemetery, Verkortingstraat, ☎ . Daily 7:00—20:00. This monumental cemetery is located on a small hill in the suburb of Sint-Amandsberg. Many famous and important Belgians that lived in Ghent are buried here.
- 15 STAM – Ghent city museum, Godshuizenlaan 2, ☎ . Tells the story of Ghent in the 14th century Bijloke Abbey. The abbey refectory shows pre-Eyckian wall paintings. STAM illustrates the story of Ghent by means of more than 300 historical objects and interactive multimedia applications with a lot of visual material. Temporary exhibitions reflect on different aspects of urbanity. The visitor can build Ghent in LEGO bricks. The museum is fully accessible for wheelchair users.
- 16 The Museum Dr. Guislain – a museum on the history of mental health, Jozef Guislainstraat 43, ☎ . Was founded in 1986 in Ghent, Belgium, and its exhibits address the history of psychiatry in a permanent collection and through a series of half-yearly changing thematic exhibitions. These temporary exhibitions highlight a certain aspect of the history of mental health so as to tell a broader story about our society’s way of dealing with normality through the arts, history, and science. Comprehensively, the Museum seeks to educate the public and rectify the misunderstandings and prejudice associated with treatment for mental illness. The Museum Dr. Guislain attracts about 65,000 visitors each year. The museum is fully accessible for wheelchair users, and all texts are in Dutch, French and English.
- 17 SMAK (Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst) (in Citadelpark). Well-known modern arts museum.
- 18 Design museum Gent, Jan Breydelstraat 5, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: from 9:30 am till 5:30 pm. Saturday, Sunday, (school) holidays: from 10 am till 6 pm.. Design museum Gent is the only design museum in Belgium. It possesses an extensive collection of Belgian design objects, supported by international pieces. The collection spans the era from the art nouveau of Henry van de Velde up to today's avant-garde design.
- 19 MIAT (Museum about industry, labour and textile), Minnemeers 9, ☎ . Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00-18:00. This museum housed in a former industrial building brings industrial heritage to life by means of exhibitions, workshops and film Sundays. Industry, labour and textiles are seamlessly interwoven. €6 for adults, €2 for people aged 19 to 25.
- 20 Huis van Alijn (The House of Alijn), Kraanlei 65, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tuesday to Saturday: 11:00-17:30. Sunday: 10:00-17:30. The House of Alijn displays cultural artifacts of Flemish recent and not so recent past. The visitor attains more insight into Flemish heritage by looking at old photograph albums, jewelry, old toys and so on. These objects reveal the spirit of the times as well as ways and customs and they remind us of the days in the past. €6 for adults, €2 for people aged 19 to 26.
- 21 University Museum (Gents Universiteitsmuseum), Krijgslaan 281, ☎ , e-mail: MuseumCollections@UGent.be. M-F 10:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00. Known formerly as the Museum for History of Sciences, the University Museum has collections on archaeology, ethnography, morphology and other sciences. 2.50€.
- De Bootjes van Gent (Rederij Dewaele Canal Cruise), Graslei or Korenlei, ☎ . April to October, daily from 10am to 6pm, and November to March on weekends from 11am to 4pm. A cruise on the canals is a good way to view the city's highlights. The tour lasts approximately 40 minutes; longer tours are available. €7 for adults; €6.50 for seniors, students, and those under 26; €4 for children aged 3 to 12; free for children under 3.
- GratisInGent.be (Free events in Ghent). This website gets updated weekly and lists all the free events they know of. The events include bars organising live music, free movie screenings, lectures, etc. The site was started by the local branch of non-commercial tourist organanisation Use-It. It has since been taken over by the non-profit Gentblogt vzw, which is the collective formed around a prolific group blog about Ghent by and for people from Ghent.
- Jan Plezier Boottochten, Snepkaai or Ketelvest, ☎ . Large parties can reserve themed cruises along the waterways of Ghent. Amonth the themes are the pancake cruise (pancake boat), the spareribs cruise, and the shrimp cruise. These cruises are most often held for large parties; individual tourists are better off choosing a tour of Dewaele or hiring a boat to steer yourself. pancake boat = €11.5 for adults; €9.50 for children aged under 6 to 12; free for children under 6.
- Ghent balloon flights. Organising balloon rides near Ghent.
- Alternative Free Walking Tour. Every day at 4 PM an alternative walking tour starting from the Gravensteen castle. Different perspective on the city and lots of fun.
- Film Fest Gent 2018: 9–19 October 2018, Leeuwstraat 40b, 9000 Gent, ☎ , fax: +32 9 221 90 74, e-mail: email@example.com. Every year in October the film festival of Ghent takes over the lion's share of the city's screening rooms. During ten days in over 4 cinemas more than 100 movies and documentaries are screened. A bilingual schedule is provided and several films are shown with English subtitles. On the red carpet you could spot some high-profile celebrities, but the festival's most defining characteristic is its focus on film music. The World Soundtrack Awards or WSA is an initiative of the festival and every year an impressive award ceremony is held in addition to one or more concerts with world-renowned composers. Additionally a number of events are held parallel to the movie screenings, such as talks, seminars, exhibitions, etc., a number of which are available in English. €70 for a 10-trip ticket (shareable between multiple persons), €40 for 5 trips; individual ticket prices vary from €8-13, depending on screening time and eligibility for reductions.
- Gentse Feesten (Ghent Festival): 13–22 July 2018. Gentse Feesten is a cultural music and theatre festival held throughout the city. It is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, attracting about 2 million visitors every year. The multitude of squares in the city centre are taken over by stages, each of them with their characteristic programming. E.g. popular music is played on the Sint-Baafsplein and Korenmarkt, some of the most entertaining cover bands can be found on the Groentenmarkt, dance initiations and world music in Baudelo parc. Young up-and-coming bands and arises get their chance in the intimate "mirror tent" in that same parc. The Beverhoutplein is taken over by French chanson. The roots of the festival are at the Sint-Jacobs square, where you can find Belgian and world artists, blues and rock music. Last-but-not-least in this non-exhaustive (!) list is Vlasmarkt, where the party literally (i.e. not figuratively) never ends. It defies description and comparison and needs to be experienced to be understood. And for once these are not idle words. Party until long after the sun comes up and get a botram me uufflakke or sjoko (a sandwich with meat or chocolate paste). Besides this musical programme, the city's cultural houses and organisations open their doors. There are theatre and comedy shows, puppetry and workshops for kids and adults alike, exhibitions, guided tours and many random street acts such as mimickers, buskers, etc. Additionally a number of festivals within the festival are held, like Ghent Jazz for jazz music, 10 Days Off for electronic music and Boomtown for the most traditional music festival atmosphere, all three consistently having an impressive and international line-up. The festival starts on the Friday before July 21 (Belgium's national holiday) and lasts ten days. All of this: mostly free!.
- 1 Prondelmarkt bij Sint-Jacobs (Sint-Jacobs flea market), Beverhoutplein near Sint-Jacobs. 8am-1pm Fri-Sat, 8am-2pm Sun. Antiques, second-hand records, books, and others can be found in the weekly flea markt at Sint-Jacobs. It is held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 8am to 1pm. Prices can be high, but keen eyes can find a lot of gems!
- 2 Tweedehandsboekenmarkt (Second-hand books market), Ajuinlei. 9am to 1pm on Sundays. Inspired by the second-hand booksellers of Paris (Bouquinistes), every Sunday from 9am to 1pm you can stroll along the Ajuinlei to find a large assortment of second-hand books. The supply includes English books from the bookshop 'English Book Shop', located also in the Ajuinlei (and also open at regular hours in the rest of the week), movie posters, art books, children's books and a smattering of various other niches.
- 3 Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market). Vrijdagmarkt has been a fixture since the 13th century. It is the scene of a lively street markets on Friday (7:30am-1pm) and Saturday (11am-6pm), as well as the Sunday bird market (7am-1pm).
- 4 Cuberdons sold by street vendors, Kortemunt, near Groentenmarkt. Every day in Korte Munt near Groentenmarkt, two street vendors are selling cuberdons or Gentse neuzen (Ghent nose). These candies are purple cone shaped gum arabic sweets with a raspberry centre. If you stop, you will shop because these vendors are experts at promoting this Ghent specialty, so much so that they infamously got into a small fist-fight due to them competing for customers. One of the vendors also sells the pastries of the adjacent bakery 'Himschoot's'.
Ghent provides an excellent and affordable sample of Flemish cuisine, which in the eyes of the locals is one of Europe's finest as it combines French delicacy with northern European sturdiness. Try some local specialties like mussels, spare ribs or 'stoverij' (a kind of tender meat cooked for three hours in dark beer with a brown gravy) with Belgian fries.
Another dish from Ghent is the "Gentse waterzooi" (litt. "boiled water from Ghent"), which was the food for the poor originally, a stew of cheap fish (usually turbot) and vegetables. Now it is often made with chicken as well.
Belgian waffles are available from a number of street stalls around the town.
The restaurants on Korenmarkt and Vrijdagmarkt are a good deal, reasonably priced; the menus and 'menus of the day' at the Brasserie Borluut provide terrific value and this includes Gentse waterzooi. The real upmarket restaurants are to be found in the 14th century quarter called 'Patershol', near the Castle. There is also a big Turkish community in Ghent, centred around Sleepstraat a bit further north, which is home to numerous Turkish restaurants.
- 1 Soup Lounge, Zuivelbrugstraat 6. 10:00-19:00. Popular place to get a reasonable priced soup.
- 2 Belfort Restaurant (Stadscafe), Emile Braunplein 40, ☎ . Good place for breakfast, French or English style.
- 3 De Lieve, Sint-Margrietstraat 1, 9000 Gent (one block away from Gravensteen castle), ☎ . kitchen 11am-11pm. Formerly serving haute cuisine and having Michelin stars, this restaurant has stepped out of the culinary rat race and changed its focus to the 'classics'. A great place to try Flemish cuisine. It's part bar, so don't be surprised when you see the regulars coming in for a drink. Due to its quality and price it's popular with both students and adults. €7.5-25 for main course.
- 4 De Kuip Van Gent, Korenmarkt 32, ☎ . Serve a good Stoverij with fries.
- 5 Neptune (Neptune), Sint-Veerleplein 10, 9000 Gent. Really pleasant and friendly little place immediately opposite Gravensteen castle. Husband & wife run (with two children running around for good measure). Was a bit set back when welcomed in French and English, not Dutch, but neither food nor prices as touristy as the welcome suggested. Yummy local specialties, the Stoverij (beef stew) is particularly good €14-25 for main course.
- 6 Cafe Twilight, Korenmarkt 36, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Good place for meals or somewhere sit down inside to have a Belgium Waffle on a cold afternoon
- 7 Pampas, Burgstraat 1, ☎ . The place to go if you need a meat protein boost.
- 8 Komkommertijd (Cucumber Time), Reep 14, ☎ . An all-you-can eat vegan buffet in the historic town centre. Prices include dessert but not drinks.
- 9 De Appelier, Citadellaan 47 (located to the South of the historic centre, near St. Pieters Station), ☎ . A restaurant serving traditional vegetarian food (with vegan options on request).
- 10 Tasty World, Hoogpoort 1, ☎ . A fast-food bar selling vegetarian & vegan burgers as well as smoothies/juices, with two branches in Ghent. There are some tables for eating in.
For authentic pubs, go to St. Veerleplein (the square in front of the Castle), the pubs around St. Jacob's church (especially during weekends), or the student area around Blandijnberg (Mount Blandin), especially in the proximity of the School of Arts and Philosophy, recognisable from afar by the 64 metres tall art deco Library Tower. Ghent is known for its many pubs and clubs and most have friendly staff. If you visit Ghent for it's great nightlife, be sure to check out the bars listed in the "Off the beaten path" section.
Central Area: Castle-Korenmarkt-Graslei
- 1 Waterhuis aan de bierkant (The Waterhouse on the beerside), Groentenmarkt 9 (near the Castle), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Boasts about 400 different kinds of Belgian beer, but is fairly touristy.
- 2 Het Galgenhuis (the Gallows house) (near Waterhuis aan de bierkant). A tiny tavern in a lean-to built on to the Gothic Butchers' Hall. A good selection of draught and bottled beers.
- 3 't Dreupelkot, Groentenmarkt 12 (near the Castle), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 200 kinds of Belgian genever, a number of which are home made. Try the pepper genever if you are a tough guy/girl (be cautious!). Pol, the owner, is a friendly guy, although it might look the other way at first sight. Around €2 for a regular-sized genever.
- 4 Het Velootje (The Little Bike), Kalversteeg 2 (between the Castle and Vrijdagmarkt). Considered as the only tourist trap of Ghent, but even with this negative reputation it's worth a visit. The bearded owner Lieven calls his place a museum café with an authentic atmosphere by candlelight. This is all true but forgot to mention his collection of 200 antique bikes decorating the place. Drinks are steep. everything costs €4.50.
- 5 Damberd, Korenmarkt. Live jazz pub.
Sint-Jacobs & Vrijdagmarkt (Vlasmarkt-Beestenmarkt)
- Charlatan, Vlasmarkt 6. Popular club with many live concerts.
- Surrounded by the bars Jos, Vlasmarkt 7 and Bar des Amis, Vlasmarkt 5.
- de Dulle Griet, Vrijdagmarkt 50, A traditional Flemish bar with a variety of 250 drinks (mostly Belgian beers).
- More alternative bars are Kinky Star, Vlasmarkt 9, 't begin van 't einde, Vlasmarkt 14 and Video, Oude Beestenmarkt 7, all have regular live concerts.
- Overpoortstraat is a street packed with 34 pubs and bars where during the week (especially Wednesday and Thursday nights) all the students go crazy. Because on Thursday it is so crowded over there, dancing usually happens on the tables. Some notorious bars/clubs are Decadance (house, techno, drum&bass), Boom Boom (rock'n roll), Den Drummer (rock and metal), Twieoo (often new wave and holebi parties), Cuba Libre(also known as the Puta Libre) (commercial, R&B, etc.), The Frontline underground concert venue featuring mainly metal, punk and hardcore concerts.
- 6 Porter House, Stalhof 1 (near the Overpoortstraat). The official pub for Erasmus students from over Europe.
- 7 Plan b, Verlorenkost 17, ☎ . Typical cosy local bar located in the center of Ghent. Nice view on the river.
- 8 De Geus van Gent, Kantienberg 9, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Monday to Friday: from 16:00, on Saturdays from 19:00. Closed on Sundays. 20 beers on top with very pleasant outdoor seating next to the river in summer.
Off the beaten path
Want to try some bars you won't find in any tourist guide? This is a great selection:
- 9 Het Gouden Hoofd (The Golden Head), Slachthuisstraat 96. If you find yourself on the other side of the canal, in the area known as "De Visserij", hungry and/or thirsty, be sure to check out this great place. It has moved to a former slaughterhouse. They have great dishes and the local beer on tap, Gulden Draak, is also great.
This is not the only great place in De Visserij. Check out the cosy De Kleine Kunst and jolly Fabula Rasa along the canal at the Ferdinand Lousbergkaai. Drinks and food are generally quite cheap in this area.
- 10 Hotsy Totsy, Hoogstraat 1. Not far from the Graslei you can find this pearl. In a roaring twenties style this place breathes jazz. It's a good alternative for the sometimes crowded Hot Club De Gand. Prices are average to expensive, but the atmosphere is one of a kind.
- 11 Old Fashioned, Hoogpoort 1. Ghent doesn't have a lack of bars, but finding a good cocktail bar might be tough. You might be glad with some other cocktail bars near the centre that have fruity drinks with cheap alcohol and not a drop of fresh juice, but some local connoisseurs consider Old Fashioned to be the only "Cocktail & Absinth bar" that is worth its name. They serve all the classics in a beautiful Medieval decor.
- De Spinnekop, Einde were 44. If you have found this bar on your own you must have been really lost. The name of the street means "End of the world", and it feels like it. This was Ghent's best kept secret and has existed for many years, but now it's in the open. This bar is what people in Ghent call a "brown bar". It's a bit sleazy but clean nonetheless. The food is simple although the home made pesto pasta is amazing. Dirt cheap as well. It has the widely known beer, La Chouffe, on tap for around €2, food is €12 max and has great vegetarian alternatives. 90% chance that you will hear Bob Dylan or Tom Waits. Only open in the evening on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (6 PM) and Sunday (8 PM). In the summer you can sit outside in the garden.
- 12 Gentse Stadsbrouwerij Gruut (Gruut Brewery), Grote Huidevettershoek 10. Brewing beers with Gruit herbs. Small brewery that caters to groups so dropping in you may not get much service.
- 2 Youth Hostel De Draecke, Sint-Widostraat 11, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This hostel is on a quiet street in the centre. Free breakfast and bedsheets are provided. A bar on the premises offers a range of Belgian beers.
- 3 , Sint-Michielsplein 21, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. A beautiful building, beautifully furnished and right in the middle of the most scenic part of the city. Breakfast included, bar open until 11PM. from €24pppn.
- 4 Brooderie, ☎ . Primarily a cafe & bakery, but with three rooms located on Jan Breydelstraat opposite the Design Museum. Shared bathrooms and showers with the cafe below but a cheap way of getting a fine room in a superb location - delicious bread with breakfast. €50 for a single, €70-75 for a double.
- 5 Ecohostel Andromeda, Bargiekaai 35, ☎ . Low-energy, low-budget (beds start at €22) hostel-on-a-boat, 10 minutes walk from the centre. Creative, modern interior, surprisingly spacious and with better showers than many "land" hostels! Internet and breakfast available.
- 7 Bed in Gent (Bed in Ghent), Lucas Munichstraat 18, 9000 Gent, Belgium (5 minute walk from Gent Dampoort train station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A roomy guest-house, with bright south-oriented bathrooms and a shared dining room with a dash of modern retro. €50 and up.
- 8 Novotel Gent Centrum, Goudenleeuwplein 5, ☎ .
- 9 Hotel Trianon, St-Denijslaan 203, ☎ , fax: . Close to St. Pieter's train station. Prices start at €62 per night; breakfast is an additional €5. Each room has an attached bathroom. The luxury rooms are equipped with jacuzzi.
- 10 Best Western, Cour Saint-Georges, Botermarkt 2, ☎ , fax: . 'The oldest Hotel in Europe, since 1228'. Right in the center, near the towers. Recently, it was taken over by the American "Best Western" hotel group. Rates from €125-€200 for a room.
- 11 NH Gent Belfort, Hoogpoort 63, ☎ . In the historical quarter of the city, offers 174 modern and comfortable rooms. Rooms from €109.
- 12 Marriott, Korenlei 10. Great position right in the middle of the old city centre with a view on the river Leie. Reasonable size and quality rooms, but only a few with view of the river. Friendly, helpful staff. Underground parking, at peak times should book ahead.
If you want to call to North America, find the "Club Plus" card. Do not be talked into any other card. They are usually found at the nightshops (Nacht Winkels). You can get more than 200 minutes to North America for €5 from a payphone. This is great since payphones cost quite a lot if you just insert money.
In recent years, the number of Internet Cafes has grown very rapidly; it is always very easy to find one within walking distance. The going price ranges from €1.50-3 per hour. There is also free wifi on the Graslei near the center. Above, a great variety of wifi networks are available in hotels, bars and snackbars. Sometimes in return for making use of their services. Also Ghent is widely supported for mobile networks, all major operators have high speed networks, data roaming is available if you have supporting devices.
The Belgian train system is very efficient and the country not that large, so getting between major cities by rail is a blast. A day trip to even multiple cities is easily doable. From Ghent, multiple railway lines radiates to major destinations in Flanders:
- Bruges, famous for its canals and medieval heritage as well, is only 20 minutes by train from Ghent
- In the opposite direction, the often-overlooked town of Sint-Niklaas, with Belgium's largest market square, is also 20 minutes away
- Kortrijk, a charming and historically important provincial city in West Flanders is 30 minutes away
- Antwerp, Brussels, Mechelen and the seaside resort of Ostend are around 40 minutes away
- All the major cities in Wallonia are within 1.5 hours of train ride - either direct or with a quick change in Brussels
- The French city of Lille is an hour away by direct train
- Sint-Martens-Latem is very near and offers a great half-day trip to those who are interested in arts.
- World War I Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial: 48 kilometers (30 miles) from Ghent in Waregem, along the Lille-Gent AutoRoute E-17. Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9AM to 5PM The final resting place for 368 American military dead lost during the liberation of Belgium. The chapel is inscribed with the names of 93 Americans whose remains were never found or identified. Free.