It didn’t take very long, a couple of hours in fact, but Ghent stole my heart. From the narrow and quiet cobblestoned streets to the spacious Graslei where friends meet and tour groups roam in packs, the city was everything I could have asked for in this little slice of Europe. Ghent, or Gent as the Dutch spell it, is often overlooked by travelers for its more popular yet smaller neighbour, Bruges. But having spent the previous 5 days exploring Bruges, arriving in Ghent was a welcomed change.
The city is centered around the old historic area where medieval architecture can be found on every corner. A walk up the winding staircase of the Belfry gives you an incredible panoramic view of the city and a boat ride along the river offers a different and relaxing perspective of the city.
I was surprised to learn that Ghent was one of the most important cities in Europe, larger than London and second only to Paris in size between 1000 and 1550. It remained virtual undamaged during both world wars allowing its historical heritage to remain intact.
Aside from the historical aspects of the city, Ghent is also home to a very large student population. Because of this, the city is teeming with youthful energy, amazing street art, and a great nightlife. Just check out these top 5 things to do in Ghent to see why!
Ghent is small enough that you can easily walk it or hop on a bike to get to some of the outlying areas. My 5 days in the city were spent walking aimlessly through the side streets, exploring the Beguinages, admiring large cathedrals and small neighbourhood churches, eating my weight’s worth of frites and cuberdons, and consuming an equal amount of Belgian beer. I took my camera with me wherever I went, hoping to catch those everyday moments of ‘Gentenaars’ (what the inhabitants of the city are called). And that’s what my intentions were with the video above, a moving portrait of the city.
Ghent was my favourite stop amongst a 5-city self-guided tour of Belgium. I could easily have spent an additional 5 days in the city. If you’re planning a trip to the country you simply can’t pass up Ghent. Spend at least 2 nights in this city to really allow yourself to experience it.