There are tons of reasons, why Belgium is widely known as the “Essence of Europe” and the city of Ghent puts the country’s definition perfectly right on spot. Some of you may not know of this place’s existence. This marvelous city is a bit underrated mostly to tourists and overlooked by travelers. Yet, it outshines other famous holiday destinations on your typical summer calendar.
True Fact: When you Visit Ghent, you’ll be astonishingly surprised! No kidding!
As a matter of fact, three years ago, even I had no clue where this place was, and definitely had no clue what I was missing. Just to give you a little background about this glorious masterpiece of a city, Ghent is a city in Flanders in the northern part of Belgium. As much as I would hate to see it as one of the most underrated travel destinations in Europe, it’s geography doesn’t really help much either – having it’s neighboring cities Brussels, as the largest city of Belgium and the administrative center of the EU, and Bruges as the crowning glory of belgian tourism.
Nevertheless, these very little undermining facts about the city’s geography and it’s unpopularity among masses still couldn’t stop Ghent from capturing your heart and having you fall involve with it at first glance.
Here are 10 Reasons why you should visit Ghent.
1. Breathtaking Architecture. Ghent is probably one of the most beautiful cities I have visited in my life. The city is surrounded by architectural masterpieces everywhere. I could walk in it’s streets all day in awe.
2. A Mixture of Modern and Classical atmosphere. Despite it’s historical heritage which you can see everywhere in the city, Ghent is surprisingly very trendy. Somehow, the city’s alternative setting can easily be recognized. A definite eye-catcher not only for hipsters but also for the active youth.
3. It’s not Touristy. Nope! It’s definitely not. All the more reason to visit the city; No crowded restaurants, no one shoving their elbows at you in the tram, no random photo bombers that would ruin your pictures! ha! 😉
4. Castle of the Counts (Gravensteen). You ‘ll easily notice this castle because of its location in the middle of the city. Don’t be fooled by the exquisite architecture outside though, as inside this marvelous big chunk of rock lies a torture museum, which is not a friendly sight for the younger crowd.
5. The Art Scene is Overwhelming. The city is not only trendy, it’s also very artsy! Freestyle string music, street poetry, contemporary theater and a lot more!
Yep, these are flemish students alright and they’re in the mood for some country music! Yee-haw!
6. Graffiti at Werregarenstraat & Tweebruggenstraat. These are little alley ways in Ghent that are entirely covered in graffiti.
7. Ghent is easy to get around and very straightforward. Their public transportation is the tram, although most people have their own bikes to get around the city. However, in my opinion the best way to go about Ghent is through walking. The city is pretty much very straightforward that it’s hard for you to get lost. Also, who doesn’t enjoy walking and marveling the scenery around you at the same time?
8. “Veggiedag” or Vegetarian Thursday. This is perhaps the most unique insight I have found out during my visit. Ghent has its official veggie day! Every Thursday schools, public service offices, and some restaurants serve vegetarian meals to children and adults of all ages. It’s the organic heaven for vegetarian travelers.
9. Interesting Authentic Shops & Restaurants. In almost all corners of the city, you’d at least find unique art shops lined up in an alley, an authentic musical instrument gallery, hand made craft and flower boutiques and a couple of fancy flemish restaurants . But one of my ever favorites are their antique shops which is quite a treat if you love vintage trinkets like I do!
1o. Belgian Beers. Yes, we’ve all had a taste of belgian beers before, but there’s just something about drinking it in one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium. I’d suggest you try their seasonal beers which they serve very rare in random occasions.
How to get there?
From Amsterdam Central Station, we took the early train going to Brussels . The trip was around 3-4 hours maximum (€ 40 each/ adult). From Brussels, we took the bus going to Ghent which is around 1-2 hours (€ 10 each/ adult) as there might be a 15 minutes stop in Antwerp. Rates can vary depending on which express bus or train you take.
**Edit: An easier way to get to the city from Amsterdam is by train (one way),then from Brussels to Ghent’s St. Pieters station (40 minutes). Thanks Johan Coppens!
Make sure, to book your tickets online at least a day before your departure so you can avail their discount
Have you ever been to Ghent? Have you ever been to Belgium? If yes, what was your favorite experience during your visit? Let me know on your comments below.
Photo Credit: Benjamen Colegado (Jamcole Photography)