This last installment is pretty brief due to us not having long in Ghent but I still wanted to include it. If Brussels and Bruges both didn’t take your fancy or you couldn’t decide between the two then Ghent is your answer; it’s pretty much a happy medium of city and country.
Again we left from Brussels and took the train to Ghent which takes around half an hour (remember to take the express train). Straight away it feels much bigger than Bruges and is definitely more of a city vibe. The centre isn’t near the train station so you have to hop on a tram but it only takes fifteen minutes or so. Something very cool about Ghent is that the city council made the downtown area car free. That means that walking around all you have to look out for are trams and other pedestrians haha.
Of course hunger set in so we opted to grab some lunch at a restaurant along the canal. There are tons of fancy looking places with beanbags and sofa’s so take your pick. I’m not sure what it’s like in the winter but during the summer it’s definitely a hot spot to have a drink and people watch (which we totally did).
We went on a self guided walking tour of the city which can be found at the information centre. They have a bunch of different ones and are extremely helpful so you should make that your first stop! We started our tour by going to see St Michael’s Church which is conveniently on the other end of St Michael’s Bridge hah. It’s very pretty and from the outside (you’ll spot a pattern as you keep reading) looks like it has been extracted from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you’ve been to Universal Orlando and HP World then let me know what you think? The whole time we were walking around Ghent it just felt like we were on a film studio (especially the next photo coming up).
Doesn’t this photo below look just like a postcard from Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade? This is the view looking on the other side of the bridge at another church – St Nicholas (which is one of the oldest and prominent landmarks in Ghent). From this bridge you can see pretty much the whole medieval skyline of Ghent and is a the major photo op experience!
The tallest tower belongs to the Belfry and sitting atop it is a dragon that watches over the city. Rumour has it back in the day he would keep an eye on the inhabitants and look out for invaders or fires. I’m not sure if he’s still on the lookout or simply napping up there but a dragon on a building is still very cool… The Belfry is very pretty though and you are able to climb to the top if you so wish!
From there we wandered around the city some more whilst exploring the shops and stocking up on Belgian chocolates to take home. Ghent is a great place to do souvenir shopping as there are lots of specialist and unique stores but also the usual highstreet/chain ones so you get a nice balance of the two. Our last tourist stop was the Gravensteen which is a castle meaning ‘castle of the count’. Admittedly it isn’t the most inspiring or magical castle I’ve ever been in but considering it’s a two minute walk from the centre – it’s worth a visit. There are dungeons, weapons and tight, circular stairways which are fun but if you’re looking for a fairytale castle or something more mystical this might not be the stop for you. I don’t like being negative about experiences but this one I was really hyped up for but I guess I had high expectations.
From there we got the tram back to the train station to Brussels and then the Eurostar back to London (what a mouthful). As Ghent is so close to Brussels I think it’s worth a visit, especially to see some medieval architecture and get a ‘back in the day’ kind of feel. I know this post was pretty rushed and I digressed quite a lot haha but if you have any questions just let me know and I hope it helps! I’ll get better at ending these I promise!