There’s so much to see in Ghent…
The city boasts more than 1,000 years of history, the atmosphere of a student city and an extravaganza of artistic masterpieces. Keep an eye out for the Van Eyck brothers’ magnus opus, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, the unique architecture of De Krook and of course, the artisanal beer, Kwak, that you have to drink with your shoes off.
But where do you begin?
Let us be your guide. With just 48 hours in Ghent, you’ll see the treasures this proud city has to offer.
There’s no better place to start exploring the city than STAM. Also known as the Ghent City Museum, it uses multimedia exhibits to familiarise you with the history of the city.
The SMAK, the City Museum for Contemporary Art, focuses on Belgian and international works that rocked the artistic world. You’ll see an abundance of temporary exhibitions.
After SMAK and STAM, pay a visit to MSK to explore a very different artistic direction. This museum is dedicated to local fine art, particularly those hailing from Flanders and the surrounding regions.
After your visits, Saint Bavo’s Cathedral is a must. It’s home to the Van Eyck brothers’ masterpiece, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. This truly unique work is also known as the Ghent Altarpiece and is one of the world’s greatest artistic treasures. Of course, The Mystic Lamb isn’t the only reason to visit Saint Bavo’s Cathedral. The Gothic architecture is fascinating.
Anyone with a sweet tooth will have to keep an eye out for cuberdons. It’s a type of candy inextricably linked to the region available at the small stalls you see dotted about. Yum!
Next relax with a few good books. You’ll find plenty of bookshops around Ghent that are well worth a look. There’s nowhere better to settle down and read your purchases than the Boekentoren. Part of the University of Ghent, the architectural monument is home to three million books.
On the other hand, De Krook, a marvel of modern architecture, looks nothing like what you would expect a traditional public library to look like. But then again, it offers a lot more than a traditional public library: reading groups, philosophical debates, concerts and exhibitions.
Ghent is an artistic city. Ghent is recognised by c as a ‘City of Music’. With a massive variety of concerts, you’ll be able to treat your ears to anything from opera to jazz. If your visit coincides with the ten-day-long Ghent Festival held every summer, you’ll have your pick of diverse musical concerts and street entertainment to enjoy. Of course, there’s nightlife in the centre of the city at any time of the year.
For your second day, visit The Castle of the Counts. Gravensteen is a point of pride for the residents of Ghent. It served as the seat of the several counts. The castle was a courthouse and last, but not least, a prison. Exhibits in the castle reflect this spotted history. You’ll see everything from armour worn by knights, to weapons and of course, a torture chamber. There’s also a nice view of the city from the ramparts.
Are you hungry?
Our recommendation is the Gentse waterzooi. This stew typically contains a variety of vegetables with either fish or chicken. We should also mention that Thursday is ‘Vege Day’ in Ghent, when almost the whole city eats meat-free dishes. You might wonder how this is possible. Well, there are some utterly incredible vegetarian dishes on the menu wherever you go. Greenway and Tasty World are among the most highly revered vegetarian restaurants.
After your meal go to De Dulle Griet. It’s a must for any beer-lover and an exceptional experience for everyone! The Kwak beer is served in a traditional coach glass that doesn’t stand up on its own. You’ll need to hand in your shoe as insurance for the glass. Quite an exceptional experience!
With evening approaching, it’s time to head to the Vooruit. This iconic complex is renowned for hosting an incredible variety of artistic exhibitions and shows; it’s certainly worth having a look to see what’s on. If nothing grabs your fancy, you’ll still enjoy the wonderful, friendly and relaxed atmosphere at the Vooruit Café.