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Daytrips From Brussels - Visiting Ghent: An Undiscovered Medieval Town Just A Stone's Throw From Brussels

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent is severely under-rated as a tourist spot. With it’s quaint town centre comprising narrow canals, cobbled traffic-free streets and a fine castle and cathedral it’s a very alluring place to plan a day-trip to. It’s also just a half hour train ride from Brussels.

Here are the must-see sights in Ghent if you happen to come for a short stay:

  • The fabric of Ghent's town centre was built in the 13th and 14th century. Like Brussels It’s easy to navigate through Ghent thanks to a comprehensive and well run public transport system. Your first port of call should be to the impressive Stadhius (the largest town hall in Belgium) which dates back to the early 15th century. Close by, the Belfort was built in the 14th century and offers striking vistas over the city.

  • It took approximately six hundred years to complete St Baafskathedraal – Ghent's most extensive and oldest Cathedral, and some parts of this gothic masterpiece stretch back to the twelfth century.

  • Ghent has some stunning listed buildings (many of which are a thousand years old) and you can see many of them in and around the area that runs from St Michielsbrug to St Baafskathedral.

  • Gravensteen Castle was constructed in the eleventh century and it’s one of the most renowned landmarks of Ghent. Close by are the Museum voor Sierkunst en Vormgeving (with various displays depicting Ghent life over the past couple of centuries)  and the Vishmarkt (fish market). There are alternative museums to visit – the Museum voor Schone Kunsten has a large display of art dating back to the 14th century while the Bijlolemuseum is located in a building that was first constructed in the 13th century.

  • Pop in to Vrijdagmarkt, a pleasant market and restaurant area peppered with market stalls and quaint cafes/bars.

  • Stroll along the river Leie for one of the most pleasant walks available anywhere in Belgium.

  • Ghent has a large selection of restaurants, cafes and bars and they range from pokey student type affairs to more elegant and expensive offerings. The south of the city is known for its student population so you’re more likely to find a youthful crowd here. There’s a reasonably wide selection of choices throughout the city – from traditional Belgian fare to Thai, Italian and Asian.

Staying the Night

If you’re planning on staying the night you should be able to find a room that meets your requirements. Accommodation is typically fairly easy to secure (except for July when the town hosts Gentse Feesten). It’s possible to secure a basic room from as little as 25 euros – or if you’re able to afford something more extravagant you could kip in style for 400 euros.


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