I probably can’t go so far as to say that Ghent is a totally unknown destination. However, I think I can fairly say that the majority of tourists overlook Ghent on their way to Bruges.
This is a mistake.
Ghent is every bit as lovely as Bruges with its beautifully preserved medieval centre…
It’s 12th century stone castle…
It’s picture postcard canals…
It’s own Belfry…
and dozens of beautiful streets to explore.
Best of all, Ghent is not overrun with hordes of tourists.
Ghent is a quite a small city, and it is easy to explore on foot. We spent the day just wandering around and every corner we turned we were greeted by yet another fabulous view.
We ended the day having a beer by this canal:
It was just such a lovely way to spend a day. Walking round such a beautiful little city in the sunshine, sitting down and having a beer whilst people watching – it was utterly relaxing and blissful – real life seemed so far away.
What you need to know
Ghent is roughly halfway between Brussels and Bruges and is a 30 minute train ride from either. The trains from Brussels run twice per hour and a ticket will cost about £7.50 one way, or £15 return.
If like Jim & I you will be travelling around by train a lot, then it might be worth purchasing a rail pass. We purchased the 10 journey rail pass for €76.00 which gave us a total of 10 journeys between us on the rail network (i.e. 5 journeys each). We used ours to travel to Ghent, Ypres and Bruges, and we made good savings on the standard fares. You can purchase these from the ticket office in Brussels Gare du Midi. Look out for the orange coloured ticket office which is not well signposted and hidden between platforms.
Ghent train station is about 2km from the town centre. Turn left when you leave the train station and head towards tram 1 which will take you into the centrum. The fare is €1.30 – buy your ticket in the machine before you get on the tram for this fare; it is € 2 for a ticket from the driver. Remember to validate your ticket by placing it into the machine when you board.
Ghent is a beautiful little city and it is so easy to get to, so don’t miss out!