Ghent travel guide

Ghent is a beautiful city located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It’s the third-largest city in Belgium and has a rich history and culture. Ghent is also known for its beautiful canals, medieval architecture, and stunning art museums.

The city started as a settlement next to the river Scheldt and Leie. In the late middle ages it had become one of the largest flourishing cities and richest cities in northern Europe. Therefore the city is packed with history, art and culture.

Flights to Belgium

Trains to Belgium

Ferries to Belgium

A brief history

Ghent, located at the confluence of the Leie and Scheldt rivers, owes its existence to the low and water-rich landscape of Flanders. The region has been inhabited since the Stone Age, as evidenced by archaeological finds. During the Middle Ages, Ghent became home to two major abbeys, around which the city continued to grow. It also became the commercial center of the region.

From 1000 to around 1550, Ghent was one of the most important cities in Europe, surpassing even Cologne, the largest city in the Holy Roman Empire, and was the third largest city in Northwestern Europe after Paris and London. For several centuries, Ghent was the largest city in the Netherlands and was powerful, well-organized in its rich trade guilds, and virtually independent until 1584. The city’s history is closely linked to the textile industry, which played a significant role in its development.

Discover Ghent

Traveling on a tight budget or not, sightseeing and exploring the historical city center is probably the best way to spend your time in Ghent.  

Don’t want to explore the city alone? No problem, you can always join a free daily walking tour. More information:

Top 5 Tourist Attractions in Ghent

  1. Gravensteen castle: This medieval castle, also known as the Castle of the Counts, is a must-see attraction in Ghent. Built in the 12th century, it offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history and houses a museum with exhibits on the castle’s history.
  2. Belfry: The Belfry of Ghent is a medieval tower that offers stunning views of the city from its top. Visitors can climb the tower’s 300 steps to reach the top and enjoy panoramic views of Ghent.
  3. Saint Bavo’s Cathedral: This stunning cathedral is home to several masterpieces of art, including the world-famous Ghent Altarpiece. It’s also the final resting place of Saint Bavo, the patron saint of Ghent.
  4. Saint Nicholas’ Church: This beautiful church is located in the heart of the city and is a great example of Gothic architecture. It’s known for its intricate stained glass windows and ornate altar.
  5. Graslei and Korenlei: These two picturesque areas of Ghent are located along the river and are home to some of the city’s most iconic buildings. Visitors can stroll along the river and admire the stunning architecture while enjoying a drink or a bite to eat at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the area.

Best things to do in Ghent

  1. Discover the city centre: Walking around the city centre is definitely your best way to spend your time in Ghent. There are daily free walking tours, or you could book a guided tour.
  2. Canal boat tour: A canal boat tour is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. Visitors can take a guided tour along the canals and learn about the city’s history and architecture while enjoying the views.
  3. Local markets: Ghent is home to several local markets that offer a wide range of goods, from fresh produce to handmade crafts. The Friday Market and the Sunday Morning Market are two of the most popular markets in the city.
  4. Parks and gardens: Ghent is home to several beautiful parks and gardens that are perfect for a relaxing stroll or a picnic. The Citadel Park and the Botanical Garden are two of the most popular green spaces in the city.
  5. Cultural events: Ghent is a city that loves its cultural events, with several festivals and events taking place throughout the year. The Ghent Festival in July and the Winterfest in December are two of the most popular events in the city.

Musea in Ghent:

  • S.M.A.K Museum for contemporary Arts
  • M.S.K: Museum for Fine-Arts
  • S.T.A.M Ghent City Museum
  • Design Museum Gent

Guided Tours

Ghent Citycard

Are you planning to stay in Ghent for 48h or more? Then you definitely should pick up the Gent Citycard. Not only does this card offer you free public transport, it also gives you access to al the top attractions in Ghent.

The Ghent citycard is available for 48h or 72 hours. The 48h citycard costs 38€ whilst the 72h citycard costs 44€.

  • free public transport in Ghent
  • 1 day free bike rental in Ghent
  • 1 day access to the Ghent hop-on/hop-off water tram
  • access to all top attractions in Ghent
  • includes a guided boat tour in the canals of Ghent

You can buy the Ghent citycard at the Tourist information desk, all participating museums and attractions in Ghent, at De Lijn salespoints and in several hotels in Ghent. For more information, check the official website:

Ghent tourist map

The map below features most of Ghents popular things to see and do. You can save it to your google maps account for later use on your smartphone.

Travel to Ghent

Getting to Ghent is easy, whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or car. Brussels Airport is the closest international airport, and there are frequent train services from Brussels to Ghent. If you’re traveling by car, Ghent is easily accessible from the E40 and E17 motorways.

Are you traveling from Brussels to Bruges? Then Ghent is located in the middle of your route! Both Brussels and Antwerp are only 60km away from Ghent. Bruges is another 50km ahead. It’s the perfect stop on your trip through Flanders.

Trains to Ghent

There are trains to Ghent running from all nearby major Belgian cities. Brussels is only 40 minutes away, Antwerpen about 50 minutes.
From Ghent, the train ride to Bruges takes only 25 minutes.

For more information about the trains in Belgium, check the Belgian Public Transport guide:

Visit Ghent by Car

If you plan on visiting Ghent by car, please keep in mind that motorized vehicles are banned in a large part of the city. In addition there is also a LEZ (Low Emission Zone) in place, preventing access of older, unregistered combustion engine cars. Therefore it is best to park your car at one of the many Park & Rides on the outskirts of the city and use the free shuttle busses from there.

Car travelers who wish to spend the night in Ghent should always inform about the traffic restrictions, LEZ-Zone and parking possibilities of their accommodation.

Getting around in Ghent

The historic city centre of Ghent can be easily explored on foot and is very pedestrian friendly. Locals also love to use the bike for getting around. The city has excellent cycling infrastructure with nearly 400km’s of designated cycling paths. Throughout the city there are several companies who offer rental bikes.

When arriving at the Ghent railway station, you can use the local public transport to reach your accommodation, which will cost you max. 3€. Alternatively you can also take a much more expensive taxi or Uber to reach your destination.

Public transport in Ghent

The busses and tram lines in Ghent are operated by De Lijn.  Single Tickets cost 3€ and are valid for 60 minutes. Within this time period you can change lines unlimited. After the 60 minutes you can continue your ride towards your destination. If you need to change lines again, you need to buy a new ticket.

Where to stay in Ghent

Ghent has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and tastes. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels, there is something for everyone. For a truly unique experience, consider staying in one of Ghent’s many historic buildings that have been converted into boutique hotels.

Ghent’s Food and Drink Scene

Ghent is known for its delicious food and drink, and there are many local specialties to try during your visit. Must-try dishes include stoverij, a hearty beef stew, and waterzooi, a creamy soup made with chicken or fish. Belgian chocolate is also a must-try, as Ghent has some of the best chocolatiers in the country. When it comes to dining out, there are many great restaurants and bars to choose from in Ghent, including the Michelin-starred Restaurant Horseele

Local specialties

Ghent has a variety of local specialties that are a must-try for any foodie. Some of the most famous local dishes include Waterzooi, a creamy soup made with chicken or fish, and Gentse Stoverij, a hearty beef stew made with beer and served with French fries. Other local delicacies include “Neuzekes” or “cuberdons”, a cone-shaped candy with a raspberry taste. Don’t miss the chance to sample these delicious specialties during your visit to Ghent.

Ghent Nightlife

Ghent is not only famous for its historical attractions, but also for its vibrant nightlife. From cozy bars to lively clubs, the city has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to have a few drinks with friends or dance the night away, Ghent has a great nightlife scene to explore.

Bars and Pubs in Ghent

If you’re looking for a relaxed night out, Ghent’s bars and pubs are the perfect option. There are many cozy and charming venues scattered throughout the city, where you can enjoy a wide variety of local and international beers, cocktails, and snacks. Some of the most popular bars and pubs in Ghent include the Dulle Griet, the Trollekelder, and the Dreupelkot.

Clubs and Music Venues in Ghent

For those who want to dance until the early hours of the morning, Ghent has plenty of clubs and music venues to choose from. From techno to indie, there is a variety of music genres to suit everyone’s taste. Some of the most popular clubs and music venues in Ghent include Kompass Klub, Charlatan, and Decadance.

Practical tips for visiting Ghent

  • Language: The official language spoken in Ghent is Dutch, but English and French are also widely spoken.
  • Currency: The currency in Ghent is the Euro.
  • Safety tips: Ghent is generally a safe city, but it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and take basic safety precautions.


Ghent is a city that is rich in history, culture, and culinary delights. Whether you’re interested in exploring medieval castles and cathedrals or indulging in delicious Belgian chocolates and waffles, there is something for everyone in this charming city. With this guide, you’ll be able to make the most of your visit to Ghent and create memories that will last a lifetime.