Tourist attractions Ghent
One of the oldest cities in Belgium, Ghent has a distinctively youthful, anything-goes attitude, thanks to its large student population. The capital of the East Flanders region, a trip to Ghent is the chance to encounter a city that seamlessly combines a quirky, creative atmosphere with centuries of history. With its gabled canal-side buildings, Gothic castles and fairytale church spires, Ghent appears like something from a storybook, but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find a cutting-edge arts scene, a plethora of seriously cool bars and an innovative dining scene. An artists paradise, a foodie hub and a treasure of the Old World travel to Ghent is a delight, no matter your interests.
The city centre is car-free, so you can peruse the inviting shopping streets and admire the architecture of the old town at your leisure. A stroll along the canal side is the best way to soak up the charms of the city, once the largest and richest urban centre in Northern Europe during the Late Middle Ages.
One of the best times to visit Ghent is during the annual Ghent Festival, held every year in July. One of the largest cultural festivals in Europe, you can expect free music concerts and lots of cheerful revelries.
Getting around the city centre is simple, as many of the main sights are within striking distance of each other. On the other hand, cyclists will be pleasantly surprised by the immense network of cycling lanes or, alternatively, the tram system is another way to zip between Ghent’s major landmarks.
Things to see in Ghent
Simply strolling through the old town will bring you face-to-face with some of the most enchanting architecture and sights in Ghent. To discover more of the city’s history, one of the best things to see in Ghent is the 12th-century Gravensteen Castle, a stone construction, complete with fairytale turrets and a moat. A major landmark, inside the fortified walls you’ll find relics from yesteryear, including suits of armour. Over the centuries the castle has served as a court, a prison, a mint and even a cotton factory, before recently undergoing careful renovation to become a museum.
Located on the right bank of the Leie River, Graslei is one of the best places to visit in Ghent. This historic quay is the quintessential image of the city and is famed for its charming period architecture. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Ghent, there are plenty of riverside cafes and restaurants where you can while away the afternoon people watching.
Visiting Saint Bravo Cathedral is one of the best things to do in Ghent. This 16th-century Gothic Cathedral is home to one of the most important artistic treasures in Ghent: The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb Altarpiece. This complex masterpiece, created by the famous Van Eyck brothers, is composed of 20 panels and is considered one of the most important religious paintings on earth.
To continue your journey through Flemish Art, be sure to visit Ghent’s Museum of Fine Arts, home to more than 6,000 works of art. With a focus on Flemish artists, here you can discover masterpieces by Hieronymous Bosch, Rubens and Van Dyck, among others.
Finally, a tour of Ghent would be incomplete without visiting the beautiful Belfry of Ghent. At 91-metres tall, it is the tallest belfry in the city. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it looks particularly spectacular at night, when the tower is illuminated. Climb the 350 steps to the top for fabulous views of the city.
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