Best things to do in Ghent

Best things to do in Ghent - Graslei at night
Graslei at night

There is so much to do in this compact Belgian city and thanks to the City card, it is incredibly cheap too! In my opinion these are 8 of the best things to do in Ghent in 48 hours…

1. Gravensteen Castle

Gravensteen Castle - one of the best things to do in Ghent

Gravensteen Castle is an imposing, moated castle in the heart of the city, dating back to 1180. Once, the former residence of the Counts of Flanders and later, home to courts, a prison, place of execution and a textile factory. On entering, headphones are provided for use as part of an individual audio tour,. There is no need to follow a group so roam at your own pace while being guided to places of interest. Use your imagination while listening to the comedic stories. You can look down medieval toilets, view torture areas and see where unwanted visitors had hot oil poured on them!

2. House of Alijn

House of Alijn
Old television and phone

Take a step back in time to this former hospice. The House of Alijn is split between 2 buildings around a courtyard. One building is home to the museum of daily life where you can view interesting exhibits such as old televisions, watches and computer games. The other contains an exhibition of Belgian military service.

3. Riverboat Cruise

Riverboat Cruise - one of the best things to do in Ghent
Riverboat cruise passing beautiful architecture

The City card includes a leisurely riverboat cruise along the city’s waterways. A knowledgeable guide points out areas of interest, teaching you a little of Ghent’s history as you sail. There are some wonderful photo opportunities so make sure to bring a camera!

4. The Belfry

Climb to the top of the Belfry - one of the best things to do in Ghent
Climb 91m to the top…

The dragon atop the Belfry is the symbol of Ghent and was placed here in the late 14th Century to watch over the city. Climb the medieval tower measuring 91m in height for far reaching views across the City. This is particularly enjoyable around sunset and if you’re lucky you will be standing near the bells as they chime.

5. St Bavo’s Cathedral

St Bavo's Cathedral

The gothic cathedral, St Bavo’s, dates back to the 10th Century. It has undergone extension works over several hundred years so incorporates many building styles. In the 16th Century it became a cathedral and is home to the famous ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by the Van Eyck brothers.

6. Shopping

Shopping in Ghent
Flea Market

Shopping in Ghent is diverse and a great solo activity! Some of the large public squares host markets such as Vrijdagmarkt, a Friday market, with Vendors selling food and clothing. Weekend mornings you can visit flea markets on Bij Sint-Jacobs for a range of bric-a-brac items. Veldstraat is the main shopping area with a large selection of shops including main High Street brands such as Zara and H&M.

7. Sample Typical Belgian Treats

Belgium is renowned for exquisite chocolate, nose shaped sweets, waffles and frites and are all well worth sampling!

8. Self-Guided Culinary Walking Tour

A 2.5km self-guided walking tour incorporating some of the best local produce stores is a great activity if you are solo in Ghent. The walk takes around an hour and there is plenty to sample along the way…

Self-guided walking tour, one of the best things to do in Ghent
Types of mustard from Tierenteyn-Verlent
  • Butcher’s Hall enjoy samples of regional favourites
  • Tierenteyn-Verlent A mustard shop dating back to 1867. Mustard is still made in the cellar
  • Bakery Himschoot – the oldest bakery in Ghent with over 60 types of bread
  • Mokabon – mmm …smell the coffee as you enter from all the beans on show! Serves delicious, smooth coffee and homemade biscuits
  • Sophie’s Sweets & Chocolates A delicious range of sweets and chocolates available to purchase
  • Chocolaterie Luc Van Hoorebeke The producer of famous Belgian pralines
  • Confiserie Temmerman – Old fashioned sweets for sale including the famous ‘little noses’ but in the shape of masks
  • Cafe Folklore An authentic folk cafe that serves heavily salted peas baked in oil ‘kroakemandels’ alongside beers on weekend evenings
  • Dreupelkot – Call in for a shot of local genever, a kind of gin! There are over 200 varieties to choose from.

Suggested Further Reading:

Hotels – Hotels in Ghent recommended for solo travel

Restaurants and places to eat in the local area

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