Ghent is literally a thirty-minute train ride away from Brussels. Some people choose this destination as a day trip but my suggestion would be to spend a few days here or even bypass Brussels altogether and head straight to Ghent- Sint-Pieters Station.
Upon arriving in Ghent you can already feel and see the differences from being in Brussels. Ghent’s atmosphere is so beautifully calm; you can feel yourself letting your guard down. The people look and sound different here in comparison to Brussels. They dress differently, dine differently and definitely carry around far more shopping bags filled to the brim with beautiful new purchases. The people here seem far more relaxed in terms of safety and I didn’t see a single police officer around.
NB: At the time of writing, Ghent was having new tram lines put in and a lot of buildings were going through restoration but this didn’t make it any less beautiful.
The city is pretty easy to navigate as there are so many distinct old buildings, cathedrals and castles, it’s pretty easy to get your bearings. In my opinion the best view of the city has to be from Saint Michael’s Bridge (Sint-Michielsbrug).
Just like my post about Brussels, I don’t have any major suggestions of places you should visit as you’ll be able to decide that for yourself whilst walking around, (I'll list a few at the end just in case you get stuck) but I did stumble upon a fantastic little antiques store on Drabstraat (just near the bridge) which was incredible. The lady there even allowed me to get some footage of her store. Just beautiful!
In general Ghent is a child and family friendly city in the day time where you will feel relaxed whilst perusing the city and shopping to your hearts content. In the evening it becomes the University students’ playground so I’m told, and why not?! Just be aware whilst walking around as there are so many people on bicycles that you’re forever crossing each other’s paths in awkward ways.
Things to do:
- Walk around the city centre
- Check out the fabulous clothes shops
- Grab a bite to eat at the many beautful cafes and restaurants
- Graslei and Korenlei for a historic walk
- St. Michael's Bridge
- A walk along the canal