Belgium, Europe, Travel
Comments 30

Discovering Ghent

Ghent is one of Belgium’s biggest cities, and probably one of the most beautiful ones. Even though it is far less famous than Brussels and Bruges, it is absolutely worth the visit as this small city is filled with cute streets and pretty buildings, its history is long and interesting, and its art scene rich.

Art and history

Ghent is located in the Flemish Region of Belgium, and, historically, it is one of the country’s oldest cities. It grew rapidly in the 12th century and rapidly became one of the largest towns of Northern Europe in the 13th century, thanks mainly to its cloth industry: it was part of Europe’s first industrialised zone and the luxury cloths and woollen items manufactured there were famous throughout Europe.

Today, it is not nearly as famous as it used to be, but the remnants of its wealth and history can still be seen in its buildings: from the 12th-century feudal castle of the counts of Flanders, to the 14th-century Belfry and Gothic cathedral of St Bavo, and the magnificent town hall with its Gothic and Renaissance facades, walking around Ghent almost feels like walking back in history.

All of these gorgeous buildings and rich history obviously go hand-in-hand with art, and Ghent has many great museums, from the Museum of Fine Arts, which showcases paintings of great Flemish masters, to the museum of Contemporary art and the Museum of Design.

Its main piece of art is, however, the Ghent Altarpiece, also called The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, displayed in St Bavo’s Cathedral. This 15th-century polyptych was painted by the van Eyck brothers and, on top of being the first great oil painting, also used to be the most famous painting in Europe, to the point that it was a point of pilgrimage for many artists and art lovers.

Walking around

When I went to Ghent, the weather was so nice that, after weeks of lockdown and dreary weather, we decided to just walk around, enjoy the warm-ish Belgian sun and a nice stroll in the streets, discovering the city by foot, through its beautiful buildings and along the main canal.

The centre of Ghent is one big pedestrian zone, so walking around was particularly nice and pleasant. We stopped in front of beautiful Flemish-style houses and gorgeous buildings and went through narrow cobbled streets and a graffiti-filled back alley.

We didn’t really feel like going inside a museum as this would have meant spending less time outside in the sun, but we did make an exception to see the famous “mystic lamb”. The altarpiece was indeed magnificent, and the cathedral had set up a short yet very informative video to explain its history a bit more.

Finally, when the sun came down, we grabbed a warm drink and waffle, then walked around the centre one last time to admire the city at night, with all its festive and Christmassy lights, before heading back to Brussels. I find that cities at night, especially around this time of year are particularly beautiful, and the medieval background of Ghent definitely made it more special!


Less than an hour away from Brussels, and on the way to Bruges, Ghent is a surprisingly beautiful city, with a cosy yet vibrant atmosphere and very interesting history. Many people I know prefer either Ghent or Bruges – most of them actually like Ghent a bit more. Personally, I have yet to make up my mind, as the day I spent in Bruges was extremely cold and the weather terrible, so it definitely affected my experience there.

Have you ever heard of Ghent or been there? Do you prefer Bruges or Ghent?

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Hey, I'm Juliette! I'm starting this blog to keep a record of and share my adventures. I love everything sweet, sunny days, fluffy kittens and people who smile. When I don't work I like to discover new places and try to learn languages. I hope you will find something that you like in here! ☼

30 Comments

  1. Originally, Ghent hadn’t been a stop I’d considered when making plans to visit Belgium, but I’m really glad that I did! The city is gorgeous in its austere architecture, and I had plenty of good Belgian fries (and Jenever) to boot! Thanks for sharing your adventures there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is really not that famous and I only visited it more than one year after I came to Belgium, but I’m very glad I did! I’m sure that it is usually nicer around Christmas (with Christmas markets), but I’m super happy I could experience it anyways 😊

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  2. I’ve not been to Belgium (yet). I’ve heard of Ghent though- the architecture is beautiful from your pictures here and looks like such a great city to walk around in. How many days would be needed here?

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    • It is indeed very romantic with all the bridges and canals! 😊 Thank you for reading! I hope you’ll be able to visit one day!

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    • I couldn’t agree more! Ghent is a bit of a hidden gem, and I can definitely see myself going back there for a change of scenery on a weekend or so 😊 Thanks for dropping by!

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    • Well, if you like architecture, you would love Ghent because it has such a diverse and unique architecture, thanks to its quite long history! Thank you for your comment 😊

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  3. I’m in love with Ghent. During our time in Belgium we had to choose between Bruges and Ghent and we ended up visiting Bruges. If I had to choose again, I would most likely go to Antwerp instead because they have one of the most beautiful train stations! I would love to go back to Belgium one day just so I can explore lesser known towns and villages. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. I hope you had a great Christmas, Juliette! Aiva 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also visited Bruges before Ghent, and I like them both even though they are quite different! I have yet to visit Antwerp but I was told that it is a very vibrant and modern city, so I’m really curious to see it! 😊 Hope you’ll get to explore Belgium more in the future, I know I also want to do it, especially now that international travel is so complicated!

      Thank you for your kind comment! I’ve had a great Christmas and I’m enjoying the holidays as much as possible before going back to my busy schedule and routine! Have a great day and holidays 😊

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  5. I’ve never heard of this place in particular but your photos and own experience make it sound absolutely fantastic, a wonderful detour for anyone nearby, especially! I’m glad you guys had a blast there and were able to make the most of it. Some of the pictures remind me so much of Amsterdam too hahaha Thanks for sharing, Juliette! 😀

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    • Thanks for your comment Lashaan! It does look a bit like Amsterdam, with the canals and cute buildings! I would say that coming from Canada to see Ghent is not worth it ahah, but the detour absolutely is if you find yourself near Brussels one day 😊

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    • Yes, they’re very similar, yet the vibe there is quite different! I’m sure you will love it though! Thanks for reading 😊

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  6. Lovely post, great photos and a nice walk down memory lane for me. I have been to Ghent 3-4 times as I have really good friends there. It’s been over nearly twenty years since may last visit, something I should definitely rectify at some point. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I’m sure many things will have changed now, but the city will probably be just as as beautiful! Hope you’ll get the chance to go back soon 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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