10 Things to do in Ghent, Belgium (with hidden gems)

What are 10 things to do in Ghent, Belgium?

If you’re planning a trip to Belgium, Ghent should be on your list of must-visit cities. This charming city offers a delightful mix of medieval architecture, vibrant culture, and mouth-watering cuisine. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or just someone looking to enjoy some Belgian waffles, Ghent has something for you. So let’s get into this list of 10 things to do in Ghent, Belgium!

Hi! I’m Anya, founder of the travel blog Stop Going to Paris which focuses on underrated cities in Europe. I’m a passionate traveler but above all, a passionate adventurer always looking for the hidden gems that deserve more love.

After 10 years and 70+ destinations, I can help you plan your European trip: book a call with me. It includes a full itinerary with unique destinations, transportation, accommodation and activities.

Fun fact, I live in… drumroll… Paris! That’s why the name of the blog is funny.

Stroll through Gravensteen Castle

First up is the iconic Gravensteen Castle. This medieval fortress looks like it popped right out of a fairy tale, complete with towers, a moat, and even a torture chamber! Don’t miss the view from the top – it’s worth the climb.

Things to do in Ghent, Belgium
Photo by Daniela Paola Alchapar on Unsplash

Admire St. Bavo’s Cathedral

Next, head over to St. Bavo’s Cathedral. This stunning piece of Gothic architecture is home to the famous Ghent Altarpiece. The cathedral’s interior is just as impressive as its exterior, with intricate stained glass windows, beautiful artwork, and marvelous craftsmanship seen in the detailed sculptures. It’s truly a stunning masterpiece of Gothic architecture as we all love them.

Pro tip: the altarpiece has a cool hidden panel that reveals more art when opened.

Photo by Dim Hou on Unsplash

Wander around Patershol

Patershol is a picturesque neighborhood with narrow, winding streets that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. It’s packed with cozy cafes, quirky shops, and some of the best restaurants in Ghent. Take your time exploring – you never know what hidden gem you’ll find around the next corner. Speaking of hidden gems, I found the best chocolate shop here and may or may not have eaten an entire box of pralines in one sitting!

Jorge Franganillo, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Ghent Altarpiece

Speaking of the Ghent Altarpiece, it deserves its own spot on the list. Also known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, created by the Van Eyck brothers, this masterpiece is considered one of the most important works of art in the world. It’s like the Mona Lisa of Ghent, with art lovers drawn there from all over the globe. Don’t miss it!

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb

Take a boat tour

Seeing Ghent from the water gives you a whole new perspective. Boat tours are a relaxing way to take in the sights and learn a bit of history from the local guides. Plus, there’s something undeniably charming about gliding down the canals. And who doesn’t love a good boat tour?

Discover the Graslei and Korenlei

These two streets along the Leie River are some of the most beautiful spots in Ghent. Lined with historic buildings, they’re perfect for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing drink by the water. Grab a seat at one of the outdoor cafes and watch the world go by. Trust me, it’s a prime spot for some interesting sights!

Enjoy Ghent’s street art

Ghent has a vibrant street art scene that’s worth exploring. Take a walk down Werregarenstraat, also known as Graffiti Street, to see some amazing murals. The art is constantly changing, so there’s always something new to see. I tried to take a cool “graffiti artist” photo here but ended up with paint on my shirt – still worth it for the ‘gram!

Wernervc, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the museums

Ghent is home to several fantastic museums. The Museum of Fine Arts and the STAM city museum are top picks. Each museum offers a unique glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture. Even if you’re not a big museum-goer, these are definitely worth a visit. Last time I was here, I learned more about Ghent’s history than I did in any history class – and I actually enjoyed it!

Romaine, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Great Butchers’ Hall & food places

Foodies, this one’s for you. The Great Butchers’ Hall is a foodie paradise with local delicacies, including Ganda ham and Belgian cheeses. It’s a great place to pick up some tasty souvenirs or just indulge in some delicious snacks. I bought a wheel of cheese here and had to carry it around all day – totally worth it!

You should also try this famous cart in the city center selling Cuberdon, a delicious local specialty. It’s just next to Tierenteyn-Verlent, Ghent’s oldest grocery store which has been open since 1790. I got there the most incredible mustard that I use all the time now!

FlippyFlink, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Savor Belgian waffles

No trip to Belgium is complete without trying a Belgian waffle, and Ghent has some of the best. Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and loaded with toppings – what’s not to love? Find a local waffle stand and treat yourself. Just be prepared to get a little messy with the whipped cream!

Summary of the Things to Do in Ghent, Belgium

Here’s a quick recap of all the things you can do in Ghent, Belgium:

  • Visit Gravensteen Castle
  • See the adoration of the Mystic Lamb, a.k.a the Ghent Altarpiece
  • Take a boar tour
  • Wander around in Graslei and Korenlei
  • Admire all the street art
  • Explore the museums of Ghent
  • Enjoy the food in Great Butchers’ Hall and the city center
  • Eat tons of Belgian waffles

Final thoughts

Ghent is a city that has history, culture, art, food, and nightlife. It’s fantastic to be able to explore a medieval castle, admire world-famous art, and enjoy a waffle by the canal, all in one day. It was one of my favorite day trips that I ever had when I was a student in Lille. Highly recommend!


What is the best time to visit Ghent?

The best time to visit Ghent is during the spring (April to June) or fall (September to November) when the weather is mild and the city is less crowded.

How do I get around Ghent?

Ghent is very walkable, and you can also use bikes, trams, and buses to get around. The city’s public transportation system is efficient and easy to navigate.

Are there any free attractions in Ghent?

Yes, there are several free attractions, including the historic Graslei and Korenlei, the street art in Graffiti Street, and the beautiful churches.

Can I visit Ghent in a day?

While you can see the highlights of Ghent in a day, I recommend spending at least two days to fully experience everything the city has to offer.

What local dishes should I try in Ghent?

Be sure to try local specialties like Ganda ham, Waterzooi (a creamy stew), Cuberdon, and of course, Belgian waffles and chocolates.

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