Ghent City Center
Though small in scale, the university city’s historical heart is a cultural heavyweight; highlights range from the Cloth Hall, Ghent Belfry, St. Bavo’s Cathedral, and St. Nicholas’ Church to the Stadhuis (City Hall), Gravensteen Castle, and the Korenmarkt. The Old Town is largely pedestrianized and therefore lends itself well to walking tours, which delve into the history of the city. Alternatively, explore by bike or indulge in Belgian beer and waffles on a tasting tour.
Ghent isn’t just a monument to the past, however; this buzzing metropolis is also a top destination for food lovers. Discover top restaurants in the bohemian Patershol district, or head to the Oude Beestenmarkt for the best bars and clubs.
Things to know before you go
- Cars are largely banned from Ghent’s city center.
- Be sure to sample some of Ghent’s culinary delicacies, which include waterzooi (a cross between a soup and a stew), speculoos (biscuits), fries, croquettes, and balletjes (meatballs).
- As much of Ghent’s city center is cobbled, some areas may be difficult to explore in a wheelchair or with a stroller.
How to get there
Ghent’s main train station (Gent-Sint-Pieters) is located south of the city center; it’s a roughly 30-minute walk or 20-minute taxi trip towards the center. The area is also served by several trams, including the #1, #2, and #4. As much of the area is pedestrianized, it's not always possible to take a taxi directly to your intended destination.
When to get there
Ghent is best explored in the summer months, when the sun sparkles off its canals, or in the winter, when buildings are typically dusted with snow. To see the city at its liveliest, visit during the Ghent Festivities—a cultural festival held in late July. In December, the Ghent Christmas Market permeates the Old Town.
Shopping Destinations in Central Ghent
Medieval Ghent isn’t just a destination for sightseeing—its city center is also a top stop for shopaholics. Head to the area around Veldstraat, Korenmarkt, and Langemunt to discover a range of international brands and stylish boutiques. Other must-visits include De Post, a shopping center located in the former post office; Rond Sint-Jacobs, home to trendy interiors shops, galleries, and bars; and Vrijdagmarkt, which hosts a bustling market on Fridays and Saturdays.