30 Photos of Ghent That Will Make You Fall in Love With the City

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Ghent (Gent), a port city located northwest of Belgium, now a university city and cultural hub, was a prominent city during medieval times. The city has a cozy center that will take you back in time. Although this is not as popular as Bruges, it has its own beauty making it a wonderful place to visit.

A day trip would be sufficient to see most of Ghent. But staying the night close to St Michael’s Bridge and taking a walk on the cobblestone roads along the river Leie is one of the most romantic things to do.

It is also an insanely picturesque city with less crowd than most touristy places, especially in the early mornings. You could have the whole place to yourself. Literally, you will be among a few folks who are out.

What Was Our Plan in Ghent?

This was one of my first European trips, and I didn’t have a plan; we just wanted to explore something nearby and didn’t need much research or planning. So we just booked a stay in a hostel which offered an amazing view of the St Michael’s Bridge and went on exploring the place by foot with no idea of what the place has to offer. 

Looking back, I realized that we had missed a lot of places that we could have seen in Ghent but nevertheless, what we saw was absolutely stunning. I could have even dressed up in those medieval gowns and hats with veils, and I still would not have looked out of place (except when other people were passing by). But honestly, it is an excellent idea for a photoshoot. (But not for me!)

This would not be the best way to explore or make the best use of your time if you would later regret not seeing all the things you could have seen and done during your visit.

But here comes a major BUT. Not every trip needs to be well-researched with an itinerary of its own. Once in a while, it’s an experience to let your feet decide where you are going that day and still have an amazing time. Not every place lets you enjoy exploring this way, but Ghent is one such place where you let your spirit wander and find its path.

Hence, unlike the usual posts with all the best things to do, this is gonna be a walk through my Ghent travel with loads of pictures.

Well, that was quite a long introduction but let’s start now. Shall we?

Yay! Finally the Trip Starts

We started our trip to Ghent from Antwerp quite early in the morning. Hmm, I guess it is not so early for the rest of the world, just only for us (around 9ish). This was our first time in Antwerp, and I am a little crazy about Railway Stations.

Sssh! I even have a bucket list of railway stations to visit. (Please let me know if you are one as well.)

So yeah, you could already picture me going ga ga about the beauty of the station and clicking a ton of pictures.

We boarded our train to Ghent from Antwerp in a while. The journey took close to an hour, and we arrived at Gent-Sint-Peters station. Another beautiful station, at least that’s what I heard until I got down to see a place filled with renovation work. It looked more like a complete reconstruction. It was quite disappointing, though. (Spoiler alert! I got to see the beautiful part of the station when I was leaving Ghent at another entrance that I didn’t use while getting down).

And we started walking towards our hostel, which we had booked close to the center of the old city. The town looked pretty new and modern for a while. But suddenly, there was a change of scenery after walking for around 1 km. We had reached the river Leie, and the rest of our walk was along the riverside. It was a very cloudy fall morning, with just the sun’s rays gleaming through the gaps in the clouds making its presence. We were walking, gawking at the boats that looked posh anchored in the river. Like cars, people have docked their boats casually in their backyard, which opened up to the river. (So cool, right?)

Usually, the walk should have taken only 30 minutes, but it took more than 45 minutes for us as we made so many stops to click pictures. We were just admiring the beauty in a couple of places without even taking our phones out.

Finally, we reached the hostel, which was right up on one end of the Saint Michael’s Bridge. It was our first experience in a hostel, so we were not sure what to expect, but this stay was very comfortable and pleasant. We will also stay here during our future visits because of the incredible view from the room.

Where to Stay in Ghent?

Highly recommend staying at the Hostel Uppelink in the room with a special view. I generally sleep through the entire night, especially after a lot of roaming. Still, I woke up multiple times over the night just to check the view of the medieval buildings and churches sparkling in the night lights. It was so magical to look at.

I just imagined it as if I was up in the Gryffindor Tower. (Pardon me for referring to Harry Potter every single chance I get. Any Potterheads here with me?)

Alternative Options

Budget

Mid-Range

Luxury

Want to explore more options? Please search in Booking.com here. We use Booking.com to book all our stays and have always had a good experience.

Let’s Resume the Ghent Experience

So, after dropping our bags off in the room, we set out to explore the city on foot. The best way to explore the cobblestone roads filled with Cathedrals and cute little buildings from medieval times is to take a self-guided walking tour.

The heavy clouds decided to pour as soon as we went out, so we couldn’t proceed with the walking tour. Instead, we started exploring our own route at our pace, which was also quite fun. (But we did miss a lot of things).

The Magnificent Gravensteen Castle (The Castle of Counts)

During our random walking exploration, we stumbled upon an entrance to a place that looked like a castle. It wasn’t very crowded due to the rain that had just stopped minutes before we spotted the castle door. We went in to buy our tickets to the place, not knowing that we were gonna have a fun time knowing about the castle’s history.

Yes, you read it right! I said fun, even though I am not so much into history. As we entered the castle, signs with headphone symbols and random numbers were everywhere. After a little looking around, we understood that we were supposed to collect the audio guide in a room inside the castle, put them on, and follow the numbers. That is how we explore the castle.

An Unexpected Audio Tour Guide

I was expecting some recorded voice to pour out some facts and dark history about the castle. (There is always some dark and sad story behind those mighty-looking castles). But this one completely took me by surprise. The audio tour is not any ordinary audio tour. It is a comedy audio tour which was something very new to me. 

Is it only me, or are such comedy audio tours very common? (If so, then I must try a few others.)

Yeah, back to this one now, so this comedy audio tour experience is part of the entrance ticket. It is basically the history of Gravensteen (Castle of the Counts, as they call it in English), narrated with a touch of humor by Wouter Deprez, one of Flanders’ well-known comedians.

Wouter gives you a tour of the castle with his witty style of humor. But how? Simple! You walk around the castle following the numbers, press the location number on your audio device, and press play. If you spot people laughing out loud before you have pressed the play button, don’t be bothered, you will also be doing that in a few minutes. Wouter is quite hilarious.

Here are some words from the man himself:

Witchcraft, tournaments, adultery, and hefty religious unrest: the Castle of the Counts brings together all my hobbies. It’s a hugely interesting adventure for me to show the way in this fantastic fortress.

Wouter Deprez

Good to know! If you are taking the audio tour experience, it will take around 1 to 2 hours, so please plan your day accordingly.

What About Tickets?

You can also buy your tickets online for a specific time and date and from the box office, but it could be crowded during peak hours.

Opening and Closing Times: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Price: €12 for an individual ticket but there are more offers on group visits. For more information about opening and closing times and ticket discounts, see the official website.

Interested in Seeing Panorama Views of the City?

The Stunning Belfry of Ghent

For amazing views, the Belfry is the place to be. Climb the stairs 256 steps, to be more precise, up the Flemish watchtower to enjoy the enchanting views of the vibrant city. Well, it also has an elevator which saves you from climbing all those stairs, but it is still only from the first level. (It wants you to put some effort from your end, though.) The 360-year-old music box, which is still functional, plays music from those 17600 holes in the copper drum.

There is also a dragon protecting the Belfry on the top. (Just kidding, but sure there is a dragon statue which is also the mascot of the city).

What About Tickets?

€8 for adults and reduced prices for children and youth.

The Impressive Cathedrals of Ghent

Saint Bavo’s Cathedral (Sint-Baafskathedraal) and Saint Nicholas’ Church (Sint-Niklaaskerk) are two massive cathedrals that look stunning right beside the Belfry of Ghent. It is a hot spot for tourists, and I can’t blame them. These structures are indeed stunning to look at.

Now the Most Obvious! The Saint Michael’s Bridge

The Saint Michael’s bridge (Sint-Michielsbrug) was built over a century ago, around 1913, and much hasn’t changed since then. It offers a wonderful view of the three structures: the Saint Bavo’s Cathedralthe Belfry of Ghent, and Saint Nicholas’ Church.

Photo Alert! This is one of the best places to click for your Instagram feed. Who doesn’t love a good picture?

And the Last One, for Now! Walking Along the Streets of Korenlei and Graslei

These streets run parallel to the river Leie below the Saint Michael’s bridge. Get down the stairs from the bridge and admire the views of the place by walking around the area. It was one of my favorite places.

After we visited the castle, we decided to return to the hostel to freshen up. The rain from earlier had just stopped, and the skies were clear.

Belgian Fries, Anyone?

We freshened up and set out to find one of the popular fries places mentioned in a city guide map that we found at the hostel. Belgium has excellent fries everywhere, but we wanted to try this one.

You may want to check out Frituur Tolpoort for the best fries in town (it looks like they won the local competition in 2020). It was quite a walk from St Michael’s bridge. Still, the route goes through some of the narrow adorable cobblestone alleys with colorful row houses on both sides, which makes up for nice photo spots.

Tip! Make sure to take the route via the PATERSHOL neighborhood, filled with protected monuments and touristy restaurants but has quite a medieval charm to its little streets.

And yeah, the fries from Frituur Tolpoort were terrific as they claim to be, and they had a lot of sauce options to enjoy with the fries.

Later after loading ourselves with way too many carbs, we decided to walk back to the hostel, thinking that it could help us burn some calories. But no! We would have to walk the entire day without stuffing our faces with more fries or waffles (which is absolutely impossible) to actually burn what we ate, which we did not do, of course. So we returned to the hostel and decided to hang out at their bar/kitchen/cafe, which had views facing St Michael’s bridge.

As we did that, it started raining again, and the sun had already gone down, so we decided to call it a day.

But we never stopped admiring the views from the room window the whole night.

The following day we woke up early to click some pictures before the crowd was there, and I am delighted we did that. And not just for the photos. It was also more peaceful. But the rain was still a hindrance. Overall, we had a great time visiting Ghent, and we will go back again to do a lot more stuff we missed the last time.

Are you tempted to visit Ghent? I visited the wonderful city in fall, so I have compiled the important things to pack for a fall season trip. Also, do visit the magical Bruges nearby. Read about some amazing and adorable things you can do in Bruges during the fall season.

Kiki from RooKiExplorers posing in a field of pink hyacinths in the Netherlands.
The Face Behind the Post

Hey, I am Kiki! A full-time software developer and hardcore travel enthusiast who is always up for a new adventure and the author of RooKiExplorers. I love to travel the world and enjoy talking about it, helping everyone around me plan their trips, and avoiding making the mistakes I made.

10 thoughts on “30 Photos of Ghent That Will Make You Fall in Love With the City”

  1. I did a quick stop in Ghent years ago and always wanted to go back and spend more time there. Thanks for this great post, I definitely want to do that castle audiotour now!

    Reply
  2. I must admit that we don’t even have Ghent on our travel radar. So it was great to get a visit of this interesting city through your post. I agree that sometimes you find some gems when you just wander in a new city. Some lovely sights. And I will definitely have to try a comedy audio tour one day!

    Reply
    • Glad that our post was helpful. 🙂

      Indeed, we love walking around new cities as it lets us take a step back and soak in the sights!

      Reply

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