My introduction to Belgium was in my typical fashion, a lack of research into where the bus exactly stopped meant I had absolutely no idea where I was in Ghent. Usually this is no problem and I can easily figure out how to get to my hostel by either just walking or catching a local bus but in this instance I was surely the outskirts of town by the look of things.
After deciding the quickest and safest way out of this was admitting defeat and finding the nearest hotel and calling a taxi from there I ended up at my Hostel KaBa which besides the receptionist was all but deserted in the afternoon. A 20 minute walk later I was greeted by a pleasantly quaint town centre.
Ghent isn’t too large a city but there is enough to keep you occupied for a good couple days. These are my top favourites of things to do there.
If I thought I loved fries before, Ghent proved otherwise. With over 20 types of sauces to accompany your delicious potatoes the Belgians win hands down in this category of food. If you love spicy food the ‘samurai’ chilli mayo sauce will change your life. I personally enjoyed the fry shops opposite St. Jacobskerk and Sint-Annakerk churches.
Wandering along past the scenic canals I happened upon a castle called Gravensteen. I did go inside and had a look around but I probably wouldn’t say its a necessity to see from the interior although it was built in 1180 which is pretty impressive. There was an included self video guide about its history and there were a few displays of knights armours, ancient torture methods and the usual suspects of a middle ages attraction. You do get a nice view of the city from atop the castle though!
Independent movie cinema
Sometimes you just need a break from the long days of sightseeing and walking and I really felt I needed this especially since I had just come from a hectic few days in Amsterdam. One of the perfect ways to do this for me is simply seeing a movie. Luckily Studio Skoop was basically across the road from my hostel and plays a few English films of the indie persuasion although pretty mainstream. The night I went was a toss up between The Grand Budapest Hotel and Magic in the Moonlight. It’s a really charming little cinema.
For a town as scenic as Ghent the last thing you’d expect is hidden alleyways full of graffiti but in the heart of town that’s what you’ll find! Grab a copy of a local guide map like this Use It one to see where these are located.
Street art and canals
While walking through the city keep an eye out for some eccentric statues located around the place!
Even the post boxes are artistic
There’s also a number of small museums in the city so depending on your interests some of these could be worth a look into. I checked out the museum of everyday life called the House of Alijn for about an hour. It wasn’t large or anything but it was nice to see some objects from era’s past. There was also a cool section with home videos from local Belgians getting married to showing kids how to walk for the first time.
Otherwise the main area is full of wonderful restaurants, there’s a decent shopping street and there’s plenty of space to sit alongside a canal and just watch the world go by while admiring the beautiful buildings in this city.
Never knew Aussies were known for ice cream!