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Ghent, Belgium – A Unique Combination of History, Architecture, Art And Excellent Food

Ghent, Belgium – A Unique Combination of History, Architecture, Art And Excellent Food

Flanders is the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium and a region with incredible history, culture, and architecture. Antwerpen and Bruges are probably the most famous cities in the region, but if you truly want to feel the essence of Flanders, then Ghent is a place for you. One of the unique places in Europe, Ghent is quite a large city that combines cosmopolitan lifestyle with quieter and more easy-going atmosphere. Its medieval streets and mansions are perfect for commencing a search for a nice restaurant or a pub. Altogether, Ghent should be on top of your list for visiting when travelling to Belgium!

ghent guide

All About Ghent

Ghent is located in the middle of Belgium and it is one of the country’s most historic cities. It lies between Antwerpen, Bruges, and Brussels and has great connections to all of these cities. This is exactly what makes Ghent a perfect base for exploring entire Belgium. Ghent is most notable for its amazing past and especially for its architecture. But it is also a city of numerous amazing parks and generally beautiful nature.

Although Ghent does not have its own airport, it can still be easily reached via the airport in Brussels. What is more, Ghent has some of the best train connections in this part of Europe – a train trip from Brussels to Ghent will take you some 30 minutes. Roaming around the city will be easy if you use public transportation, especially buses or trams. Most of the locals usually walk particularly if you are in the city centre. Bikes are also quite popular and efficient and there are bike stands on every corner to make your life easier.

ghent transport

Long History

Ghent was formed in the early Middle Ages around two large abbeys. It reached its first peak in the 11th century, thus becoming a small city-state. In the 13th century, another Golden Age started and Ghent soon became the second largest city north of the Alps after Paris. Its expansion went even faster in following centuries, particularly due to highly developed cloth and textile industry.

But in the period between 14th and the 19th-century situation in Ghent was not that great anymore. Wars between various European countries, particularly those between England and France, had devastating effects on Ghent’s economy. The city itself was severely damaged more than once during this period.

However, everything changed after the Napoleonic Wars when city’s industry flourished once again and in this period a University was opened in Ghent. Despite being occupied during both World Wars, there was no huge destruction.

Today, Ghent is a thriving city and a place where tourists from all corners of the world enjoy spending their vacation.

history of ghent

What You Should Not Miss

Ghent is an awesome city for visitors since most of its attractions are concentrated in its centre. That is why most of them can be seen during a short walk down its magnificent paved medieval streets. Belfort en Lakenhalle or the Belfry is a medieval tower and a symbol of local autonomy. Plus, it is a great place for enjoying the amazing view of the Ghent’s skyline.

St. Bavo’s Cathedral is another Ghent’s landmark located near the Belfry. This amazing building is a true time machine with architectural elements from various periods, including Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque.
Het Gravensteen or the Castle of the Counts is an absolutely incredible place built in the century by a knight who returned from a Crusade. There is a small museum within the castle with interesting artefacts, including torture chambers and other exhibitions.

Also, there is a huge number of fabulous museums you can visit but one of the most interesting is the MIAT – Museum of industry, labour, and textile. Ghent was a huge industrial center and this place is dedicated to its industrial heritage, which tells some amazing stories about the city’s past. Museum of Fine Arts and Ghent City Museum are also worth visiting since they will provide you many interesting facts about the city and its way of living.

It is hard to even count all landmarks in Ghent but these are definitively the ones you must not miss. If you have more free time, you will find it easy to investigate some other places too. In the end, one can truly say that Ghent is simply amazing and definitively worth visiting.

a guide on ghent

Find a Perfect Place to Stay During Your Visit

In comparison to other Belgian cities, Ghent is a type of active and buzzing place that abounds with bars, bistros, great events and always interesting activities. That is why younger generations yearn to visit it at least over the weekend, and tourists all over the world come back to Ghent whenever possible. For that reason, the Belgian city offers a great variety of accommodation capacities suitable for all budgets. What is more, lodging options in Ghent meet all kinds of expectations and demands.

Hence, if you are visiting Ghent for the first time and still didn’t decide where to stay, we are here to help and assist you. Depending on your budget, you need to know that you can stay in a room in a hotel, hostel, B&B, or in a private apartment.

Hotels are, as usual, the most attractive and popular types of accommodation. They can provide you with a full and most luxurious service, royal-like treatment and moments you will never forget. This kind of lodging can be quite expensive if you opt for all-inclusive services. However, as you are already familiar, there are always mid-range hotels that still provide quite a good service for smaller amounts of money. Ghent abounds with both the types of hotels. So, if you want to stay exclusively in a luxurious hotel during your trip to Ghent, you may check Ghent Marriot Hotel, Sandton Grand Hotel Reylof, 1898 The Post and NH Gent Belfort. But should you like to choose a somewhat cheaper variant of a hotel in the Belgian city, try with Hotel Drongen, Astoria, Carlton Hotel, Hotel Gravensteen, and Holiday Inn Express Gent.

Nevertheless, there are always the free, enthusiastic and leisure tourists who cut the accommodation costs at the expense of seeing more tourist attractions and staying for a longer period of time in the desired destination. That’s why hostels and B&Bs are an ideal type of accommodation. They will surely provide you with a place to stay, a cozy room with a toilet, and in some cases with a tasty breakfast. In case you choose a hostel or a B&B while in Ghent, try booking those with better locations, nearer to all the attractions you would like to see. Several great options are Hostel 47, De Draecke Hostel, Treck Hostel as well as bed and breakfast solutions like B&B Door 10, Snooz Inn, and Design&Breakfast B&B.

For all those who would like their visit to Ghent to be more private-like, there are numerous options of renting private apartments. Especially today, when Airbnb and booking websites increase in the number of satisfied clients, you will surely not be an exception when finding a suitable apartment in Ghent.

hotels in ghent

Cuisine in Ghent – Enjoy Eating Traditional Meals

It is said that Belgian cuisine is very similar to the French cuisine, but still, some of the dishes are indeed traditional, unique and recognizable only in Belgium. So, if you are visiting Ghent, try to eat at least some of the best known Flemish dishes.

For instance, fish soup in Ghent is special because of the way of preparation. Here, it includes white wine, fish stock, onions, leek, tomatoes, saffron as well as numerous other herbs and spices.

One of the meals that are regarded a luxurious delicacy in Belgian cities is White Asparagus, prepared in a Flemish Style. In Ghent, it is served steamed and boiled together with hardboiled eggs, butter sauce and parsley. In some variants, white asparagus can be cooked and served with different kinds of meat, including ham, salmon, grey shrimp or sausages.

Flemish Carbonades is a typical Belgian dish, most popular among foreign tourists especially because one of its ingredients is beer. Flemish Carbonades is usually described as beer braized beef stew. The main ingredients for the meal are beef, dark beer, onions, a slice of bread, mustard, and a great variety of spices. If you are lucky enough to eat Flemish Carbonades in a fancy and good restaurant in Ghent, you will also have the meal served with fries or salad.

There are many other traditional meals you should try, but the rest of them are left to visitors to discover and taste.

restaurants in ghent

Things To Do In Ghent

After you have found a perfect accommodation and went to see the most popular tourist attractions of the city of Ghent, you should also think of some interesting things to do while in this lovely Belgian city.

If you are a coffee lover, be sure to visit Mokabon, a local cafe that will undoubtedly wipe out all other coffee industries, including Starbucks. Here, you will have the chance to try Belgian espresso topped with whipped cream. It tastes magnificent. Apart from excellent coffee, Mokabon also offers great snacks you will simply adore.

Vrijdagmarkt is another cool spot you should not miss. In the past, the square was the place of public executions. But today, Vrijdagmarkt is an amusing market that takes place every Friday. Once you come here, be sure you will come back with hands full of bags and presents.

Of course, you haven’t visited Ghent if you did not travel by a water tram. This is also a unique way to see some of the most beautiful places in the city whose beauty usually cannot be seen otherwise.

guide on things in ghent

I hope you have a great time in Ghent, If you have any questions or you’d  like me to guide you anymore, just drop a comment in the comments section below.

brussels travel information

Brussels – The Most Important City in the World

Brussels – The Most Important City in the World

Belgium may be a small country but despite that, it is one of the most important places in the world. Its capital city, Brussels, is also the center of European Union as well as the headquarters of NATO. And that is not all because Brussels is a true crossroad of different cultures. It is one of the fastest developing cities in Europe with numerous attractions which lure people from all continents. Visiting Brussels will truly be a remarkable and one-of-a-kind experience.

brussels information

Brussels – The Center of Europe

The City on Senne is located in the middle of Belgium and covering a relatively small but densely populated area. Although it is a mostly French-speaking city it is actually completely surrounded by areas where people usually use Dutch as their main language. So it is a kind of French-speaking enclave or district in a Dutch-speaking sea.

Nevertheless, Brussels is a seat to many national and international institutions that make it a true cosmopolitan metropolis. People of diverse origin were always welcome here.

Reaching Brussels is quite easy through its modern airport, but using rail might also be a nice possibility. Trains are fast, modern and quite affordable plus they offer a unique view on the larger area of Brussels and Belgium. Once you are there you can use the public transport system. Brussels has one of the cleanest and most efficient metro systems in entire Europe. People living here often use bikes as a transport mean, but walking is also a nice solution. Especially since most of the top attractions are quite close and are in walking distance.

brussels guide

History of Brussels

Brussels was an important centre of commerce and trade since early Middle Ages. It had its first development peak in early 13th century and in the 15th century, it became the capital of Burgundian Netherlands. Next few centuries were quite difficult for this city and Brussels was heavily damaged on more than one occasion.

The situation became much better in the 19th century when an independent Belgium was founded with Brussels as its capital. It soon became one of the top European financial centers with numerous huge companies. Fast industrialization helped Brussels develop even faster and it soon became a major economy, culture and science hub. During the both World Wars Brussels was occupied by German forces but there was no great destruction within its borders.

Today Brussels is one of the most important places in the world and this bustling metropolis keeps developing every day. Visiting Belgian capital will definitively be an awesome experience since this amazing city has a lot to offer.

brussels things to do

Major attractions

Finding top attractions in Brussels is quite easy since most of them are placed in the historic heart of the city. But giving a proper advice about what attractions to see is not that easy. Brussels has simply too many absolutely awesome landmarks and places you should see. It is impossible to even count all of them but some of them simply must not be missed.

Grand Place-Grote Markt is the first checkpoint in the city and its hottest location. Here you can see some remarkable buildings erected more than 300 years ago. This is also the centre of all social activities and events in the city with astonishing light shows and various live performances almost every night.

Brussels’ most notable landmarks are actually fountains that can be seen almost in every corner. But some of them are quite legendary especially the famous “pissing boy fountain” or Manneken Pis. Another cool fountain is Jeanneke Pis which is, in fact, a female version of Manneken fountain.

There are many interesting museums in the city but you should not miss the iconic Atomium. It is maybe the top attraction in Brussels with millions of visitors coming here every year.

Red Light District in Brussels is not as famous as the one in Amsterdam but it is definitively worth spending some time. There are many other cool places in Brussels but you will have to explore them on your own, once you come here. And come here you should as soon as you can.

brussels travel guide

Where Would You Find The Best Accommodation In Brussels?

Belgian capital is extremely popular and with a great right, it deserves the epithet of a metropolis. Tourists simply adore Brussels, and no matter what time of a year they choose to visit, they always find great accommodation and lodging capacities. Even though a life in Brussels costs quite a lot, the capital of Belgium still makes sure to welcome all of its visitors and make their stay as pleasant as possible. That is why the city overflows with excellent offers when it comes to accommodation, and should you decide to spare some of your money on lodging, Brussels will undoubtedly offer you equally good solutions for lower investments. Actually, Brussels is a great example that low-key does not necessarily mean low-comfort.

But if you really think about visiting Brussels, then you need to be aware of the fact that everyone can enjoy here, regardless of their budget. This is exactly because Brussels disposes of a large number of all kinds of accommodation, including private apartments, guest houses, B&Bs, hostels, middle-range hotels and all-inclusive luxury hotels. Of course, your expectations, needs, wishes, and requests are the ones that need to be met and even exceeded. Hence, before you head to the capital city of Belgium, be sure to make a thorough research and find the best match of a hotel, the one that will suit all your requirements.

However, we are here to help you, thus offering several recommendations and pieces of advice. While conducting a research about the city, try to decide what part of it is most desirable for your stay. Then, you will be able to see what types of lodging are offered in your area.

It is often said that Brussels is a traveller’s paradise, and it is indeed true because one can find excellent B&B accommodation for £54 per night. Breakfast and bed possibilities in Brussels do not mean only what their name suggests, but there are rather some luxury items added to the service. For that reason, it may even happen that some of the B&Bs are more expensive than hotels and hostels in the city. If you love this kind of accommodation, we suggest you take a look at B&B Sablon 13, B&B Aquarelle, Fish Market B&B, House Ninety, and The Nest Brussels. Not all of them suit the budget travellers, but the first several may come into consideration for sure.

Hostels, on the other side, are also a great chance for all the visitors, and you can find them in every corner of the city. The prices of the hostels are more than excellent, and in some cases, they range from £14 onwards. That is why you should check out Meininger Brussels City Center, Brussels Hello Hostel, Sleephere, and Urban City Centre Hostel.

Surely, hotels are still most popular types of accommodation in Brussels, and it is no a big surprise that they are being built every once in a while. But for the time being, the city has a wide range of options and hotels that can host thousands of guests. The key thing is to find a hotel that is not too expensive but that still has a great location, excellent service, and good additional amenities. So, one of the most popular hotels in Brussels is the Bloom Hotel. It is not only well-furnished, but it also has an amazing staff and great service. Another cool place to stay at is Hotel Pantone. It has nice, cosy and bright rooms, private balconies and toilets, and it is also not that expensive. A room in this hotel ranges from £50 onwards. Aloft Brussels is the third great option, and its advantages are spacious working areas, fitness area, good restaurant and bright spaces everywhere. So, why not think about some of the suggestions here?

Of course, in case you want all-inclusive service during your stay, you will not have issues finding the best match in Brussels for there are dozens of super luxurious hotels, located in the centre of the city. They offer the ultimate luxury to every guest. Some of them are The Dominican, Hotel Amigo, The Hotel and Sofitel Le Luise.

brussels hotels information

Cuisine Plays An Important Part In Belgian Culture

Belgians simply love to cook and they love food, and should you visit their country, you will have to discover why this is so. Their cuisine has influences from various sides, including the Dutch and French styles of cooking. However, the Belgians have added their own flavour to the meals and just made them unique and a must for every traveller. For that reason, we will only mention some of the most popular dishes you can find in Brussels’ restaurants.

The first meal you are advised to try is Carbonadeflamandeor stooflees – a sweet-sour steak and ale stew. It is so popular that the mysterious recipes have been handed over from generation to generation in Belgium, thus preserving the true recipe and keeping it secret. However, what you can recognize while eating the meal is beef, onions, beer, mushrooms, bacon, carrots, red wine, salt and various herbs. Restaurants usually serve carbonadeflamandeor stooflees with boiled potatoes, noodles or some kind of a salad.

Stoemp is a great and pretty much simple Belgian food, popular among visitors. It is easy to digest and very tasty, so it is no wonder that both, local population, as well as the guests, ask for it wherever they come. The dish is made of mashed potatoes that are mixed with other mashed vegetables such as onions, carrots, kale, turnips, spinach and various greens. If you don’t want to eat only vegetables, you can order some kind of a meat with stoemp, like bacon, sausage or even fish.

Crevette grise is a Belgian delicacy aimed at all those who enjoy eating seafood. The gray shrimp is prepared in many ways, but some of the most popular include gray shrimp served with fresh tomatoes and stuffed with a prawn salad. Despite their name consisting a word ‘grey’, the shrimps are actually very sweet and tasty, and you can find them even served in some of the pubs, with beer and other alcoholic drinks.

Belgian cuisine indeed surprises every traveller, and if you are another gourmet who readily awaits in a line to taste all the dishes from the Belgian cuisine, then put some other names on your list. Don’t miss the chance to try Belgian meatballs, gentze waterzooi, paling int’ groen and moules frites. These will surely enthrall you.

brussels chocolate

Things To Do In Brussels

Visiting interesting places, museums, attractions and historic destinations is really important, and that is the first thing one needs to do when coming to a foreign city. However, meeting the locals, hidden parts of the city, shopping on the street vendors in far away parts of Brussels, and buying tickets for some of the unusual activities is a must in the Belgian capital. All of this is recommended only for you to see the true soul of the city, to meet other nations customs, culture and tradition from the first hand.

So, a very good thing to do while in Brussels is going on a Waffle Workshop. This is a simple, group activity that considers easy but step-by-step tutorials to making the best Brussels waffles in the world. The workshops are organized in several locations in the city, and the prices of the workshops cost about 28 Euros.

If you are hungry, but still want to have an interesting lunch in an interesting place, you may want to visit a real treehouse. This place will provide you with an unforgettable lunch, full of meat. The atmosphere here is more than cosy, and you will undoubtedly meet some interesting people.

Place du Jeu de Balle is Brussels’ main flea market, but it is so popular that many tourists decide to visit it and witness what is it that locals sell. You can find a wide range of precious and interesting stuff, so why not head to the exact address and see the market for yourself. You may even find something worth your visit.

And if you are bored of the markets and workshops, you can always find interesting picnics and excursions that lead out of the city. They are numerous and amusing. You will not regret them for sure.

brussels travel blog guide