What to do in Ghent?
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Dec 4, 2012 5:45 AM Last Post By: Osahi
Nov 20, 2012 12:10 PM
What to do in Ghent?Hi fellow travellers,
I will soon be in Ghent for a weekend. I would appreciate any recommendations on things to do and see and good bars, cafes and restaurants. I've visited Bruges before. How does Ghent compare?
Thanks in advance
P.S.I'm not much of a museum person unless it's something really quirky and different.
Nov 20, 2012 1:27 PM
I see you posted this twice a couple of hours apart. Keep an eye for answers on the other one as well.
I really like Ghent. It has similarities with Bruges and Leuven, lovely architecture and superb walking.
I don't do museums either, so my time there was strolling and taking plenty of pictures.
As with Bruges, it's possible to take a boat ride.
Here's a Lonely planet link....
Hope you have a great timee.
Nov 20, 2012 5:33 PM
2I've visited Bruges before. How does Ghent compare?
Much better, I'd say...Bruges is beautiful but maybe artificially so...Gent is far more authentic...you'll enjoy just prowling along the centre and canals to find some cosy bars and eateries, including a number in the Groetenmarkt...also, the university district is lively but maybe less so at the weekend, when you're there...the InYourPocket omnibus has also reached Gent with plenty of suggestions, contained therein...
Btw, you may not wish to visit museums but it would be perverse to visit Gent and not have a look at the famous 'Adoration of the Mystic Lamb' painting by the Van Eyck brothers in St Bavo's Cathedral...truly, a world-renowned exhibit...
Nov 20, 2012 7:54 PM
3I agree with WaterhazardJack. Ghent is much more lively and authentic. It's an art city, full of dancers, singers, painters, hipsters, unique characters.
My favorite thing about Ghent was getting to know some of the interesting people there. I'd say get yourself a couchsurfing account and have coffee/dinner/etc. with people. Ask the locals to take you to their favorite spots.
Park Cafe is pretty excellent (but I'm not sure it's open this time of year, as it's outside). There's also a great bar hidden away down this narrow alley in the city center. I don't remember the name, but the locals could probably tell you what it is.
Here's my take on the culture. Hope it helps:
Nov 21, 2012 2:39 AM
4The bar behind the small alley somebody reffers to is Hot Club de Gand. It's on Groentenmarkt, one of the smaller central squares. You'll recognise a Subway restaurant on the square. The small alley is some houses from there, between the Subway and the bridge...
It's indeed a nice, little café, where you can pick up some jazz concerts too (but: when there is a concert there is an absolute zero tolerance on talking, as the café is so small).
A bit further there is Het Dreupelkot (just before your cross the bridge, go to the right). A small café where you can taste hundreds of 'jenevers' or 'dreupels' as we in Ghent call it. A sort of Gin, mostly with a fruit taste. They have many kinds, like orange, or cactus, or strawberry of vanilla or whatever. They even have a very hot Pepper one, which I only recommend when you're in company and placing a bet...
But Ghent is most of all a city where you can have a great discovery walk. It has a medieval center (that's being renovated as we speak) where the water is always close by and many nice corners and views await. It pays off to stray of the beaten track too. In the student neighbourhood for instance (at Sint Pieters plein) you have a nice abbey with a small, but wonderfull garden. Closer to the Dampoort you have ruins of the very first abbey of Ghent, etc.
You're not a museum man, but I woudl recommend the STAM city museum that recalls the history of the city on a very loose, and sometimes interactive way. Placed in the beautifull cite of the Bijloke (also; great (jazz and classic) concert place!) it's worth the visit. It even has a room reserved for the story of the Theft of the Fair Judges, one of the panels of the adoration of the lamb and a legend in Ghent and the whole of Belgium (with complot theories gallore and every few years somebody who claims to have found the location, which always is a dud).
The Gravensteen castle is also nice to visit of you're into the Medieval ages. It has a museum of torture, so maybe that's quirky enough for you?
As you're going very soon, there will be a Christmass market and a skating rink.
And if you're lucky and have nice wheater, it could pay off to rent a bike and go beyond the city. There is for instance a nice trail next to the Leie river in the more rural Drongen, a village that is part of Ghent, but lays outside of the perrific ring.
Nov 22, 2012 9:58 AM
5Thanks for all the suggestions. Strolling, taking pictures, a boat trip and the Christmas market sound good. The STAM museum and the castle sound interesting too. I've already visited a museum of torture in Cordoba (specialising in Spanish inquisition machines of pain) and it was definitely quirky and worth a look. What gastronomic specialities do I need to look out for?
Nov 22, 2012 10:09 PM
Nov 23, 2012 2:49 AM
7true Ghentian waffles are the crispy ones, not the sweet ones
As a Belgian i have never heard of Gentse wafels.
Gigi you probably mean Brussels waffles which indeed are crispy. The other type of waffles are Liège waffles. Both types of waffles are popular all over Belgium.
A local dish you should taste is Gentse Waterzooi . It is something between a soup and a stew and it usually is made of chicken with vegetables and potatoes, but it can also be made of fish.
Nov 23, 2012 2:50 AM
8You can't go wrong with Stoofvlees or Stoverij, a dark beef stew with beer, or Gentse Waterzooi, a soup of (originaly) fish, now most of the times prepared with chicken. Those are a bit of the local specialities.
if you like spare ribs, there ar some pretty good all you can eat restaurants. De Amadeus for instance is always packed (there are three Amadeus restaurants in Ghent, the easiest to find and the biggest one behind the new Market Hall), but the better spare ribs you'll find at De Gekroonde Hoofden not far from the castle.
When your in Belgium and don't mind a fat snack, don't doubt about getting some fries (a Belgian invention, not French) from a stall (there is one on the Vrijdagsmarkt, but a you'll also find a good one 100 meters or so further on Bij St-Jacobs (behind the church). Eat it with mayonaise, and maybe stoofvleessaus, and get a snack besides, like Belgians do. If you can try eating it like a real tourist from a 'puntzak' (you can order it that way at the stall begind St Jacobs). It's not comon anymore to eat fries like that, but it's the authentic way (from before, when fries were still rolled in a sack of newspaper to eat on the way)
If you're feeling daring: you can try Gentse Kop on a slice of bread with a tad of mustard (Tierentyn!). It's pressed pig head and tastes a bit like corned beef. Not sure where you can eat those mind you, but I guess the more touristy places or 'brown café's' could offer it...
And if you're just looking for a nice restaurant: there are joints everywhere, but the cosy, tiny Medieval streets of Patershol are packed with different restaurants, de Vlaanderenstraat offers a more exotic range and the best (but touristy en a little more expensive) brasseries you'll find on de Vrijdagsmarkt or het St-Baafs plein
Nov 25, 2012 1:15 PM
Nov 26, 2012 3:54 AM
Close to the Vrijdagmarkt in the Baudelostraat there is the “Antiek-Depot”, a 500m² shop with antique, vintage, design etc. A soon as you enter you have immediately the idea that there must be something interesting to discover. There are more similar shops like “n´ importe qoui” in the Burgstraat, close to het Gravensteen
Flanders Expo for events and fairs, very well-known in Ghent. Outside the city-centre, but easy to get there with tram-line 1. Info www.flandersexpo.be
Every sunday-morning there is a little flea / antique market at Sint-Jacobs. Or for secondhand books you can go to the Ajuinlei.
More (multi-linguistic) info for things to do and see in Ghent: www.visitgent.be
In the evening the old city-centre is stunningly illuminated, so perfect for strolling around and pub-crawling.
Nov 27, 2012 6:09 PM
11For dining, I wasn't too impressed with the brasseries on the vijdagsmarkt (at least not the ones that I visited). I recommend Patershol.
There used to be a walking tour with challenges along the way (find photo's, estimate the weight of the stone bullets of the dulle griet cannon, count the shields on the statue on the vrijdagsmarkt etc... It's a great way to get to know the city. I am not sure if it still exists, but if it does, then the paper with the description and the challenges can be picked up at a brasserie (forgot the name) in the north-east corner of the vrijdagsmarkt.
I assume you'll not be bored after 2 days Ghent, but if you have more time, and want an original museum, you can visit the nearby town of Oudenaarde, where there "het ronde van Vlaanderen Museum" (= museum of the tour of Flanders). It's dedicated the most important annual cycling race, it winners, the bicycles, etc... Highly recommended if you're a cycling enthusiast.
Nov 28, 2012 8:26 AM
Nov 29, 2012 11:49 PM
13@3 park cafe is summer only...
some more options
pubs: minor swing (small jazzy wine bar), pink flamingo (tacky in a nice way), het onverwachts geluk (locals only, jazzy) Manteca, mosquito coast (travel bar), pubs on the beestenmarkt and vlasmarkt (indie, rock, late night)
food: de lieve (typical flemisch food, cheap), house of elliot, a food affair, volta (more expensive, great cocktails) ...
Dec 4, 2012 5:45 AM
14Well, 8 to 10 december is smack in the middle of the christmas periode offcourse, so you'll find Winterdroom on the Sint Pieters Plein: a ferris wheel, a rollercoaster, ice skating rink, some little gluhwein stands, etc. On St Baafs you'll find the christmass market with the typical trinkets (but also a stall from Quatzacotl, the chocolate bar, so a nice excuse to taste some real Belgian chocolate or drink a hot cacoa) There is a little touristic train service between Winterdroom and the market.
It might be good to visit the Visit Ghent Bureau at de Oude Vismijn (st Veerle plein 5) when you arrive, they'll be able to update you on what's to do... Or have a look at www.visitgent.be
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