Located in Belgium’s Flanders region, Ghent is sprinkled with enchanting medieval architecture, fine art museums and cosy restaurants serving Flemish cuisine. The city is also a prime spot for day trips, being just an hour’s drive from Bruges and Brussels.
Ghent’s centuries-old architecture offers dazzling facades at almost every turn. You can walk around the medieval port of Graslei, the Castle of Counts and the Great Butcher’s Hall, or take a scenic canal cruise along the River Leie to see the sights from the water. Head to the 14th-century Belfry tower and you can enjoy panoramic views over the city from the upper gallery. It’s also worth venturing inside St. Bavo’s Cathedral to witness the incredible altarpiece known as ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’.
To explore Ghent’s medieval past, wander through the Arms Museum and the Museum of Judicial Objects – both housed within the 12th-century Gravenseen castle. Art lovers will feel in their element at the Museum of Fine Arts, which exhibits over 600 works dating from the 14th to the 20th centuries. For a more modern affair, the S.M.A.K. museum features contemporary pieces by the likes of Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol.
As you stroll through Ghent’s pretty city centre, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try Flemish classics such as waffles, fries and stoverij – a beef (or pork) and onion stew made with dark beer. Other local specialities include mussels and a creamy fish or chicken soup known as ‘waterzooi’.