things to do in ghent

Ghent is a hidden gem in Belgium with a rich historical heritage and a vibrant modern spirit. This article will explore the top things to do in Ghent, from visiting historic landmarks to experiencing cultural events. Whether you’re traveling solo, with family, or on a tight budget, Ghent has something for everyone.

With its picturesque canals, stunning architecture, and vibrant atmosphere, Ghent offers a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. From historic landmarks to cultural events, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this charming city.

If you’re a history buff, make sure to explore Ghent’s landmarks like Gravensteen Castle and St Bavo’s Cathedral, which showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage. For art enthusiasts, museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts and the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art are a must-visit.

Those looking for outdoor activities can take a leisurely stroll along Ghent’s canals or enjoy the green spaces in the city’s parks. Families can also find plenty of family-friendly activities and attractions, making Ghent a great destination for a fun-filled getaway.

Best of all, many of the attractions and activities in Ghent are free or affordable, allowing you to make the most of your visit without breaking the bank. Take a walk along the beautiful squares of Graslei and Korenlei, or explore the charming neighborhood of Patershol.

If you have more time to spare, consider taking a day trip to the nearby city of Antwerp, known for its vibrant fashion and diamond industry. Antwerp offers a unique contrast to Ghent and is a great addition to your Belgian adventure.

So, whether you’re interested in history, culture, outdoor activities, or simply exploring a hidden gem, Ghent has it all. Explore Ghent today and discover why it is a must-visit destination in Belgium.

Things to Do in Ghent – Historic Landmarks

Ghent, with its rich history and architectural beauty, is home to numerous historic landmarks that are a must-visit for any sightseeing enthusiast. These attractions provide a glimpse into the city’s cultural heritage and offer visitors a chance to appreciate its fascinating past. From medieval castles to iconic cathedrals, there is no shortage of remarkable landmarks to explore in Ghent.

Gravensteen Castle

One of the standout landmarks in Ghent is Gravensteen Castle, also known as the Castle of the Counts. This medieval fortress is a remarkable example of the city’s architectural legacy. A visit to Gravensteen Castle takes you back in time, allowing you to immerse yourself in the medieval era and learn about the history of Ghent.

St Bavo’s Cathedral

Another iconic landmark in Ghent is St Bavo’s Cathedral, a magnificent Gothic masterpiece. Inside the cathedral, you’ll find the famous Van Eyck Altarpiece, a masterpiece of Flemish art. Admire the intricate craftsmanship and marvel at the breathtaking beauty of this remarkable cathedral.

St Michael’s Bridge

“St Michael’s Bridge offers stunning panoramic views of Ghent’s picturesque cityscape. The bridge spans the River Leie and is an ideal spot for photographers and nature lovers alike.”

St Nicholas’ Church

St Nicholas’ Church is another notable landmark in Ghent. The church’s Gothic architecture and impressive spire make it a sight to behold. Take a moment to appreciate the intricate details of the facade and step inside to admire the beautiful stained glass windows.

The Belfry of Ghent

The Belfry of Ghent, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a towering medieval bell tower that dominates the city’s skyline. Climb the 300 steps to the top for breathtaking panoramic views of Ghent. The Belfry also houses a museum where you can learn more about the tower’s history and the city’s guilds.

Exploring these historic landmarks is an essential part of any visit to Ghent. Immerse yourself in the city’s cultural heritage, admire the stunning architecture, and gain a deeper understanding of Ghent’s captivating past.

ghent landmarks

Experiencing Ghent’s Cultural Events

Ghent is renowned for its vibrant cultural scene, offering a variety of events throughout the year. Immerse yourself in the enchanting Ghent Light Festival, where the entire city transforms into a mesmerizing light art exhibition that captivates visitors. Witness the magic as Ghent comes alive with dazzling illuminations that illuminate its historic buildings and captivating public spaces. This extraordinary event is a must-see, providing a unique and enchanting experience for all.

Another notable celebration in Ghent is the Ghent Festivities, a 10-day extravaganza brimming with music, theater, and street performances. Get swept away by the lively atmosphere as the streets come alive with artistic showcases and captivating performances. Whether you’re a music enthusiast, theater aficionado, or simply enjoy the energy of a bustling festival, the Ghent Festivities is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant cultural heritage.

Notable Cultural Events in Ghent:

  • Ghent Light Festival
  • Ghent Festivities

In addition to these large-scale events, Ghent is home to a plethora of museums that showcase its artistic heritage. Delve into the world of fine art at the Museum of Fine Arts, where you can admire works by renowned artists from various periods. For a contemporary twist, explore the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, featuring thought-provoking exhibits that push the boundaries of artistic expression. These museums offer a deeper appreciation for Ghent’s rich cultural tapestry and are a haven for art enthusiasts.

Key Art Museums in Ghent:

Museum Name Specialization
Museum of Fine Arts Classic and Renaissance Art
Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art Modern and Contemporary Art

Enjoying Ghent’s Outdoor Activities

Ghent offers plenty of outdoor activities that are perfect for families and those on a budget. Whether you’re looking to soak in the city’s picturesque views or explore its green spaces, Ghent has something for everyone.

ghent activities

One of the best ways to experience Ghent is by taking a leisurely stroll along its charming canals. As you wander, you’ll come across architectural delights and hidden gems that showcase the city’s rich history.

If you’re looking to connect with nature, Ghent has several parks and green spaces to offer. The Citadel Park is a popular choice, where you can enjoy a peaceful walk or relax with a picnic. For nature enthusiasts, the Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen Nature Reserve is a must-visit, offering beautiful wetlands and a diverse range of bird species.

For those seeking free activities in Ghent, there are numerous attractions that won’t cost you a penny. One such attraction is the beautiful squares of Graslei and Korenlei, which offer stunning views of the city’s historic architecture.

Another free activity is exploring the charming neighborhood of Patershol. This medieval area is filled with narrow streets, quaint houses, and unique shops, providing a glimpse into Ghent’s past.

Outdoor Activities in Ghent:

  • Stroll along the picturesque canals
  • Visit the Citadel Park for a relaxing walk or picnic
  • Explore the Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen Nature Reserve
  • Admire the architecture at Graslei and Korenlei squares
  • Discover the charm of Patershol

No matter your interests or budget, Ghent offers a range of outdoor activities that will make your visit memorable and enjoyable.

Top Free Outdoor Activities in Ghent

Activity Description
Canal Stroll Enjoy a leisurely walk along Ghent’s picturesque canals and experience the city’s beauty.
Citadel Park Relax in this urban park, surrounded by historic architecture and lush greenery.
Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen Nature Reserve Explore the wetlands and diverse bird species in this peaceful nature reserve.
Graslei and Korenlei Squares Marvel at the stunning views of historic buildings along the canal.
Patershol Wander through the charming medieval neighborhood, filled with narrow streets and unique shops.

Exploring Beyond Ghent: Day Trips to Antwerp

If you have extra time during your visit to Ghent, consider taking a day trip to the nearby city of Antwerp. Antwerp is known for its vibrant fashion and diamond industry, offering a unique contrast to Ghent’s historical charm. There are plenty of things to do and see in Antwerp, ensuring a memorable experience for all visitors.

things to do in Antwerp

Visit the Majestic Antwerp Cathedral

The Antwerp Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady, is a true architectural masterpiece. Marvel at the stunning Gothic design and admire the elaborate artwork inside. Don’t forget to climb the tower for panoramic views of the city.

Explore the Trendy Neighborhood of Het Zuid

Head to Het Zuid, Antwerp’s vibrant neighborhood known for its trendy boutiques, art galleries, and charming caf├ęs. Take a leisurely stroll down the streets and immerse yourself in the city’s contemporary culture.

Shop at the Iconic Meir Shopping Street

Indulge in retail therapy at the famous Meir shopping street. Discover a wide range of high-end brands, local boutiques, and department stores. Whether you’re looking for fashion, accessories, or souvenirs, Meir has something for everyone.

Antwerp offers a unique contrast to Ghent and is definitely worth a visit if you have the time.

Things to Do in Antwerp Description
Visit the Antwerp Zoo Explore one of the oldest and most beautiful zoos in the world, home to a wide variety of animals.
Discover the Antwerp Diamond District Learn about Antwerp’s renowned diamond industry and browse exquisite jewelry shops.
Step back in time at the MAS Museum Immerse yourself in Antwerp’s maritime history at the Museum aan de Stroom and enjoy stunning views from the rooftop terrace.
Enjoy the Antwerp Central Station Marvel at the architectural beauty of one of the world’s most beautiful train stations.


Ghent, a captivating city in Belgium, is a delightful destination that offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and outdoor experiences. Whether you’re fascinated by the city’s remarkable historical landmarks, eager to immerse yourself in its vibrant cultural scene, or simply seeking tranquility amidst the scenic canals and parks, Ghent has something to offer every traveler. This comprehensive travel guide has provided valuable insights into the top things to do in Ghent, ensuring that you can make the most of your visit to this hidden gem in Belgium.

From exploring iconic landmarks such as Gravensteen Castle and St Bavo’s Cathedral to experiencing enchanting cultural events like the Ghent Light Festival and Ghent Festivities, there are countless opportunities to create lasting memories in Ghent. The city’s outdoor activities, including leisurely canal walks and serene visits to parks like Citadel Park, offer a chance to rejuvenate amidst picturesque surroundings.

As you plan your trip to Ghent, refer back to this handy travel guide for inspiration and guidance. Remember to explore beyond Ghent’s borders and consider taking a day trip to the nearby city of Antwerp, which offers its own unique charm. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, a nature lover, or a curious traveler in search of new experiences, Ghent promises to be an unforgettable destination that will leave you longing to return.


What cultural events can I experience in Ghent?

Ghent is known for its vibrant cultural scene and hosts events such as the Ghent Light Festival and Ghent Festivities, a 10-day celebration of music, theater, and street performances.

What outdoor activities are there to enjoy in Ghent?

You can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the canals, visit parks and green spaces like the Citadel Park and Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen Nature Reserve, or explore free attractions such as Graslei and Korenlei squares and the neighborhood of Patershol.

Are there any day trips I can take from Ghent?

Yes, you can take a day trip to the nearby city of Antwerp, known for its vibrant fashion and diamond industry. Explore attractions like the Antwerp Cathedral, Het Zuid neighborhood, and the Meir shopping street.

What makes Ghent a charming city to visit?

Ghent offers a mix of historical landmarks, cultural events, and outdoor activities. Whether you’re interested in history, art, or nature, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Ghent.