things to see in Ghent Belgium

Renowned for its enchanting medieval architecture, lively cultural scene, and mouthwatering culinary delights, Ghent beckons travellers to immerse themselves in its timeless charm. 

Whether you’re strolling along the cobblestone streets of its well-preserved Old Town or indulging in the eclectic array of museums and galleries, there’s no shortage of things to see in Ghent, Belgium.

If you’re compiling a list of the best things to see in Ghent, Belgium – this post is for you!

10 Best Things to See in Ghent Belgium

1) Climb Up the Belfry of Ghent

best things to do in ghent belfry of ghent

Rising majestically above the city’s skyline, the Belfry of Ghent is an iconic symbol of the city’s medieval heritage and architectural prowess. 

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating back to the 14th century, is a towering masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its imposing 91-metre-high tower dominates the cityscape.

Originally constructed as a watchtower and bell tower for the adjacent Cloth Hall, its 366 steps to the top rewards visitors with panoramic views of the city and its surroundings, offering a breathtaking glimpse into Ghent’s past and present.

Stepping inside the Belfry, visitors are transported back in time as they explore its historic chambers and winding staircases. 

2) Visit the Stadhuis

stadhuis town hall ghent belgium

The Stadhuis, or City Hall, in Ghent, is a stunning example of Flemish architecture. 

Located in the historic city centre, the Stadhuis’s Gothic and Renaissance facade is adorned with intricate details and statues. It is such an impressive building; don’t miss at least snapping a photo of it!

Visitors can explore lavish chambers like the Wedding Chamber and Council Chamber.

Explore highlights of Ghent by bike! Book a Guided City Bike Tour

3) Explore Patershol & St Peter’s Abbey

Patershol best things to see in ghent Belgium
A stroll around Patershol is one of the best things to see in Ghent Belgium

Petershol, nestled in Ghent’s medieval centre, displays the city’s rich heritage. 

It’s a charming district where history, culture, and gastronomy converge, making it one of the best things to see in Ghent.

At its heart lies the St. Peter’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery dating back to the 7th century. Its serene gardens offer a peaceful retreat amidst historic ruins and verdant landscapes.

Petershol isn’t just about history; it’s a cultural hub. Museums like the Museum of Fine Arts and the STAM delve into Ghent’s past, while artisanal shops and galleries showcase local talent. 

Culinary delights abound, with cosy cafes and Michelin-starred restaurants to tempt food lovers!

In Petershol, you can stroll through centuries-old streets, admire masterpieces, and indulge in gourmet cuisine – it’s easily one of my favourite places to visit in Ghent, Belgium.

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4) Try some Belgian cuisine

Ghent is a gastronomic Eden, offering a delicious array of Belgian cuisine that celebrates local flavours and traditions. 

French and Flemish traditions influence the cuisine in Ghent, which boasts its rich culinary heritage. Its vibrant food scene reflects centuries of culinary innovation and a deep appreciation for quality ingredients.

The city’s proximity to fertile farmland ensures access to fresh, seasonal produce, meats, and dairy products, while the North Sea provides plenty of fresh seafood. 

Try a glass of Ghent Gruut beer; locally produced and one of Belgium’s best-tasting beers.

Now, here are some classic dishes you should try in Ghent:

  • Ghentse Stoverij: Also known as Flemish beef stew, Ghentse Stoverij is a beloved Belgian classic. Tender chunks of beef are slow-cooked in a savoury beer-based sauce infused with onions, mustard, and spices, resulting in a rich and aromatic dish best served with crispy fries.
  • Waterzooi: This creamy stew, originating from Ghent, typically features tender chicken or fish simmered in a rich broth with vegetables, herbs, and cream. It’s a comforting and hearty dish perfect for those cool evenings.
waterzooi popular dishes in ghent belgium
Eat local food, like waterzooi, one of the best things to do in Ghent Belgium.
  • Cuberdons: Also known as Ghent’s noses, Cuberdons are cone-shaped candies with a crispy exterior and a soft, gelatinous interior bursting with sweet raspberry flavour.

Book the Full Package! Join this Guided City Tour with Food & Drink Tastings

5) See the MSK Art Gallery

The MSK, or Museum of Fine Arts, in Ghent, is a cultural gem housed in a modernist building in the city’s heart. 

It features a vast collection of centuries-old Flemish and Belgian art, including works by renowned artists like Jan van Eyck and Peter Paul Rubens. 

Visitors can explore medieval altarpieces, Baroque masterpieces, and 20th-century avant-garde art. 

Even if you’re not an art enthusiast, I still recommend visiting the MSK; I found it fascinating.

6) Visit Saint Bavo’s Cathedral

St Bavo's Cathedral Ghent Belgium best things to see

St. Bavo’s Cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece known for its towering spire and rich artistic treasures. 

Construction began in the 14th century, resulting in a blend of architectural styles. Inside, visitors can admire stained glass windows, woodcarvings, and the famous Ghent Altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers. 

The cathedral’s interior also houses the tomb of Saint Bavo and numerous chapels with religious artifacts.

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7) Visit Gravensteen Castle

Gravensteen Castle - things to see in Ghent Belgium

Step into the medieval past by visiting St. Gravensteen Castle. 

This fortress, dating back to the 12th century, offers a captivating glimpse into medieval life with its imposing architecture, atmospheric chambers, and interactive exhibits. 

Explore the castle’s labyrinthine corridors, learn about its rich history, and enjoy panoramic views of Ghent from its central keep. 

This site is a must-do! Easily one of the best things to see in Ghent Belgium.

8) Discover the Museums in Ghent

Several museums in Ghent offer an insight into the city’s cultural heritage and artistic diversity. 

Here are some museums you shouldn’t miss:

  1. STAM (City Museum Ghent): Located in the historic Bijloke Abbey, STAM provides insight into Ghent’s urban development and social history. Interactive exhibits, multimedia installations, and historical artifacts offer a fascinating journey through the city’s past and present.
  2. Huis van Alijn (House of Alijn): Step into the everyday life of bygone eras at this charming museum dedicated to Belgian folk culture. Housed in a historic almshouse, the museum features nostalgic displays of domestic objects, traditions, and customs from the 20th century.
  3. Ghent City Museum (STAM): Through multimedia installations, artifacts, and interactive exhibits, visitors can learn about Ghent’s evolution from medieval times to the present day.
  4. Dr. Guislain Museum: Located in a former psychiatric hospital, this museum explores the history of psychiatry and mental health care. Thought-provoking exhibits shed light on the treatment of mental illness throughout history, challenging perceptions and promoting understanding.


9) Explore Vrijdagmarkt

Vrijdagmarkt Things to see in Ghent Belgium
Vrijdagmarkt – Best things to see in Ghent Belgium

Vrijdagmarkt is a historic square with a lively atmosphere, and it’s one of the best things to see in Ghent. 

Dating back to the Middle Ages, it was once a bustling marketplace and continues to be a vibrant hub of activity today. 

Explore its cobblestone streets, soak in the local culture at cafes and Artisans’ stores, watch street performances, and visit small markets. The square offers diverse dining options and authentic cuisine from this charming city.

Whether you’re seeking history, culture, or a nice relaxing spot, Vrijdagmarkt offers something for everyone.

10) Wander through Korenlei and Graslei 

Korenlei and Graslei things to do in Ghent Belgium
Best things to see in Ghent Belgium

Visiting Korenlei and Graslei in Ghent is like stepping into a fairy tale. I like the colours, the atmosphere, the stunning architecture, and the welcoming feeling of this place.

You’ll encounter a stunning array of well-preserved medieval buildings lining the banks of the River Leie, creating a picturesque backdrop for exploring. 

The cobblestone streets are dotted with charming cafes, restaurants, and terraces, where you can enjoy local cuisine while enjoying scenic views of the river and iconic bridges. Trust me, these views never get old!

Boat tours offer a unique perspective of the area, while cultural events and festivals add to the vibrant environment throughout the year. View your options for boat tours in Ghent here.

Where to Stay in Ghent

The best accommodation options in Ghent vary depending on your preferences and budget.

However, several areas stand out for their convenience, charm, and accessibility to the city’s attractions.

City Centre: If you want to be close to the action, staying in Ghent’s city centre, or Old Town, is ideal. Here, you’ll find many hotels, boutique guesthouses, and charming B&Bs within walking distance of the city’s prominent landmarks. The city centre is also dotted with cosy cafes, lively bars, and trendy restaurants, ensuring you’re constantly surrounded by the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

Graslei and Korenlei: These picturesque streets along the river offer some of the most scenic views in Ghent. Many hotels and guesthouses in this area provide stunning vistas of the medieval guildhouses lining the water’s edge. Staying here puts you close to iconic landmarks like St. Michael’s Bridge and Gravensteen Castle, charming riverside cafes and artisanal shops.

Sint-Pieters Station Area: If you prefer a quieter atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, the area around Sint-Pieters Station is a good option. This neighbourhood offers a range of accommodation choices. While not as centrally located, Sint-Pieters Station provides easy access to public transportation, making it convenient for exploring both Ghent and other nearby cities in Belgium.

Recommended Tours in Ghent

  • 50-minute Medieval Centre Guided Boat Trip—Take a boat near the impressive Castle of the Counts to discover the most beautiful places in Ghent. A guide will take you through the fascinating history of medieval Ghent and its historical buildings and architecture.
  • Ghent Small-Group Chocolate Tour with Local Guide—On this chocolate-and-sightseeing small-group tour, follow your chocoholic guide through Ghent’s medieval centre, stop by historical buildings to listen to their backstories, and visit several chocolate shops for tastings—you’ll indulge in a minimum of eight delicious treats.
  • From Brussels: Ghent and Bruges Day Tour—Discover two enchanting cities on this day tour and follow your guide back in time. Choose between a shared option or a private tour. Walk through Ghent and Bruges and see some famous landmarks, including Saint-Bavo’s Cathedral of Ghent, Bruges’ Old Town, and the Lake of Love.

As you can see, there are many things to see in Ghent Belgium! We hope you have a fantastic time. In the comments below, let us know if you have any questions about this charming city.

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