Best 1 Day Itinerary in Ghent, Belgium: Day Trip from Brussels
Looking to explore the best that Ghent has to offer? Check out our new 24 hour Ghent travel guide! Packed with insider tips and essential information, this guide will help you make the most of your time in the city. From top attractions to hidden gems, we’ve got you covered. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!
- Places to see in Gent
- Things to Know Before Your Visit to Gent
Gent’s main train station is Gent-Sint-Pieters. To get from the train station to Gent Van Monckhovenstraat, you can also take the train number 1 to the city center, a half-hour walk.
Places to see in Gent
Gent is a beautiful city located in Belgium. It is known for its medieval architecture and lovely canals. There are many interesting places to see in Gent,
Castle of Gerald the Devil
Castle of Gerald the Devil is the first place to start our tour route. This is actually a castle, built in the 13th century to protect the city and the harbor. Named after a knight named Geeraard Vilain, the castle is known as Devil, the nickname of the same person.
After its construction, the castle was used for many purposes. It became a monastery, a school and a prison. The castle can only be seen from the outside. It is located by the water, which makes for beautiful views.
Van Eyck Brothers, Creators of Mytic Lamb
When we continue on Limburgstraat, we see a monument on the right. On the monument, there are two brothers named Hubert and Jan van Eyck. That’s why the monument is called Van Eyck Brothers. These two brothers once painted a picture called Mystic Lamb. The painting is now in St. Bavo’s Cathedral right behind them. In 1913, this was one of the sculptures made for an event called the world fair.
After passing the monument, a huge square welcomes you. St. Bavo Square is an important square where the Big 3 played a role. On one side is Ghent’s most magnificent building, St. Bavo Cathedral, in the middle is the theater building, the expression of cultural richness, and on the other side is the Belfry bell tower, the symbol of the city.
St. Bavo Cathedral
Built in the 10th century, the wooden structure has become one of the best gothic buildings of the period over the centuries. It is currently under restoration, which is expected to last until 2018.
The cathedral is home to the works of many respected artists, including Peter Paul Rubens. However, the most important work among them is The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (Ghent Altarpiece) by the Van Eyck Brothers. You can enter the cathedral for free, but you have to pay some to see this work.
The other important structure of St. Bavo Square is the Ghent Belfry. At 91 meters high, the Belfry is the tallest structure in Ghent. It has been used as a defense tower and a clock tower until today. You can climb the tower for a fee, but don’t go up right away. In a little while we will get the City Card Gent of the city of Ghent, then the tower will be free.
We will move from the Belfry towards St. Nicholas Church, but a strange architectural structure attracts our attention on the right. Built in 2012, this unusual building is located in the area called Market Hall. Although it looks modern, it does not affect the skyline of the city. The building is almost entirely covered with wood and has a more respectable structure than the surrounding buildings.
Churches of St. Nicholas and St. Michael
With one of the city’s three tallest towers, St. Nicholas Church, built in the 13th century, is worth seeing, especially for its exterior architecture. The interior looks like a standard church, but really don’t miss the exterior. Likewise, the similar St. Michael’s Church a little further down by the river is also worth a visit for its exterior architecture.
The bridge in front of St. Michael’s Church is one of the rare places where you can see the important buildings of the city together. The Sint-Michielbrug bridge over the River Leie provides beautiful photographs on all sides.
Korenmarkt, the City’s Popular Square
After seeing the bridge, we go to the city square called Korenmarkt. This place is between St. Nicholas Church and the Leie River. Korenmarkt means “wheat market”. It got its name from the grain trade around the 10th century.
This square is one of the most touristic and popular spots of the city with fast food chains and restaurants such as pizza and hamburgers, street artists exhibiting their talents, souvenir shops and historical houses. Since the square is big, festivals and events are usually held in this square.
Then we continue along Korenmarkt and come to the other bridge. Everywhere in the center of Ghent is so close to each other, I love such places. We can easily visit everywhere on foot. The most enjoyable places in Ghent are undoubtedly the places where the Leie River flows. Some buildings are a few meters away from the river, while others look like they are coming out of the river. You can also take great photos on the bridge here.
These are always lively places. Ghent is a city with a university and small cities with universities are always bustling. The two banks of the River Leie that divide the city in two have names, Graslei and Korenlei. Ghent was a port city in the Middle Ages. These two banks are part of the harbor. Today they serve tourist purposes.
They are the starting point for boat trips and a meeting point for the public. The bridges connecting the shores are among the spots where you can take the most beautiful panoramic photos of the city. After crossing this bridge, you will see a big castle on the left corner. Entrance to this castle is paid. But first, let’s get our Gent City Card from the tourist information behind the cafes.
Castle of the Counts
Now that we have our pass, we can enter any museum we want. Let’s first use our pass at the Castle of the Counts across the street. The castle actually stands today as a symbol of injustice.
Once used as a mansion, the castle became a place where criminals were held and executed. You can see torture instruments in Gravensteen’s rooms. There is also a weapon museum inside where the weapons used during the period are exhibited.
Design Museum Ghent
After leaving the castle, we move towards Design Museum Gent, which is about 5 minutes away on Jan Breydelstraat. Ghent Design Museum is a museum where many objects with unusual designs are exhibited.
Unusual bicycles, armchairs and dozens of items manage to attract the attention of visitors with their different structures. If you are interested in design or industrial objects, you can visit.
The House of Alijn
About 400 meters (5min) walk away is a historical house. Alijn House is a museum that gives a good insight into the daily life of the 20th century and its evolution to the present day. Each of the rooms has created its own atmosphere. You live the history in the rooms.
In Alijn House, one of the houses where you can experience the spirit of the time, you can come across ordinary items that were used in their time. The House of Alijn is a beautiful building by the river and you should sit at the picnic tables in the courtyard and enjoy the atmosphere. The House of Alijn normally paid, but if you have a CityGent Card you can enter for free.
Our next stop is the Ghent City Museum, where we will go to learn about the history of Ghent. The original name is Stadsmusem Gent and abbreviated as STAM. To reach the museum where you can find everything about Ghent, you should take the train number 1 in front of Gravensteen. After about 20 minutes you have to get off at the stop called Gent Veergrep and walk a bit.
SMAK & Citadel Park
From the Stadsmuseum, we take a 15-minute walk to the Citadel Park, where the Ghent Museum of Modern Art and the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts, abbreviated SMAK, are located.
Two museums where art is exhibited intensively are together and besides, it is a large park separated from the concrete city, with small ponds. If you are interested in art, you will enjoy both of these museums.
Opposite the House of Align museum stands a medieval cannon weighing 12,500 kg and about 5 meters long. Because of its pink color and size, it was named Dulle Griet (Woman Devil).
They permanently sealed its mouth to prevent beer bottles being thrown into it and drunks sleeping in it. It’s close to the Old Town, but it’s not in a visible part, so if you don’t go to see it, you’ll miss it.
Vrijdagmarkt is our last stop before the hotel. This is one of the oldest and biggest squares of Ghent. Vrijdagmarkt means Friday Market. Surrounded by bars and restaurants, the square fills up with stalls every Friday morning. In the center of the square is a statue of Jacob van Artevelde, one of Ghent’s sages.
In the few hours we spent in Ghent, we decided that the ideal time to visit Ghent is 1 day. In 1 day, it is possible to visit Ghent from top to bottom. Because it is a very small place. We even passed the same place a couple of times during the trip.
Things to Know Before Your Visit to Gent
Where is Gent?
Federal districts are a form of administrative division found in federations. Several states voluntarily come together to appear as a single power to the outside world, while internal affairs are autonomous according to their agreement.
Gent is located in such a region. Together with Antwerp, Bruges, Hasselt and Leuven, Gent is part of the Flemish Region, one of the three federal regions of Belgium. The province in the Flemish Region where Gent is located is called East Flanders.
What to expect in Ghent?
Gent is a beautiful and historical city located in the Flanders region of Belgium. Visitors to Gent can expect to find a charming medieval city center with cobbled streets and gothic architecture. The city is also home to numerous museums, galleries and other cultural events. There is plenty to see and do in Gent, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation.
Gent’s sights and attractions
Gent is home to many sights and attractions that will appeal to visitors of all ages. The city’s historic center is a great place to start exploring, with many well-preserved buildings and landmarks dating back centuries.
For those interested in art and culture, Gent is home to numerous museums and galleries, as well as the iconic Gent Altar. Nature lovers will enjoy spending time in one of the many green spaces in the city, such as the Vrijdagmarkt or Sint-Baafsplein.
How to get to Ghent?
There are several ways to get to Ghent from Brussels, the capital of Belgium. The first way is by train.
Getting to Ghent by train
The Belgian railway company SNCB/NMBS runs trains every 30 minutes from Brussels-North station to Gent-Sint-Pieters station. The journey takes about 45 minutes. If you are coming from outside Brussels, you can take a Thalys train from Paris, Amsterdam or Cologne that stops at Brussels-South station. From there you can take the SNCB/NMBS train to Gent-Sint-Pieters.
Getting to Ghent by by
Another way to get to Gent is by bus. The Flemish bus company De Lijn runs buses from Brussels Airport to Gent every 30 minutes. The journey takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. You can also take the bus from other Belgian cities such as Bruges, Antwerp or Ostend.
Getting to Ghent by car
If you are going to Gent by car, it is located just over 50 km from Brussels. You can take the E40 motorway, which leads directly to the city center. There is also a park and ride system where you can leave your car in one of the Park+Ride parking lots on the outskirts of the city and then take a bus or tram to the center.
Getting to Ghent by plain
The nearest airport to Gent is Brussels Airport, just over 50 km away. There are regular flights from all over the world, including many European cities as well as North America and Asia.
Public transportation in Gent
Urban transportation is quite developed in Gent. With the right route, it is possible to travel around the city on foot with almost no public transportation. The city is very small and the places to visit in Gent are located in and around the city center. By getting a CityCard Gent, you can also get city buses and trams for free if you need them.
The city center of Gent, where the sights are located, is about a half-hour walk from Gent Sint-Pieters train station, but you can reach the city center in a few minutes by tram number 1. The tram is the fastest and easiest way to reach the city center. If you arrive at Dampoort Station train station, you can take buses 3, 17, 18, 38, 39 to Korenmarkt, the city square.
If you want to use public transportation in the city, you will find that public transportation is very punctual here, as in many parts of Europe. Bus and tram tickets are cheaper if you buy them from ticket machines. Drivers sell tickets at points where there are no ticket machines, but the ticket prices are about twice as expensive.
Tips for visiting Gent
- Plan your trip in advance and book your accommodation early. Gent can be a popular tourist destination during peak season, so it’s best to plan ahead to avoid disappointment.
- Make the most of Gent’s many museums and art galleries. From history buffs to art lovers, there is something for everyone. Check out the CityCard Gent, which gives you free entry to many of the city’s museums.
- Wander the streets of this medieval city and soak up the atmosphere. Gent is one of Belgium’s most charming cities with many hidden gems to discover.
- Savor traditional Belgian cuisine. From delicious chocolate and beer to hearty stews and frites, Gent has plenty to tempt your taste buds.
- Be sure to try the local delicacy waterzooi, a stew made with chicken or fish, vegetables and cream.
Free internet in Gent
As for the internet, there is public WiFi in Gent, especially in the squares, where you can connect for free. There is no shortage of internet. So if you want to save money on your data plan, simply connect to one of the many hotspots in the city. I hope this article has given you a good overview of what to expect when visiting Gent.