Gent City Guide

The city municipality of Ghent is the capital of the Flemish province of East Flanders. It is the second largest municipality in Belgium with a population of over 237,000, not including the inhabitants of the metropolitan area. It is a host to a mix of historic and modern architecture and culture. Ghent started out as a tiny settlement at the confluence of two rivers namely Scheldt and Lys. It is believed that the name is derived from the Celtic word “ganda” meaning confluence. Back then until the early Middle Ages, Ghent was one of the most important European cities. Today, it boasts itself of its huge university, a large port, and its superb preservation of historical monuments. The best time to visit Ghent is on July when they hold a ten-day festival held in the streets called “Ghent Fests”. It is a huge celebration of music and theater. It is the third biggest local festival in Europe, drawing in about two million attendees every year. Within the city at different venues, concerts and shows are held. There also are street performers to entertain the crowd. Ghent’s city center is the biggest car-free area in Belgium. Those who bring a car, rented or otherwise, are advised to leave it in parking zones at the side of the roads. As for public transport, there are five train stations that lead to cities, north, south, and within the municipality. The Gent-Sint-Pieters Train Station is international and offers a direct transport to Brussels Airport. To get around the city, trams, trolleybuses, and buses are available. Upon arrival, one could choose to stay in the Marriot Ghent hotel, one of the top rated accommodations in the city. Situated at Korenlei, a popular tourist spot, the average cost per day is $222. Those looking for a more inexpensive hotel but with the same quality service, try the Ibis Ghent Centrum Kathedral. It is located at the middle of the historic inner town of the city and costs only $140 per day. If shopping is part of the agenda, Ghent has and, shopping streets to fulfill the need. There is Veldstraat, the main shopping street with famous designer boutiques and a department store. Other places worth checking out are the Hoomstraat, the Hoogpoort, the Kortrijksepoortstraat the Mageleinstraat, the Brabantdam, the Vrijdagmarkt, and the Korenmarkt. With regards to food, Ghent offers both local and international cuisine. Patershol is a place densely populated by restaurants. Sleepstraat is another one up north famous for Turkish restaurants. On Thursdays, the whole city goes vegetarian. Also present are several art and historic museums. The most popular is Design Museum of Ghent. It houses a diverse collection of old 17th century pieces to modern works from the 1980s. It is a 3-minute walk from the Korenmarkt and could be reached from Gent St. Pieters Station via Tram 1. Nighttime at Ghent is definitely not boring. Since it is home to a very large university, the population is relatively young, hence the energetic nightlife. There are bars that serve almost any beer one could think of.