A historic city with all the benefits of a modern metropolis, Ghent is a hidden treasure brimming with life. Even a short trip will allow you a chance to see the best this medieval city has to offer, making it the perfect minicruise destination. To help you find the highlights this fascinating city has to offer, our guide details the best things to do in Ghent on your minicruise.
Check Out Graffiti Street
A definite must for the avid photographer, the street of Werregarenstraat is a space where graffiti artists are allowed to share their artwork. Created in the early ’90s as a way of curbing illegal graffiti, the alley’s appearance now changes daily as new pieces appear along every inch of the alleyway walls. It’s completely free to visit, so check out the artwork and maybe even catch an artist in action.
Head to the Water
The city is situated on the junction of two gorgeous rivers, the Leie and Schelde. Get a unique view of Ghent by embarking on a boat tour of the inland waterways. Your guide will share with you some of the history of the city as you float past beautiful architecture, monuments and historic passageways.
Pick up a Bargain
A flea market is set up opposite St Jacob’s church each Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning. The countless stalls offer all kinds of bric-a-brac for bargain prices. Ideal for picking up a unique souvenir, this is considered one of the best open-air markets in Ghent.
Visit a Brewery
It really wouldn’t be a trip to Belgium without a visit to one of its many breweries. One of the more intriguing options is the modern, canal-side Gruut Brewery, which opened its doors in 2007. While this is comparatively young compared to many breweries in Belgium, Gruut is remarkable for its use of a medieval recipe which replaces the use of hops with herbs. Learn all about their unique brewing process, sample their delicious beer or even create your own with a fun Beeralchemy course.
See a Masterpiece
One of the greatest examples of early Flemish panel painting can be found at the St Bavo’s Cathedral. The enormous altarpiece, known as the Adoration Of The Mystic Lamb, is one of the country’s most important pieces of 15th century artwork. This complex and detailed piece is a must for anyone interested in art.
Take a Walk
Citadel Park is a green oasis located right in the heart of the city. The gardens are ideal for picnics, long walks or — if weather permits it — sunbathing. For those with green fingers, a visit to the subtropical and tropical greenhouses of the Ghent University Botanical Gardens opposite the park is also essential.
Visit a Pub
Located in the historic heart of Ghent, Dulle Griet is a favourite pub among locals and visitors. Boasting the largest selection of Belgian beers in Ghent, choosing which to sample isn’t easy. Peruse a menu of over 260 options and relax in the cosy atmosphere alongside the locals. Recommended for any beer lover is the house speciality Max, which is served in a 1.2 litre test tube held in a wooden rack. However, anyone who orders a Max must exchange their shoe as a deposit, which is then winched up in a basket to the ceiling until the glass is returned.
Get a View
The UNESCO listed Belfry tower provides exceptional views across Ghent. This 91-metre high architectural masterpiece is the tallest building in the city, with 256 steps to help you work off the chips, beer and chocolate. With spectacular panoramas at the top, make sure you don’t forget your camera!
Wander Around a Castle
Few cities can boast a medieval castle at their core, but Ghent can do just that! The 12th century stone Gravensteen, or the Castle of Counts, has a rich history that dates back to the Middle Ages. Wander across the moat, around the ramparts and — if you’re feeling brave — check out the guillotine in the creepy torture museum inside.
The Design Museum is ideal for anyone interested in art deco and postmodern styles, with superb collections dedicated to each. The museum specialises in showcasing cutting edge, contemporary design, and the regularly changing exhibits and permanent collections within the sleek modern building are hugely inspiring.
From castles to flea markets, there are so many things to do in Ghent that are perfect for a minicruise itinerary.