What is a Ghent?
Most people have not heard of Ghent. Most people probably could not locate it on a map. Most people probably could not locate Belgium on a map for that matter (between Netherlands, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the North Sea). Or what language Belgians speak (Dutch, French, and German are all official languages). People probably know about their waffles and chocolate, though. Luckily, I had a great tour guide (friend s/o Aiko) to show me around, here are some thoughts…
Location: Ghent is a city in the Flemish region (Northern Dutch speaking) of Belgium.
Language: Dutch (Flemish -primary). Also, French and German.
Climate: It rains on average 20/30 days on the month year round and sits between 8 and 14 degrees Celsius with a high of 22 in July.
How to get there: Quick train ride direct from Brussels Central
What is Ghent amazing? 3 main reasons:
First, the medieval architecture is unbelievable and likely the most underrated of any city I have ever been to. There are remarkable castles, cathedrals, and stately buildings all throughout the center of the city. My photo below is one of many incredible angles one can see around the large center of the city. Like many other of the low country’s (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg) cities, Ghent is a canal city similar to that of Amsterdam (but on a smaller scale, of course). Along the canals there are green spaces with picnic areas and restaurants. The open container policy (yay Europe) makes beer and wine on the canal possible.
Second, the culinary culture is great. Like the rest of Belgium you can find all the sweets you could possible desire. Also like the rest of Belgium, there is an INSANE variety of beers (highlighted for awesomeness). This is not an understatement, Belgium is the best country in the world for beer (SEE: Delirium Cafe, Brussels). Also, the epic GIN BAR of ‘t Dreupelkot. Lastly, the city observes vegetarian Thursdays in recognition of the negative impact of the meat industry on the environment, which the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has established to represent nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Throughout the city you can find modern and hipster markets, fresh foods, and cool cafes.
Third, Ghent has the largest carfree (pedestrian zone) center in Belgium. This means that the center of the city, where the old buildings and cultural center are located has very little cars. However, there is great public transportation that takes you around the city and into the center. Bicycling is the best mode of transportation, which is great because who doesn’t look happy while riding a bike.
Lastly, Ghent is not that touristic. Its small population keeps the crowds down. Most people take day tours from Brussels to the notoriously touristy city of Brugges, which is only a few train stops further. Often they do not stop in Ghent, which preserves the authenticity of it. In my opinion the medieval architecture is better in Ghent than Brugges, even though that is what Brugges is famous for. Brugges feels like Disneyland with all the tourist and pay-per-view sites.