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Ghent Travel Information

With as many historic monuments as neighboring Bruges, and a network of picturesque canals, Ghent is one of Belgium's best kept secrets.

Bustling modern day life played against a mediaeval backdrop lends this university city a unique charm, particularly when the sun shines and colourful stalls and pavements cafes fill its streets and squares.

Ghent, Belgium

A beautiful historic town, packed to the brim with castles, spirals and churches. A mixture of architecture from Romanesque to Baroque adorns the city.

Ghent is located at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and is ideally situated to visit the other regions of Flanders and the beautiful Lys Vally.

Ghent Travel Information

With its modern development and main roads, at first glance Ghent feels more like a provincial town than a centre of tourist interest, but it in fact boasts a wide range of historic buildings, including a striking Gothic cathedral, several interesting churches and a medieval castle. Add to museums, pleasant pedestrianised streets, waterways and old Flemish houses, and there is enough to fill a visit of several days.

St Bavo's cathedral is at the heart of the central area, approximately 2km (1.25 miles) across, which gives a good view of the city, after climbing the 444 steps of the tower! The town's various towers and belfries can also be admired from nearby Saint Michael's Bridge. The old port of Graslei is lined with lovely old buildings and a great place to relax in one of the many cafes. Also worth visiting is the Castle of the Counts, rebuilt in 1180, formerly a mint and a jail but now housing a museum, crypt and display of instruments of torture.

In north west Belgium. 36 miles north west of Brussels and its airport. 42 miles east of Ostend and ferry port. In the flatlands, dotted with a few small hills. Ghent is built around 3 rivers serving as important transport arteries, and cut through by several canals.

Where to Stay
The accommodation options range from B&B's, to youth hostels, a camping site and even a boat hotel. Liberally scattered through town, the few larger hotels in the centre are all modern.

What to Do
Daytime: guided walking tour (leaflets from tourist office, charge), bus tour, boat excursion or short carriage ride (weekends and holidays); international exhibitions at Expo centre.

Nightlife: choice of nightclubs, discos and live music, mainly in the Zuid (South) quarter, also known as Ghent's 'Red Light District'; the best buildings in the central area are lit up at night in summer and at weekends.

There are many decent restaurants serving mostly French food to traditionally high standard and with generous portions. The historic Patershol district has a high concentration of places to eat. Cheaper snacks are available from bars and taverns, of which there are plenty around the cathedral. International food is also available.

For shopping, the Veldstraat and Lange Munt are the main areas to find retail chain stores. Smaller boutiques can be found in Volderstraat, Henegouwenstraat and Mageleinstraat. A flower market all week at Kouter; flea markets at Bij Sint Jacobs on Friday and at Beverhoutplein on Saturday and Sunday. Fresh food market on Sundays at Sint-Michielsplein.

Full day tours: boat trips; 15th-century belfry in Aalst; museum of renowned mapmaker Gerard Mercator in Sint Niklaas; Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels, more or less equidistant.

Getting Around
Good bus and tram networks radiate outwards from the terminal in front of the main post office. It is cheaper to buy your ticket at a newspaper shop or supermarket rather than on the bus. Nightbus on Friday and Saturday evenings. Taxis available, or for more flexibility Vespa and car rental. Explore the historic city centre on foot, and use the local buses and trams to venture further afield.

Who is it for?
As Ghent is a university town, it has a certain liveliness and its historic sites will attract those interested in history and culture. Most visitors are from neighbouring countries, with a steady trickle from the rest of the world. Some business visitors, largely attending exhibitions at the Expo centre.

Getting There

Direct flights from the UK to Brussels airport are available at discount rates from your local airport. From Brussels it is a 50 minute train journey to Ghent.

Must See
The 'Row of Towers' of St Bravo's Cathedral, St Nicholas Church and the Belfry; these are spectacularly illuminated by night. Don't miss the striking Castle of the Counts, whilst at the Graslei a splendid row of guild houses overlook the Old Harbour.

The Castle of the Counts, Ghent

Must Do
Take a canal trip for another view of the city. Visit the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Folklore Museum and the former Bijloke abbey for an insight into the region's history. Just outside the city centre, take a stroll in the University's Botanical Gardens.

To Relax
Ghent has over 350 restaurants, and as a university city, there are plenty of lively cafes and cosy bars. For shopping try the main streets of Kouter and Volderstraat. Markets include the daily flower market at Kouter and an antique market at the weekend.

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Ghent by Hessle Travel

Ghent Highlights

> Larger than Bruges, smaller than Brussels and close to both, Ghent is a unique combination of the two

> Famous paintings by Flemish masters combine with an amazing blend of Gothic, Renaissance and Romanesque architecture

> Ghent houses the most listed monuments in Belgium

> Visit the Castle of the Counts

> Wander along narrow, cobbled streets, see ancient guild houses by canal boat

> Relax in the cafes which surround the Market Squares of Ghent

Book yourself a flight or city break to Ghent with Hessle Travel.

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