Ghent is a charming city with scattered medieval gems around its historical center

Follow this walk to make the most out of Ghent in a day or two and enjoy the architectural gems and some museums. Just skip the ones that are not interesting to you to fit everything in a day, although probably it would be best to do in two days to take in everything

All places mentioned below are gathered on the map!
You can choose what interests you and make your own route

Vrijdagmarkt is a charming square, where a market is held every Friday since 1199 [yes, 1199, this is not a typo 🙂 ]. Today there is a market also on Saturday. This is where royalty were officially received at the “Joyous Entries” ceremonies and also where people were executed (last execution was in 1863). You can see there the 15th-century Toreken, meaning ‘Little Tower’, the only building that is originally from that era. The rest were built in the 19th century. Toreken was the house of the tanners’ guild
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Pass by Dulle Griet, the 15th century red iron canon (info panel at the bridge nearby)
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Walk around Patershol, the neighborhood with the tiny cobblestone streets and the medieval small buildings. It is also full of cozy restaurants and some have a view over the canal at the back
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Huis van Alijn, the museum of ordinary daily life, is not one of the top attractions and I would recommend just passing by. It was once an almshouse, where the old and sick were cared for. Currently there is a circus themed expo. The little terrasse there is nice for some quiet time
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Follow Kraanlei and walk along the canal taking in the architectural gems of the city

Gravensteen is the most important attraction of Ghent. The 10th-century medieval Castle of Counts is the only castle in Europe that is in the center of a city. The castle has a turbulent history. It started as a wooden castle, then was built in Tournai limestone. It has been a court, a prison, a place for tortures, a textile factory and at the end of the 19th century they also wanted to demolish it to sell the land. Thankfully there was no interest in that. The audio guide is lots of fun, but unfortunately they only gave one to me (they said they give to kids as of 9 years old). You also get a nice view from the top of the castle
You can book tickets here (recommended):
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The Design Museum is one of our favorite museums in Ghent. If you are into design, then it will be interesting to walk around. Kids can do a treasure hunt for hidden playmobile among the international design collection and there is also a soft area where kids can play
You can book tickets here (recommended):
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Walk along Korenlei or Graslei, the streets along the banks of river Leie, and enjoy the marvelous architecture
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Stop for a moment at Sint-Michielsbrug, the bridge of St Michael, an arched stone bridge with a view of the three towers of Ghent, St Nicholas Church, the Belfort and Saint Bavo’s Cathedral
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Saint Nicholas Cathedral is a 13th-century Scheldt gothic church. Note how the the tower is not above the entrance as usually but in the middle of the building. The organ is one of the most important romantic organs in Belgium.
Lights on Van Eyck is a temporary multimedia spectacle until November 2021, an hommage to Flemish master Jan Ven Eyck. A part of the light show is done by robotic hands, the rest of the experience is projections on every wall available, including the ceiling
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Ray is a café right next to St Nicholas Cathedral, where you can sit in a glasshouse (!) and enjoy your drink, while the kids are playing at the kids corner

You can take a look at the Stadshal, an example of modern architecture in the city by architects Robbrecht & Daem / Marie-José Van Hee. If you are lucky, you might get to see a concert there!
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The Belfort of Ghent offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. At 91m this 14th century building is the tallest belfry in Belgium. You will need to climb up about 50 steps to take the elevator to the top of the tower and then you will need to climb down approximately 250 steps to get back. Do not attempt this with young kids, as the steps are very steep and small
You can book tickets here:
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Saint Bavo’s Cathedral is famous for the altarpiece Lamb of God by Van Eyck. You can experience an augmented reality tour that gives a lot of information about the era and the story behind the painting (this was lots of fun for our kids!). I especially appreciated the flying teapot that was leading the way 😉
You can book tickets here:
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After lots of sightseeing, a short stop for trampolines and ice cream at Maaseikplein!
Geraard de Duivelhof, 9000 Gent
and here are the details for ice cream (right across the street of Maaseikplein)
Cremerie Gérard
Limburgstraat 36, 9000 Gent

Pass by the Ghent Town Hall and notice how the two façades are different. One is built in Gothic style and the other in Rennaisance style!
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Walk along the graffiti street, where graffiti is legal and artists enjoy creating
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You can also do a boat tour and see the city from water:
De Bootjes Van Gent – Rederij Dewaele
Korenlei 4/A, 9000 Gent
Gent Watertoerist
Graslei, 9000 Gent

Another way to see Ghent from water is to rent a kayak!
Kayaks Korenlei
Sint-Michielsplein 21, 9000 Gent

The route is stroller friendly, wheelchair friendly. However, not all activities along the route are. For example, the Belfort requires you to climb up 50 steps to take the elevator. There will be separate posts coming soon on all places

You can start at any point, as this is a cyclical route. We usually park at Vrijdagmarkt, so we start from there. You can also park at Sint-Michiel’s bridge and start from the medieval towers. The route passes by all the places listed below and is about 3km. You can follow the route with this Komoot link:

There are public toilets at several places along the map:
near Gravensteen
near Design Museum
near Sint-Michiels bridge

And if you are in Ghent and you want to go swimming in a lake with water slides and awesome playgrounds, then Provincial Domain Blaarmeersen should be on your list! It’s just 4km from the center (10 minutes by car or 40 minutes by public transport)

Also Wereld van Kina is highly recommended for kids!

There is a Low Emission Zone in Ghent. If your car is Euro 1/2/3, then you can buy a permission (EUR 35 per day). If your car is Euro 4, then you need to buy a permission again, just different category (EUR 25 per week). If your car is newer than Euro 4, then you can access the city by car with no worries. Be careful not to overlook this, as there are people that have been fined
More details here:
Also if your car has number plates that are not Belgian or Dutch, then you need to register the vehicle to enter the city
More details here:

A bit less than an hour drive from Schuman, Brussels (or 1 hour 15 minutes by public transport)

This parking is ideal to visit the three medieval towers of Ghent (Saint Nicholas, Belfort and Saint Bavo’s Cathedral)
Parking Sint-Michiels (P7)
Sint-Michielsplein 8, 9000 Gent

This parking is ideal for visiting the Vrijdagmarkt [apparently :)], Patershol, Gravensteen castle and Huis van Alijn
Parking Vrijdagmarkt
Vrijdagmarkt 1, 9000 Gent


All places mentioned above are also gathered on the map!
Indoor and outdoor activities, kids friendly cafés/ restaurants, hotels and more all under separate layers

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