Holidays to Ghent
The cosy and intimate city of Ghent in Belgium is one of Europe’s most underrated cities. There is plenty to love, from the atmospheric medieval city centre to the vibrant and trendy nightlife. There is a large student population, meaning a high number of lively bars and cheap restaurants to keep the younger traveller happy. Holidays in Ghent are also likely to feature plenty of museums and culture, as this city boasts some of Belgium’s most fascinating museums along with a strong music scene. The art and design culture in Ghent is vibrant and constantly evolving, with a community of talented street artists working alongside cutting-edge designers and creative people.
Art and music
One of the most famous attractions in Ghent is the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, the earliest-known oil painting in the world. This elaborate work was completed in 1432 and has a dramatic history, now resting in the St-Baafskathedraal. The fantastic MSK gallery is designed to look like a Greek temple and houses a collection of Belgian fine art from the 14th to the 20th century. For the less artistically conventional, there is a wide network of creative gallery spaces throughout Ghent, such as the DOK cultural project in the old harbour area. This complex of empty warehouses has been turned into a vibrant art space and also hosts cinema screenings and live music. Music lovers should also make sure to include a visit to the Vooruit in their Ghent holiday plans; this Art Deco building hosts concerts and plays by visiting theatre companies.
You can see much of the city’s history by walking around the city centre, taking in the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture of the magnificent cathedral. If you visit the Cloth Hall, take the elevator to the very top of the UNESCO-listed Belfry for panoramic views of Ghent and a tangible sense of the city’s merchant history. The Gravensteen is also worth a visit; a quintessential 12th-century castle which could have been lifted straight from a fairy tale, complete with turrets and a moat. You can spend a relaxed afternoon strolling down the pretty canals of the Patershol neighbourhood, where charming restaurants nestle in cobbled lanes.
Eating and drinking
Ghent’s quirky restaurant scene has something to offer every palate. De Blauwe Zalm is one of the best seafood restaurants in Belgium and features a spectacular jellyfish chandelier that is worth a visit on its own. There are plenty of relaxed, low-cost places which serve up good food and great vibes, such as the veggie restaurant, Panda, which prides itself on its extensive menu of organic beers. There is also a lot of good coffee to be tasted. To make an anti-globalisation statement, head to Mokabon for an old-school Belgian coffee in old-world surroundings. There is a vibrant nightlife scene, too. Whether you want to spend your holiday in Ghent with a beer by an open fire or partying until the small hours, the city will be happy to oblige.