Almost all of the people I asked for recommendations before my Belgium trip raved about Ghent, citing it as similar to Bruges but bigger and without all the tourists. With that in mind, I added it to my itinerary, and it fit in perfectly before my Ryanair flight to Prague! Although Bruges may have been more magical, I could have spent more time in Ghent exploring. It was also the place I tried my first Belgian waffle, which may have biased me a bit….Belgian waffles may be my favourite food in the entire world.
My introduction to Ghent was much better than my introduction to Bruges. I had to take a tram to the other side of the city to check in at my VERY unique hostel (see the end of the post) and it went directly through the most beautiful part of the city. I was that obnoxious tourist oohing and aahing out the window while locals commuted to work, bored by the surroundings that I was so excited about. I loved that Belgium used trams as its main form of transportation: they’re much more quaint, so they don’t clash with the architecture.
As I’ve said, my favourite thing to do when I’m travelling is to go to the highest place I can and get the best view I can. In Ghent, that was the Belfry! While I was underwhelmed by this view after seeing the view in Bruges, it was still gorgeous – despite all the cranes marring the skyline! The view of the church was incredible.
I wanted to go on a boat cruise in Bruges, but by the time I remembered that I wanted to, it was too late. I decided to rectify the situation by taking one in Ghent, which wasn’t that great a choice. It was 7 Euros, which isn’t bad, but the boat was covered due to the cold and the views were of things I’d already seen. The tour guide, however, was a gorgeous Zayn-Malik lookalike (but with a man bun!!) with an accent, so that made up for the disappointment. I didn’t take many pictures due to the fact that the boat was covered. After the boat cruise, the sun came out in all its glory for the first time on my trip, making me love Ghent even more!
By this point in the day, I was ready for an educational attraction so I headed over to Castle Gravensteen! I love castles, and wandering through the rooms imagining myself as a princess (a very normal activity for any young woman) was lovely. I even read some of the historical signs! I really wish I could be a better traveller by enjoying museums and educational experiences, but honestly I get bored unless they’re aimed at little kids and therefore interactive. This one, however, was a hit! I also got another awesome view of Ghent from the castle ramparts.
Ah, the highlight of my trip…as usual, food. I had somehow managed to miss trying a traditional Belgian waffle in Antwerp and Ghent, so here I was determined to do so. I headed into a vendor on the main square, paid the paltry sum of 1.80 Euros and proceeded to eat the best waffle that has ever existed. It was warm and the perfect texture and filled with the perfect amount of sugar….I went on to eat approximately 8 waffles in Ghent alone. SO GOOD.
St. Michael’s Bridge
Once I got to the point in the day where I was ready to wind down and trying to find something exciting to fill my time, I perused my map and found that I had missed out on St. Michael’s bridge, which is where you can find the iconic view of Ghent. It was seriously beautiful, and for once the person I asked to take my picture actually did a great job!
Do It Yourself
- I stayed at the Andromeda Eco-Hostel, which was VERY different. I struggled to find somewhere to stay because I’m pretty sure there are very few hostels in town, and the most popular was closed for renovations. I settled on this one for the sole reason that it was on a houseboat!! Ghent is famous for its canals, just like Bruges (or Amsterdam, for that matter) and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stay on one of them. I liked the place, but I think I may have been the ONLY person staying there, which was quite creepy at night. It was also really cold in the hallways, but the room was great – and I had an 8 person dorm room all to myself! It was very cool to see all of the ecological initiatives and elements of the hostel, like their showers and lighting. There was an incident where I locked myself out of the indoor part of the boat in just a sweater (in JANUARY) and there was nobody to let me back in, but let’s be real – that was my fault. As for location, it was outside of the city but a very easy walk in, even sick and tired.
- Again, the train ride from Bruges to Ghent was about 6 Euros.