My travel guide to Gent

Gent or Ghent – I’m not actually sure as it seems to say different things in different places. I’m assuming Gent is the English version and Ghent might be more used in other native languages like dutch. No matter how you spell it, it’s a wonderful place.

I immediately fell in love with gent when we arrived. It has all those things I love: old architecture, history, cute shops, local delicacies and foods and walking distance to see it all. I’m gonna say that we pretty much only saw the old town, but from what I gather this is the place to be and see.

Good to know before traveling

Currency is Euros (€) in Belgium and some shops did not accept card, although most did.

It’s a car-free zone in the old town centre so just bear this in mind if you have heavy luggage and your hotel isn’t accessible by taxi, however it might be easier to get the tram as there’s a good network of them in the city and from/to the main train station.

There’s a direct train link from Brussels Airport to Gent.

Most of the people we met in gent spoke dutch, however they quickly swapped to English when they realised we were tourists and I was so surprised by how friends everyone was.

Where to stay in Gent

Yalo Boutique Hotel

read my review here

Yalo feels fresh and youthful with bright rooms and an open green space for the restaurant and bar area. I really enjoyed our stay here and would say this hotel is somewhere between The Post and Hotel Gravensteen as it doesn’t just feel like a hotel where you sleep, but somewhere you can come for food or a drink as well, without breaking the wallet too much.

The Post 1898

read my review here

The Post 1898 is a gorgeous gothic building right by the river in central Gent. It’s definitely slightly pricier than other options, however if it’s a special occasion it’s worth the splurge. The rooms are spacious and lovely with the shower upstairs on a mezzanine. I really enjoyed the breakfast which was in the same room where the bar was the previous evening. The tiki cocktails were boozy – but super tasty and there’s also an honesty bar if you’re into spirits.

I also got engaged here so this will hold a special piece of my heart ♥️

Hotel Gravensteen

read my review here

Hotel Gravensteen is located right near by the Gravensteen Castle and is more of a simple style of hotel. However we had a lovely room with a gorgeous view towards the water.

Before booking our hotels I also looked at Hotel Harmony which looks like a lovely hotel as well, especially in the warmer months as it has a rooftop pool. I also had a look at Hotel Monasterium PoortAckere in an old neo-gothic monastery that looks to be full of character. Before settling on 1898 The Post we also considered the higher end Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof Ghent which looked very grande indeed. Seems they have a bar and a gorgeous spa as well!

Things to do

Boat tour on the river

We were walking around on our last day and decided to do a little boat trip before lunch. It was perfect weather for it as it was a sunny day and it was really enjoyable to see Gent from the river. Our guide did the tour in three different languages (English, Dutch and French) and I really liked that it was an actual guide and not a recording. A great way to see the city and learn a bit more about it at the same time. I’d probably recommend doing this one of the first days so you also get a feel for what area. We paid €9/pp with De Bootjes van Gent.

Walk around and admire the architecture

It’s just such a stunning place that you can walk around and admire the houses. Stick to the Old Town and walk up and down the little streets and there’s plenty to see and explore.

Gravensteen Castle

We didn’t do a tour of the castle but it was an impressive sight to see this castle in the middle of the town, right next to the tramline. Next time I would consider paying for entrance at it’s an impressive building. If you do a river tour, which I mentioned above, you also get to see the castle from a few different angles.

Try cuberdons

Cuberdons date back 150 years and is a local Gent delicacy. These little sweets, often purple but can be found in other colours as well, is shaped as a little nose and has a harder outer shell and is softer and oozier in the middle. The flemish also call them “neuzeke” meaning small nose.

I’d also recommend visiting the old fashioned sweet shop Temmermann where you can buy cuber dons to try and lots of other things. It’s a good place to find souvenirs, however they do not take card, if it’s not through a Belgian phone paying app. There’s also street vendors and sweet shops near the castle that sell them. .

Try belgian chocolate

I cannot recommend this enough because all the chocolate I tried in gent was D E L I C I O S! You can’t go to Belgium and not try the chocolate, right?

We were also lucky and visited during what was called the “weekend of the customer” so everywhere I bought little pralines or even just stepped inside the shop there were samples or extras that they shops were handing out.

I particularly liked Neuhaus who had a few shops around Gent and really friendly staff. Van Hoorebeke looked very traditional and elegant and the chocolate was vert tasty, however the service was probably the rudest we had in the city, but perhaps they had a bad day. Finally I’d also recommend Sophie’s where they have little dragon shaped chocolates “Gentse Draakje” that the woman behind the counter told me is their speciality. They have them in dark, milk and white chocolates with raspberry or caramel filling. They also sell cuberdons and other local delicacies.

Where to eat

One of my favourite things to do when I visit a different country or culture is to try the local flavours – be it food or drink. In Belgium of course many would go for chocolate or waffles, but in gent they have a local candy called cuberdons, which I’ve written more about in the things to do section.

Alice Tearoom

When I did my pre-travel research Alice popped up and looked just like the kind of place I would like. I hadn’t planned to visit but decided to skip our hotel breakfast the second day and found myself walking past Alice instead. I timed it perfectly as they offer a Sunday brunch on Sundays so you pay a set amount and it’s all you can eat with a warm beverage, fruit juice and a glass of bubbly included for €38/pp. Out width the brunch they also offer food and drinks so it’s a lovely place to come if you’re looking for lunch or a café to rest your legs. The venue has some historic charm and the food was great. Fresh and tasty with lots of different options. And a huge bonus that the peppermint tea was made with fresh peppermint leaves!

They also do a High Tea so will have to come back and try this next time.

Julies House

I had meant to go to Julies for an Afternoon Tea but unfortunately they did not have enough food left when I was there so if you’d fancy an afternoon tea, make sure to book in advance. This will be at the top of my list next time as Julies is such a cute place. They offer loads of different cakes and have a really tasty homemade ice tea. They have seating downstairs in the back, or on the street outside but I’d recommend siting upstairs. Just look at those gorgeous windows and wooden bistro chairs.

Manhattn’s Burgers

After our boat trip on our last day we had spotted a building on the river that our guide said was one f the oldest buildings there and they happened to have a burger restaurant so we headed there for lunch. They had some great burgers, the fries were crispy and skinny and the highlight was probably their yuzu lemonade which was seriously good and refreshing. We sat outside so we could people watch by the river.

Where to drink

As I visited Gent alongside my partner who was working a whisky fair, we didn’t really focus on going out drinking during our time in the city. However we did have time for a tiki cocktail in the bar at 1898 The Post, where we were staying the last night. I also had my eye on café and restaurant Het Moment, quirky restaurant Maison Elza, wine bar Edelrot and cocktail bar Jiggers, but will have to visit them next time instead. But thought I’d include them here in case you’d be keen on any of them. Lots of people also recommended the whisky bar The Glengarry to us!

✦ Want to read my hotel reviews?

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Check out my Instagram @swedishwhiskygirl or @scandinavianabroad to see even more photos and follow along on future adventures.

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Moa Nilsson

Adventurous Swede with a fondness for castles, snow and vintagesque experiences.

Scandinavian Abroad

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