Ever since I embarked on my very first trip to Belgium, two years ago, I’ve been in love with the country – and its beer. Don’t even get me started on the chocolate. And waffles.
And fries. Yes, the fries from Belgian frituurs/friteries/frietkot/fries’ shops are phenomenal!
To everyone who ever claimed we’re crazy for eating mayo with our fries over here in Europe, you better dip that fine piece of potato in some Belgian (or French) mayonnaise as soon as you set your foot in Belgium. Like I said; phenomenal.
I’ve been romanced in Bruges, charmed in Antwerp and entertained in Brussels. My latest Belgium-adventure, brought me to the beautiful city of Ghent. I knew it wouldn’t take much for this Flemish gem to seduce me (you know, being a sucker for fruit beers and Belgian chocolate and all).
Enough with the food talk (for now). There’s so much more to Belgium than its amazing food and drinks. Especially in Ghent. You’ll love Ghent.
Let me just tell you, I fell head over heels in love with the city – and so will you!
These are my 10 reasons why Ghent is a city you’ll easily fall in love with
- The Flemish architecture not only looks amazing in photos – but it makes me want to drop everything and move into one of those charming townhouses with a view over the Leie river. Imagine living in a nice little studio apartment in a tall narrow brick house, close to all the traditional pubs and eateries. You might end up becoming an alcoholic, but at least your house looks amazing on Instagram.
- The fairy tale castle, Gravensteen, is conveniently located in the city center and just waiting for you to photograph it, visit it, enjoy it and appreciate it – like the prince or princess you are! The castle originates from the Middle Ages and served as the residence of different Counts, throughout history. Today it’s a venue for special events, parties and cultural activities and it is by far the most important tourist attraction in Ghent. Many couples choose this fairy tale-esque castle as a unique setting for their big day. I don’t know about you, but I woud love to say “I do” in a gorgeous castle (darling, if you’re reading this, take notes) !
- The Boatel we stayed at, was a very pleasant surprise and it is without a doubt my number one place to stay when in Ghent. It’s cozy, clean and the breakfast is amazing. But the best part of the stay at The Boatel is the owner. A very helpful, chatty and extremely funny guy. He couldn’t resist poking fun at my boyfriend for being French, and as neighbor’s do, my Frenchman made a handful of jokes about Belgium right back at him. Ah, don’t you just love a friendly banter? All jokes aside, the Boatel-owner let my boyfriend borrow his bicycle to run an errand, and gave us plenty of good ideas for things to do and places to eat – and handed over plenty of useful brochures!
- The events and festivities! We had no idea there’d be an awesome Food Truck Festival in Ghent during the weekend of our stay. Being someone who loves festivals AND food trucks, I was on cloud nine. A beer here, a snack there, and a whole bunch of snacks from yet another truck, and another one, and another one. Now that’s pure happiness, right there. Be sure to also check out the other fun festivities in Ghent, such as the Christmas Market and Winter Festivities, the Light Festival, Film Festival, Jazz Festival and so much more.
- The street art adds a little extra coolness and urbanity to the city. As if the city wasn’t already cool! The Werrengarestraat is in fact a legal graffiti street.
- Belgian beer is the greatest beer you’ll ever have. Whether you like light beers, white beers, lager, dark ales, sour ales, fruit beers, strong beers, you name it – Belgium has it. But beware; a lot of Belgian beers don’t have a strong taste of alcohol to them. But a lot of them are quite hardcore and will knock you out if you drink too much too fast, too soon. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that. Still, I keep getting accidentally drunk in Belgium every time I fall in love with a new beer. While in Ghent, we wanted to learn more about the city, its culture and to do a whole bunch of beer tasting, so we went on a guided tasting-tour with BeerWalk. It was fun, educational and we even got to keep our beer glasses after the tour! I did get accidentally drunk again, though.
- Cuberdon – also known as Gentse neus (Ghent nose) is the most delicious candy ever. And you’ll only find it in Ghent! We bought maybe half a kilo of those yummy sweets from one of the street vendors, while wandering around town. The cuberdons are sweet, cone-shaped, raspberry-flavored and are made with gum arabic (natural gum made from hardened sap of the acacia tree), which gives it the gelatinous texture.
- The food was mentioned before, and I have to mention it again. Do you want to satisfy your sweet tooth with some artisan gourmet chocolates or thick delicious waffles? Are you looking for a tasty late night snack and want to try some high quality Belgian fries, perfectly crispy on the outside and airy on the inside? Or do you wanna have a pint and a meal at a gastro pub and feed your belly with something more traditional like Carbonnade (Flemish beef and beer stew)? Before you ask, I ate all those things during my stay in Ghent.
- The old-fashioned charm to the city. You’re surrounded by old, beautiful bridges, buildings and monuments. The historic St. Bavo’s Cathedral, Gravensteen castle, Saint Nicholas’ Church and the castle of Gerard the Devil – Ghent is a city full of history and treasures.
- Shopaholics love Ghent because the city has something for everyone. Chain stores, authentic boutiques, local up and coming designers and design stores – and last but not least, if you want to get your hands on some local produce or original souvenirs; there’s a market every day of the week, and six (!) markets every Sunday morning!
And here are some fun facts you might wanna know about gorgeous Ghent…
- Ghent is the capital of East Flanders in Belgium. The name of the city is spelled Gent in Flemish and Gand in French.
- There’s a local brewery in Ghent – in case you wanna try the most local of local beer there is to try. Visit the Gentse Gruut brewery!
- The inside of the Gravensteen castle houses a torture museum (not for sensitive viewers!)
- The city promotes vegetarianism. Meat-free Thursday is promoted in all schools and public buildings, and the city is said to have the world’s largest number of vegetarian restaurants per capita. So if carbonnade and other meat-filled dishes ain’t your thing, check out veggie eateries – such as vegan buffet Komkommertijd or the colorful, trendy and Instagram-perfect Le Botaniste.