Did you know it’s only 2 hours on the train from London to Ghent in Belgium? I was surprised how quick and easy it was to travel into a completely different world and I was so happy to take the train to Ghent and spend 2 nights in this charming city.
In this one day in Ghent guide, I rounded up all my favourite spots of the city that we got to visit and it turned out to be a nice mix of the old and new. I never knew Ghent was such a creative place and because my trip was unfortunately cut quite short, I have a good excuse to come back soon!
MORNING IN GHENT
Ghent Things to Do: Discover the City through her Street Art
Ghent is first and foremost a historic city, but once you really start to look at the detail and step of the main shopping streets, there is a whole other world to discover. A world filled with street art, for example!
Sadly, I only got to join half of a street art tour in Ghent because I had to run and get my train back, but from what I was able to see, there is a lot happening here. From massive commissioned murals, to illegal tags and even a whole street filled with art (Berlin style), you can spend hours walking through the city and learning about its (street) artists.
There is a handy map called the “Sorry, Not Sorry Street Art Map“, which offers an overview of all murals that you can admire in Ghent. I’ll make sure to create a separate post with all the works I’ve found!
Eat a Waffle (and don’t just take a photo of the shop like I did!)
Belgium is off course famous for her waffles, so after your street art tour, you might want to warm up a bit with a tasty treat.
And yeah… don’t do what I did and just take a photo of the building, then completely getting distracted and not actually buying one. The reasons to come back to Ghent start piling up now.
Visit The Design Museum Gent
One of the main reasons for my visit to Ghent, was because I was invited to check out a new exhibition in the Design Museum Gent, called Hello! Robot. This exhibit features four highly interactive sections in which the visitor is invited to think about the robots that are already in our lives, and the question if we want to have even more and in what way.
I was very impressed with the exhibition and think the curators have done an excellent job compressing this incredibly broad topic into such comprehensible displays. You really leave the museum asking yourself how we should deal with new technologies, as individuals and as a society as a whole.
I’ve written a more in-depth review of this exhibition, which you can read here.
AFTERNOON IN GHENT
Another big reason for my visit of Ghent, was to show that besides all the historic attractions, there is so much more going on ‘behind the scenes’ of this city. We started off going to NEST, a creative space in the former library of the city.
Over 70 groups of creatives gathered and gradually 13 groups arose on the basis of shared or additional interests. Each group developed its own offer that is available to everyone. They act autonomously and determine the rules themselves for the use of their offer and space. This way, they form a city in a city, accessible and open to everyone.
For example, on the ground floor, you can find ‘Deelpunt’, a place that connects shared initiatives around mobility, nutrition, clothing, etc, or ‘TOOP’, a meeting space where you can be surprised by local products and take-away food. On the 1st floor, you can rent office space in ‘Het Kantoor’, or meet others in ‘Bar Wilson’. The 2nd floor features an open meeting space in ‘Het Salon’, as well as ‘Het Podium’, where you can see and perform music, theatre, comedy and screenings.
There is ‘De Vloer’ on floor 3, which literally is just a floor to rehearse, improvise, train or experiment. There is a whole creative workshop going on in ‘Het Werkhuis’ on floor 4 and a silent room ‘De Stiltekamer’ on floor 5.
Lunch at Foodstorms Café
Foodstorms Café is the latest pop-up at NEST, located on the 6th floor. They offer a lovely plant-based kitchen in a contemporary setting.
I believe that we should all become a bit more conscious about what we eat, so to experience that vegetarian/vegan food can actually be so tasty and filling was great to see. It definitely inspired me to do a bit more research and cook more without meat at home as well.
You can visit Foodstorms until the end of March 2018, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 12:00-14:00 and 18:00-22:00. It’s smart to make a reservation!
Visit New Library De Krook
With a name like that, of course I HAD to visit this new library of Ghent. It’s not often you hear the name ‘Krook’ and some of the Belgium people in our company had never even met anyone with that name. ‘Krook’ means curve, or bend in a road or river (it can also mean the curve in a Shepard’s cane for example), so with this building standing in the curve of the river de Schelde, the name was chosen well.
While you might think that library’s are not really of this time anymore, I assure you that this library is worth a visit, because it will really surprise you what is going on here! De Krook is a place where all disciplines come together. Because they are all under one roof, it’s so easy to communicate and come up with awesome new collaborations. In the building you can not only find the new city library, but also laboratoriums and offices of the University of Ghent and IMEC (a point of contact for innovators and entrepreneurs who want to explore the potential of advanced technologies), a café, a radio station and green spaces.
With even more development going on in this part of the city, it’s exciting to see what the future brings and how even more connected this city can be!
One Day in Ghent? Walk through Ghent to Discover Old and New Hotspots!
Apart from the places that I’ve already mentioned in this guide, there is SO much more to see and things to do in Ghent Belgium, you can spend days and days here. I took the morning to walk around the old city and discovered not only many historic buildings, but also plenty of new hotspots worth checking out.
Here are some of my favourites:
EVENING IN GHENT
For dinner, I tried two kitchens for you:
Dinner at Lepelblad
Lepelblad serves creative, fresh and seasonal vegetables, meat and fish. They have a close partnership with the farmers and producers, which makes that you can follow the seasons on your plate.
I had dinner here all by myself, which usually doesn’t make for the best memories, but I must say that the staff was super friendly and the food amazing, so I had a nice evening after all. There was also Belgium Cider, so I can’t really complain :)
The atmosphere was super cozy at the restaurant, although I did think that with the black walls and practically no lighting except for the lamps on the ceiling that you can see in the picture below and some tea lights on the tables, it was a bit too dark for my taste. I like to still see what I eat! Other than that, I would definitely recommend the place. Of course, you could just go here for lunch, plenty of light then, I’m sure!
Dinner at Mémé Gusta
The concept of this restaurant is pure, Flemish dishes from ‘Grandmother’s Time’ in a lovely vintage setting. This restaurant was featured in a TV-show on pop-ups and became a real restaurant after the show ended. Here you can find dishes as beef stew and rice pudding and a couple of typical Belgium dishes from back in the days.
I appreciated the theme of the restaurant, but for me there wasn’t anything on the menu that I got really excited about to be honest. I ended up having one of the starters as a main dish (shrimp croquettes with fries), but for me, this isn’t something I would normally go to a restaurant for. I found most of the mains a bit ‘difficult’ and while I am a reasonable adventurous eater, I just don’t like the typical Dutch and Belgium food in general.
If you’re into hearty foods like stews and hotchpotch/mashed potatoes and the like, this restaurant is probably for you, but if you don’t, you might want to pick the more elegant food over at Lepelblad instead during your one day in Ghent!
Tourism Office Websites
How to Get to Ghent?
From London, I took the Eurostar from London St. Pancras International to Brussels South. That was only 2 hours! From Brussels to Ghent, I took a local train (about 30 minutes). The Brussels to Ghent train connection was well sign-posted and easy to find! From Ghent Station, you need a tram into the city for your final destination.
On the way back, I took the train Ghent to Brussels again, which went fine, then I had an hour delay for the Eurostar. I have taken this train before and also had a delay, which apparently happens a lot, but you still have to show up on your normal time (about 45 minutes before departure), as you have to go through all the security checks (just like you’re flying). A bit of patience might come in handy on this route, and make sure to pack plenty of snacks! Unlike flying, on the Eurostar you can also bring liquids, so that’s great!
If you’d rather fly, check Skyscanner for options.
Which Hotels in Ghent to Book?
During my short stay, I had a very central hotel Ghent, as I stayed at the Marriott Ghent Hotel. Right in the Old Town, so perfect! The breakfast at the restaurant (buffet style, anything you want, including waffels!) was the best!
Where to Eat in Ghent?
Here are all the hotspots we visited that I would recommend to you:
- Restaurant Lepelblad [website]
- Restaurant Foodstorms [website]
- Restaurant Mémé Gusta [website]
- City Brewery Gruut [website]
and here are a couple more that looked great, but I didn’t try myself:
- Otomat Pizzeria [website]
- Yuzu Chocolate Shop [website]
- WASBAR Lunchroom [website]
- MIE VIE Vegan Restaurant [website]
What to Do in Ghent Belgium?
Here are all the activities we did in Ghent Belgium:
- Street Art in Ghent [website]
- Design Museum Ghent [website]
- Hello! Robot. Exhibition [website]
- NEST Gent [website]
- Library De Krook [website]
Looking to learn Flemish? Check out this great guide by our blogging friend Michele from The Intrepid Guide:
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Disclaimer: My visit Ghent trip was on invitation of Visit Flanders (Visit Vlaanderen) as part of a Dutch Blogger Trip. All photos, videos and opinions in this article are my own, as always.
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