The Best Things to Do in Ghent, Belgium

While tour buses descend upon Bruges, in-the-know travelers in Belgium are discovering the Flemish city of Ghent. This lively university town has picturesque canals, stunning architecture, quirky shops, delicious dining options, and even its own castle. Here are the best things to do while on a trip to Ghent, Belgium.

Fernand Scribedreef 1, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Art-lovers should not miss the Museum of Fine Arts (Museum voor Schone Kunsten) or MSK, in Ghent, Belgium. This bite-sized museum offers a great overview of of European art, particularly Belgian, from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. Currently, the MSK is undertaking the restoration of Ghent’s most famous artwork, the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, by the Van Eyck brothers. Visitors can watch the entire process as it takes place behind glass. The architecture of the building is as lovely as the art contained inside, as seen in the photo above. The Mub’art Brasserie has a lovely terrace and is a great place for a bite to eat when you tire of admiring the art.
Korianderstraat 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Belgium is known for a lot of things and fine beer is near the top of that list. Given how popular beer is I was surprised to learn that there’s only one operating brewery in Ghent itself, but what a brewery it is. The Gruut Brewery is relatively new, but it has quickly become a culinary staple. The brewster, Annick De Splenter, spent years researching medieval methods of creating gruut beer that is made without hops and has created a delicious line of beers that are true to the history of the region and of course taste amazing.
Jan Breydelstraat 5, 9000 Gent, Belgium
If you like your art to have practical purposes, don’t miss Ghent’s lovely Design Museum. Here you will find decorative arts such as furnishings, appliances and dishware from Belgium’s design history. The museum is inside the 18th century Hotel de Coninck, once owned by a wealthy Flemish family. One section of the museum is preserved as it was during this period. A new and modern section of the museum houses functional art from other periods, including Belgium’s most famous design era - the Art Nouveau period.
Sint-Veerleplein 11, 9000 Gent, Belgium
In the heart of Ghent, a medieval castle called Gravensteen was built in 1180. Once the home of the Counts of Flanders, it is now a tourist attraction that you can visit. The views from the top of the castle’s narrow staircases are especially rewarding.

Tickets cost €13 for adults; €2.70 for children 13-18 and is free for kids 12 and under. You can reserve tickets in advance online. It is open for visits from 10am - 6pm daily.
Groentenmarkt 12, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Jenever is a juniper flavored liquor from which gin evolved. Today it’s only made in the Netherlands and Belgium and is a strong and popular drink. While the straight stuff may be a bit harsh, jenever bars also feature a wide range of flavored shots from mango to vanilla and everything in between. In Ghent the place to go is ‘t Dreupelkot, run by the usualy grumpy proprieter Pol. The drink is served in tall shot glasses and is a great way to start an evening or just spend some time chatting with friends.
Kraanlei 37, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Ghent appears almost magical the first time you see its architecture. My partner and I were in a dreamlike trance as our eyes moved from one beautiful building to the next. And we had just experienced the beautiful canals of Amsterdam the previous day!

One of the things you must do while in Ghent is explore this highlight with a canal boat tour. It will give you the best up-close views of Ghent’s stunning architecture.

You can choose between a variety of different canal tours, from a hop on hop off cruise, to a romantic picnic down the canal—though for a true taste of history, opt for a tour in a classic wooden boat. To find a tour operator, Ghent’s tourism website has a list of recommendations.
Groentenmarkt 3, 9000 Gent, Belgium
My mouth was on fire and nothing would put it out. I was careful, I only tried a small bit of the famous mustard but my taste buds instantly recoiled in shock. It was my first taste of a distinctive mustard found only in Ghent and is a taste that I’ll never forget. Located near the heart of the city, the Tierenteyn-Verlent mustard shop has been producing its distinctive condiment for more than two hundred years without change. The small shop is almost always crowded with a mix of tourists and locals, all admiring the apothecary bottles lining the old fashioned store. In the corner is a huge barrel of freshly made product and a gigantic ladle used to dole out the spicy mustard. The mustard is made on site, in the basement to be exact, and is the only place in the world where you can buy it. Since the initial shock of the mustard, I’ve come to enjoy it and even crave the sharp taste. Even if you’re not a mustard fan you have to at least try this distinctive taste that truly is a part of Ghent culture.
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