Ghent in the Spring

Ghent is a beautiful city that lies right in the middle of Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels and borrows aspects from each of these cities - shops, restaurants and galleries with rivers and bridges woven in between, the old and the new come together to make a unique city home to students and visitors looking for modern and traditional ventures.

Boat trips run throughout the day - the great thing about Ghent is the way that the main streets are level with the river so sightseeing on a boat tour is an effective way to see a lot in just a couple of hours.

Similar to the atmosphere in Amsterdam, you'll see plenty of boats sailing along the river comprised of tours and private cruises. We ventured to an old bookstore along our walk through the city, browsing at the huge range of choices - but that's the great thing about Ghent, once you've browsed from place to place it still becomes difficult to be overwhelmed as you step out to yet another bridge with a boat gently passing through.

Shopping in Ghent as with most city breaks is definitely something to get up to - if you have never been to Belgium, I would recommend going to 'Dille and Kamile', a Belgian shop based in Ghent and Antwerp which sells a range of household items, plants and textiles. It's a great place to pick up gifts too, selling an assortment of loose tea leaves, confectionery - an affordable store with a wide range of products.
There's plenty of independent shops to explore, along with well known high street brands and mid market retailers like &OtherStories (a fairly new addition to Ghent's offering).

Travelling around Ghent (or anywhere in Belgium for that matter) is perfect for biking. You can rent bikes around the city, or you can jump on the tram from the train station and browse on foot.
As for tours as previously mentioned, a boat tour is perfect for exploring the city.

It's best to eat a big meal around lunchtime as there are lots of riverside restaurants with offers on food from noon til approx 4-5pm, that are considerably cheaper than after this time.
Another recommendation would be to pick up a box of chocolates from Leonidas, a popular chocolate shop around Belgium.

Good to know - if you want to stay in a neighbouring city to explore the rest of Belgium (for example Antwerp or Brussels)
train travel in Belgium is very affordable (from Antwerp to Ghent a return was approximately 8 euros return during our trip).

However be aware that Belgium has seen quite a few strikes and restrictions to their train services over the past few years, which are often planned in advance so you might want to check a few days ahead of your journey before making plans to visit Ghent from another city. Most trains have their last services around 11pm.

We visited in the springtime, which I would recommend as it's not too hot for browsing the city, but not too cold for walking along the riverside or taking a boat trip either. I would recommend Ghent particularly to students and young travelers as it is a hub for Belgian students living and studying in the city, with many sat along the riverside and gathered in the town square.

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