48 hours in Ghent – A 2 day Itinerary
With a picturesque French background, a vibey city life similar to that of Barcelona and architectural wonders reminiscent of Amsterdam, this city in Belgium is highly underrated and should definitely be added to your European summer travel list.
For all the Harry Potter lovers, this place makes you feel as though you’re wandering through Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. We’re heading to Ghent, Belgium.
This 2 day itinerary for Ghent will have you eating your way through the Ghent Market Hall, visiting the Gravensteen Castle, admiring the St. Bavo’s Cathedral, strolling along Graslei and Korenlei, sipping a Belgian beer at a local pub.
As well as exploring the Ghent City Museum (STAM), discovering the vibrant street art scene, taking a boat tour, visiting the Huis van Alijn Museum, walking through the picturesque Patershol neighborhood, and traversing the Belfry of Ghent.
The most exciting part? We’ll see all of this within 48 hours and find out why Ghent is worth visiting. Let the Ghent city break begin!
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Overview Of 2 Days In Ghent Itinerary
Day 1 in Ghent
- Historic Centre of Ghent
- Ghent Market Hall
- Gravensteen Castle
- St. Bavo’s Cathedral
- Graslei and Korenlei
- Local Belgian Beer
Day 2 in Ghent
- Ghent City Museum
- Huis van Alijn Museum
- Ghent’s Street Art
- Ghent Boat Tour
- Patershol Neighborhood
- Belfry of Ghent
Day 1 in Ghent
Historic Centre of Ghent
First up on the Ghent itinerary is The historic center of Ghent, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1998 for its remarkable blend of architectural styles and its rich cultural heritage, making it the perfect first stop in your exploration of Ghent.
Ghent Market Hall
To kick off the rest of your day, we’re heading for a global brunch at Ghent Market Hall.
Ghent Market Hall, or “Gentse Feesten” as it is known locally, is a bustling market located in the historic city center. Built in the early 20th century, it was originally a meat market and has since been transformed into a food lover’s paradise.
The market features over 100 stalls selling a variety of local specialties such as cheeses, meats, chocolates, and fresh produce from the surrounding countryside. Visitors can sample and purchase regional delicacies like cuberdons (cone-shaped candies), Tierenteyn mustard, and Ganda ham.
The market hall also has several restaurants and cafes, serving everything from traditional Flemish stews to French dishes, Asian salads, Spanish tapas and hearty Italian delicacies.
The building’s jaw-dropping Art Nouveau architecture and colorful, stained glass windows add to its charm, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike.
The market is open every day except Monday and is a great way to experience local cuisine with international influence crafted by the Ghent, Belgium locals.
Fancy a trip back in time to the medieval age? Next up on the itinerary is The Gravensteen Castle. Located in the historic city center of Ghent, Belgium lies a medieval fortress that dates back to the 12th century.
Originally built as the residence of the Counts of Flanders, the castle served as a military stronghold, a courthouse, and a prison over the years.
You can explore the castle’s multiple century-old rooms, including the great hall, the chapel, the torture chamber, and the armory.
You can also take a look at the weapons used during the battle ages and ponder which one you’d use if you were to lead an army into battle.
The castle also hosts a number of events throughout the year, including medieval festivals, jousting tournaments, and theatrical performances.
St. Bavo’s Cathedral
Moving into the Gothic era, you’ll head over to St. Bavo’s Cathedral – A popular tourist destination that can be found in the city center of Ghent, Belgium. It features a Gothic-style cathedral which has been dedicated to Saint Bavo and is renowned for its stunning architecture and rich collection of art and artifacts.
One of the cathedral’s most famous works of art is the Ghent Altarpiece. The painting was crafted by Flemish artists Hubert and Jan van Eyck. The altarpiece is known as one of the most notable works of art in European history.
The painting focuses on representing the life of Christ, as well as figures from the Old Testament. Pretty cool, right? You’ll be witnessing art that rivals that of the Mona Lisa.
The cathedral is reminiscent of the castle towers of Hogwarts in both a historical and architectural manner. As you peruse the Gothic walls, you can also take a guided walking tour, which includes a visit to the crypt, where the remains of various bishops and other notable figures can be found and viewed.
Graslei and Korenlei
Blending the past with the future, we’re taking a stroll through mini Amsterdam as the sun sets over the waterfront.
Graslei and Korenlei are two quays located on the banks of the river Leie in the historic center of Ghent, Belgium.
These canal and waterfront areas are lined with beautifully preserved medieval buildings that have been converted into restaurants, cafes, and shops.
The quays are connected by several bridges, including the iconic St. Michael’s Bridge, which offers stunning views of the river and the surrounding architecture.
Just picture it – eating a local dinner inspired by the past, after a full day of exploring, with a glass of local beer in hand as you watch Ghent come alive at night.
Enjoy an evening filled with music and entertainment, as locals and tourists gather to enjoy the lively atmosphere and sample the local cuisine.
Enjoy a Belgian Beer
As your night evolves, why not try some of Ghent’s traditional beer? You can expect to try a variety of Belgian beers that range from light, refreshing pilsners to rich and complex Trappist ales.
Some of the most popular Ghent beers include the local favorite Gentse Strop, a full-bodied amber beer with a slightly sweet taste, and the refreshing and zesty Gruut Blonde.
Here are three of the best local beer places to visit in Ghent, Belgium:
- De Dulle Griet: Has an extensive selection of Belgian beers, including several local favorites. One of their specialties is the “Max” beer, and comes with some conditions. You have to hand over one of your shoes until you’ve finished your beer.
- Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant: This lively pub is located on the banks of the river Leie which naturally provides some wonderful views of the sparkling river at night. They have over 150 beers to choose from, ranging from local and regional brews.
- Trollekelder: To top off our medieval day, this unique and atmospheric pub is located in a medieval cellar and is decorated with a range of artwork and sculptures from the past, giving you a fully immersive village-like experience. They also have a selection of beers that are rare and hard to find elsewhere.
If you’d like to try more than one Belgian beer location, you’ll want to check out the Ghent Beer Walk. The guided walking tour is led by a knowledgeable local who shares insight into the brewing process and the history of beer in Ghent.
As you make your way through a village of beer breweries, you’ll be given the chance to sample a variety of beers and learn about the different styles and flavors.
The tour typically lasts around three hours and is a great way to experience the best of Ghent’s beer culture. Prepare yourself to become a beer connoisseur. Just like Pink!, we’ll raise a glass to that!
Day 2 in Ghent
Ghent City Museum & Huis van Alijn Museum
Today we’re starting off with an educational tour of Ghent at the Ghent City Museum. The museum is housed in a beautifully restored 14th-century monastery complex, which has been transformed into a modern and interactive exhibition space. You’ll learn about the city’s medieval past, its role in the Industrial Revolution, and its cultural heritage.
The museum also boasts an interactive experience known as the “Ghent Altarpiece Experience,” which is a multimedia exhibit that offers a detailed look at the history and restoration of one of the world’s most famous works of art.
The Ghent City Museum is perfect for those wanting an in depth guide to the city they’re visiting and can be explored by all, no matter the age.
Huis van Alijn Museum houses a multitude of exhibits that feature Ghent’s traditional Flemish culture. You’ll learn about traditional fashion, cuisine, entertainment and leisure through the ages.
Discover Ghent’s Street Art
Sticking with culture and art on the 2 day Ghent itinerary, which if you haven’t noticed by now is an integral part of Ghent, you absolutely must take a walk through the quaint streets to absorb some of the most iconic, vibrant street art in the world.
A variety of street artists have painted the walls and streets of Ghent’s most popular walkways, dedicating their best artwork to the city where they found inspiration from.
One of the most popular areas for street art in Ghent is the Werregarenstraat, also known as the “Graffiti Street.” This narrow alleyway is covered in colorful tags and murals, which change regularly as new artists add their own contributions.
Other noteworthy streets filled with an abundance of art are the Sint-Amandsberg neighborhood and the area around Dok Noord. All of which is accessible via self-guidance or you can book a walking tour with an artsy pro.
Interestingly, many of the city’s murals and installations are commissioned by the city government, which encourages and supports the development of the street art scene.
Ghent From a Different Perspective
Perhaps it’s time to take a breather and drift along the canals of Ghent? Next up on the Ghent extravaganza is The Ghent Boat Tour.
From aboard, you’ll see the city from various waterways that look like Gothic Venice. The tour typically takes around 40-50 minutes and covers a distance of approximately 4 kilometers.
The boat departs from the Graslei, one of the city’s most scenic areas, and travels along the Leie River, passing by several notable landmarks, including the Castle of the Counts, the St. Bavo’s Cathedral, and the medieval guild houses along the Korenlei and Graslei.
You’ll get to see some of your favorite sights again, this time during the day as well. As well as some new bridges along the way, such as the St. Michael’s Bridge and the Sint-Jorisbrug Bridge.
Other sights you’ll have the pleasure of gazing upon as you float to the sound of lapping water are The Portus Ganda Marina and The Saint-Anneke Chapel (a small chapel located on a quiet island in the middle of the Leie River). This is a unique way to explore some of the best places to visit in Ghent.
The day is still young and there is much to see and experience. After that relaxing boat ride, let’s hit the streets again and explore the Patershol Neighborhood. Patershol is known for its narrow cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and picturesque squares.
This neighborhood is a cross between the South of France and Edinburgh, combining a mixture of nature and contrasting architecture in the most innovative and beautiful way.
Patershol dates back to the Middle Ages and was once home to many of the city’s artisans and craftsmen. Today, the neighborhood has retained much of its historic character and is particularly famous for offering some of Ghent’s best restaurants located within the neighborhood.
Whilst you’re in Patershol, check out the House of Alijn, a museum dedicated to the everyday life and culture of the people of Ghent.
As well as Vrijdagmarkt, (which hosts a lively market every Friday), and the Graffitistraatje (street art). Ghent has this wonderful way of reminding you of what you’ve seen so far in little unique bites around every corner.
Belfry of Ghent
Finally, to end off your final few hours in Ghent, the last thing to do is visit Ghent’s most popular landmark. It’s been a wild ride, but we’ve made it back into the heart of Ghent to observe a beautiful bell tower from which the city beats.
The tower was built in the 17th century and serves as the backdrop for many of Ghent’s cultural events and festivals, including the famous Ghent Festival, while putting Ghent’s panoramic cityscape on full display.
The 54 bells at the Belfry of Ghent go off several times a day, starting from 9:00 am in the morning until 10:00 pm at night. What a way to end off a perfect two days on a journey from traditionalism to modernity in Ghent.
Best Places to Stay in Ghent, Belgium
For the luxurious traveler who isn’t a fan of hostels and “roughing it”, your sophisticated palette will feel quite at home at The Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Reylof, which draws on Ghent’s traditional architecture and style.
For a more modern, all-inclusive stay, you’ll want to check out the stylish Marriot Ghent Hotel which focuses on providing an internationally ergonomical stay.
Finally, if you’d prefer a unique stay that cannot be experienced elsewhere, you’ll want to stay at The Ghent River Hotel which is located in a former cotton mill on the banks of the Leie River.
When to Visit Ghent?
If you’re a lover of winter wonderlands, then Ghent during Christmas time will exceed all of your expectations. December to February is a great time to visit if you enjoy the festive atmosphere of Christmas markets and holiday lights.
For the summer lovers, you’ll want to visit Ghent during June through to August when the weather is mild and many festivals and outdoor events take place.
How Many Days in Ghent?
Everyone has their personal preference but this Ghent itinerary will have you seeing the best of a cool Belgian city in only two days in Ghent. Prepare yourself for a cultural whirlwind!
You’ve seen so many European wonders, all within 48 hours in Ghent. What an absolute globetrotter!
If you’re looking for a unique destination that ticks off whimsical wonders, historical battles, satisfies your inner goth and surprises you with its take on medieval modernity, all delivered with suave, then Ghent, Belgium is your go-to.
Recommended tours in Ghent
- Historical Walking Tour: Legends of Gent
- Ghent Bike Tour Off-the-beaten-track
- Evening Tour of the Dark Side of Gent
- Guided Boat Trip in Ghent
- Ghent Small-Group Chocolate Tour with Local Guide
- Ghent Beer Guided Walking Tour
- Walking food tour: Introduction to Ghent through food
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