What to do with One Day in Ghent?

What to do with One Day in Ghent?

You’ve made a detour to fit in a little sightseeing in Ghent. But you’ve only got one day, and not even 24 hours. So what do you see when you only have one day in Ghent? 

Here’s a rough one day Ghent itinerary for you to get the most out of this popular tourist destination.

And if you’re just here to find out if you can visit Bruges and Ghent in one day, scroll down to find your answer.

Did you know?

Ghent hosts a ten day festival each year called the Ghent Festival, or Gentse Feesten.

The Ghent Festival is attended by up to 1.5 million people each year.

Its size makes it the third biggest festival in Europe.

In no particular order, here are our top five unmissable attractions if you’ve only got one day in Ghent are:

1. Belfry and Cloth Hall

The Belfry cannot be missed. In more ways than one. It’s an imposing tower right in the heart of Ghent. It’s also a symbol of Ghent’s history as a prosperous city. And now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It’s possible to climb the tower for an incredible view over Ghent. Tickets can be booked online.

Attached to the Belfry is the Cloth Hall, built in a Brabant Gothic style in 1425. The building was the centre of the wool and cloth trade. Construction of the Cloth Hall wasn’t completed until the early 20th century.

The Belfry in Ghent light up at night

2. Groentenmarkt

This square has a rather nasty history. It was where executions took place in Ghent. Today, however, it’s a much more lively place. A perfect spot for a coffee and to soak up the atmosphere in Ghent. 

It’s also the site of the weekly organic food market. In fact, the name Groentenmarkt translates as vegetable market. A water pump in the middle of the square was installed for the vegetable traders in the 19th century.

And during the warmer months, an arts and crafts market is hosted here.

Saint Michaels Bridge in Ghent

3. Visit Saint Michael’s Bridge (Sint-Michielsbrug) and the Graslei and Korenlei

If you’ve not even got one day in Ghent, perhaps just an hour in Ghent, get yourself to Saint Michael’s Bridge.

This grand and historic part of Ghent is what a lot of people associate with Ghent. If you had a family photo in mind, you won’t beat this backdrop.

Boats dock in the quay here, and have done since 11th century. It’s also where tourist boats depart from, if you’re planning on enjoying Ghent from the water.

The history of the area is rich. Behind the grand facades, each building tells a story of what life was like in Ghent through the ages. From the grain trade, to the Guild House of Free Sailors, it’s seen a lot in its time.

4. Saint Bavo’s Cathedral (St.-Baafskathedraal), Sint-Baafsplein

A religious building has stood on this site for over a millennium. And during the middle ages, Ghent got a serious upgrade.

Due to Ghent’s powerful status, the church that stood in this spot in the 15th century underwent a thorough renovation programme. That’s what we see today. A Gothic cathedral with unbelievable attention to detail.

Is it worth going inside Saint Bavo’s Cathedral?

That depends. If you’re an architecture, art or history fanatic then you won’t be disappointed. A Rococo pulpit, opulent tombs and a Baroque altar are all worth seeing.

If you prefer to spend your time enjoying the hustle and bustle of Ghent, then I suggest you grab a coffee at one of the cafes around the cathedral and enjoy the view.

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5. Beguinages in Ghent

There’s no less than three Beguinages in Ghent. They came about in the 13th century and were created for women wanting to lead a devout life. They could live “together in isolation”. And they didn’t have to take monastic vows. 

Two of the beguinages in Ghent have been given UNESCO world heritage status. They are all a short walk out of Ghent’s city centre. So if you have time, wander out to a beguinage to experience the serene cobblestone streets and peaceful atmosphere.

What to eat in Ghent?

If you’ve only got one day in Ghent, no doubt you want to see, eat and drink all the regional specialties. But what’s a goal without a plan? And to make your plan, you need to a list. 

So now you know what to see in one day in Ghent. Here’s what to eat in one day in Ghent.


A very traditional soup prepared with carrots, leek, potato and celery. Originally it was made with fish from the River Lys and River Scheldt. Chicken was substituted for fish at a later date. And now both fish and chicken versions of Waterzooi are served at many restaurants across Ghent.

Ganda Ham 

A dry cured ham named from Ghent’s celtic name, Ganda. The ham is cured over ten months. It’s a salty snack and a perfect accompaniment to a Belgium beer. 

The best place to try Ganda Ham in Ghent is at a restaurant or cafe in Ghent. But you can also buy it from many supermarkets and butcher’s shops around the city.


Now onto something sweet. If you are in Ghent, you must try a Cuberdon. But what are Cuberdons? I hear you ask.

Cuberdons are raspberry flavoured sweets. A thin shell with a liquid centre. Available all over the city centre, including from street vendors. In fact there are two rival Cuberdon traders right in Groentemarkt. Read all about the long-lived rivalry on The Guardian.

If you want to read more about food in Ghent, Ghent’s official tourist board has put together a handy guide to food in Ghent, and it’s downloadable.

Top tip – Don’t try to stick to the main meals, just try foods as you come across them.

Can you visit Ghent and Bruges in One Day?

Great question. Bruges and Ghent are roughly 45 minutes apart by train or car. Belgium’s geographical size makes it easy to travel around the country quickly.

But just because Bruges and Ghent are so close, doesn’t mean you should try to pack both cities into one day. 

As you can see in this blog post, and our post about the top tourist attractions in Bruges, there’s a lot to see. And a lot you won’t want to miss. 

So while it is possible to visit both Bruges and Ghent in one day, it’s probably best to take at least one day in each city.

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