Ghent is the third largest city in Belgium and the main city of the East Flandres province. Much of the city’s medieval centre is still intact and has been meticulously restored.
Ghent is a lovely city that’s easy to navigate and that has a lot to see. There are coffee shops, tea houses and privately owned chocolatiers on every corner. At night most of the buildings in the historic centre are beautifully illuminated, and I can highly recommend a night-time stroll through the old cobbled streets – preferably a bit later in the evening, when the crowds have started to thin out.
Ghent is easily accessible by public transport. There are several trains an hour that make the journey from Bruxelles Midi to Ghent nonstop in just 28 minutes. Just a word of caution though: Ghent is on the mainline to Ostend, which is Belgium’s main coastal resort. As a result, at the weekends – and especially if the weahter’s good – the trains heading up to the coast tend to be amazingly full, as in standing room only. However, if you’re not in a hurry and catch one of the trains that only run as far as Ghent or Brugges, you will find that these tend to be a lot less busy. From Ghent Saint Peter’s station you can then catch the number 1 or 2 tramlines to get to the historic centre, which is a ride of another 15 minutes.
Tickets for the train are best bought through the SNCB app, which is also available in English and shows the timetable as well as expected delays on the network. For public transport there’s the De Lijn app. In both cases you need to create an account. Tickets bought on the De Lijn app for busses and trams are valid for one year from the date of purchase. Before you board, you need to activate your ticket. Once it is activated, you have one hour before it expires.