I know this is going to be controversial but Ghent has been our favourite European city we’ve visited thus far. It would never have been on our radar, however we have some friends who live there and took the opportunity to go and visit them. The city is absolutely stunning and if you love beer, chocolate, cheese and food in general then this city is your best friend. We stayed in a private room at a hostel right near the Sint-Michielsbrug Bridge called Hostel Uppelink which is nice and clean and fantastically located.
The main thing that we did in Ghent was eat and drink. The sheer amount of different Belgian beers is staggering and they are all delicious. The percentage is a lot higher than the beers we are used to, but they serve them in much smaller glasses which helps. We were lucky to have some friends in town who took us to some of their favourite pubs to drink. I can highly recommend Missy Sippy (right near Sint-Michielsbrug), Hot Club Gent (near Groentenmarkt – it has an amazing outdoor area) and Brouwbar (a fantastic small brewery in Oudburg).
It wasn’t just the beer that we gorged on, it was the food as well. Our friends took us to a restaurant that serves Belgian cuisine called Keizershof. I had the Stoofvlees which is a traditional Flemish beef stew, it was divine. And Andrew had the steak tartare, also divine. Plus everything came with fries for the table. We also fell in love with the mustard in Ghent, we ate it with cubes of cheese every chance we got. If all this delicious food wasn’t enough our friends also introduced us to préparé (made out of raw ground beef, which is then spiced with piri-piri, Tabasco, mustard, cayenne pepper, gherkins, salt, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce) that you spread on crackers or bread. Not everyone’s cup of tea but right up our alley! Don’t worry I won’t forget the chocolate, our favourite Belgian brand is Cote D’or.
There are many walking tours available in Ghent, however, we were lucky that one of our friends decided to take us on one himself! I highly recommend doing something like this as Ghent is an incredibly interesting and historical city and there is plenty to see. Highlight’s included Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, the Belfort, the Stadshal, Saint Nicholas’ Church and the Patershol area. Interesting fact – unlike Bruges, Ghent was not destroyed by bombings in WWII, much of Bruges had to be restored/rebuilt whereas most buildings in Ghent are the originals.
Overall our time in Ghent was magical and it is the perfect cityscape for the weekend. I have no hesitation in saying that we will be back. Cost wise, it is similar to Brussels in the sense that it can be as expensive or as cheap as you would like it to be – everything is very reasonably priced (you also don’t get the high tourist prices as you do in Bruges).
Here is a breakdown of our costs for 2 people for 2 days:
Accommodation – E132 (NZ$225)
Food/Drink – E340 (NZ$582)
Transport – E37 (NZ$63)
Total spent – E509 (NZ$870)