Ghent combines the best of both Antwerp and Bruge with a fraction of the tourists. If it’s your first visit, arriving in the historic heart of Ghent will be a wonderful surprise. This medieval port was built on trade, and its canals are lined with handsome warehouses and guildhouses, now doing brisk business as restaurants and bars. It’s picturesque, but this is a living, working city. Its history is only part of its appeal.
Known as Gent in Flemish and Gand in French, Ghent was medieval Europe’s largest city outside Paris. Sitting on the junction of the Leie and Scheldt Rivers, it was the seat of the counts of Flanders who built a fearsome castle, Het Gravensteen, that’s visible today. By the mid-14th century Ghent had become Europe’s largest cloth producer, importing wool from England and employing thousands of people. The townsfolk were well known for their armed battles, civil liberties, and protests against the heavy taxes imposed on them.
These days, Ghent is the capital of the province of Oost-Vlaanderen and is Flander’s biggest university town. Time your trip to coincide with the fabulous Gentse Feesten to see the city at its liveliest.
A city with a fairly stable climate, the weather in Ghent changes only slightly month by month, meaning that the main seasons gently blur into each other and are often quite hard to distinguish. Ghent’s winter climate is quite mild and night-time temperatures from December to February generally hover just above freezing, warming up gradually in March.
As the spring climate arrives in Ghent, the whole city is blessed with fresh bursts of springtime flowers and Belgian flora, indicating that the winter weather is now long behind.
Ghent is fast becoming Belgium’s best city for foodies, with dynamic chefs championing fine local produce