Welcome to the beautiful and charming city of Ghent. This small medieval town lies right between Brussels and Bruges. You know how everyone loves Bruges so much? Well in my opinion, Ghent is just as cute, but even more magical because nobody really knows about it. There aren’t a ton of tourists flocking the city, so it feels like you’re just walking among all the locals.
Founded in the year 630 (!), Ghent is one of the only cities that has a castle located right in the heart of downtown. It’s surrounded by a moat and you can even tour the 12th-century place. It’s quite cold and empty with some of the old torture chambers and devices still in place, but still magnificent to wander around in. Much of Ghent stayed preserved and undamaged from the wars.
Saint Nicholas’ Church pictured above is one of the oldest monuments in Ghent, built in the 13th-century. It houses an organ that is known to be the most important romantic organ in Belgium. Can you believe that in the 11th-century, Ghent used to be the 2nd biggest city in Northern Europe after Paris? We could probably walk from one side to the other in less than an hour.
Tyler and I didn’t take a boat ride along the waterways, but it was fun to watch the small ships sail along the canals and under willow trees. Very very romantic. There are also a lot of boutiques and restaurants to check out downtown. We stopped for brunch (and beer of course) at LKKR, which makes a yummy avocado veggie sandwich.
One weird thing we noticed was that it was very difficult to get (free) tap water at restaurants throughout Belgium. You had to pay for sparkling or still water, which ended up costing more than a juice or coffee. When we saw fruit-infused free water pitchers at LKKR, we knew we had found the right spot.
While I slightly preferred Ghent to Bruges (mostly due to lack of tourists), I still recommend you to see Bruges first. It’s more famous, picturesque, and apparently quite the spot to propose (according to a coworker and all the tourist pamphlets).