Growing up in Ghent, I often didn’t appreciate the things that tourists in my hometown cared for – medieval cul-de-sacs seemed too narrow to walk in, the cobbled city
1. Stroll around Patershol
If you’re looking for that medieval Western European atmosphere, Patershol is where you should go. It was home to artisans and leather tradesmen in the Middle Ages, and since the end of the 19th century, has been in vogue among bohemians and artists. Now, one of the most successful Belgian writers, Herman Brusselmans, lives there and can often be seen drinking a pint outside.
2. Go to a jam session at the Missy Sippy
Always packed, this bar in the city
3. Try Belgian Beer in Waterhuis aan de Bierkant
This is hands down my
4. Have hot chocolate at Huize Colette
All my birthdays, Valentine’s Days, and last-exam-of-the-year celebrations were spent with my best friends at Huize Colette. With its warm lights, second-hand eclectic couches, and bookshelves, it is by far the nicest place to while the hours away. It’s a coffee shop, but they serve the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my life. It’s not one of those cacao powder ones, but it’s thick, made with cream and real chocolate. They offer many different options too – you can add Maltesers, praline, or get a mix of white and milk chocolate. I cannot talk about how great that place is enough. They also have a pie of the day and sell second-hand books. I don’t know how much more encouragement you need.
5. Take in the view at St. Michael’s Bridge
Every morning on my way to school, the bus would drive over this bridge. I’d try to stand in
6. Have crêpes at Gwenola
A family business, Gwenola Pannenkoekenhuis has been running since 1960. They make the best crêpes in Ghent, and I used to go there with my friends since it’s not that expensive, either. Even though all their crêpes are good, they are mainly known for their buckwheat ones, so try one with ham and cheese and see how you like it. Have lunch at the Pannenkoekenhuis in Donkersteeg and have coffee across the street, at Mokabon, a coffee place that has been operating since 1937 (way before Starbucks moved in next door).
7. Visit St. Bavo’s Abbey
Not to confuse with the famous cathedral, St. Bavo’s Abbey is much quieter and less overrun by tourists. It was built in the 7th century, although now, it is not more than a ruin. In the 16th century, the citizens of Ghent revolted against Charles V as a reaction to the high taxes he imposed after his Italian War. As part of retaliation, he demolished the abbey, building what was called the Spaniards’ Castle in its place. He also made the rebels walk around the city with hangman nooses around their necks, which is why Ghentians are sometimes called ‘noose bearers’. I
8. Listen to the city’s best singer-songwriters at Café De Loge
Café De Loge was my
9. Party on Vlasmarkt
Ghent is home to a large university, but most Belgian students go back home over the weekend, turning the city into something of a ghost town. This is why Thursdays are the nights to go out, right before most of the 77.000 students pack their suitcases and their dirty washing to take to their parents.
The most popular club in the city is Charlatan. They put on bands and live music earlier on in the night, but there are always DJs to dance to until the early morning hours. Check out the calendar on their website if you want to see what’s going on.
10. Swim in Blaarmeersen and Climb the Watchtower
In summer, the whole city starts spending their evenings and weekends at Blaarmeersen. The lake is a twenty-minute bus ride away from the city
This article was contributed by Erika Severyns. You can reach her out at [email protected]