Postcards from Ghent
If you're after a undeniable quirkiness in a historic medieval surrounding, Ghent is most certainly the place to be. What it doesn't possess on a grand scale like other Belgian cities, it more than makes up for in culture, coolness and canals. The ambience is super vibrant, and the scene is young and dynamic. Cafes are effortlessly cool, perfect for people watching and scrolling through Instagram. Enjoy matcha lattes and cakes at OR coffee or opt for a bite at book cafe Le Bal Infernal. Healthy lunch spots such as Romain Roquette are minimalist and easy on the eye, as is Norma but don’t be mistaken, as this Ghent is far from pretentious and embodies an energetic young spirit against a historic backdrop.
Getting around the city centre is reasonably relaxing, as it has been pedestrianised since 2017. We based our stay at the highly stylish and creative guesthouse Atelier Turquoise, a short walk from Citadel Park. Created in 1875, the city's green spot is located where the Dutch Citadel once was. It has a botanical garden and is home to contemporary museum S.M.A.K. for short (in Dutch). Today, it is the luscious green haven ideal to take children to roam, couples or friends to enjoy a picnic or to simply stroll with the dog. We walked to the city centre during our stay and enjoyed taking a shortcut through the picturesque park.
An expansive collection of Belgian and international design can be found in the contemporary setting of the Design Museum. Other museums to visit include The Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent City Museum, the STAM, among others. Whilst in the centre, do treat yourself to a portion of fries laden with sauce and walk along the cobbled paths by the canals and absorb glorious buildings such as The Castle of the Counts, Ghent Belfry, City Pavilion and Saint Nicholas Church. We also recommend heading to the Great Butcher’s Hall to sample local produce and see hanging hams up high. It dates as far back as the 15th-century.
Shop at cute boutique stores such as Billie Rose, where you can also divulge in homemade cakes and trinkets or pop into vintage design stores and take advantage of one-off purchases. You'll find many stores encapsulated in architectural gems with elegant original features. ‘Da Post’ is a shopping centre located within Post Plaza in the Korenmarkt area. It's worth going just to visit, as the former post office encompasses an impressive blend of neo-Gothic and neo-renaissance architecture. Le Quotien can be found on the ground floor of the building and is a top central place for brunch.
We recommend Piet Moodshop for treating yourself or buying gifts for others. It is reminiscent of an old pharmacy and has stunning original tiled floors. Let us not forget the furniture and homeware. Stock up on special pieces at design gallery and shop Atelier Cru or get inspired by the interior design fittings in a former Chapel, at Danish store Bolia. Chairs, chairs and more chairs, can be found in several places in town. Whether you're shopping to bring one home or not, we strongly suggest taking a step back in time to see beautifully designed vintage chairs when the opportunity arises.
For more information, check out the local tourist website, www.visit.gent.be/en