Looking for a city break with a difference? Then take a look at vibrant Ghent. You can travel there by Eurostar train from St Pancras International. The journey takes two hours, 49 minutes. Known as the ‘historic heart of Flanders’, Ghent is a gorgeous small Flemish city that boasts canals, a historic quarter and plenty of culture. It’s similar to Bruges but the great news is, as yet, it’s not overrun by tourists. Instead, you’ll find a lively city that’s known for its green outlook on life, with plenty of veggie restaurants and loads of safe cycle lanes.
Must-see attractions include the well restored Gravensteen, a 12th century castle that was built for the count of Flanders, the beautiful medieval streets in the Patershol area and the world-famous painting the Mystic Lamb by the Van Eyck brothers. If you’re planning a visit in the summer, make it July when the city hosts their annual month-long festival, The Ghent Festivities, with plenty to do both in and outdoors.
Eurostar to Ghent
It takes just 2 hours and 49 minutes to travel from London St Pancras to Ghent on Eurostar. Simply book a train ticket to ‘Any Belgian Station’ and change trains in Brussels. At Brussels-Midi/Zuid, check the departure board and board a train to Ghent. Your Eurostar ticket will cover your transfer, to no need to buy a new ticket. Prices start at €63.
Eurostar to Ghent: Must-see
Don’t miss the chance to admire the world-famous masterpiece—the Mystic Lamb by the Van Eyck brothers. You’ll find this large 15th century polyptch in St Bravo’s Cathedral. It has a fascinating history and is considered one of the world’s most famous paintings.
Where to eat in Ghent
Ghent is a foodie paradise so join the locals at the delightful Cochon de Luxe. Run by young chef Tom Van Lysebettens and his partner Alison Roels, this intimate restaurant (it only has space for 20 dinners) offers set menus that give diners the chance to taste modern interations for fine French cuisine. This a very popular restuantat so you will need to book ahead. http://www.couchondeluxe.be
What to buy
Belgium is known for its fine chocolate and sweets so look out for Ghent’s signature candy, the cuberdon (also known as neuzeke). These cone-shaped purple sweets have a hard shell and a delicious raspberry filling. You’ll find the in the city’s markets and also in sweet shops.
Where to stay in Ghent
Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof €€€
This stunning Louis XIV-style townhouse offers guests a great mixture of history with cool, contemporary rooms, a spa and a private courtyard. The hotel is centrally located.
This popular 3-star hotel is only a 10-minute walk from Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, the Belfry of Ghent and Korenmarkt Square and 1.6 miles from Ghent Saint Peter’s Train Station.
This centrally located hostel is located only 150m from the medieval Castle of the Counts. The hostel offers guests choice of 30 rooms all with private bathrooms and breakfasts are complimentary.