Best Things to Do in Ghent One Day Itinerary

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Considering a day trip to Ghent, Belgium? Located in East Flanders, Ghent is a charming medieval city that should definitely be on any Belgium bucket list. With close proximity to Bruges and Brussels, you can easily spend one day in Ghent enjoying some of the top attractions this city has to offer. In this Ghent travel guide, I will cover some of the best things to do with one day in Ghent on your itinerary, along with travel tips, and a free map!

Best things to do in Ghent One Day itinerary

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Is Ghent Worth Visiting

When visiting Belgium, Ghent is definitely worth visiting. Ghent is even considered one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium. With charming canals, historic churches, and a castle, there’s a plethora of things to do and explore in Ghent!

Views from the Gravensteen Castle in Ghent
Views from the Gravensteen Castle

How Many Days Do You Need in Ghent

While one day in any city is hardly enough time, you can definitely spend one day in Ghent and see most of the best things to do in this medieval city. Located between Brussels and Bruges, Ghent is usually a popular day trip.

I would suggest spending 3 Days in Bruges and use one of those days to take a day trip to Ghent.

To start off your one day in Ghent, I recommend arriving in Ghent early. Most attractions in Ghent open between 8:30 AM – 10 AM, and you will want to make the most of your day.

Climbing to the top of the Castle of the Counts and looking down on the square

How to Use This One Day in Ghent Itinerary

You can treat this one day in Ghent itinerary like a self-guided free walking tour. Below, I will map out the best things to do in Ghent with 1 day that you can follow step by step!

I have designed the order of attractions to help reduce backtracking so you can optimize your time in Ghent. Moreover, while Ghent has a ton of public transportation options, make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes because this itinerary is best explored by foot!

At the end of this Ghent day trip itinerary, you will find a FREE Google Map you can download and use.

Taking a boat ride down the Leie River in Ghent is one of the best things to do

Getting to Ghent from Brussels and Bruges

To start your day trip to Ghent, you will likely be coming from either Brussels or Bruges.

To get from Bruges to Ghent, take the train from the Bruges train station to the Gent-Sint-Pieters Station. Direct trains run often and take about 30 minutes. Make sure to purchase a ticket at the machine.

To get to Ghent from Brussels, you have a choice of 3 train stations. Brussels has the North (Brussels Nord), Centraal, and South Station (Brussel-Zuid/Midi). Trains from the South Station, Brussel-Zuid/Midi is usually the quickest train station and takes about 35 minutes. Take the train to Gent-Sint-Pieters Station.

Once you arrive at Gent-Sint-Pieters Station in Ghent, take tram 1 into the city. Without the tram it is around a 20-minute walk into the city centre.

Ghent Travel Tip: You can tap your credit card or mobile wallet to pay for the tram. Make sure to hit the stop button on the tram, or else it will not stop.

Read: Ultimate Belgium Travel Guide

Taking a canal ride down the river in Ghent is one of the best things to do

Best Things to Do in Bruges One Day Itinerary

Enjoy the Saint Michaels Bridge

Start at the beautiful Saint Michaels Bridge by taking tram line 1 to Gent Korenmarkt perron 3, which will let you off right in front of Saint Nicholas’ Church (our next stop). This beautiful stone bridge offers some of the most picturesque views of Ghent and the river, so be sure to snap a few photos.

Address: St Michael’s Bridge, Sint-Michielshelling, 9000 Gent, Belgium

Views from Saint Michaels Bridge
Saint Michael Bridge is a must with one day in Ghent

See Saint Nicholas’ Church

Next, make your way back down to Saint Nicholas’ Church (Sint-Niklaaskerk). Built in the 13th century, this is one of the oldest landmarks in Ghent. It is located in the bustling Korenmarkt, and is considered a fine example of Scheldt Gothic style. The church is free to visit and opens at 10 AM.

Hours: 10 AM – 4 PM daily

Address: Cataloniëstraat, 9000 Gent, Belgium

Saint Nicholas Church

Climb the Belfort van Gent (Belfry of Ghent)

Next, head to the Ghent Belfry. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands 299 feet tall, making it the tallest medieval tower in Ghent. Atop the Belfry is a fiery dragon, the symbol and mascot of Ghent.

One of the best things you can do in Ghent is climb to the top of the Belfry (254 stairs) to enjoy stunning views of the city below. The Belfry began being built in 1313 to symbolize the city. The tower remained free-standing until 1425, when the Cloth Hall was built against it.

The Cloth Hall became the center of the wool and cloth trade which was Ghent’s most important export product at the time.

If you visit Ghent on Sunday, you can hear the carillonneur between 11 AM – 12 PM. Moreover, during the months of July and August, you can experience a live Carillon performance on Saturday nights.

Make sure to get tickets ahead of time, which can be purchased on the Belfort Offical website.

Ghent Belfry Fun Fact: The carillon has 54 bells and weighs over 30 tons.

Tickets: € 11 per adult; reduced rate for those under 18 years old.

Hours: Daily from 10 AM – 6 PM (last ticket 5 PM)

Address: Sint-Baafsplein, 9000 Gent, Belgium

Belfort van Ghent

Visit Saint Bavo’s Cathedral

Walk another 2 minutes, and you will be in front of Saint Bavo’s Cathedral. Built on a 10th and 12th-century church site, it is the oldest Parish Church in Ghent and offers beautiful stained glass windows, a unique chandelier, and impressive art.

One of the most well-known artworks inside has to be the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb that Jan van Eyck and Hubert painted.

It is free to visit the church, however, they offer a paid experience to walk through the crypt and the Ghent Altarpiece using an AR headset that includes augmented reality. Tickets can be purchased on-site or on their website beforehand.

Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM

Address: Sint-Baafsplein 9000 Gent Belgium

Saint Bravos Church in Ghent

Discover Werregarenstraat (Werregarenstraatje)

One of the most unique things to do in Ghent during your day trip is visiting the Werregarenstraat. This is a graffiti street that is forever changing, which makes this dedicated alley really neat.

Ghent has a thriving young arts community, and supporting young street artists is a priority in this dedicated tunnel. The alley is located between Hoogpoort and Onderstraat.

Werregarenstraat Alley is one of the best things to do with one day in Ghent itinerary

Pass By the Vrijdagmarkt

If you’re visiting Ghent over the weekend on a Friday or Saturday, stopping at the Vrijdagmarkt Square will be a nice addition to your Ghent itinerary.

We visited during the weekday, and nothing was happening, although the square plays an important role in history. In fact, this is where celebrations, along with executions, were held.

Additionally, around the area, you can find many local pubs to enjoy Belgian beer, cafes, and shopping.

In the middle of the square, you will see the statue of Jacob van Artevelde, who played an important role in ending the boycott of English wool imports during the Hundred Years’ War between France and England.

Vrijdagmarkt Ghent Belgium Square

Cross The Zuivelbrug Bridge

Next, stroll right over to the Zuivelbrug Bridge, where you can enjoy beautiful views down the Leie River. From the bridge, you can also see the Dulle Griet, a historic red canyon that was used in the siege of Oudenaarde.

Right across the bridge is Confiserie Temmerman, a candy store that has been family-owned since 1904. While in Ghent, don’t forget to try the sweet treat called Cuberdon, a Belgian candy that is a local delicacy in Ghent. It is cone-shaped and has a fruit-like flavor inside. It is also referred to as a nose due to its shape.

Zuivelburg Bridge in Ghent

Explore Patershol

You have now crossed your way into Patershol, also known as the culinary heart of Ghent. If you’re hungry, you will find restaurants lining the street with cuisines from around the world.

Patershol is also known as one of the prettiest neighborhoods in Ghent, with cobblestone alleys and cute homes. So take a moment to wander around and grab a bite to eat, as this is one of the top places to visit in Ghent.

Patershol neighborhood in Ghent

Explore the Gravensteen (The Castle of the Counts)

Likely one of the most popular attractions and landmarks in Ghent has to be the Castle of the Counts, a medieval castle built in 1180. Therefore, it is a must-visit on your one day in Ghent itinerary!

When visiting, a self-walking audio guide is included in your ticket. The audio guide is done by a comedian, so you can expect to chuckle a few times while learning about the rich history of this castle.

The tour will bring you through the castle, along the walls, and to the very top. Anticipate to spend around 1 hour here.

The views from the top of the castle, in particular, are also spectacular. You can even see all three medieval towers of Ghent.

Ghent Fun Fact: On November 16, 1949, 138 students from the University of Ghent stormed the medieval castle to protest the imposed Belgian beer tax.

Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM; Last ticket entry at 4:40 PM

Tickets: € 13 per adult; reduced rate for those under 18 years old.

Address: Sint-Veerleplein 11, 9000 Gent, Belgium

Gravensteen Castle of the Counts is a top attraction to visit
View from the top of the castle Gravensteen

Experience a Canal Boat Tour in Ghent

One of the best things to do in Ghent is explore the city from the water. This is also a great opportunity to rest your feet a little while learning more about Ghent’s rich history. This will also allow you to see more landmarks from a different perspective.

The boat ride usually lasts around 50 minutes and is told in several languages. This Ghent canal boat tour is closeby to Gravensteen Castle (by the Grasbrug Bridge), and we had a nice experience.

Taking a Canal boat tour down the leie river is a must with one day in Ghent itinerary

Walk Down Korenlei and Graslei

Two of the most notable streets in Ghent are easily Korenlei and Graslei, and they just so happen to be right across the water from one another. On either side, you can enjoy beautiful historic buildings.

These quays were part of the medieval port, which played a significant part in exporting and importing goods. Many of the building lining the streets have been there for centuries.

Visiting Korenlei and Graslei streets are the best things to do in Ghent

Saint Michaels Church (Optional)

While you make your way down the river, consider stopping at the Saint Michaels Church. This 11th-century church doesn’t open until after 2 PM, so it’s best to do it later in the day.

This church is known for its exposed brick, stained glass windows, and artwork by Anthony Van Dyck.

Hours: 2 PM – 5 PM. Closed on Monday

Admission: Free to visit

Address: Sint-Michielsplein 4, 9000 Gent, Belgium

Saint Michaels Church in Ghent

STAM – Ghent City Museum (Optional)

Depending on how you’re doing on time, you may also want to add the STAM Museusem (Stadsmuseum Gent). This museum is dedicated to the history of Ghent and has several multimedia experiences.

The museum has both permanent and temporary exhibits that explore different aspects of the city, and can be a great opportunity to learn further about this charming Belgian city.

Hours: Weekdays 10 AM – 5 PM (closed on Wednesday), Weekends 10 AM – 6 PM

Ticket: € 10 per adult

Address: Bijloke site Godshuizenlaan 2 – 9000 Ghent

The map above covers each stop and suggested walking path for this Ghent Day Trip Itinerary. You can save it to your Google Maps to use later! Click view map larger.

Where to Stay in Ghent

Now that you’ve learned the best things to see in Ghent during a day trip, lets quickly discuss where to stay. If you decide you’d like to spend the night in Ghent, here are some top options to consider that are all centralized and have excellent reviews.

You definitely don’t need to stay overnight, however since Ghent is so close to Bruges and Brussels.

Best Things to Do in Ghent in One Day Itinerary Wrap-up

This concludes the best things to do when visiting Ghent in one day. I hope you have the best time exploring Ghent, Belgium, and all this city offers.

Day trip stops order in Ghent Review:

  1. Saint Michaels Bridge
  2. Saint Nicholas Church
  3. Belfort van Gent (Belfry of Ghent)
  4. Saint Bavo’s Cathedral
  5. Werregarenstraat (Werregarenstraatje)
  6. Vrijdagmarkt
  7. Zuivelbrug Bridge
  8. Patershol
  9. Gravensteen (The Castle of the Counts)
  10. Canal Boat Tour
  11. Korenlei and Graslei
  12. Saint Michaels Church (Optional)
  13. STAM – Ghent City Museum (Optional)

Have any questions about this one day in Ghent itinerary or need additional help? Reach out in the comments below, via email, or via social media dm.

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Best Things to do in Ghent One Day itinerary
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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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