My husband and I seem to always have travel on the brain, and how could we not when there are so many different places to see in Europe! With that in mind we decided to head to Ghent, Belgium for the weekend. Ghent is just a 2 hour drive from where we live in the Netherlands, so it was a no-brainer for a quick weekend trip. As always, we booked an Airbnb as close to the city center as we could because we like easy access to shops, restaurants, bars, etc.
the Patershol festivities.
We just so happened to visit Ghent on a festival weekend that we learned is not typically visited by tourists, but is rather more of a festival for the locals. That means less tourists and a more authentic experience, which is always a good thing! Located in the Patershol neighborhood which is lined with old houses, restaurants and cobblestone streets, they set up tons of tents with food and drinks along the streets, as well as stages for live music. I would highly recommend visiting Ghent during this festival weekend [which happens annually in mid-August] because the city isn’t too crazy and you get to celebrate like a local!
location, location, location.
Our Airbnb ended up being perfect! Great location, and an awesome little apartment that was perfect for us — and pet friendly so we could bring our puppy, Duke! The apartment was recently refurbished but still had the bones from the original 1668 building! Right outside of our door were cafés, shops and sight-seeing. As always, we were amazed by the architecture of the city, the intricate detailed work of the castles and churches, and I especially liked the colorful houses and buildings spattered throughout.
some of the sights.
We stumbled upon this area while taking a stroll throughout the city. Graslei is know for its unique architecture, as you can see in the picture. It’s a great place to walk around and stop in for some food or drinks because there are lots of cafés and restaurants in this area.
lovely colors throughout the city.
We did a lot of what we like to do best when visiting new European cities — just walk and explore. That’s what we did a lot of in Ghent. We didn’t have any tours planned, and we didn’t really have any plan at all. Sometimes those are the best trips! During our exploration of the city we saw some vibrant colored houses and doors that I just adored!
The Gravensteen Castle.
This castle was amazing to see! It stands out among the surrounding buildings and shops, but it also feels like it fits in with much of the Medieval architecture that you see throughout Ghent. We wanted to take a tour but didn’t end up having time for it. I believe it’s just €10 per adult and free for children to take the tour. When you walk by the castle you can almost feel what it was like living in the Middle Ages. And it’s so amazing to me how such buildings are still standing after so many years.
some tasty food and drinks in the center of Ghent.
With the Patershol festivities going on, we tended to head in that direction for food and drinks. The first night we arrived we walked down a street lined with restaurants and bars and decided on a little place called that had outdoor seating where we could enjoy our food and the atmosphere.
‘t Koningshuis Beef & Burgers.
The staff was friendly, the beer was great and the food was delicious! My husband had the bleu cheese burger and I choose the salmon burger. Mine was fantastic! My salmon was cooked to perfection [it was a grilled piece of salmon too, not a questionable salmon patty], and I was pleasantly surprised to get some veggies in with this meal. On my salmon burger was fresh arugula [my fave!], tomato and onion. Along side the burgers were crispy fries and your choice of four dipping sauces. I limit myself to just a few fries though because I can eat a whole plate full without even realizing where they went! All in all though, this meal was yummy and the atmosphere was on point!
The next morning we ventured out [early!] around 7am to get coffee. Not much to our surprise, nothing was open yet. Even the Starbucks in Ghent didn’t open until 8:30am [crazy, I know!]. So we wandered around a bit until we found an amazing little bakery called PAUL. We got a couple of cappuccinos and pastries and sat outside on the patio, even though it was still sprinkling a little that morning. The aroma of sweet pastries and coffee in the morning is everything I need to get going. I’m not usually one to eat sweets or pastries for breakfast, but while traveling I always want to try new things [in moderation, of course!]. We ended up going back for seconds and getting a couple of coffees to-go before we headed out to explore the city some more.
[what was left of some savory cheese bread.]
Barbara Italian Restaurant.
For dinner on our second and last night in Ghent we decided to head back to a little Italian place we had seen earlier in the day. We were drawn to it because there was outdoor seating, the pizza looked amazing and it was kid-friendly. We decided on a cheese platter and wine before dinner and it was so good! My husband and I both agreed that this was some of the best cheese we had ever tasted. Along with the cheese was marinated zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and crispy bread. And for a surprise twist, there was honey and berry jam for drizzling.
We were impressed by the appetizer and couldn’t wait to order some pizza! The pizza did not disappoint! My husband opted for a pizza with spicy tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese and basil. My choice was tomato sauce, spinach and ricotta. I wasn’t sure how the ricotta would be on a pizza, but let’s just say it was a game-changer! Seriously so delicious. The ricotta was so creamy and delicious and the crust was perfection. I would highly recommend this restaurant!
Ghent — we will be back!
In just about 48 hours we were able to see and do quite a bit in Ghent, Belgium! The people were friendly, the food was great and the experience was perfect. There is so much more to see and do though, so we will definitely be back. Hopefully we’ll get to show some of our family and friends this great city with it being so close to where we live in the Netherlands.
Traveling with a toddler can be stressful at times, but we feel so fortunate to get to be able to share all of these memories with our daughter. She’s starting to go with the flow a little more and is becoming so interested in her surroundings which is just the best to see! Until next time, Ghent. We’ll be back for sure.
Planning a trip to Belgium or the Netherlands [where we live]? If so, if you need any recommendations please let me know! You can comment below or send me a personal email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.
And don’t forget to come back and check out my travel section on the blog. I’ll be adding more destinations soon!