This year for New Years we jetted off to Ghent, Belgium with two of our good pals to do something a little different and bring in 2017 in a different country. I had already been to Antwerp before and presumed it would be something similar but I was wrong! Ghent was so much prettier than I could have ever imagined, everything looks like it came straight out of a fairytale book.
We visited when the Winter Festival was happening so it was extra pretty but no matter the time of year, I’d highly recommend Ghent for a city break. Everything is so easily accessible and all the all the important cultural and culinary interest points are within walking distance of each other. We walked and walked and walked, discovering shops, cafes and restaurants along the way and here are just some of the spots that we visited…
Where to eat
- Maison Elza one of the most amazing dining experiences of my life, this place did not disappoint! From the walls lined with vintage finds to the Chanel memorabilia filled bathroom, this is the restaurant of every vintage lovers dreams! I would highly recommend the Monkfish, it was divine. The owner was also such a darling with many of the fashionable creations dotted around created by him.
- Alice Gent a pretty little ‘boudoir chic’ spot for breakfast and brunch and sweet treats. Everything is blush-toned, lit by chandeliers and candles and there is a wall full of vintage teapots, I was in heaven!
- Julies House is a cosy, pastry cafe overlooking the Leie river in the middle of Ghent’s historic center.
- Vegetarians are in luck here as Ghent has the world’s largest number of vegetarian restaurants per capita! Even if you are not a veggie, there are some delicious veggie options that even meat-lovers will love.
Where to drink
- Jiggers The Noble Drugstore is an amazing speakeasy-style bar where you have to ring the bell before you can enter! Recently voted amongst the top ten most influential bars of Europe.
- Galgenhuis Smallest Pub in Ghent!
- De Alchemist Head here for an impressive gin drinks list!
- The Pharmacy is another fab ‘speak-easy’ bar in a secret location in Knokke-Heist. Family run, the bar tenders in here have some impressive accolades including best bartender in Belgium and ranking amongst the top 12 bartenders in the world.
Shopping in Ghent
- The Fallen Angels is an utterly adorable, mother-daughter owned shop completely packed with knickknacks and toys from the 18th century to the sixties.
- Louise and Madeleine is a small but very sweet store with lots and lots of goodies including dainty jewellery and Rifle Paper Co. products.
- Behangpapier Priem for the most stunning vintage wallpaper. 80-year-old sisters own this über retro shop and they have a huge selection of wallpapers from the 60’s and 70’s at really amazing prices.
- Right next door to Behangpapier Priem sits Temmerman, a tiny confiserie store with deliciously old-fashioned sweets and other popular Ghent delicacies such as Cuberdons as well as mokken’ and ‘knopkes’ (cookies).
- Home Linen is where you can find traditional Belgian linen, vintage and vintage-inspired pretties.
Things to do
- Visit the beautiful Gravensteen castle in the middle of the city center
- Try world-famous, traditional foods like Belgian waffles, fries and chocolates (the delicious Leonidas chocolate brand hails from Ghent). For truly authentic Ghent fare try the Cuberdons (also known as purple noses, these tasty treats are made from Arabic gum and raspberry juice). Yum!
- See incredible artworks by Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens, and many other Flemish masters at the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Museum of Fine Arts).
- Take a boat tour on the waterways. Sightseeing boats run daily and these duck’s eye view give a totally different perspective of the wonderful architecture and the layout of the magical streets.
- The city is compact enough to walk around and see all the pretty sights so make sure you bring comfy shoes for taking it all in. There is also a fantastic tram and bus system all across Ghent.
Have you ever been to Ghent? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below as it’s somewhere I’d dearly love to return to!