Ghent and surroundings

Against the unique historic setting of Ghent, there is a vibrant city where easy accessibility is a key trump - no tailbacks and just 45 minutes from Brussels Airport (Zaventem).

Ghent is a historic city with a large cultural line-up, a lively harbour and business life, and an internationally renowned university, UGent.

Ghent is stimulating and idiosyncratic, but above all authentic. Nowhere else you will find so much culture per square meter, in a completely car-free historic inner city.

The imposing medieval Gravensteen castle is the evidence of an illustrious past. Unique masterpieces of the 'Flemish primitives' are just a walk away from top contemporary art at SMAK. In addition, there are dozens of bars and terraces, and an extensive range of original restaurants.

The other thing that makes this city special is, of course, its people. They are really responsible for the unique atmosphere of this vibrant cultural city. No wonder that, year after year, Ghent is voted the Most Pleasant City in Flanders.

Large shopping streets with big chains sit shoulder-to-shoulder with authentic boutiques; trendy next to traditional. In Ghent, everything is within walking distance. Simply show the 'Gent Verwent' (Ghent Spoils You) pass and you will receive an additional discount or a gift at hundreds of shops across Ghent.  Ghent is also a city of markets: flowers, antiques or just a fresh lettuce. Every day, there is an entertaining market somewhere. Every Sunday, from May till September, you can take a market walk past five typical Sunday markets. The walk leaves from Kouter at 10:30 am.

In a lively cultural city such as Ghent, there is always something going on. Here are just a few important events: Omloop het Volk, Gentse Feesten, Festival van Vlaanderen, International Flanders Film Festival, De Zesdaagse, De FloralieŽn.

Ghent also has an international reputation in congress tourism. After all, with its professionally equipped Auditorium and the associated three-seat concept, Gent ICC has one of the three professional purpose-built congress facilities in Belgium. For every seat in the Auditorium there is a seat in one of the breakout rooms and in the Banqueting Hall - all on one single floor.

Ghent is the city of water: it is the city where the rivers Scheldt and Leie join. In 1840, the young Victor Hugo visited Ghent. He climbed the tower of Sint-Baaf's Cathedral and what he saw made him lyrical. It was Ghent and not Bruges that he referred to as 'Venice of the North'.

How do you get to Ghent? Two European motorways (E17 and E40) cross in Ghent, which makes the city easy to reach by car and bus. Brussels Airport is a 45 minute drive away, while there are direct trains every 30 minutes between the international airport and the international railway station, Gent-Sint-Pieters.

You can reach any Belgian city from Gent-Sint-Pieters station, while a change at Brussel-Zuid station or Lille just across the French border provides links with the European high-speed network.

Different taxi companies and perfectly organised public transport will take you anywhere. The centre of Ghent is traffic-free, so it has the best of facilities for cyclists and pedestrians.

The East Flanders tourist regions offer extensive opportunities for recreation and relaxation. The Leie district to the west of Ghent is a well-known source of inspiration for numerous internationally-acclaimed painters.

The Meetjesland is a woody area thatís ideal for a relaxed daytrip.

The Scheldeland strings one pearl after another along its meandering chain. The area can be explored on foot, by bicycle or from the water.

In the Flemish Ardennes, remarkable museums, authentic farms and unique archaeological sites hide between its numerous hills.

Finally, the Waasland is a patchwork of ploughed lands, bright red flower fields and polders.