As the capital of the Flemish-speaking Oost-Vlaanderen (East Flanders) province in northern Belgium, Ghent is an important inland port and a buzzing university city. It’s also a medieval masterpiece, right up there with its neighbor Bruges for its spectacular Flemish Gothic architecture.
Take a day to enjoy the buzzing streets of Ghent; discover the medieval splendors of Graslei and Korenlei; see the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb in the landmark St Bavo’s Cathedral; and climb to the top of the Belfry for views across the city rooftops. Come evening, head north of the River Leie to fashionable Patershol for a gourmet supper.
Pay your respects to the fallen of World War I with a tour of the battlefields of Flanders; walk in the trenches that marked the Western Front, see the countless rows of tombstones at Tyne Cot Cemetery and journey to Ypres, around which much of the fiercest fighting raged. Remember the dead at the sobering In Flanders Fields Museum, grab supper in Ypres’ main square and attend the heart-rending Last Post Ceremony, held in the Menin Gate Memorial at 8pm nightly.
Kick-start a day of culture in the superb Design Museum Ghent, then hop on a tram for the 10-minute journey south to Citadelpark for its brace of top-rate art museums (Flemish and contemporary). Pop into STAM, Ghent’s newest – and most entertaining – museum, to learn all about the city’s long journey from medieval to modern, and round off the evening at one of the many open-air restaurants along the quaysides of Graslei and Korenlei.