famous for its canals and medieval heritage as well, is only 20 minutes by train from Ghent
with Belgium's largest market square, is also 20 minutes away
a charming and historically important provincial city in West Flanders is 30 minutes away
Brussels, Mechelen and the seaside resort of Ostend are around 40 minutes away
either direct or with a quick change in Brussels
is an hour away by direct train
During the Middle Ages, Ghent was one of the richest and most powerful cities in Europe. It was once considered the second largest city north of the Alps, after Paris. The impact of this rich past can be clearly seen when viewing the imposing architecture of churches and the houses of rich traders. The whole of the city center is restored in this fashion, and still breathes the atmosphere of a thriving late-medieval city state. As the city council made the center free of cars, it is now a very welcoming and open area, which does not fail to impress even the people who live there.
Unlike Leuven, another university town in Flanders, youth is not the only category of people living there. There is an interesting mixture of foreigners who came to live there, or artists, among the native people of Ghent. This mixture makes the people more tolerant and open-minded. This atmosphere seeps into every aspect of city life than the smaller provincial cities or the bigger city of Antwerp.
The Belgian train system is very efficient and the country not that large, so getting between major cities by rail is a blast. A day trip to even multiple cities is easily doable. From Ghent, multiple railway lines radiates to major destinations in Flanders:
- In the opposite direction, the often-overlooked town of Sint-Niklaas, with Belgium's largest market square, is also 20 minutes away
- All the major cities in Wallonia are within 1.5 hours of train ride - either direct or with a quick change in Brussels
- The French city of Lille is an hour away by direct train