10 Best Day Trips From Ghent

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Ghent, located in the Flemish region of Belgium, is a charming and historic city known for its medieval architecture, vibrant cultural scene, and picturesque canals. Nestled in the heart of Flanders, Ghent offers a perfect blend of history, art, and lively atmosphere.

Ghent itself is a treasure trove of architectural marvels, with its well-preserved medieval center boasting impressive landmarks such as the iconic Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, the majestic Ghent City Hall, and the picturesque Gravensteen Castle. Walking through the cobbled streets, you’ll discover beautifully preserved guildhalls, quaint shops, and cozy cafés.

Just a short distance from Ghent, you’ll find the picturesque countryside dotted with charming towns and attractions. One such place is Bruges, often called the “Venice of the North.” With its romantic canals, cobblestone streets, and medieval buildings, Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-visit destination. Its historic center offers a wealth of attractions, including the famous Belfry Tower, the Basilica of the Holy Blood, and the charming Markt Square.

Another nearby gem is Antwerp, a vibrant city renowned for its fashion, art, and diamond trade. Antwerp’s rich history is reflected in its stunning architecture, particularly the Cathedral of Our Lady and the Antwerp Central Station. The city is also famous for its vibrant fashion scene and trendy boutiques.

For nature lovers, the Ardennes region is within reach from Ghent. This picturesque area is characterized by rolling hills, dense forests, and charming villages. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, cycling, and exploring the stunning natural landscapes.

Additionally, Ghent is well-connected to other major European cities, making it an ideal base for day trips. From Paris to Amsterdam, you can easily explore more of Europe while enjoying the comfort and convenience of Ghent as your home base.

Overall, Ghent and its surrounding areas offer a delightful blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re fascinated by medieval architecture, art, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat in the countryside, this region has something for everyone. So with so much to see and do, lets explore together the top 10 day trips from Ghent.

1. Bruges

Total Time – 1 Day

Sample the famous Belgian chocolate

Bruges, Belgium

Embarking on a day trip from Ghent to Bruges is like stepping into a fairytale. As you make your way to Bruges, you’ll be captivated by the picturesque Belgian countryside, dotted with charming windmills and grazing sheep. Upon arriving in Bruges, you’ll be greeted by the enchanting sight of medieval architecture, cobblestone streets, and tranquil canals.

Begin your exploration of Bruges at the iconic Market Square, known as the heart of the city. Admire the impressive Belfry tower, which offers panoramic views of Bruges, and soak in the bustling atmosphere of the market stalls. Stroll through the narrow streets, lined with historic buildings adorned with colourful facades and charming flower boxes.

As you navigate the maze of streets, you’ll discover hidden gems at every turn. Visit the peaceful Beguinage, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and step into a serene oasis of tranquil gardens and charming whitewashed houses. Marvel at the intricate architecture of the Church of Our Lady, home to Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child sculpture.

No visit to Bruges is complete without a canal boat tour. Hop aboard a small boat and cruise along the picturesque canals, passing under quaint bridges and alongside medieval buildings. Listen to the stories and legends shared by the boat guide, and take in the romantic ambiance of this timeless city.

Indulge in the culinary delights of Bruges by sampling the famous Belgian chocolate and enjoying a warm waffle from one of the many delightful cafes. Explore the local shops and boutiques, where you can find handmade lace and unique souvenirs to take home.

Before bidding farewell to Bruges, make sure to visit the tranquil Minnewater Park, known as the “Lake of Love.” Wander through the park’s lush greenery, relax by the water’s edge, and soak in the beauty of this idyllic setting.

As the sun sets and you return to Ghent, you’ll carry with you the memories of a day filled with medieval charm, delightful flavors, and the timeless beauty of Bruges.

2. Ypres

Total Time – 8 – 10 Hours

Walk in the footsteps of the soldiers and gain insight into the challenging conditions they endured..

Ypres Belgium
Ypres, Belgium

Embarking on a day trip from Ghent to Ypres is a journey through history and a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit. As you leave Ghent behind, you’ll find yourself immersed in the rich past of Flanders, particularly during the World War I era.

Arriving in Ypres, you’ll immediately notice the town’s historic charm. Begin your visit at the Menin Gate Memorial, a poignant tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War. Witness the moving Last Post ceremony, held every evening since 1928, as a solemn tribute to the fallen soldiers.

Continue your exploration of Ypres by visiting the In Flanders Fields Museum. Housed in the iconic Cloth Hall, the museum offers a comprehensive and immersive experience that delves into the history and impact of World War I on the region. Through personal stories, artifacts, and interactive exhibits, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the war’s profound effects on the people of Flanders.

Take a moment to visit the beautiful Saint Martin’s Cathedral, known for its stunning architecture and impressive stained glass windows. The cathedral stands as a symbol of the city’s resilience and has witnessed the turbulent times of war and reconstruction.

To pay homage to the soldiers who fought bravely, head to the Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world. Here, you’ll find row upon row of white gravestones, a sobering reminder of the sacrifices made during the war.

Venture beyond Ypres to explore the nearby sites of historic significance. Visit the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, a striking monument honoring the Canadian soldiers who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Marvel at the monument’s design and take a moment of reflection in the peaceful surroundings.

As the day draws to a close, consider visiting the tranquil Yorkshire Trench and Dugout, where you can experience an authentic preserved trench system. Walk in the footsteps of the soldiers and gain insight into the challenging conditions they endured. With hearts heavy but minds enriched, you’ll return to Ghent, carrying with you a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices made during World War I and the enduring spirit of remembrance.

3. Durbuy

Total Time – 1 Day

“smallest city in the world”

Topiary Park Durbuy
Topiary Park, Rue de la Haie Himbe, Durbuy, Belgium

A day trip from Ghent to Durbuy is a wonderful opportunity to explore the picturesque beauty of the Belgian Ardennes and immerse yourself in the charm of this historic town. Durbuy, often referred to as the “smallest city in the world,” is located in the province of Luxembourg and offers a perfect escape from the bustling city life.

The journey from Ghent to Durbuy takes approximately two hours by car. As you leave Ghent behind, you’ll find yourself surrounded by lush green landscapes, rolling hills, and quaint villages along the way.

Upon arrival in Durbuy, you’ll be captivated by its medieval ambiance and cobblestone streets. Start your day by wandering through the charming town center, filled with historic buildings, boutiques, and local artisan shops. Take a leisurely stroll along the Ourthe River, admiring the picturesque scenery and soaking in the tranquil atmosphere.

For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Topiary Park is a must. This unique garden features meticulously sculpted shrubs and trees, creating stunning works of living art. Explore the park’s winding paths and discover various animal-shaped hedges, showcasing the creativity and skill of the gardeners.

Food lovers will delight in the gastronomic offerings of Durbuy. Indulge in traditional Belgian cuisine at one of the cozy restaurants or cafés, savoring dishes such as moules-frites (mussels with fries) or decadent Belgian chocolate desserts.

Nature enthusiasts can venture outside the town to explore the surrounding countryside. Embark on a hiking or biking adventure in the nearby Ardennes Forest, breathing in the fresh air and taking in the breathtaking views.

Before heading back to Ghent, be sure to visit the Durbuy Castle, a well-preserved medieval fortress that offers panoramic views of the town and surrounding landscapes.

4. Waterloo

Total Time – 6 – 8 Hours

Explore the iconic battlefield

Wellington Museum
Wellington Museum, Chaussée de Bruxelles, Waterloo, Belgium

Waterloo offers you the opportunity to delve into a significant chapter of European history. Waterloo, located in Belgium, is renowned for the famous Battle of Waterloo that took place in 1815. Here is a description of what to expect on this day trip:

The journey from Ghent to Waterloo takes approximately one hour by car or train. Upon arrival, visitors can explore the iconic battlefield where the battle between the French and Allied forces unfolded. The battlefield is beautifully preserved and offers a glimpse into the past. Walking along the trails, visitors can discover the various monuments and memorials that pay tribute to the soldiers who fought in the battle.

One of the highlights of the trip is a visit to the visitor center and the interactive exhibition at the Memorial 1815. Here, you can immerse yourself in the history of the battle through multimedia displays, artifacts, and informative exhibits. The center provides valuable insights into the events leading up to the battle and its aftermath.

After exploring the battlefield, you can take a break and enjoy a picnic or grab a bite to eat at one of the nearby cafes or restaurants. The tranquil surroundings provide a perfect setting to reflect on the historical significance of the site.

If time permits, you may also want to visit the nearby town of Waterloo, which offers charming streets, quaint shops, and local cafes. You can stroll through the town, visit the Wellington Museum housed in the former inn where the Duke of Wellington had his headquarters, or simply soak in the ambiance of this historic place.

Overall, a day trip from Ghent to Waterloo allows you to step back in time and gain a deeper understanding of the Battle of Waterloo. It is an opportunity to explore the battlefield, learn about the historical events, and appreciate the significance of this pivotal moment in European history.

5. Brussels

Total Time – 1 Day

Narrow streets and charming alleys of the city.

Brussels Belgium
Brussels, Belgium

A day trip from Ghent to Brussels offers the perfect opportunity to explore the vibrant capital city of Belgium. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and delicious cuisine, Brussels has much to offer visitors.

The journey from Ghent to Brussels takes approximately 30 minutes by train, making it convenient for a day trip. Upon arrival, you’ll find yourself in the heart of the city, ready to embark on your adventure.

Begin your day by visiting the iconic Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at the stunning architecture of the guildhouses and the impressive Brussels Town Hall. From there, explore the narrow streets and charming alleys of the city center, where you’ll discover countless shops, cafes, and chocolate boutiques.

No visit to Brussels is complete without indulging in some Belgian chocolate and waffles. Sample the exquisite chocolates at renowned chocolatiers like Neuhaus or Pierre Marcolini, and treat yourself to a warm, freshly made waffle topped with whipped cream and strawberries.

For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Atomium is a must. This unique structure, built for the 1958 World Expo, offers panoramic views of the city from its observation deck. Take a stroll through the Parc du Cinquantenaire, home to several museums and the beautiful Triumphal Arch.

Art lovers will appreciate the impressive collection at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, which houses works by renowned artists such as Bruegel, Rubens, and Magritte. Alternatively, visit the Magritte Museum dedicated to the famous Belgian surrealist painter.

Before heading back to Ghent, take a moment to relax at one of the city’s many cafes and enjoy a refreshing Belgian beer. Brussels is known for its vibrant beer culture, with a wide range of local brews to choose from.

6. Ostend

Total Time – 1 Day

Indulge in a seafood feast.

Ostende Belgium
Ostende, Belgium

A day trip from Ghent to Ostend offers the opportunity to explore the vibrant coastal city and enjoy its beautiful beaches, rich history, and charming atmosphere. Ostend, located on the North Sea coast, is easily accessible from Ghent and makes for a delightful getaway.

The journey from Ghent to Ostend takes approximately 40 minutes by train, making it a convenient option for a day trip. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by a bustling seaside promenade, lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade and breathe in the fresh sea air as you admire the views of the beach and the lively atmosphere.

Ostend is known for its expansive sandy beaches, which are perfect for a relaxing day by the sea. Whether you want to sunbathe, swim in the refreshing waters, or engage in beach activities, Ostend’s beaches have something for everyone.

For a dose of culture and history, visit the Mu.ZEE museum, which showcases contemporary and modern art, as well as the Mercator Ship, a historical vessel that offers a glimpse into Ostend’s maritime heritage. The city also boasts impressive architecture, including the neo-Gothic St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church and the Royal Galleries, a covered shopping arcade.

Food lovers will be delighted by the fresh seafood and culinary delights available in Ostend. Indulge in a seafood feast at one of the many seafood restaurants or sample local specialties such as shrimp croquettes or Ostend fish soup.

If time allows, take a relaxing boat trip along the coastline to enjoy panoramic views of the city and the sea. Alternatively, explore the charming streets of Ostend’s city center, browse the local boutiques, or visit the lively fish market.

At the end of your day trip, relax on the beach and watch a stunning sunset over the North Sea before heading back to Ghent, filled with fond memories of your time in Ostend. Overall, a day trip from Ghent to Ostend offers a perfect blend of beachside relaxation, cultural exploration, and culinary delights, making it a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.

7. Antwerp

Total Time – 1 Day

Fashion capital of Belgium

Antwerp Belgium
Antwerp, Belgium

A day trip from Ghent to Antwerp offers a fantastic opportunity to explore another vibrant Belgian city known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene. The journey from Ghent to Antwerp takes approximately 30-40 minutes by train, making it easily accessible for a day excursion.

Upon arriving in Antwerp, you’ll be greeted by a charming blend of medieval and modern architecture. Start your day by visiting the iconic Antwerp Central Station, a masterpiece of architectural design. From there, head to the historic city center, where you can explore the cobbled streets, admire the impressive Grote Markt square, and marvel at the Gothic beauty of the Cathedral of Our Lady.

Art enthusiasts will not want to miss the opportunity to visit the Antwerp Royal Museum of Fine Arts, home to an extensive collection of masterpieces by renowned artists such as Rubens, Van Dyck, and Ensor. The museum offers a fascinating journey through the history of Flemish painting.

Antwerp is also known as the fashion capital of Belgium, so be sure to wander through the trendy shopping districts like the Meir and the fashion district known as the ModeNatie. Here, you’ll find an array of stylish boutiques, designer shops, and concept stores.

For a taste of local cuisine, indulge in some traditional Belgian delicacies like waffles, chocolate, and mussels. The city is dotted with cozy cafes, bustling brasseries, and fine dining establishments where you can savor the flavors of the region.

Before leaving, take a stroll along the Scheldt River and enjoy the picturesque views. You may also want to visit the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom), a striking contemporary museum that showcases Antwerp’s maritime history and offers panoramic views of the city from its rooftop.

As the day comes to an end, you can catch the train back to Ghent, reflecting on the beautiful sights, rich history, and vibrant atmosphere of Antwerp that you experienced during your day trip.

8. Leuven

Total Time – 1 Day

Home to one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe.

Leuven, Belgium

A day trip from Ghent to Leuven is a wonderful opportunity to explore another historic and charming Belgian city. Located just a short distance away, Leuven is known for its prestigious university, vibrant atmosphere, and stunning architecture.

As you arrive in Leuven, you’ll be greeted by the impressive sight of the city’s most iconic landmark, the magnificent Town Hall. This Gothic masterpiece is a symbol of Leuven’s rich history and is adorned with intricate sculptures and ornate details. Take a stroll through the nearby Grote Markt, a bustling square lined with beautiful medieval buildings, cafes, and restaurants. It’s the perfect spot to relax, soak in the atmosphere, and savor some local delicacies.

Leuven is also home to one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe, the KU Leuven. Explore the university’s historic buildings and picturesque courtyards, and perhaps even visit the University Library, which houses an impressive collection of ancient manuscripts.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the stunning Saint Peter’s Church, known for its striking Gothic architecture and famous Last Supper painting by Dieric Bouts. The church’s tower offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside, providing a unique perspective on Leuven.

If you’re a beer enthusiast, Leuven is a paradise. It is the birthplace of Stella Artois, one of Belgium’s most famous beers. Take a tour of the Stella Artois brewery and learn about the brewing process and the history of this iconic beer.

For art lovers, the M-Museum Leuven is a must-visit. It houses an impressive collection of Flemish art, including works by famous artists such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.

As you wander through the charming streets and squares of Leuven, you’ll be captivated by its unique blend of historical grandeur and lively student atmosphere. The city’s vibrant nightlife, bustling cafes, and friendly locals add to the overall charm and make it a memorable destination.

In summary, a day trip from Ghent to Leuven offers a delightful experience filled with history, culture, and vibrant energy. From its stunning architecture to its lively squares and renowned university, Leuven has much to offer visitors and is a must-see destination in Belgium.

9. De Haan

Total Time – 6 – 8 Hours

Marvel at the elegant buildings.

Beach in De Haan
De Haan, Belgium

A day trip from Ghent to De Haan offers a delightful escape to the charming Belgian seaside. De Haan, located on the picturesque Belgian coast, is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, stunning dunes, and elegant Belle Époque architecture.

Starting your day trip from Ghent, you can take a train to Ostend, which serves as a gateway to the coastal towns. From Ostend, it’s just a short journey to De Haan by tram or bus. As you arrive in De Haan, you’ll be greeted by a serene and laid-back atmosphere.

One of the highlights of De Haan is its pristine beach, which stretches along the North Sea coastline. The soft sands and rolling waves provide the perfect setting for a leisurely stroll, sunbathing, or even a refreshing dip in the sea. You can also explore the beautiful dunes that flank the beach, offering picturesque views and opportunities for nature walks.

De Haan’s architectural charm is another major draw. The town is known for its well-preserved Belle Époque villas, adorned with ornate facades and grandeur. Take a leisurely walk through the town’s streets and marvel at the elegant buildings, or rent a bike to explore the surrounding areas.

For a taste of local cuisine, you can indulge in fresh seafood at one of the beachfront restaurants or enjoy a cozy meal at a charming café in the town center. Don’t forget to try some Belgian specialties, such as moules-frites (mussels and fries) or a delicious waffle.

As the day comes to an end, you can catch the tram or bus back to Ostend and then take a train back to Ghent, carrying with you the memories of a delightful day spent in the refreshing coastal beauty of De Haan.

10. Damme

Total Time – 4 – 6 Hours

Climb to the top of the windmill for panoramic views .

Damme Belgium
Damme, Belgium

A day trip from Ghent to Damme offers a delightful escape to a charming and picturesque Belgian town. Located just a few kilometers away, Damme is easily accessible and makes for a perfect destination for a leisurely day excursion.

As you arrive in Damme, you’ll immediately be captivated by its quaint and historic ambiance. The town is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, cobblestone streets, and peaceful canals. Take a leisurely stroll along the canal banks, admiring the charming houses and enjoying the tranquility of the surroundings.

One of the highlights of Damme is its famous windmill, which stands tall as a symbol of the town’s heritage. Climb to the top of the windmill for panoramic views of the countryside and the nearby polder landscape. The windmill also houses a small museum where you can learn about the history and significance of windmills in the region.

Explore the narrow streets lined with boutiques, bookstores, and art galleries, offering a range of unique and artisanal products. Damme is known for its thriving book trade, so don’t miss the opportunity to browse through the many bookshops and discover hidden literary gems.

To fully immerse yourself in the town’s ambiance, indulge in some local culinary delights. There are numerous cozy cafes and restaurants where you can savour Belgian delicacies, including chocolates, waffles, and local beer. Find a peaceful spot by the canal and enjoy a picnic or relax at a waterside terrace while watching the boats go by.

If you’re interested in history, visit the St. John’s Church, an impressive Gothic-style church that dates back to the 13th century. Admire its beautiful stained glass windows and intricate architectural details.

Whether you’re seeking a cultural experience, a culinary adventure, or a peaceful escape, a day trip to Damme from Ghent promises a delightful and memorable experience.

Continent: Europe

Belgium, Europe, Ghent