If you’ve spent at least one summer (or even just a sunny weekend) in Ghent you’ll know that the Gentenaars love nothing more than a drink at one of the best summer bars in Ghent. Terrasseizoen (Terrace season) is something of a sport here, and isn’t complete without a plate of kaasblokjes (cheese cubes), local Tierenteyn mustard and celery salt on the side. Researching the 10 best summer bars in Ghent to catch some rays, people watch and cool down with a pintje was a tough job, but someone had to do it. Here are the results, organised in one big bar crawl loop:
Let’s start at the beach. Why not. Every summer from the end of June through till the start of September, Zebrabeach brings sand, deckchairs and general seaside cheer to an outdoor courtyard area with paddling pool on Zebrastraat. They also show international films on a big screen after dark.
From beach to boat. De Planck is the boat bar opposite the Kinepolis cinema. Come summer everyone wants to be on top deck. From here you can watch the boats go by as they make their way into town. The 200 beers on the menu (including one specially brewed for the boat) should help you while away a summer evening or two.
Geus van Gent
You can see the Geus van Gent (part of the Geuzenhuis) from De Planck – it’s just a short hop across the bridge. Its terrace is right next to the water and the star of the show here are the unique views you get of the other side of St Peter’s Abbey. The bar has 20 beers on tap and is perfect for discovering Belgian beer as the late rays fall straight onto your table.
Vooruit Roof Terrace
It’s a classic, and at least one visit every summer (week?) is a must. The Vooruit roof terrace gets some of the last rays and there’s a bar upstairs for regular refreshment. Brightly coloured deckchairs and its tiered herb garden create a chilled vibe. Stay longer than the afternoon and Vooruit is also one of the best places to party in Ghent.
Marimain and Cafe Romain
Ok, so this is two bars, Marimain…and Cafe Romain. When the weather’s warm they seem to tussle for terrace space on a hip little square (more triangle-shaped) on Walpoortstraat. We like them both in equal measure. There’s plenty of people watching to be had from either as this street is lined with trendy clothes and coffee shops.
De Buffel is an unassuming little neighbourhood bar whose terrace overlooks a small park outside St Macharius church. They offer a small selection of delicious tapas dishes, which leave the kaasblokjes for dust to be honest – there’s no fixed menu so you can expect something different each time – slices of smoked aubergine or juicy entrecote anyone?
Another classic, Mosquito Coast is busy all year round, popular for its traveller theme (think maps and giraffes on the wall). In the summer they open up a terrace plus large balcony area out the back, in addition to the terrace out front which tends to open all year round. This is the place for a cocktail aperitif and something from the international-themed tapas menu.
Gaston is slightly out of town – north of Dok Noord – so you do have to be quite dedicated to the cause. Luckily, we are. This massive rooftop bar has probably the best view of the whole of Ghent’s skyline. It’s only open during July and August, and if you’re really enthusiastic you can book it for private events. Not the kind of place you’ll stumble across and definitely something different to show your family and friends when they come to visit.
De Walrus is another neighbourhood bar that is a bit out of the way for tourists, but very popular with anyone who lives or works nearby. There’s a big courtyard with colourful murals out the back and they serve a good range of lunch and dinner options, which you’ll probably need after a full day of terrace touring.
What are your best summer bars in Ghent to enjoy a drink with friends when it’s sunny? Let us know in the comments section below.