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What’s on your Ghent ‘to do’ list for 2017?

Skyline of Ghent ©Rebecca Bramlett

We all know the feeling: you’ve been living in Ghent for a while and you might have the feeling you’ve seen and done it all. But have you really? In this first piece of our new series, we turn to local expats to ask an ordinary question that we all want to know the answer to. This time, we have asked TheSquare’s authors:

What has been on your to do list in Ghent since you’ve arrived, but you’ve not yet had the time to do it? And what do you really, really plan to see or do in 2017?

“I’ve never been to Gravensteen! Or seen the Mystic Lamb. So these two would be on top of my to visit list for 2017 of historical monuments. After reading Heather’s articles on restaurants in Ghent there are quite a few of restaurants mentioned I haven’t tried yet. When it comes to culture and music; I have never managed to visit Gent Jazz yet, so hopefully I can do that this summer! I also have a few spots left from the map Sorry Not Sorry Duncan gave tips about in his article of Quirky things to do in Ghent article.”
– Jenny

Streetart by Jamz in Patershol ©SorryNotSorry

“Upon moving to Gent, I was excited to learn that it was known as a foodie destination. Unfortunately, I have not dined out in Gent nearly as much as I would like. I hope to do that more in 2017!

With such diverse dining options here, my goal is to try as many of the international restaurants in Gent as possible. Basically, I just want to eat my way down Oudburg, Vlaanderenstraat, and Sleepstraat. Thanks for these recommendations, Heather! Also, I recently tried dishes from four of the food entrepreneurs at the Holy Food Market, all of which were delicious, so I won’t be satisfied until I’ve tried something from all 16! After some good meals, I’d also like to learn how to properly drink jenever at Het Dreupelkot and figure out which flavor is my favorite.

Finally, on at least one evening out in Gent, I’d like to guide myself through the complete tour of the city’s unique and beautiful light plan using this guide from Stad Gent. I’ve seen it in bits and pieces but would love to take it all in at once!”

Rebecca wants to discover Gent’s Light Plan by following the promenade suggested by Stad Gent ©Rebecca Bramlett

“First of all I’d like to go up the top of the Belfort. I came close once when I went inside it during the Ghent Light Festival two years ago, but the queue was too long. Ever since then I keep meaning to do it, as it’s only 8 euros. I may even stretch the extra 3 euros to do the tour (available in Dutch or English) which starts at 3.30pm each day. Just waiting for some blue skies so I can get some nice pictures from the top!

Next on my list would be getting tickets to the Ode Gand festival. I thought about it last year and was then too slow – tickets sold out almost instantly. I love fireworks and can’t think of a better backdrop than the Graslei.

Finally I’d like to explore the area to the north of the city centre. I live between the main train station and the centre so I tend to get as far as the city centre and then return home. The city of Ghent is currently putting a lot of time (and money) into rejuvenating the old docks area and I see this as a very exciting future for Ghent and the people who live here. For me this is just as important as visiting the historic places that Ghent has to offer.”

Soon to be conquered by Heather

“I’m all about discovering those secret corners and going off the beaten track, but I still haven’t managed to just aimlessly wander around the city and actually step into open courtyards or peek around corners. It seems we’re all playing a never-ending game of hide and seek with time, so exploring the city without cares, worries or goals in general is what speaks to my heart the most.

Also, I’d love to finally explore and photograph Ghent’s architectural gems like the amazing Vooruit or the modern University Library of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. Ah, and don’t get me started on all the charming art nouveau doors that can be found across the city. Gotta collect them all!”

Mirna’s planned photography adventures include scouting the city for amazing architecture, like the Vooruit ©

“I’m really ashamed to admit that I haven’t yet properly explored all the Ghent museums. I’ve been to STAM and to Gravensteen and I’ve been inside the MSK, lured by the prospect of meeting the only astronaut from Ghent, Frank de Winne. As for the rest of the deliciously attractive Ghent museums, they just keep getting skipped over for exploring cosy cafes when friends are visiting. So I really, really want to dedicate a full day to MSK to give it justice.

Then I will stroll across the road to SMAK and, finally, why not pretend I’m a child at the Huis van Alijn and do their treasure hunt? The Design Museum finishes off my list. Surely, I should be able to see at least to one of them this year. I mean, they have nice cafes, too, right?”
Nina, plans to see the restoration of the Mystic Lamb happening live at MSK in 2017

The adoration of the Mystic Lamb, ca 1432 © Lukas – Art in Flanders VZW, photo Hugo Maertens
Nina came to Ghent many years ago via several other countries, ditching the big city lights for the towers and rivers of Ghent. She has lived in Vienna, Cantabria (Spain), Maastricht, Luxembourg and Brussels. Now she enjoys creating beautiful design, exploring space and talking to people. She is also on a mission to make Ghent and Belgium more welcoming to expats. You can contact her at

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