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Shopping for the essentials in Ghent

When you’re visiting a city for a weekend, you can just wander about and see which shops you stumble across. But if you’re living in a new country and you don’t know where to buy a loaf of bread or a pair of socks in a hurry, the simplest things get complicated quickly. Here’s our practical guide to shopping in Ghent: where can you buy the basics, and when.

Grocery shopping in Ghent

There are 4 main supermarket chains in Ghent – Delhaize, Colruyt, Carrefour and Albert Heijn. Other names you’ll hear are Match, Lidl and Aldi. There are also a handful of good Asian food stores: Dun Huang on the way to Sint-Pieters train station, and Suan Thai in the city centre are two of the most popular. Like most other shops in Ghent, supermarkets are often closed on Sunday. However, there are some key branches to have in mind in case you get caught short. The Delhaize on Kouter square is open every day (even on Christmas Day) and its Sunday opening hours are 8am-8pm. Some of the smaller Carrefours in the town centre are also open Sunday mornings. A good place to check opening hours is: http://www.openingsuren.info.

FNAC is a popular department store for books and electronics shopping in GhentMain shopping streets

For high-street fashion from international brands, Veldstraat has the likes of Mango, Zara and Esprit. It is also home to two department stores – Inno, with six floors of fashion and cosmetics, and FNAC, which is your best bet for electronics and books, especially for its large English-language section. The road is closed to cars, but taxis and the number 1 tram line (to the train station) are allowed down here. The other main, pedestrianised shopping street is Langemuntstraat, which runs between Groentenmarkt and Vrijdagsmarkt squares. This street has a lot of shoe shops, plus a Primark. Brabantdam, and the side streets off it, has high-end fashion stores aplenty.

Market shopping in Ghent

A group of people buying flowers from a stand while shopping in Ghent
The flower market on the Kouter

You’ll find clothes, electronics and fresh produce on the Vrijdagsmarkt square every Friday and Saturday. Pick up an antique just around the corner outside Sint Jakobskerk church (Fridays-Sundays). Tables of books line the banks of the river along Ajuinlei (Sundays only), and flowers fill the Kouter every day, but Sunday has the biggest selection. On Sundays you’ll also find a small organic food market at Gent Sint Pieters train station. Find out all the details for market shopping in Ghent here.

Insider tips

  • When it comes to selling books De Slegte on Voldersstraat will buy them off you – just show up with a box and they will quote you a figure.
  • Shops are open the first Sunday of every month (and public transport is also free that day). 
  • Look out for the signs saying ‘solden’ during the sales periods of the year. Shops are legally only allowed to run sales in two months of the year – January and July.
  • Ghent’s main shopping centre, Shopping Gent Zuid, is out of the historic city centre so it’s often a quieter place to shop. It also has a large Match supermarket in the basement.
  • Dok Noord in the northern part of the city offers a range of shops.
  • HEMA is a useful department store to know about. In terms of prices it competes with IKEA and Primark, so it’s great for household items if you’ve just arrived. There are two branches – one on the central Korenmarkt and one in the Shopping Gent Zuid. And the cafe terrace at the top of the branch on the Korenmarkt has great views over the square.
  • Another classic port of call for everyday household items is Blokker.
Gent Shopping Zuid
Heather
Heather is a language and travel geek at heart, having gotten the bug for it while studying German and Italian in her home country, England. After managing hotel content for a start-up in Berlin, being an Erasmus student in Bologna and writing for Frommer's travel guides while in London, she moved to Gent in 2015 for a year. Still here, Gent must have been doing something right! She's now determined to help other newbie expats settle in and build a great life here in this beautiful city. If you'd like to get in touch, send an email to heather@thesquare.gent

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