Ghent is small enough to walk around. It only takes about 20 minutes to walk through the historic city centre.In 2017 the city rolled out a mobility plan with the goal of removing cars from the centre, plus updated the cost of parking in the city centre. So either opt for a bike or use one of the tram and bus routes to get about in and around the city.
- De Lijn is the public transport provider in Ghent. In fact it’s the provider across the whole of the Flanders region.
- Because of this, any tickets you might buy in Ghent are not only valid for either the bus or the tram but they are also valid anywhere in Flanders – very useful if you’re doing a day trip to Bruges or Antwerp, for example. But they are not valid in Brussels.
- There are three main bus stations in Ghent which most transport routes go through: at both the train stations – Gent Sint Pieters and Dampoort – and at Zuid.
- Number 1 tram goes from IKEA and the Flanders Expo centre in the south, via Gent Sint Pieters train station, right through the centre of the city and off to the north-west of town.
- It might sound obvious but just in case – the buttons on the bus/tram that you need to press to get off at the next stop are blue. The red ones are to get the driver’s attention in an emergency.
- There are a lot of temporary bus stops in Ghent because of road diversions caused by building work. The words to look out for are ‘tijdelijke halte’ (see picture).
- Tickets are valid for 60 minutes from the time of validation. This means if you need to take two buses or a bus then a tram to reach your destination, you do not need to buy a second ticket. So long as you start your second journey before the 60 minutes is up.
Routes and schedules
- You can insert a starting point and a destination into the De Lijn route planner to work out how to get from A to B.
- Not all schedules are that frequent. Some bus routes only have 1 or 2 buses an hour so it’s advisable to check before you make an important journey – don’t rely on just turning up at a stop and hoping something will arrive within 5 minutes.
- Night buses run until 1am every night of the week.
- There are 8 night bus routes in Ghent – they follow the same route as during the day, and have the same number but with an ‘N’ before the number. You can see where they go on this route map.
- If there are delays you can sometimes get more info by inserting the stop number displayed at the top of the bus/tram stop into the DeLijn app.
- Buses and trams run every day of the year, including public holidays (Christmas day too).
- Services run less frequently when the schools are on holiday. If you’re travelling during a school holiday you will need to look at the ‘schoolvakantie’ section of the timetables that are at each bus/tram stop.
Transport ticket options
- A single ticket costs €3 for adults. The De Lijn discounts page lists out the different reductions that are available.
- People with a Belgian telephone number can buy an SMS ticket, which costs €2.25. To do this you just need to text ‘DL’ to 4884. You’ll receive a text message in reply which you need to show on request. Don’t consider turning off your phone and pretending it’s out of battery – the ticket checkers can see if you’ve bought a ticket just by asking for your phone number.
- If you have a Belgian telephone number, and you will be a regular traveller, you should download the m-card10 app where you can by 10 trips for €15, making this the cheapest digital option per single ride.
- You can also buy a paper ticket (10 journeys at €16) which is useful if you don’t have a Belgian number. The option to choose on the machines is called Lijnkaart autom (see photo). It can be used for more than one person – you just need to validate it per person.
- De Lijn also offers 1, 3 and 5-day tickets (€7, €14, €20) which you can use as many times as you like in that number of days (the clock starts at the first validation). These are all under ‘Day Ticket’ at the machines.
- Once you have a Belgian residence permit, you can use this to apply for an Omnipas (for people 25+) or a Buzzy Pazz (24 and under). This is essentially a monthly travel pass for people living in Ghent and costs €49/month (€33 for the Buzzy Pazz). It gets cheaper if you pay for 3 months or a year up front. Note that a lot of companies include an Omnipas as part of a salary package, so check before you pay for one yourself! You can apply online for these passes but it’s simplest to just visit a Lijnwinkel (see below), fill out a form, pay and show your residence permit. They’ll then give you your pass on the spot.
- Top tip: If you have a ticket for an event at the Handelsbeurs or the NT Gent then it is also valid for your transport there and back. The same goes for some of the events at the Flanders Expo.
Buying tickets and validation
- Paper tickets can be bought from the driver, a machine at a stop or station or a Lijnwinkel. These are the De Lijn’s shops – most noticeably at the bus station next to Sint Pieters train station and opposite Sint Niklaas church in the centre.
- If you pay on the bus or tram you can only give the exact change or a €10 note. If you have larger notes, you’re better off getting some change before you board as the alternative involves filling out forms and bank transfers.
- When you board a bus or a tram you need to validate all paper tickets by inserting them into the yellow machine either by the driver or near the middle doors (see picture). If you’re validating not next to the driver, press the brown “1” button on the machine after you’ve inserted the ticket. It’ll then pop back out again for you to retrieve.
- The Omnipas is a plastic card that you need to swipe against the digital machines each time you board.
- If you don’t have a ticket, or you don’t validate it when you need to, you risk a fine of between €20 and €500.