Explore the cobblestone streets, medieval architecture and peaceful canals of Ghent’s historic district on this combined tour and cruise. Your guide will lead you on a walking tour of many of Ghent’s highlights, including Gravensteen Castle, lively public squares, the Gothic Saint Bavo’s Cathedral and the Ghent Belfry.
After your walking tour, you’ll see the city from a new perspective as you cruise along Ghent’s canals for an hour. While on the boat you’ll be served a charcuterie board of local ingredients and a bottle of wine or Belgian beer. You’ll pass step-gabled rooftops, towering cathedrals and plenty of people sitting by the water’s edge.
While walking tours and canal cruises are not uncommon in Ghent, this combination of the two is a unique Audley experience that offers a well-rounded history of the city with a personal guide to lead the way.
Your tour of Ghent can start from Ghent, Bruges, Brussels or Antwerp. After you meet your private guide, you’ll embark on a four-hour walking tour of the city of Ghent’s highlights.
You’ll head to Gravensteen Castle, a medieval fortress built in 1180 for Philip of Alsace and used as the residence of the counts of Flanders for nearly 200 years. Since 1353, it has served a variety of purposes, including as a jail, court, mint and most recently a cotton mill. The castle was then restored in the late 1800s and then opened to the public.
Then you’ll make your way to Korenmarkt, or Wheat Market, a city square in Ghent’s central district surrounded by historic buildings that house bars, restaurants and terraces. It’s also home to Ghent’s two busiest shopping districts and provides access to the Graslei quay.
You’ll also visit Vrijdagmarkt, or Friday Market, one of the oldest squares in the city, so-named for its weekly market each Friday morning dating back to 1199. The surrounding guildhalls are home to terrace cafés and monuments to the socialist movement at the turn of the 20th century. There is also a statue in the middle that pays tribute to Jacob van Artevelde, a citizen who sided with England during the Hundred Years’ War and was killed in the square.
Your guide will lead you to Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, a massive Gothic cathedral that’s home to The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, a colossal altarpiece that depicts holy scenes and is acclaimed for its incredibly intricate detailing.
For one of the best views of the city, you’ll visit the Ghent Belfry, which rises 91 m (299 ft) into the sky. There’s an elevator that will take you to the top of the tower, where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Ghent’s rooftops.
After your walking tour, you’ll head to the water for a one-hour canal cruise. You’ll be served a charcuterie board with local ingredients, and a bottle of wine or Belgian beer. Additional options are possible if arranged with your tour guide ahead of time. The cruise will take you past the step-gabled houses, restaurant terraces and towering cathedrals.
This tour is best planned for March through November, to ensure good weather. You’ll have a private walking guide and a private captain on your cruise, making this a unique activity for Ghent, where such small tours are not common.