This Small Medieval Town is Home to 630 Cafés

And the most vegetarian restaurants in the world (per capita).

The medieval city of Ghent in the northern part of Belgium is a quaint, but rather large city. It should be a tourist stop on everyone’s agenda.

Photo by Erick Domínguez on Unsplash

Here’s a little more information about Ghent and Belgium. . .

During the Middle Ages, Ghent was a prominent city-state. Today, it is a university town and cultural hub.

With a population of almost 600,000, it ranks as Belgium’s second-largest city behind Brussels. It is located about 35 miles west of Brussels and southwest of Antwerp. It sits at the confluence of the Schledt and Leie Rivers which made it one of the largest and richest cities in northern Europe back in the 1300s.

Belgium’s currency is the Euro and they are known best for creating the French fry or their superb beer.

Although there is not much of a nature scene in the city of Ghent, you can find better nature south of Ghent.

Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

First impressions

One of the first things I noticed about Ghent is the cleanliness of the city. Unlike other European cities, Ghent was very well taken care of. There was no litter on the streets and no graffiti anywhere.


Ghent is affordable. It’s not the cheapest city in Europe. As a matter of fact, it’s probably in the upper half of cities in terms of affordability.

With that being said, it’s not outrageously expensive for what it provides as a city.

Expect to pay around $25–30 for a hostel near the city center. For those looking to live in Ghent for an extended period, check out Workaway. Or else, expect to pay anywhere from $300–450 a month on rent for a basic room in a shared apartment.

Fast food can cost anywhere from $4–8. You can get a cheap burger with Belgian fries for as little as $3.50, but more quality fast food can be found for around $5.50.

Groceries in Ghent depend on where you shop. There are cheaper stores originating out of Holland, but other than those, you can expect to pay close to the same price everywhere.

Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

As for the world-famous Belgian beers, expect to pay quite a bit. For an average Belgian beer at a bar, it can cost you between $3.70 and $4.70 for a third of a pint.

You can buy a quality one-fourth pint of Belgian beer at the store for around $1.30. And then there’s the infamous Cara Pils which you can buy for $0.55 for a fourth of a pint. But be warned; you get what you pay for.

A meal out may cost anywhere between $10-$17 for a nice, traditional Belgian meal.

Public transportation is expensive. The bus fare is $3.30 for a one-hour-long ticket period. A train to neighboring cities will cost about $15-$20 for a round trip, second class seat. The good part is, you are only 30-minutes from Brussels, Antwerp, and Brugge.


Photo by Héctor Martínez on Unsplash

My favorite thing about Ghent is the cycling culture. Being a student town, and the fact that having a Driver’s License is so expensive in Europe, Ghent has adopted a culture of riding bikes.

The city is ideal for public transport, pedestrians, cars, and, of course, cyclists.

My suggestion if you’re going to be in Ghent for more than a week: Rent or borrow a bike. It’s fun and saves you a ton of money since everything is within biking distance.


Free Wi-Fi is everywhere in Ghent. Especially around the Medieval city center. I’ve never had a problem tracking down Wi-Fi if I needed to contact a friend.


The city of Ghent is a Dutch-speaking city. However, being a student city, the majority speak English very well.

At the beginning of my month-long stay, I would start every conversation with, “Do you speak any English?”

Now, I’ve become comfortable assuming I can receive information in English. I would say 95% of the people I’ve run into in the city have been very good at communicating in English. Most prefer it as they use my conversation as a way to practice their second (or third) language.

I would describe Ghent as a city that is ahead of its time. In philosophy and culture. Yet, its medieval appearance keeps it rooted in time.

It is a unique place to visit and an even more unique place to live. If you ever get the chance, Ghent is highly recommended.

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