Belgium is divided into three regions, two of which split the country roughly horizontally into Flanders, the primarily Dutch (or Flemish) speaking north, and Wallonia, the primarily French-speaking south. Gent and Brugge are both in Flanders, north of Brussels.
We stayed four nights in Gent (or Ghent in English, Gand in French) with a day trip to Bruges. We considered a day trip to Antwerpen (Antwerp), but instead enjoyed an extra day of exploring more of Gent and tasting beer (Ken).
To orient ourselves as we walked into the medieval canal-side town, we found the map and notes from The Intrepid Guide useful.
One of the most enjoyable activities in Gent was to head toward the car-free (not transit-free) center, grab a pre-made salad for lunch at the Albert Heijn grocery store on the way, and sit by the canal with locals and tourists alike soaking up the ambiance and watching the canal boats ferry tourists and students about.
Bruges, capital of the Flanders region, is known as Bruges to the French and English, but as Brugge in Dutch. About a quarter the size of Gent, Bruges is a walkable, pretty town. From the train, we walked into the Grote Markt (the central plaza) where there was indeed a large market in progress. Had we been staying in Bruges, we would have bought all of our groceries there–everything looked that good. Instead, we sat at one of the restaurant patios lining the plaza, enjoyed a coffee and Belgian waffle, watched the goings-on and listened to a brief carillon concert from the 14th century belfry.
Once again, we took advantage of the map and notes provided by The Intrepid Guide to learn about Gent and find our way around.
- Accommodation in Gent: Agelandkaai. An interesting and well-appointed one-bedroom loft apartment (a smaller studio wasn’t available when we booked), a short walk from bus and train stations and about 1km easy walk into town. An unusual amenity is an honour-system commercial fridge and freezer filled with staples and culinary delights.
- Train: Ghent to Brugge, €6.80 for two each way with the current Duo promotion (two travel for the price of one, April 2 to August 31, 2022).