Things to do and see in Ghent/Bruges?

Old Dec 20th, 2016, 06:00 AM
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Things to do and see in Ghent/Bruges?

I am making a stop in Ghent/Bruges for a few days in the spring and was curious what I should do and see? I google the top destinations but Fodorites usually have better suggestions!

Does anyone have a favorite site, bar, restaurant, etc in Ghent or Bruges?
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Old Dec 20th, 2016, 06:30 AM
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Well, the Ghent Altarpiece is as iconic as the Mona Lisa and has a lot more amazing backstory. See Wikipedia.

Bruges has an amazing ambiance -- think "North European Venice" -- and several important museums.
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Old Dec 20th, 2016, 08:04 AM
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In/Near Bruges

- take a boat ride around the canals of Bruges
- rent a bike and explore the many miles of bike trails/routes through the countryside - it's only about 15km to the North Sea & there's an amazing network of trails.
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Old Dec 20th, 2016, 08:54 AM
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Gent has to castle of the Counts of Flandres with in it a torture chamber and various torture instruments and of course the great cathedral.

Bruges itself is the main sight though there are museums with Flemish masterpieces and nice churches- yes to a canal boat but just wander around the old canals- climb the belfry for stupendous views.

Yes to a bike ride - lots of rentals - can along canals to Damme, ancient port of Bruges with ancient warehouses redolent of time when Bruges was one of the world's busiest ports and Bruges one of the world's wealthiest cities.
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Old Dec 20th, 2016, 10:34 AM
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I believe there are canal boat tours in Gent too? Seems I recall taking one long ago -not like Bruges canals but still neat.
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Old Dec 20th, 2016, 11:21 AM
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The Ghent Altarpiece is currently being restored, and you may be able to watch some of the process though a window: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/sc...cle-click&_r=0
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Old Dec 20th, 2016, 11:31 AM
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I wrote a trip report that started ion Ghent and Bruges, but it is old; click on my name to find it if interested.

Here are the pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...960079007/show
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Old Dec 20th, 2016, 02:09 PM
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Ghent Altarpiece:

http://closertovaneyck.kikirpa.be/#viewer/id1=13&id2=0

I enjoyed the Design Museum, they had a Bauhaus exhibit at the time.

http://www.designmuseumgent.be/en/

There is a good Irish Pub near the St. Nicolas (?) church right near the canal bridge.

Never been to Bruges.
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Old Dec 20th, 2016, 06:47 PM
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Have you consulted a good guidebook? It's really the only way to figure out what YOU want to see and do!
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Old Dec 21st, 2016, 03:48 AM
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"Have you consulted a good guidebook? It's really the only way to figure out what YOU want to see and do!"

Or maybe post a question on a travel forum like this and get ideas from others that may not show up on a guide book. Seems to be the whole purpose of a travel forum, no?
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Old Dec 21st, 2016, 06:14 AM
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The web sites of cities have excellent info more up to date than guidebooks but not as objective perhaps.

https://visit.gent.be/en/home

https://www.visitbruges.be/
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Old Dec 21st, 2016, 04:44 PM
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@ J62 & PalenQ: IMO, guidebooks provide information about all sorts of places that might or might not be mentioned on travel forums. I have spent many enjoyable hours at places that no one on Fodor's thought to mention, even though I've asked for -- and received -- incredibly valuable input from my fellow travelers. And guidebooks typically cover information about all sorts of things about which travelers might not even think to ask and that aren't generally covered in most city web-sites. Don't you wonder why so many come back from their trips and post "who knew?" reports, when what they are sharing is stuff that would have been easily knowable from any decent guidebook? IMO, travel forums -- Fodor's in particular -- can be an extraordinary and very valuable resource for adjusting or tweaking a plan; learning about resources hitherto unknown; hearing personal reactions; and many more functions -- but it is a decidedly sub-optimal place for making a plan. Again, JMO.
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Old Dec 21st, 2016, 07:54 PM
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If you love music - we attended a superb sung mass in Bruges and a beautiful Michelangelo sculpture . Wandering the back lanes of the town is also lovely. Den Gouden Herryn is our fav restaurant there.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 01:15 AM
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In Gent you can rent a kayak and row it yourself along the picturesque canals, passing by the students who is sipping some coffee/alcool on the central bank. In Brugge there is no such private kayak I think. Agree about the Gent Altarpiece - amazing painting and backstory.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2016, 06:37 PM
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Jones, I too will be spending several days in Belgium this spring, including Gent and Brugge. A friend of a friend owns a Belgian restaurant in my city and I asked him for recommendations about food. I figure since I enjoy his restaurant so much, I can trust his recommendations! So for what it's worth, even though I haven't been able to go to any of these places just yet, I thought I'd share with you the most relevant parts of his notes to research or use as you see fit. I personally can't wait to eat/drink my way through Belgium and all of its delights

***
Brugge
Beer bar/cafes - Most all of these places are very near the main square. The 1st two are must visits for beer, we went to each actually twice, but I would even say all of the first five are not to be missed if you can.

Brugs Beertje - www.brugsbeertje.be - the standard for all Belgian beer bars. Look for owner Daisy behind the small bar.

De Gaare(hidden in an "alley" which is about the width of a doorway 1/2 block off the main square - try the pate and cheese board) www.degarre.be/ - Probably my favorite beer bar I have ever been to.

't Poatersgat(Monk's Hole) - www.poatersgat.com - Cool place down in a "basement"

Cafe Vlissinghe - the oldest bar in Bruges, built in 1515, which is a nice walk from the square and not a tourist spot at all. Gives you the feel of what a neighborhood bar is in Brugge. Highly recommend one afternoon. Another favorite of my trip. http://www.cafevlissinghe.be/welcome.html

Also, don't miss having a beer at 2Be(strange name) http://www.2-be.biz/ - it is both a bar and the place to buy Belg beer in Bruges. Has a great outdoor patio on the river.

Places to eat:
Den Dyver - www.dijver.be (ranked best place cooking food w/beer) - one of the best in Belgium for higher end food.

Erasmus - www.hotelerasmus.com (more modern, great tap beer selection) - Food looks great

Cambrinus - Reasonably priced food and big beer list - Casual and a bit BV like (**BV refers to the initials of his Belgian-inspired restaurant)

Stoepa - Quaint little place with good food, small, so can call ahead or be willing to wait. www.stoepa.be


Gent
Have lunch and beers at Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, http://www.waterhuisaandebierkant.be/?L=en. One of the MUST stops and a favorite on the trip. Also next door is Dreupelkot, a bar serving the liquor Genever, the national spirit of Belgium

Another great beer bar - Dulle Griet http://www.dullegriet.be/01_Herberg_eng.htm, Great decor inside and cool square it is on also.

Trollekelder - Great cellar bar
Planc - Beer bar on a boat
Trappistenhuis - another classic Belgian bar
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Old Dec 23rd, 2016, 07:20 PM
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great list, ducinaltum! I will make use of this in May ~
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Old Dec 23rd, 2016, 07:41 PM
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Een goe bier zuipen ! da's wat gij in Gent moet doen, makker !

Don't forget to eat a waterzooi somewhere.

BV stands for 'bekende vlamingen' - Famous Flemish.
(also stands for BeroepsVrijwilligen' or 'boeffers' : professional soldiers.

Whezn I go to Gent, i just take my paperguide with me. (Or I ask some excellent friends living there to guide me - but don't say that as some people consider that we have to be divided between Flemish and Walloons and that we don't like each others).
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Old Dec 24th, 2016, 02:13 AM
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Dang, I forgot to eat waterzooi in Gent. But then, I almost didn't eat in Gent at all, except some waffles.


ducinaltum, that was a very helpful list.
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Old Dec 24th, 2016, 12:16 PM
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http://www.amsterdam-red-light-distr...com/Ghent.html

Prostitution is I believe legal in Belgium and Gent has a mini Amsterdamesque red-light district that also happens to be in a neat old looking part of town - so you may want to trek over there for the old churches and architecture if nothing else.

Whether you condone of what goes on or not an interesting part of Gent many tourists miss.
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Old Dec 24th, 2016, 02:17 PM
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Prostitution is illegal.
However aboslutely not enforced...
Seems we have about 20 000 prostitutes, mostly female, since paying for sex and misusing the other person is a male thing.
I wonder who goes to a bordel and has not enough respect or imagination to think it could be his daughter or his mother doing the job...
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