As in most Belgian towns, nightlife in Ghent centers around grazing, drinking, and talking with friends into the wee hours. However, the city's massive student population ensures a much busier, more varied nightlife than you'll find in the likes of Bruges or other towns in Flanders. Consequently, locals have come up with a very Belgian compromise to ensure tensions don't arise between residents and students. In an idea akin to horror film The Purge, the worst of the student revelry is contained within one hedonistic street containing 35 bars known as Overpoort. Such is its reputation that the police have been known to tape off the area and let the kids work out their frustrations. The consequence is that, despite the huge student population, the center isn't dominated by beer-fueled teens and is left mostly to the delectation of tourists and locals. But should you still desire to shake your booty away from the mayhem of Overpoort, the area around Oude Beestenmarkt and Vlasmarkt, near Portus Ganda, is a good spot for clubs, albeit of the cheesier variety.

There are special dance nights, several gay bars, and lots of gay and lesbian organizations providing help and advice. The tourist office even provides a gay and lesbian city map.

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  • 1. Jiggers

    Gravensteen/Patershol | Bars/Pubs

    This superb cocktail bar re-creates a 1920s speakeasy vibe, right down to the closed-door-buzzer policy. It fills up quickly, so plenty are...Read More

  • 2. 't Dreupelkot

    Gravensteen/Patershol | Bars/Pubs

    To taste a potent Flemish and Dutch specialty, head to 't Dreupelkot (sister bar to Het Waterhuis Aan De Bierkant), which produces its own jenever...Read More

  • 3. Casa Rosa

    Zuidheikant | Bars/Pubs

    This LGBT center has information on gay and lesbian bars, events, and organizations, and also offers help and advice (website in Dutch). ...Read More

  • 4. Charlatan

    Live Music

    There are concerts as well as dance nights at Muziekcafé Charlatan. It's open Tuesday–Sunday from 8 pm; music starts up at 10, and entry to...Read More

  • 5. Damberd

    Gravensteen/Patershol | Live Music

    Jazz musicians from all over the world have found their way to Damberd's late-night sessions, held in one of the oldest bars in Gent. ...Read More

  • 6. De Dulle Griet

    Vrijdagmarkt | Bars/Pubs

    In this quintessential Ghent pub, there are more than 260 kinds of drinks, but the specialty is the 1.2-liter Kwak (a blond 8.5% beer), complete...Read More

  • 7. Ghentish Medieval Beer Walk

    Zuidheikant | Themed Entertainment

    This three-hour walk (stumble?) takes people through the backstreets of Ghent, taking in 25 "moments" from the city's medieval brewing past...Read More

  • 8. Gruut

    Zuidheikant | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    Located inside an old gasworks, brewer Annick de Splenter has created Gent's most prolific brewpub. What sets it apart is that the bulk of Gruut...Read More

  • 9. Het Waterhuis Aan De Bierkant

    Gravensteen/Patershol | Bars/Pubs

    History hangs over a lot of Gent's great bars, including this one. Back in the plague-ridden early 1500s, this fine estaminet was the city's...Read More

  • 10. Lazy River Jazz Café

    Torenrij | Live Music

    An older crowd predominates at this friendly and intimate club. ...Read More

  • 11. Town Crier


    The Town Crier, who spends his days walking the streets making announcements and tolling his bell, can also take you on a pub crawl. You'll...Read More

  • 12. Trollekelder

    Kouter | Bars/Pubs

    Yet another beer specialist, although one located in a 15th-century cellar and with an atmosphere a tad livelier than its more laid-back rivals...Read More

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