With more than 70.000 higher education students, Ghent is without discussion the largest student city in Flanders, much to Leuven's regret. It is a beautiful, liveable and pleasant city, where residents and students generally live on good terms with each other. And there is a lot to see and do as well.
Three reasons to choose Ghent
1) Ghent is the largest student city in Flanders, with more than 70.000 students.
2) Ghent is centrally located in Flanders and is therefore easily accessible.
3) If you rent a room for 12 months, you immediately have a place to sleep in July during the Ghent Festival.
Three reasons not to choose Ghent
1) Ghent is groaning under its success and is not really equipped to handle all those students.
2) Due to the increasing number of students in Ghent, there are sometimes hundreds of students attending classes at once.
3) Ghent is too nice and cozy: you're afraid you won't get around to studying.
Where is the student district?
The heart of the student district is around Sint-Pietersplein, along the Overpoort-Kramersplein-Blandijnberg-Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat axis, roughly as far as the Vooruit.
Young people who enjoy the performing arts can go to the cafés near the Mechelseplein.
In the infamous Overpoortstraat you can party around the clock, sit in a café and eat a hearty student meal.
What is there to see outside?
It's worth taking a stroll through the historic centre, past the three towers (Sint-Baafs, Belfort and Sint-Niklaas) past the Stadshal to the Sint-Michielsbrug, and then down the atmospheric Graslei towards the Gravensteen.
The fourth tower of Ghent, as it is sometimes called, is right in the student area, in the Rozier. This is logical, because it is the famous Book Tower of the University Library, an art deco masterpiece by Henry Van de Velde.
What is there to see inside?
Ghent has a number of world-class museums. At STAM, the Ghent City Museum on the Bijloke, you get to hear and see the 'Story of Ghent'.
Even better known is the SMAK, the museum of modern art that opened in 1999 after decades of tireless lobbying by the lamented Jan Hoet in the former casino on the edge of the Citadelpark.
Conveniently, after your visit to the SMAK you can just cross the street to go to the Museum of Fine Arts.
Also not to be missed: a visit to the Castle of the Counts, the medieval fortress in the heart of the city.
Where can you shop?
Ghent's main shopping street is Veldstraat, which is filled with chain stores like those you'll find all over the country.
More exclusive boutiques can be found in Brabantdam, Kortedagsteeg and Hoogpoort. Also pleasantly car-free are Mageleinstraat and Koestraat.
If it rains, you can go to the several floors of Shopping Zuid.
Where can you eat well?
For the ever-empty student stomachs, there is an army of cheap sandwich stores, chips shops, pita stalls and other quick snacks in the student area as well as in the rest of the city.
Delicious and exotic are the Turkish pizzerias at the Sleepstraat.
One of the best places to pick out a tasty restaurant is Onderbergen, parallel to Veldstraat.
8 Ghent highlights
- Ten days of heavy partying at the Gentse Feesten, until you forget your own first name.
- Looking out over the city from the battlements of the sturdy Castle of the Counts.
- Partying in the Overpoort, still the night street for students, preferably on a Thursday night.
- Sitting along the refreshing waterfront on a summer evening at the Graslei with a bag of chips and a bottle of wine. You won't be alone!
- Learning about the rich history of the city of Artevelde in the city museum STAM at the Bijloke.
- Doing a day of outdoor chilling on the Vrijdagmarkt: since there are bars on each side of the square, you can always find somewhere to sit in the sun all day long.
- Go to the Ghelamco arena for a home game of the Buffaloes, an impressive first division team and the pride of Ghent soccer.
- Take a boat trip on the waterways of Ghent, between the grandmothers in a tourist boat or at the helm of your own Minerva mini yacht.
- Finding the right gates in St. Peter's Square to enter the abbey's garden, where you can sunbathe on the grass next to a field of waving vines.
- Be surprised by the radical modern art at the SMAK.
Here's an overview of just a few ISIC benefits
you can score in Ghent:
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Enjoy a trip through the eyes of a local: walk off-the-beaten paths, see hidden gems, taste authentic food, and hear insider stories that only locals know. Verify your ISIC card to get a promo code for a 10% discount on your experience.
‘S.M.A.K. puts the artist at the heart of its thoughts and actions. We invest in the greatest possible quality for a broad and varied public and would like to be experienced as an open house: transparent and generous. In artistic terms, we present ourselves as a laboratory, a place of experiment and renewal, where we can see today what may be important tomorrow. S.M.A.K. leaves questions open, urges one to think, retains its scepticism.' Philippe Van Cauteren
The Museum of Fine Arts Ghent (MSK) is the oldest museum in Belgium. In the extensive permanent presentation you'll discover over 600 masterpieces of European painting and sculpture, from the Middle Ages up to the present, with an important selection of (Belgian) art from the 19th and the first half of the 20th century.
Old Masters such as Jheronimus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck hang alongside impressionists, surrealists and modernists such as James Ensor, Auguste Rodin, Emile Claus, René Magritte and George Minne.
A busy programme of exhibitions, lectures, tours and other activities opens the doors to all visitors. The museum shop, the bar annex restaurant and the varied programme with room for contemporary art make the museum a lively space where you can easily spend a few hours, with the green Citadelpark just outside the door.
McDonald’s Korenmarkt (Ghent): Free extra fries
MMmmmm a delicious BigMac with those super yummy fries. That always tastes for more. ISIC members who order a menu at McDonald's Korenmarkt in Ghent, get free extra fries! All you have to do is show your ISIC membership at the register.
Stadsbrouwerij Gruut: 1+1 for free
Are you studying in Ghent or will you be visiting the city soon? If so, visit the Ghent Gruut city brewery with a friend and taste the delicious local beer. ISIC members receive a free beer with their first order. All you have to doe is show your ISIC membership at the waiter.