Visiting the Jewel of Flanders (Ghent) and the Venice of the North (Bruges)

Ghent is frequently described as the “Jewel of Flanders”, whereas Bruges is commonly referred to as the “Venice of the North”. If those two descriptions didn’t entice me before I visited these two cities, then their storybook picturesque nature definitely did it for me once I got there.

In collaboration with Brussels City Tours, I was invited to partake in a full-day tour to Ghent and Bruges. Each city had its own unique aspects, but both had the underlying charm of Belgium.


Ghent

The city of Ghent is one of Belgium’s oldest cities. It is a port city in northwest Belgium and is the largest city of the East Flanders province.

The medieval city centre

The gem within this Jewel of Flanders, is its city centre. Here, much of its medieval architecture still remains intact and brings to life traces of the city’s past.

An early morning in the city of Ghent. The weather’s cold, but the atmosphere is peaceful.

Within this historic city center, you’ll find the Graslei. It is a quay which used to be a part of the medieval port, but is now a cultural and touristic hotspot of the city.

There’s something so calming about walking beside a canal early in the morning.
Ghent’s Graslei: one of the most scenic places in Ghent’s old city.
Ghent’s specialty sweets

Some say that Ghent is Aladdin’s cave for those with a sweet tooth. And they wouldn’t be wrong.

Cuberdon

Amongst the different kinds of sweets, there is one that you won’t want to miss out on: the Cuberdon!

A variety of Cuberdon being sold by a vendor in Ghent's city centre
A variety of Cuberdon being sold by a vendor in Ghent’s city centre.

You’ll have to try these chewy sweets in Belgium because they are quite limited elsewhere due to their preservability. They can be preserved for approximately 3 weeks before their insides begin to crystallize – so it’s not really possible to export them outside of the country.

These sweets are chewy cones made with gum arabic, a natural gum consisting of the hardened sap of various species of the acacia tree.

Traditionally, they are purple in colour and have a raspberry-flavoured filling inside, but many more variations can be found.

Cuberdon and other assorted sweets being sold for 5€ a packet.
Cuberdon and other assorted sweets being sold for 5€ a packet.
Liège waffles

Don’t forget to stop for some delicious Liège waffles while you explore!

They’re dense, crispy, and soft. With pockets of caramelized sugar crystals throughout! Calories don’t count when you’re abroad… right?

You can’t say you’ve been to Belgium if you haven’t had at least one waffle a day. I think that’s how this works.


Bruges

Visit the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium.

Just like Ghent, Bruges has also retained many traces of its past. In fact, it is so popular because of its charming nature that even the coldest months still see it swimming with tourists.

Tourists and locals enjoying the precious moments of their time in Bruges.

A city with the atmosphere of a village.

Pretty canals, lush parks, historical buildings, and ornate houses all come together to paint a picturesque moment in time. Wherever you walk in Bruges, this picturesque charm is everywhere.

With its stunning scenery and its gorgeous canals intertwining throughout the city, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to you that Bruges has been nicknamed as “The Venice of the North”.

TIP
Experience the charm of Bruges by riding a boat on its canals. This will provide you with a unique vantage point to see the beautiful historic buildings without the stress of the crowds.

An excited group of individuals patiently waiting for their boat ride down the canals of Bruges.
Historic city centre

Bruges’ historic centre is a prominent World Heritage site of UNESCO.

As the sun begins to set, golden hour creeps in.

Its most famous landmark and one of its most prominent symbols is its 13th century belfry: a medieval bell tower smack in the center of the city.

Bruges is a place that looks like a backdrop of a fairytale. A true storybook city.


This post was made possible through a collaboration with Brussels City Tours.

For more information on their full-day tour to Ghent and Bruges, and for any other tour offers, check out their website here.

Information regarding their day tour to Ghent & Bruges.

Thank you Brussels City Tours for the loveliest of days!
Until next time!

Waiting in front of the Brussels City Tours office before our trip to Ghent and Bruges began.
Preparing to head out for the tour – riding out in style!

Between Ghent and Bruges, which city do you think you would like best? Let me know in the comments below!


To read up on more of my adventures in Belgium, click here!

xx