Bruges vs. Ghent – The two Towns in Belgium compared

Bruges and Ghent are both popular tourist destinations in Belgium. In this article, we will have a look at both of them in order to decide whether a visit at Bruges or Ghent fits better to you.

First, I will tell you about each of the destinations separately. Afterwards, I compare both towns in Belgium and tell you the pros and cons about each of them. So let’s start with the famous Bruges.

Since the movie In Bruges came out in 2008, Bruges became an even more popular destination for travelers from all over the world.

Bruges Facts

  • Biggest Province in West Flandern
  • French Name Bruges
  • Dutch Name Brugge
  • 138,4 km² area
  • Since 2000 UNESCO World Heritage
  • Was European Capital of Culture in 2002

Our Bruges Video

Bruges Map


Belfort            Grote Market Square          Basilica of the Holy Blood       Windmill

Beguinage                  Rozenhoedkaai     Bonifacius-Bridge        Church of Our Lady

Food:                          Lizzie’s Wafels       T Brugsch Friethuys

How to get to Bruges – Brussels to Bruges Train

Duration: ca. 1,1 Hours (from Brussels Centraal)

Price: ca. 15€

In order to get from the Belgian capital Brussels to Bruges by train, you can buy your ticket easily in the Brussels Centraal Station. (Or any other station in Brussels). The automate is easily understandable as you can change the language to English. The trains operate around once an hour or more.

Best Accommodation in Bruges

For more information and the latest prices and availability, just click on the name of the accommodation that you are interested in.

Cheap Accommodation Bruges

Charlie Rockets Youth Hostel – Bed in a dorm, good location

Hostel Lybeer Private Rooms just for two – Private Room

Hostel 28 – Private Room

Accommodation in Bruges

B&B’t Walleke – Deluxe Double Room

B&B My Suite Home – Double Room with River View

B&B Villa Chantecler – Private Suite, very good references

Luxury accommodation in Bruges

B&B Filemon&Baucis – Double Room with Pool View (+Pool)

B&B The Townhouse Luxury Guesthouse – Deluxe Double Room with City View

B&B Alphabet – Luxury Guesthouse and Art Gallery – Deluxe Double Room with City View, very good references

Going to Brussels as well? Check this post about the Delirium Bar, Brussels, Belgium by Continents Condiments.

Places to visit in Bruges

Bruges, Belfort, Tower, Market Square, bikes

Belfort

Belfort, Market Square, Bruges, Belgium, from above

Entrance Fee: 12€

Opening Times: 09.30 am – 06.00 pm

The Belfort is the most important and highest tower in Bruges. With its 83 Meters (272 ft.) it overtops all the other buildings in Bruges. (Fun Fact: Even nowadays, no other building is allowed to be constructed higher than the Belfort.)

Taking 366 steps, you can get up there and enjoy the breathtaking view over the city. When going up, you can also have a look at the treasure chamber and the glockenspiel of the Belfort tower.

The construction of Belfort dates back to the 13th Century. At this time, the tower still had a 19 Meter (62 ft.) long wooden top, which burned off in 1280 and got renewed in 1296. There, it stayed until 1741.

Since 1999, this significant building is part of the UNESCO World-Heritage.

The Markt (Market Square)

Grote Markt, bruges, market square, horses

Opening Times: Constantly accessible (Public Square)

The Markt (Market Square) which is located in the heart of Bruges is easy to find due to the Belfort Tower which is located right at the Markt.

The Markt of Bruges is known to be one of the most beautiful places in the city and shouldn’t be missed in any walk around the town.

After a long day in Bruges, you can relax here with one of the Belgian Hot Chocolates that are so popular here in Bruges.

If you still have energy left, you can as well take a look around all these little shops that are surrounding the Markt.

The Bruges Market Square exists already since the Middle Ages. At that time, the Markt was used to trade different kinds of textiles and food. Even nowadays, you can still find this medieval atmosphere which the Bruges market square is providing to its visitors.

Basilica of the Holy Blood – Treasure Chamber

Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bruges, Window, Painting

Entrance Fee Basilica: free of charge

Entrance Fee Treasure Chamber: 2,50€

Opening Times: 09.30 am – 12.30 pm / 02.00 pm – 05.00 pm

The Basilica of the Holy Blood is part of a Double Church. It consists of an upper part and a lower part.

Here, you can find one of the most important religious relics in Europe: an ampule filled with Holy Blood. It’s said to be brought by the crusader Dietrich von Elsass (Thierry of Alsace) after the second crusade in the holy land. Since 1291, every year the ampule gets carried through the streets of Bruges on Ascension Day.

In the Double Church, you can as well find the treasure Chamber of Bruges.

St. Janshuis Windmills – The best View of Bruges

St. Janshuis Windmill, Bruges, View Point, Belgium

If you walk along the water for a little while, you can find two windmills.

It’s not only a lovely walk along the water but also an opportunity to escape the tourist masses of Bruges. When arriving at the windmills, you get rewarded with a beautiful view of Bruges. You can relax on a bench or in the grass and enjoy the view. This is our favorite Bruges insider tip that was shown to us by a local.

Boat tour through Bruges

Boat tour Bruges, grachten, from above

Opening Times: 10.00 am – 06.00 pm

Price: 8€

Duration: ca. 30 Minutes

Did you know that you can discover Bruges not only by foot but also from the water? A boat tour through Bruges offers totally new opportunities and views to you. That’s the reason why Bruges is called the Venice of the North. (That is also the name of the company that we chose to do the boat tour with, by the way).

boat tour, bruges, couple

We can absolutely recommend you such a tour on the water. Even though usually, I am not a big fan of boats I did absolutely enjoy the boat ride.

Bruges, brugge, boat tour, grachten, canal

Moreover, the driver seems to know every little house you pass by and can give you a lot of information (In English and French).

The Beguinage (Begijnhof)

Beguinage Bruges, Belgium, monastery, flowers

Opening Times: 06.30 am – 06.30 pm

Entrance Fee Courtyard: free of charge

Entrance Fee Beguinage: 2,50€

The Beguinage is a quiet place where you can find peace and tranquility. In early spring, the courtyard is full of daffodils and simply beautiful.

The daffodils give a wonderful contrast to the surrounding houses which are all white. Due to those buildings, the Beguinage offers an atmosphere which varies from the rest of the city.

The Beguinage has been established in 1245 and used to be home to the emancipated and single women of Bruges. Nowadays, the courtyard is home to the nuns of the Benedictine order.

The Rozenhoedkaai

Rozenhoedkaai, Bruges, Brugge, Canals, View Point, girl

The Rozenhoedkaai is one of the most popular View Points of Bruges. From here, you have a wonderful view of the canals and boats that pass by.

Don’t forget to take your vacation shot here! 😉

The St. Bonifacius Bridge

St bonifacius bridge, bruges, church of our lady, belgium
No, I didn’t suddenly gain a lot of weight. Just wearing a lot of jackets. 😉

If you’ve seen the beginning of the movie In Bruges, this location might look familiar to you. For us, it was one of the most beautiful places in town. Anyway, during the daytime it is full of tourists here. You might wanna check that place out early in the morning or in the evening.

The bridge is located right near the Church of Our Lady.

The Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk)

Church of Our Lady, Bruges, Brugge, Belgium

Opening Times: 09.30 am – 05.00 pm

Entrance Fee: 6€ (These days, you will get a discount due to construction work)

The Church of Our Lady impressed us so much that we just had to come here twice. The 115,5 Meter (377 ft.) tower is simply a beautiful piece of architecture.

So, we stood some minutes at the St. Bonifacius Bridge to look at this building. The constructions of this impressive church have already started back in 1210, by the way.

One of the main attractions of the inside is the Madonna-Statue made by Michelangelo in 1503.

These days, construction works are taking place on the inside of this church. Because of this, many visitors aren’t quite satisfied with their visit. (Spring 2018)

Things you should try in Bruges

Belgian Waffles in Bruges – Lizzie’s Wafels

Belgian Waffles, Lizzies Wafels, Bruges, Brugge, Waffles, caramell and chocolate

Address: Sint-Jakobsstraat 16

No trip to Belgium is complete without a delicious Belgian Waffle. Our host brought us to this amazing little place for waffles. He promised us that those are the best waffles you could find in Bruges. And we haven’t been disappointed at all. Yummy!

Lizzies Wafels, Belgian Waffles, Building, Bruges

Belgian French Fries in Bruges- T Brugsch Friethuys Brugges

Best french fries in Bruges, building, brugge

Address: Sint-Jakobsstraat 1

Another thing that belongs to every trip to Belgium is original Belgian Fries. This restaurant was shown to us by our host on our first night in Bruges. For him, they offer the best fries in Bruges. You can choose between three sizes and the big one is enough to fill up two adults. There is a big amount of different sauces to choose from.

Unfortunately, we have to admit that the burgers weren’t that amazing, but the fries on the other hand, even better.

What to see in Ghent

Ghent Facts

  • The 4th biggest town in Belgium
  • The Capital of East Flandern
  • In the Middle Ages became rich due to cloth trading
  • 156,18 km² area

Our Ghent Video

Ghent Map

Saint Nicholas Church   St. Bavo’s Cathedral    Gravensteen

Belfry   St. Michael’s Bridge

The best accommodation in Ghent

For more information and the latest prices and availability, just click on the name of the accommodation that you are interested in.

The best cheap Accommodation in Ghent

Kaba Hostel – Bed in a dorm, breakfast included

Treck Hostel – Bed in a dorm, breakfast included

Best Accommodation in Ghent

B&B A la Bonne Heure – Private Double Room with shared Bathroom

B&B De Witte – Double Room, Breakfast included

Best Luxury Accommodation in Ghent

B&B Au Grenier – Double Room, really good references

Entrenous B&B – Deluxe King Room, 4 Stars

The most popular Ghent attractions

Saint Nicholas Church (Sint-Niklaaskerk)

St.nicholas Church, Ghent, Belgium

Opening Times: 10.00 am – 05.00 pm

Entrance Fee: free of charge

The Saint Nicholas Church is probably the most popular sight in Ghent. Together with the St. Bavo Cathedral, and the Belfry tower it defines the skyline of Ghent.

st. Nicholas Church, Ghent, interiour, statue

The inside, as well as the outside of the St. Nicholas Church, are impressive and a visit is highly recommended by us! In the inside of this gorgeous church, you can find a lot of statues and religious art – simply beautiful.

The constructions for this church already started in the 13th century as a replacement for another church that was located at the same place before.

St. Bavo’s Cathedral (Sint Baafskathedraal)

st bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium, Statue

Opening Times: 08.30 am – 05.00 pm

Entrance Fee: Free of charge

Another impressive building in Ghent and absolutely worth a visit. The 89 Meter (292 ft.) high tower of the St. Bavo Cathedral is visible already from far, so you definitely can’t miss this important building.

The history of this cathedral dates back to a chapel that was built here already back in 942 and extended during the years until it became the cathedral it is now. (Probably in the 16th century)

Gravensteen

Gravensteen Ghent, Castle, Belgium

Opening Time: 10.00 am  – 05.15 pm

Entrance Fee: 10€ (6€ for under 25 years)

The Gravensteen Castle is a castle from the Middle Ages in the historic center of Ghent. Inside, you can learn about the history of the castle and get some information. Moreover, you can find some exhibits. Anyway, we were quite disappointed from this castle for such a pricey entrance fee. Even though it is interesting, for us, the entrance fee seemed a little bit high for what you get, to be honest.

Gravensteen, Castle, Ghent, Inside, castle walk

However, from the walk around the castle walls, you can get some nice views of Ghent.

The name Grevensteen is Dutch and can be translated as Castle of the Count.

The castle, the way it is now, was built 1180 by Philip of Alsace replacing a wooden castle that has stood there before. It’s said to be inspired by the crusader’s castle which Philip of Alsace saw during the second crusade.

Belfry of Ghent

Belfort Tower, Ghent, Belgium

Opening Times: 10.00 am – 06.00 pm

Entrance Fee: 8€

The Belfry of Ghent is located in between the St. Nicholas Church and the St. Bavo Cathedral and is also a significant part of the skyline of Ghent. The Belfry Tower is 95 Meter (312 ft.) high. It is known to be the highest belfry in Belgium.

The constructions of the Belfry have already begun in 1313. But the upper part has been rebuilt several times in order to be able to accommodate the huge bells.

St. Michael’s Bridge

St. Michaels Bridge, Ghent, City Center, Old Town

The probably best spot in Ghent to have a view over the skyline of Ghent since from here you can see the St. Nicholas Church, the St. Bavo Cathedral as well as the Belfry just perfectly. Their towers are built in a one line.

If you want to snap a great picture of Ghent: This is the place.

The St. Michael’s Bridge is crossing the river Lys (Leie) and has been built in 1910.

Next to this bridge, you can find the St. Michael’s Church, which is one of the three medieval churches of Ghent.

Brugge vs. Ghent

Ghent often is referred to as a substitute for the popular travel destination Bruges as in Ghent, there are less tourists walking around. But which of the towns in Belgium is better for a city trip: Bruges/ Brugge or Ghent?

Comparison Bruges and Ghent

Somehow everyone that has seen both towns has his own favorite: Ghent or Bruges. And most probably everyone is trying to tell you that their favorite is the better one. But which of the cities is the better destination for a city trip?

Both cities are! So if you have a chance, go and see both and choose your own favorite. Trust me, the other city won’t be a waste of time. Bruges, as well as Ghent, have their own gems. That is why some people will recommend you Ghent and others Bruges. In the following table, you can see the main differences between both Belgian cities to find out which one fits better to you.

AspectBrugesGhent
Size of citySmall-Town-AtmosphereBig City
AccessibilityAll attractions are within walking distance, Train station is 15-20 Minutes outside of town walkingAttractions are located near to each other, Train Station is 30-40 minutes walking away from City Center, Tram available
ShoppingBoutiques and typical brandsMany shopping options throughout the whole city
Night LifeSome Bars, one Club, during the weekend quite crowded, during the week few optionsMany Bars and Clubs, perfect for party and going out
TouristsFull of touristsFewer Tourists

Our personal favorite

Of course, here, we can just speak for ourselves and I know that many people have other preferences. Our favorite was Bruges. We absolutely fell in love with this city. We loved that it provides this small-town-atmosphere to its visitors. We just enjoyed walking around the narrow streets of Bruges and getting lost.

Ghent, on the other hand, felt a little bit more like a big-city and therefore couldn’t convince us 100%. Another big factor which made Bruges become our favorite was the weather. During our time in Ghent, we only had really bad weather. It was cold, stormy and raining cats and dogs.  (I guess, you can tell from our photos)

Conclusion Ghent and Bruges

If you are looking for nice relaxed walks and a small-town-vibe, you might be happier in Bruges. If you want to go out and don’t mind about bigger cities, Ghent is just great for you. It just depends on your preferences.

More Towns in Belgium?

Make sure to check these 6 great small towns in Belgium.

Also check the Ghost Town Doel which is full of street art.

About me

Vicki

Hi, my name is Vicki. Here you can accompany my boyfriend Eduardo and me on our way through different countries of this world. Let's travel together!

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Bruges vs. Ghent – The two Towns in Belgium compared
5 (100%) 4 votes

6 thoughts on Bruges vs. Ghent – The two Towns in Belgium compared

  1. Wow you’ve put together an amazing comprehensive list! I’ve been thinking of visiting Belgium lately but couldn’t decided where to go. Bruges sounds like my type of place.

  2. This is such a comprehensive post, it’s amazing how much effort you put into it and I really enjoyed reading it. I have been to both cities and can’t really decide which one I like more, both are so beautiful and interesting!

  3. Thanks for the tips! I have only been to Brussels but I’m planning another trip to Belgium soon but wasn’t quite sure where to go. Both look great though 🙂

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