Bruges or Ghent? – which one to choose

Welcome to Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium. In case you didn’t know, Belgium is a unique country in terms of spoken languages. There are not one, not two, but three official languages – Dutch, French, and German.

Bruges and Ghent are two of the most visited cities in Belgium and for good reason. The cute houses, the narrow canals, and the delicious chocolate will steal everybody’s hearts. 

Ghent vs Bruges

The famous Rozenhoedkaai, Bruges

I’ve visited both Ghent and Bruges twice and I would gladly return the third time. I loved these cities and each of them is unique but some of you might not have the time to explore both. That’s why I’m here to help you!

So which one is better – Bruges or Ghent? Well, it depends on what you like. I’ll compare both cities based on the following criteria – the general vibe, transport, prices, tourist attractions, nightlife, food, and accommodation. 

Hopefully, after reading this comparison you’ll be able to choose a winner!

Ghent boat tour views

Ghent

1. Bruges vs Ghent – General vibe 

In terms of architecture, both cities are impressive. Walking on the streets of these cities will make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. However, Bruges is a little bit more touristy most probably due to the famous movie “In Bruges”.

Ghent, on the other hand, is less crowded. Even though in the past few years Ghent became increasingly popular, it still has a lot of catching up to get to the level of Bruges.

Personally, I prefer less touristy destinations. I like to have space to explore at my own pace and take photos without waiting for tens of minutes for a clear shot. But this is just a personal preference.

One thing that I absolutely loved about Ghent was that even if it’s one of the oldest cities in Belgium, its youthful vibe stands out. The city boasts of teenagers and students, cool stores, and great pubs.

On the other hand, Bruges is a bit more laid-back, more relaxed. Bruges is for those who are looking for a quiet yet beautiful destination to unwind.

2. Bruges and Ghent – Transport

Bruges famous viewpoint

Bruges

If you arrive in Bruges by train, you can easily explore the city on foot. The train station is just a few minutes away from the old city center. If you only have one day in Bruges, I recommend the following itinerary: train station – Minnewater Park – Sint Janshospitaal – Rozenhoedkaai – Markt – Burg Square.

If you’re planning to spend a few nights in Bruges, make sure that your hotel is located in the old city center. I stayed at Novotel Bruges and loved it! I was within walking distance to any tourist attraction.

Here are some great guided tours to Bruges:

If you arrive in Ghent by train, you’ll have to take the tram to get to the city center. If you don’t have any heavy luggage with you, you can also walk (about 25 minutes). Ghent’s old city center is quite small and easy to explore on foot. 

Here are some awesome tours to Ghent:

One experience I strongly recommend in both cities is taking a boat tour. You’ll have the chance to see these cities from a different perspective and the views are spectacular!

-> Book your Ghent boat tour here!

3. Brugge vs Ghent – Prices

Well, let’s put it this way – both cities are equally expensive. The food, transport, and souvenirs cost about the same. However, in terms of accommodation, I think that Ghent is slightly less expensive.

If you want to save money, I recommend buying food and souvenirs from areas that are located further from the city center. The closer you are to the city center, the higher the prices.

Houses of Bruges

Bruges

4. Bruges or Ghent – Tourist attractions

Both Bruges and Ghent have plenty of fascinating tourist attractions to visit. However, I feel like Bruges deserves at least two days to see all it has to offer while Ghent can be visited in only one day.

The Bruges old city is bigger than Ghent’s. While in Burges the tourist attractions are scattered, in Ghent they’re all located in the same relatively small area.

Let’s see which are some of the most important attractions in each of these two cities.

Bruges central market

Bruges Central Market

Tourist attractions in Bruges

  • Climb the Belfry of Bruges – climb 366 stairs to the top and you’ll be rewarded with the best view over Bruges.
  • Visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood – a cloth with Jesus’ blood from the crucifixion is displayed to the public each Friday.
  • Admire Burg Square – from Gothic to Renascence, the buildings here represent a variety of architectural styles. 
  • Take a photo at the famous Rozenhoedkaai – this is the most famous photography location in the entire city.
  • Visit the Jan Van Eyck Square –  not so popular among tourists, this square is a true hidden gem.
  • Cross the Bonifacius Bridge – this picturesque bridge sits in the shadow of the Church of Our Lady and is one of those places worth visiting for its incredible beauty.
  • Visit Sint Janshospitaal – this is one of the oldest hospitals in Europe, founded in the 12th century.
  • Take a photo with the windmills – head to the eastern part of the city and admire the huge windmills.
  • See how lace is made – Bruges is well known for its handmade lace and you can even see how it’s made at Kantcentrum.
  • Relax in Minnewaterpark – admire the views and the swans at this oasis of tranquility.
  • Take a boat ride and admire the views – sit back and relax on a boat trip while admiring the most important tourist attractions in Bruges.
Ghent old town view over river

Ghent City Center

Tourist attractions in Ghent

  • St. Bavo Cathedral – this 11th century cathedral is an icon of Ghent and an incredible architectural masterpiece.
  • Admire the Ghent Belfry – standing at 91 meters high, this is the tallest belfry in Belgium.
  • Explore the Gravensteen Castle – offering panoramic views over the city, this castle was built in 1180.
  • Take a boat ride around the city – the best way to explore Ghent is by boat. Just relax and admire the views.
  • Admire the views from St. Michael’s Bridge – from this bridge you’ll get the best view over Ghent and the three medieval towers of Ghent.
  • Take a walk on Graslei and Korenlei – this picturesque area is perfect for those looking for photo opportunities.
  • Admire St. Nicholas Church – built in the 13th century, this church impresses through its incredible architecture.
  • Taste some Ghent noses – you can’t leave Ghent without trying these delicious candies.

In conclusion, both cities have a lot to offer when it comes to tourist attractions. However, I believe that Bruge is a better choice for a trip longer than one day.

Ghent St. Michaels Bridge view

St. Michael’s Bridge, Ghent

5. Ghent vs Bruges – Food

Did you know that there are more than 800 varieties of beer brewed in Belgium? Beer is not food, you might say. Well, technically it’s not but who cares? You have to try some beer when in Belgium. If you feel lost, try Kwak.

Now let’s get to food. More specifically, chocolate. I’ve never in my life seen so much chocolate as I saw in Belgium. On average, Belgians eat 6 kilos of chocolate per year. That’s a lot!

Belgium is also well known for French fries. Despite the name, the origins of French fries have been traced back to Belgium. Well, thanks Belgium for creating one of the tastiest food on earth!

Now let’s get to prices. The food in Bruges and Ghent is priced the same. If you’re planing to eat at restaurants, expect to pay somewhere around 20 euros per meal. If you want to save some money, you can shop at supermarkets.

For luxury travelers, Bruges is a better choice since it has many Michelin-starred restaurants. For vegetarians, Ghent is the place to be. In Ghent you’ll find many delicious vegetarian dishes that are hard to resist even for meat eaters.

6. Ghent or Bruges – Nightlife

Romanian party

Being a student city, Ghent has a youthful vibe and an amazing nightlife. Here you can find live music bars opened until early in the morning. There are also lots of cocktail bars, lounges, and clubs. Ghent is the perfect city for party animals.

Compared to Ghent, Bruges is a little dull. The night scene here is far from being vibrant. If you’re looking for a place to party, choose Ghent!

7. Ghent and Bruges – Accommodation

When it comes to accommodation, both cities offer a wide range of hotels, for every budget. I recommend looking for a hotel close to the city center so that you won’t have to walk a lot or use public transport.

Below are a few hotel recommendations for each city.

Best hotels in Bruges

  • Budget – Novotel Centrum – great location, spacious and clean rooms, good facilities, friendly staff
  • Mid Budget – Hotel Fevery – great location, modern and spacious rooms, breakfast included
  • Luxury – Relais & Chateaux Hotel – excellent location, luxurious rooms, extra-comfortable beds, historic building

Best hotels in Ghent

  • Budget – Ibis Centrum – good location, clean rooms, modern design, good facilities
  • Mid Budget – Hotel Onderbergen – great location, clean & spacious rooms, great facilities, friendly staff
  • Luxury – Pillows Grand Hotel – excellent location, luxurious and spacious rooms, great restaurant

8. Why you should choose Bruges

Bruges is like a fairy tale but Ghent’s too! Here are a few reasons to choose Bruges for your next trip:

  • you don’t need public transport. You can walk everywhere.
  • it’s full of incredible tourist attractions
  • Bruges’ architecture is stunning
  • the food is incredible
  • you can watch live demonstrations of how lace is made
  • the chocolate is simply delicious
Cathedral of the Holly Blood Bruges

Cathedral of the Holly Blood, Bruges

9. Why you should choose Ghent

Ghent is an incredible city and it has stunning architecture. Here are some reasons why you should choose Ghent as your next destination:

  • it has a youthful vibe
  • the nightlife is great
  • it’s not very touristy
  • it has some amazing vegetarian restaurants
  • it’s full of history
  • Ghent is the perfect choice for a day trip

10. Conclusion

I have to admit, I loved both Ghent and Bruges. I’ve visited many European cities but these two are some of the most beautiful. I think that both cities have a lot to offer and it’s really up to your personal preferences to choose one.

For a relaxed holiday, I would choose Bruges. For a holiday full of fun, I would choose Ghent. If you have a few days to spend in Belgium you can visit both cities! I recommend spending at least two days in Bruges and one day in Ghent.

Tell me, which one do you choose – Ghent or Bruges?

May the travel bug bite you!

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Bruges or Ghent? Which one to choose
Bruges or Ghent? Which one to choose
Bruges or Ghent? Which one to choose
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