Visit gothic Gent with boat hire in Belgium

Thursday, 13 October 2011 9:31 AM

If you'd like to explore Belgium's most beautiful and historical settlements, consider booking canal holidays that pass through gothic Gent for a truly memorable getaway.

The capital and biggest city of the East Flanders region, Gent is an architectural gem boasting rich history and culture that you won't want to miss on a short break in Belgium.

By choosing to travel by boat, you can take in a much wider area during a holiday than you could potentially on a more traditional getaway, where you are based in one location. Take a cruise through the country and you can expect to come across fascinating landmarks, sandy beaches, peaceful countryside and hundreds of varieties of beer to sample!

Look at boat hire in Belgium and you might decide to book a vessel in beautiful Gent. This is a great place to have as your base, giving you plenty of opportunity to explore your surroundings.

Known by many as the diamond of Flanders, the city has more listed monuments than any other in Belgium, despite the centre only measuring one sq km. Once you've familiarised yourself with your boat and unpacked your belongings, head back on to the shore and spend some time getting to know this beautiful city.

Make your way around the city centre and you'll be able to view landmarks such as the Pont St Michel - a bridge that affords enchanting views of the old town - and the medieval houses of the Quai aux Herbes. There's also the Cathedral St Bavo, which houses the famous painting the Adoration of the Mystique Lamb by the Van Eyck brothers.

When you decide to pause for some refreshment, you might want to stop at the Dulle Griet Bar, where you can select from a menu of more than 250 beers. Alternatively, call in at the renowned confectioner Temmerman to taste the speciality cuberdon - a raspberry jam-filled sweet cone.

Afterwards, you might like to make your way round the Castle of the Counts - Gravensteen - where you can view a vast array of torture instruments, or explore the restored medieval fortress of Chateau des Comtes de Flandre. Meanwhile, fans of art are sure to relish calling in at SMAK - the city's fine contemporary art museum.

There are plenty of things to do in Europe, especially when you visit Belgium. If you enjoy getting active, you might want to make your way to the lively town of Nieuwpoort, where you'll find sandy beaches and a promenade that measures two km.

A fishing port, Nieuwpoort is home to a monument dedicated to the fishermen who died at sea during World War II. The location is popular with walkers and cyclists as a result of its long promenade, which runs next to a channel between the marina and the sea, making it the perfect spot to stop at on biking breaks.

Pay a visit and you take in the sight of The Giant - Jan Turpin II - a statue built in 1963, as well as enjoy wandering around the numerous show gardens at Prince Mauritspark.

After all that sightseeing and cycling, head to the beach, where you can spend a leisurely hour soaking up the sun or taking part in water sports, should you feel the urge to burn off more energy.

If you have time, visit the covered fish market to pick up some catch of the day at the auctions, and call in at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed belfry. There's also a small ornithological museum to view in an old Renaissance house, and the Onze-Lieve-Vroukerk with its detached tower, in which you'll find a carillon of 67 bells that ring on a Wednesday and a Friday.

Journey on to Deinze, where you can get active in the Brielmeersen Park, which offers a great choice of beautiful walks to follow. The town is home to the famous Ooidonk Castle - renowned as one of the most beautiful monuments in Belgium. The Renaissance castle is surrounded by moats and close to woodland, giving it a truly enchanted ambience.

And of course, you must spend some time in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bruges, a city with exquisitely preserved medieval architecture that is ideal for exploring by boat. Pick up some chocolate, lace and speciality beers during an excursion here to take home and remind you of your wonderful break in Belgium.

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