Why go to Ghent?
It's easy to explore the sights of this medieval city on foot and, in fact, cars aren't permitted in many areas
Though street crime isn't particularly common, you should still be on guard in heavy crowds
Ghent offers an authentic experience with lots to see and do amid easily walkable streets
Ghent Cruise Port Facilities?
There is nothing in the immediate vicinity of the Zeebrugge docks, except other cruise vessels and container ships. Don't expect to be able to walk from the ship to anywhere interesting. At Antwerp, the walk into the city is just a few minutes.
Good to Know?
Be careful of your belongings when in crowds of people; otherwise, there is virtually no street crime.
From the fortress-style Ghent Sint-Pieters railway station, take trams 1, 10 or 11 into the city center. Note the hundreds of bicycles lined up in the forecourt -- they're intended for commuters, but anyone can use them, free of charge, as long as they're returned to the station. The half-hour walk (about two kilometers -- less than a mile and a half) into the center is also recommended, as the pleasant route follows a commercial shopping street (same as the tram route) and passes through the university quarter. By going one block left, you can also parallel one of the city's many canals, which are lined with barge-type houseboats. Once in the city center, everything is within easy strolling distance. The tourist bureau is located in the vaulted basement of the 14th century belfort (belfry) on Botermarkt. You will find maps and booklet of restaurants. Free toilet facilities are located adjacent.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Belgium uses the euro, and ATM machines are available in several locations throughout Ghent. Money exchange facilities are found in the train station, and an ATM is located next door at the post office. Kiosks, small stores and some transportation providers may not accept credit cards, so you should keep a stash of euros with you. Check www.xe.com for current exchange rates.
The official languages are Flemish and French, but many people speak some English. You should have no problems in locations that are geared toward tourists. In general, if you speak both English and French, use English when talking to Flemish speakers. Belgium experiences considerable tension between the Flemish (similar to Dutch) and Walloons (French), so you don't want to unknowingly offend someone.
Where You're Docked?
Large ships dock at Zeebrugge or Antwerp. At Zeebrugge, a large commercial port, most lines provide shuttle buses to Blankenberg railway station. Hourly trains run, via Brugge, to Ghent Sint-Pieters and on to Brussels. The fare to Ghent is about 14.60 euros, roundtrip, for the 45-minute ride. Seniors, except on summer weekends, pay only 4 euros, roundtrip, to any station in Belgium. The fare doubles on weekends but is still a bargain. The Belgian Coastal Tramway runs from Zeebrugge to Blankenberg and to the seaside resort of Ostend every 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the time of the year.
If you're docked at Antwerp, catch a train every half hour from Central Station to Ghent. The ride takes 50 minutes.
Ghent is also a stop on some river cruise itineraries, especially tulip season cruises. River boats dock less than a mile and a half (about two kilometers) from the city, and the transfer to the city center takes about 5 to 10 minutes. (Transportation is usually provided -- if not, a taxi is about 15 euros each way.)