Autumn has long been known as the cozy season. Not quite as hot as the summer, not yet quite as cold as winter. It’s the season of layers and hot cocoa, pumpkin and apple strudels and all things orange.
1. Just Ghent
Before the onset of the first frost of the year, when the temperature is perfect for a stroll outside or a bike ride through the richly coloured parks, or in the city centre, but it’s also great for a cosy evening in a restaurant or bar… all of which make Ghent the perfect destination in autumn.
2. Keeping warm
Sometimes staying cozy is easier in two. The fresh, cool air and serenity of the canals make for a perfect date spot to just enjoy each other’s company. Even more romantic if time flies until sunset.
3. Magical evenings
Sure, days get shorter in autumn and dark creeps in earlier and earlier, but that opens the way for a different kind of light to shine through. As evening falls, the daylight in Ghent does not simply make way for streetlights. There is light art to discover and enjoy as streets, squares and buildings are covered in an artistic light display. It is almost as though the city were getting dressed up for the theatre, creating an awe-inspiring effect.
Just make sure you don’t choose to stroll along the streets at night on the second Sunday of October, when you’ll caught out in the darkness as all lights are off for the “Night of Darkness” initiative. On the other hand, this is a rare occasion to stargaze in the city.
4. Ghent University Botanical Garden
There is no wrong time of the year to visit a botanical garden, but nature puts on its best coat in autumn. Trees display a vivid colour palette that can only be replicated in paintings by the most talented artists. With a surface of 27,500 m², including an arboretum, a rock garden and a Mediterranean garden, you will be sure to find all shades of yellow, orange, red and some remnants of green at the Ghent University Botanical Garden. And if it gets just a little too chilly outside, you can get lost inside the 4,000 m² of greenhouses.
5. Citadel Park
A different, equally mesmerising green lung to admire the not so green nature in autumn is the Citadel Park. On the brow of a hill between the rivers Scheldt and Lys, the city park was created in 1875 on the place where the Dutch citadel of Ghent formerly stood. There are exactly 780 trees in the park, including some rare specimens that can be an added attraction for those who are green at heart.
6. Waffles and pancakes
Autumn walks are great, but there is no better reason to make a pit stop along the way than to enjoy a freshly made waffle or pancake and Ghent has plenty of places to satisfy the sweet tooth of every wanderer.
After indulging in a great waffle or two, you will surely be getting that after eating sleepy head, we all do. So the next best stop is a cozy coffee shop to give you that much needed caffeine boost for going on with your day. And I’m sure this season they will all be stocked up with more than enough pumpkin spice and caramel for those perfect thematic lattes.
With the newfound energy from your pumpkin spice latte, what better thing to do than set off on a good shopping run. After all you can never have too many fluffy sweaters or, since this is Belgium, trendy raincoats. Besides the countless boutiques and year round markets, starting in November and only lasting until January, Sundays in Ghent are especially dedicated to shopping. Shopping Sundays take place every first Sunday of the month and provide extra activities and fun promotions. To make it even easier to reach your favourite shopping area, public transport in the city is free on the shopping days.
A beguinage, from the French term béguinage, is an architectural complex which was created to house beguines – women who wanted to lead a devout life “together in isolation” without taking monastic vows. Starting to appear in the 13th century, the individual and shared houses were often constructed near a church and were surrounded by a wall that had one or several entrance gates. Ghent has no less than three beguinages, two of which have been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, giving you plenty to choose from. Enjoy a walk along the cobblestone streets, escape the hustle and bustle of the city and experience the unique atmosphere that is still lingering in the beguinage today.
10. Museums and exhibitions
Autumn is a wonderful museum season in Ghent, full of new exhibitions to discover. Just in case you’re a little undecisive about what kind of art you feel like diving into, all of the city’s main museums are conveniently located within a stone’s throw of each other in the Arts Quarter. Fine arts, contemporary art, the past, present and future of Ghent or everything music, take your pick. Or don’t, simply wander from one to the next.