Exploring a new city is best done by bike, don’t you think? This holds especially true for a city like Ghent that has more than 400 km (248 miles) of cycling paths and more than 700 one-way streets where bikes can travel in both directions. While the city of Ghent may not be as well known as a cycling city as Amsterdam, but is a huge part of the Ghent lifestyle. I mentioned that our 1898 Post Hotel was surrounded by car-free streets – you’ll only find pedestrians, bicyclists, buses and trams.
We’ve had some amazing bike tours in Paris, London, Barcelona, Mexico City, Vietnam, Shanghai, South Africa, and Bruges. Most of these tours have been spent with us riding to, from and between some of the most famous sites in the area. We’ve seen Notre Dame, Big Ben, the Gothic Quarter and the Bund on these rides, but in Ghent it was a little different.
First off, we didn’t book this tour until we were a day away from Ghent. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was booking this tour while we walked around the Flanders Field American Cemetery on Memorial Day. I found Bike Ghent on TripAdvisor and was impressed with the reviews. Unfortunately the website wasn’t working properly when I tried to book, so I shot the owner, Christophe a quick email, which he responded by calling me back almost immediately. He had another private tour planned for the day I wanted, but he offered to try to reschedule the previously booked tour, which was quite surprising. He called back a few minutes later – SUCCESS. Instead of meeting at his normal pickup point, we’d meet at the main train station.
Instead of touring the main historic cites, which are all centrally located in Ghent, Christophe took us around different parts of the city that tourists usually don’t see. We left the station and traveled to Citadel Park, where Christophe told us that it was a pretty popular gay cruising park – a strange non-sequitur. We continued along bike paths and main arteries learning the history of the area and how Ghent is transitioning into a modern 21st century city with co-work spaces and tech hubs. The university system is large and diverse driving additional innovation.
The real focus of our tour also included the amazing street art scene in Ghent. It was vibrant and diverse. The murals were inventive added a fun level of whimsy to this urban space. There was even a practice area near the old port where taggers can practice their trade, which was great to tour. I was really digging the art – but if I had read this was a street art bike tour, I wouldn’t have signed up for it, but I’m so glad I did.
When you visit Ghent, do yourself a favor and call Christophe (the owner operator) of Bike Ghent, you won’t be disappointed. He has a wealth of knowledge and makes the ride really fun providing a view of the city that you can’t get on your own.