Butcher's Hall, Gent

Taking a 45-minute boat trip along the River Leie is a great way to see another side of Gent

If you remember, in my last post, How to spend a day in Gent, I mentioned I would be blogging about my boat trip around the city. So … anchors aweigh!

I was enticed to take a boat trip by this intriguing board.

Gent boat 2

I say “intriguing” because it mixes English and Dutch in one word, with “boot” being Dutch for “boat”, but attached to the English word “trips” to make a single-word hybrid that you will never see in a dictionary. The competition over the other side of the river got it right (although a purist would say boattrips should be two words):

Gent boat25

And I rewarded them with my custom!

Boat trips in Gent is indeed a competitive industry. It would be interesting to see all the boats in action on a sunny Sunday afternoon in August:

All the companies seem to offer a “captain” giving a running commentary in English and Dutch, although I read that some companies offer guides in other languages. The captain of the boat I took seemed very knowledgeable, although to be honest I found myself switching off and simply enjoying the sights (and the silence when he stopped talking!)

The trip took 45 minutes, and the boat firstly went south, downriver and upriver and back to the starting point, and then north, upriver and downriver and back to base. So it’s not possible to do a circular tour. Here are some of the sights.

The famous Graslei along the River Leie in Gent
The famous Graslei along the River Leie in Gent

The Graslei, with the Korenlei on the opposite side, constituted the trading center of Gent in the Middle Ages. The buildings are the original warehouses, into which the grain was lifted from the boats on the river.

Gent boat20
Can you think of a better location for taking a break from your university studies?
St Michael's Bridge, Gent
St Michael’s Bridge, with the church of St. Michael on the left
Last remaining wooden house along the Leie
The light-coloured building is the last remaining wooden house along the Leie
Het Pand, Gent
The back of Het Pand, which used to be a Dominican priory and hospital and is now a university cultural and conference centre
The Oude Vismijn
The old fish market building of Gent

The building above is the back of the Oude Vismijn (the old fish market), which we saw in my previous blog about Gent, but from the front. It houses the Gent Tourist Office.

Butcher's Hall, Gent
The long building on the right is the Great Butcher’s Hall, where the sale of meat was centralised
Het waterhuis aan de Bierkant
No prizes for guessing what this building was used for

In the Bierhuis (above) you can apparently get 165 types of beer, which must mean a very long drinks menu!

Castle of the Counts. Gent
Getting close and personal to the back of Gent’s Castle of the Counts
The Angel of Purification
Due to physical and intellectual pollution, the Angel of Purification is forced to wear a gas mask. Unfortunately it prevents him from playing his celestial music.
Gent boat9
The Angel of Purification is outside the Augustine Monastery
The Bridge of Imperial Pleasures, Gent
Sculptures relating to the life of Charles V next to the Bridge of Imperial Pleasures
Rabot, Gent
The Rabot towers, built in 1490 to bolster the city’s defences

Above are some other interesting buildings to see.

So there you have it; a highly enjoyable and recommendable 45 minutes. What I really appreciated was the opportunity to see the backs of many buildings that I had seen from the front during my city walk earlier in the day.

I still haven’t exhausted Gent. Next up … the Castle of the Counts!

About Denzil

Discovering Belgium is my personal blog describing places to visit in Belgium. It mainly focuses on walking and cycling in nature, but also covers cities and events.

13 comments on “Gent by boat

  1. Catherine

    Hi Denzil, Joanna is over for the weekend and we decided to go to Gent – I sent her your blog and that whetted her appetite. It was extremely helpful to have your hints – about the tram to the castle, the Info centre where we got the walking map etc. Thanks again! We had s super boat trip too! Catherine

    >

    • So glad you found it helpful and practical Catherine – and that you had a lovely day too, despite the rather gloomy chilly weather today!

  2. I’m intrigued by that gas mask. Please tell us more.

    • I can’t say much more than in the caption Carol. There’s so much pollution around that the angel has to wear a gas mask. I guess the pollution can be physical and spiritual. It’s certainly striking though, isn’t it.

  3. Lovely city. I had my stag do there, and we all went on the ‘boot trip’ after stumbling out of the Bierhuis. I remember the heavens opened and we got absolutely soaked!

  4. A trip on the water is always enjoyable, and you are able to get another perspective on the landscape. 🙂

  5. Glen Sherritt

    We find it good to do a boat/bus trip around a new town first as it gives you an idea of the layout prior to walking around. Looks like a very nice place.

  6. Pingback: Gravensteen Castle, Gent – Discovering Belgium

  7. Het is inderdaad heel leuk zo’n boottocht..Bij mijn bezoek aan Gent regende het en heb toen ook zo boottocht gemaakt.Het is een verrijking want je ziet Gent eens van een heel andere kant.

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