11 of the Most Non-Touristy Experiences in Ghent

Ghent | © Skitterphoto / Pixabay
Nana Van De Poel

For those wanting to sidestep Ghent’s traditional tourist attractions, there are plenty of intriguing options to experience the Belgian city from a different point of view. How about an ancient abbey recreated with hornbeam bushes, or a delicacy that’s gets ironed when you order it? These 11 experiences and secret spots take you off the beaten path and into Ghent’s alternative heartland.

1. Get experimental at Art Cinema OFFoff


Even a lot of locals don’t know about Art Cinema OFFoff, the teeny art cinema hiding in a house inside Ghent’s 13th-century Small Beguinage. ‘The more obscure, the better’ seems to be OFFoff’s motto, as they showcase daring new experimentalists and dig up age-old gems no one’s ever heard of.

2. Take a dip in history at an Art Deco swimming pool

Swimming Pool

The oldest indoor swimming pool in Belgium is still open, its Art Deco ceiling and pillars as stunning as ever. Designed by Edmond De Vigne and taken into use in 1886, the Van Eyck pool originally received its heat from the textile factories of Ferdinand Lousberg, a powerful industrialist and legendary Gentenaar.

Go underground for a concert

Ghent is home to a thriving underground music scene thanks to some multidisciplinary artist-run places that aren’t afraid to give new bands a shot. In de Ruimte is one of them (check their Facebook page for concerts, exhibits and something called ‘yoga drawing sessions’), as is Gouvernement, a large, white-walled industrial space. There is also Kinky Star, a youth centre on Vlasmarkt square that regularly provides a stage for alternative bands, and 019, a former welding factory turned concert venue at the North Docks.

In de Ruimte, Franse Vaart 28, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 478 54 99 84

Gouvernement, Gouvernementstraat 7, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 9 223 64 77

Kinky Star, Vlasmarkt 9, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, +32 9 223 48 45

019, Dok-Noord, 5L, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

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