Is CityCard Gent A Good Value for Your Money?

Beautiful Ghent City Views

Disclaimer: Visit Gent offered us two free 72 hour Gent city cards to make it easier for us to explore the city in exchange for some social media coverage. The views expressed in this post are entirely my own.

Belgium is a country known for fantastic beer, decadent chocolates, and beautiful cities. Looking for ways to avoid queues on a weekend city break? Annoyed that paying for tickets at tourist attractions can slow you down on your travels? City cards are generally a useful way to streamline visiting a place. We had the opportunity to take the 72 hour CityCard Gent for a spin on your Ghent itinerary. What does CityCard Gent include? Is the "sticker price" for a Gent city card worth the money? Read on to find out more and learn about whether it makes sense to buy the 72 hour CityCard Gent for your next trip. 

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Did you know that Ghent, Gent, and Gand are all ways that you can refer to the third largest city in Belgium? The city is called Ghent in English, Gent in Flemish/Dutch, and Gand in French. 

About CityCard Gent

72 Hour CityCard Gent
The Ghent CityCard is available in 48 hour and 72 hour increments. Buy CityCard Gent online before your trip or pop into the Visit Gent Tourist Information Center across from Gravensteen Castle upon arrival. You can also buy your Gent CityCard at all participating museums and sights, at various hotels in Gent, and at sales points for De Lijn public transport company. CityCard Gent costs 38 EUR for a 48 hour pass and 44 EUR for a 72 hour card. Activate your Ghent city card at the first attraction where you use it to start the countdown clock. CityCard Gent includes free or discounted tickets to top attractions in Ghent City. You can also avail of a bicycle rental for a day and various boat services. You can even ride the hop-on, hop-off water tram for one day. Just be aware that the hours are fixed and the number of daily runs is limited. Public transportation is also included in your city pass. No need to tap on our off of the tram, just show your Gent City Card if there is a fare check while you are onboard.

Getting to Ghent

What is the best way to get to Gent? Flying into Brussels Airport is your best choice if you are coming from the Ireland, distant points in Europe or even further afield. You'll find both national and budget carriers like Ryanair flying into Brussels Airport. You can also fly direct from New York City, Washington D.C., and Chicago in the U.S. We flew into Brussels Airport from Dublin in the evening, spent a short overnight layover in Brussels, and then caught the IC train from Brussels Central Station to Ghent. We accidentally got on the local train which takes longer (about an hour vs 40 minutes for the express service) and doesn't have air conditioning. Oh well, it's all part of the adventure. We paid 14.30 EUR for a first class duo ticket covering 2 people.

Inside the first class train car from Brussels to Ghent Belgium

It takes about 2 hours to travel by train from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to Gent-Dampoort or Gent-Sint-Pieters Station. Schiphol Airport is one of the largest and most well-served airports in the world. 

Speaking of trains, you can also get to Ghent by train from many European cities in 2-4 hours. Did you know that you can even get from London St. Pancras Station to Ghent in less than 3 hours thanks to the Eurostar train that runs through the Chunnel?

Is the 72 Hour Gent City Card A Good Value?

If you are thinking about investing in a Gent city card, your first question is likely to be: Is the 72 Hour CityCard Gent worth the money? Here's a breakdown of the key tourist attractions that we visited and how much individual tickets would have cost to give you a sense of how much you might be able to save.

Attractions Visited with CityCard Gent (Price)

  • Gravensteen Castle - 12 EUR
  • Museum of Industry - 8 EUR
  • Museum Dr. Guislain - 10 EUR
  • S.M.A.K. - Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art - 12 EUR
  • Ghent Fine Art Museum - 12 EUR
  • The Belfry of Ghent (Belfort van Gent) - 10 EUR
  • Boat Cruise with Rederij Dewaele - 9 EUR
  • STAM - Ghent City Museum - 10 EUR
  • The Ghent Altarpiece (aka The Mystic Lamb) - 16 EUR ticket price, 10 EUR discount with CityCard Gent

Public Transportation

  • 3 day transit pass - 15 EUR
The tram in Ghent is included with CityCard Gent

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: What other places in Europe have city cards and how does the value compare? 

How We Made the Most of Our Gent City Card

Cost savings is one thing, but the bigger question is what are Gent attractions like? Are they actually worth visiting? Come along and experience Ghent as we explore the tourist attractions that we visited with our CityCard Gent in detail.

Gravensteen Castle (aka Castle of the Counts)

We activated our Ghent city card at our first stop: Gravensteen Castle (Castle of the Counts). Gravensteen Castle normally costs 12 EUR per person (pp), but it's free with CityCard Gent. Pick up and listen to the comprehensive (albeit mildly cheesy) audio guide narrated by Wouter Deprez, a Flemish comedian. The audio tour introduces the history and personalities that lived here starting in the 12th Century. The current castle dates back to 1180 and was built by Philip of Alsace. Prepare for plenty of executions and potty humor. Allow 90 minutes for your visit.

Gent City Card: Gravensteen Castle

Museum of Industry

Ghent City Card: Museum of Industry

Our next stop was the Ghent Museum of Industry. An entrance ticket would have cost 8 EUR per person, but admission was free with CityCard Gent. We loved the interactive exhibits on printing through the ages. You can even make you own mini-zine (warning: the mini-zine is actually really difficult to fold properly even though there are detailed step-by-step instructions!) We also appreciated informative multi-media exhibits on the textile industry. We took time to admire temporary exhibitions including a display of African fabrics and an exhibit on shopping thru the ages.

Ghent City Card: Mini-zine at the Museum of Industry

Museum Dr. Guislain

From the Museum of Industry, we hurried to get on the tram to whisk us to Museum Dr. Guislain which is only open from 1-5 pm on weekends and is closed on Mondays (the 3 days that we planned to use our CityCard Gent). Museum Dr. Guislain covers the history of Psychiatry as well as mental health inspired art installations and is housed in a former asylum. Museum Dr. Guislain costs 10 EUR per person to enter, but your entrance ticket is free with CityCard Ghent. We found the exhibits to be fascinating albeit somewhat melancholy.

Gent CityCard: Art exhibits at Museum Dr. Guislain

S.M.A.K. - Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art

Rain was forecast on the second day that our CityCard Gent was active so we decided to focus on museums and other indoor activities. SMAK, Ghent's Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art would have cost 12 EUR per person, but the entrance fee was included for free with our CityCard Gent. We toured the "Splendid Isolation" exhibit which explores art created against a backdrop of isolation (e.g., pandemic, prison, mental health).

Ghent City Card: S.M.A.K. - Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art

Ghent Fine Art Museum

It was raining hard at this point, so we popped across the street to Museum voor Schone Kunsten (the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts). The art exhibits cover the 15th century to the present day, often in juxtaposition. The 12 EUR ticket price is covered by CityCard Gent. Give yourself 60-90 minutes to wander through this cavernous museum and see what rooms and what periods of art history capture your fancy.

CityCard Gent: Modern and Historic art at Ghent Fine Art Museum

The Belfry of Ghent (Belfort van Gent)

Gent CityCard: the dragon of the Belfry of Ghent

We kicked things into high gear for the final day that our Gent city card was active. We got to meet the dragon of Ghent at the Ghent Belfry that morning. Dating back to the 14th century, the original dragon was retired and is on display inside. When filled and lit with oil, it appeared that the dragon was breathing fire. Take the lift up to the top of Ghent Belfry and then walk down the narrow winding staircase. We enjoyed the fantastic views all around the narrow platform at the top of UNESCO World Heritage listed Belfort van Gent. The 10 EUR per person entrance fee is covered by CityCard Gent. The Ghent Belfry is incredibly popular. Aim to get there early when they open and save your visit for a nice day to maximize the views.

CityCard Ghent: Views from Belfort van Gent

Make sure to stop to see the exhibits of bells, many dating back to the 17th century, on the way down from the Ghent Belfry tower. On the way out take a peek at the grand hall with light pouring in through the stained glass windows.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for ideas of other cities to visit in Belgium? Why not:
Did you know that you can buy a Belgium rail pass to make it even easier to get between various cities?

Boat Cruise with Rederij Dewaele

There is so much to see on the 50 minute Rederij Dewaele boat cruise that was included with our CityCard Gent. The tour over water would have cost 9 EUR per person without our CityCard. The cruise covers a small section of the Leie River and adjoining canals. Keep an eye out for courting grebes and baby coots in the Spring.

CityCard Gent: Rabot and Rederij Dewaele boat cruise

STAM - Ghent City Museum

We took Tram #2 to STAM, the Gent City Museum. It normally costs 10 EUR per person to enter but admission was included for free with our CityCard Gent. Budget 90 minutes or so to have a good look around.

Ghent City Card: Last Supper painting at STAM, the Ghent City Museum

We started our tour of STAM in front of what looked like a box of underwear. It turns out that they were shoe covers so you could walk over an aerial map of Ghent.

Highlights of our visit to STAM included a giant hall featuring a centuries' old painting of the Last Supper, Medieval relics, Ghent towers fashioned from Legos and puppets featuring WWII leaders from both sides of the fight.

Puppets featuring World War II leaders at STAM, Ghent City Museum

The Ghent Altarpiece (aka The Mystic Lamb)

The Ghent Altarpiece in open configuration

We saved the best for last. The Ghent Altarpiece, also known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, is probably Gent's most famous tourist attraction. This 15th-century polyptych altarpiece is ornate with impressive biblical scenes. The presentation of the Mystic Lamb is pretty unique. We scanned our tickets and were soon all suited up and ready to go! We descended into the crpyt of St Bavo's Cathedral to take a virtual reality tour of The Ghent Altarpiece. The Mystic Lamb VR tour costs 16 EUR per person, but you get 10 EUR off with CityCard Gent. You could move among the holograms and inspect various real life relics too. It was all very slick. I must say, the headgear did give me a bit of a headache though.

Gent CityCard: VR gear to tour the Mystic Lamb

Drop off the headset and head upstairs to the 2nd floor to see the Mystic Lamb with your own eyes. We arrived just before closing and got to see the panels fold in slowly from the open to closed configuration. Very impressive! One of my top tips for visiting Ghent is to book your visit at the end of the day, if you want to see this closing ceremony. We scheduled our tour at 4:20 pm and we were standing in front of the Ghent Altarpiece about 5-10 minutes before it closed.

Summing up our Gent CityCard Experience

There you have it. We got 108 EUR worth of value per person in 72 hours. I hope you'll agree that CityCard Gent is great value for money given the retail price of 44 EUR for a 3 day pass. The biggest benefit for us though was how CityCard Gent streamlines visiting all the main attractions in this charming Belgian city. Skip the queues and payment process and head right in.

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CityCard Gent72 Hours in Ghent Belgium
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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Is CityCard Gent A Good Value for Your Money?
Is CityCard Gent A Good Value for Your Money?
Find out if CityCard Gent is a good value. Explore things to do with a Ghent City Card. Learn how to make the most of City Card Gent in 72 hours.
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