Good morning group. I am planning to spend a week in Ghent with a friend in August (she lives there). We have visited there before and have already been to Bruges, Popperinge and the WWI battle sights, Brussels, Delft and the Hague, and Kinderdjk, and Cologne in Germany. Would anyone suggest a few places (either overnight or day trips) we can visit this time. We would prefer to travel by train. thank you for any suggestions.
Antwerp, Dinant, or Aachen
Antwerp, Dunkirk, there’s a nice castle in Hoensbroek, NL, and Maastricht, NL. Other than Antwerp that is easy to get to from the Gent Dampoort train station, I have no idea how easy it is to get to the other places via train.
Ooidonk Castle some 15km south-west of Ghent, there is a bus stop. Open on Sundays and public holidays from April till September. http://ooidonk.be/en/ And many like a daytrip to Lille, easy to reach with the train.
Mechelen (also known as Malines) is another possible destination for a day trip. Smallish city with loads of history, and a good market square for lunch and/or afternoon drink. Half-hourly direct train from Gent-Sint Pieters station, taking a little bit over 1 hr.
I asked nearly this same question on this forum 18 months ago and received many helpful responses. See a link to it here: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/belgium/less-obvious-ghent-day-trips.
I get to Ghent at least once a year and there is so much to see and do. I can second the advice of Mechelen, as that was one of the suggested day trips we did and we enjoyed it. Lille was our second choice of the ideas presented to us, but we did not make it there. Next time, perhaps.
Jay MN, reading that post want to make a remark about Gaasbeek Castle. Actually it’s a 19th century reconstruction, but partly with the remains of the original castle. The interior was made new meeting the standards of comfort of that time and a lot of the furniture and paintings was bought from antique dealers in Brussels. This in case someone expect to see an original castle, nevertheless nice if you like this kind of places.