A city trip to Ghent with kids is really fun! Aside from being beautiful with many old historic buildings, the city also has plenty to offer families with kids. The city is easily accessible from the Netherlands and we were in the city center within an hour and a half from where we lived by car. Following our city trip to Ghent, we list the nine most fun activities you can do in Ghent with kids for you.
Table of contents
Ghent with kids #1: The dragon watchtower
If you take a look at the downtown skyline during a city break to Ghent with kids, you can’t miss it. The Belfry is the middle tower of the famous row of towers and is located between St. Bavo Cathedral and St. Nicholas Church. The tower is known for its fiery dragon, the proud symbol and mascot of the city of Ghent.
And how fun is it that you can climb this tower with your kids and enjoy a beautiful view of the city of Ghent. For parents with small kids, there is also the option of taking the elevator up from the second floor. We did this ourselves. We took the elevator up and went down by stairs.
Kids can also play a game at the tower. In fact, at the Belfry, kids can go on a treasure hunt. ‘The Locksmith’s Game’ is a playful and interactive tour with various facts and assignments. For a few euros, you get a booklet with explanations, some keys and a rubber hammer for the scavenger hunt. This scavenger hunt is available at the entrance to the Belfry.
We had “free” access to the tower because we had purchased the Ghent Citycard in advance. As a result, we had “free” admission to the sights at all the activities in this entire list. Of course, you can also visit the tower without a map. For more information on tower hours, ticket prices and scavenger hunt information, visit the tower website.
Ghent with kids #2: the castle of Gravensteen
This castle is a medieval fortress in the center of the city with beautiful battlements, narrow tower steps and you can also see the castle inside. We also did this with our daughter and our daughter was impressed with the different weapons they used in the Middle Ages and also the prisons with torture equipment.
You can get an audioguide upon entering the castle, and kids (ages eight and up) can also discover the castle with an audioguide accompanied by a Flemish comedian. This comedian gives his quirky and funny take on the origins of this most imposing castle in Flanders. The duration of this audio guide is 90 minutes and is available at the box office.
We did not do this ourselves and took our own tour of the castle. As a result, we were in the castle itself for about 45 minutes total. That was long enough for our daughter. In addition, on top of the castle you have a beautiful view of the city. For more information on castle opening hours and prices, visit the castle’s website.
Ghent with kids #3: walking tours of the city
You can also discover Ghent’s historic center with kids through a cool scavenger hunt. This scavenger hunt is using a specially developed app on your phone and is geared entirely toward kids. You can download this app in advance for free here. We had done this ourselves and it was a hit.
With the app, you start at the city’s castle and walk past about fifteen points in the city. These points are fairly close together, so you don’t have to take a very long walk. The walk will take you past many interesting places in the historic center of Ghent and you will make a tour from start to finish, so to speak.
During this walk through the city, kids are given questions along the way, which require them to observe certain sights carefully. You have to think of them counting the number of windows in a tower, choosing which animal they see on a fence by the water based on some sounds in the app, and filling in what the name of the Manneke Pis in Namur is.
We ourselves divided the hike into two days. This is also fine, since the walk is in the center and you can easily pick it up again. For the kids, the app navigates quite easily, so you can see just fine where to go. In the end, the kids have to find the glasses of dragon Phosphorus and get another small gift at the tourist office if they found them.
Ghent with kids #4: canal cruise
Another way to explore the city of Ghent with kids is by canal boat. The city has many canals, which you can take a tour boat through. You have several sightseeing tours you can book. So you have a 40-minute canal tour of Ghent’s medieval center. This tour sails past all the historic buildings in downtown, such as Castle Gravensteen and the Belfry Drakentoren.
You also have more elaborate 1.5- and 2-hour cruises, which make a somewhat larger round in addition to the things mentioned earlier. Finally, there is the option of using a hop on hop off water streetcar, where you can take unlimited use of these boats for a day to travel from one sight to another.
We did the cruise of about forty minutes through the canals in the city center and for our seven-year-old daughter, this cruise was just long enough. Near the castle you also have the boarding point for the boats and here you can also buy tickets. We also did this cruise with our citycard.
Ghent with kids #5: Industrial Museum
You can visit several family-friendly museums in Ghent with kids. One of these museums is the industrial museum. The industrial museum was not initially on our list to visit, but when we saw that the museum offered several fun activities for kids, we visited the museum anyway.
For example, kids can create their own magazine here. In doing so, the kids follow several steps in the process toward the final product: their own magazine. First, they personalize the magazine on a computer and then print out a large sheet. In several steps, they then proceed to fill the pages of the magazine. Our daughter really enjoyed doing this and was very proud of the end result. In total, we spent about half an hour doing this.
A second activity you can do with kids at this museum in Ghent is the Tinker’s Studio. This is actually a large table with all kinds of materials in the cabinet, where the kids can do crafts. There are also some examples in the closet and kids can get started with these. When we got here at the beginning of the morning, the stuff was still all in the closet, but we got to work on the craft stuff anyway.
In total, our daughter spent 20 minutes or so crafting here. So we ended up spending about an hour inside the museum. We did not check out the museum’s exhibits, as they seemed less appropriate for our daughter, but walking around the museum as well does take a little longer. For more information on opening hours, admission prices and the various exhibits, check out the industrial museum’s website.
Ghent with kids #6: house of Alijn
If you have little time during your city break to Ghent with kids and have to choose one museum, we would recommend the House of Alijn. However, it is then important that you purchase the scavenger hunt in the museum, because it is really super fun and that will ensure that you will enjoy walking through this museum with your kids.
In this scavenger hunt, you and cat will search for Hendrik Alijn who is missing. Kids are given a whole set of props and they will need them during the scavenger hunt to finally solve the mystery of the missing person. In each room, kids must investigate, then of course in the last room of the house they find Hendrik.
We thought this was a really fun scavenger hunt and super well thought out for young kids. In the meantime, we ourselves were able to look around the museum at leisure, where there were still plenty of attributes that we ourselves used to use. You end up spending a good hour on the scavenger hunt.
We had also done a scavenger hunt in the house, where we had to get different parts of a puppet, This part of the museum is dedicated to all kinds of puppets and this part is also fun to visit. Kids here can play with puppets themselves in a puppet show and eventually assemble the puppet. For more information on opening hours, admission prices and the various exhibits, take a look at the House of Alijn website.
Ghent with kids #7: world of Kina – museum
Another museum to visit in Ghent with kids is the World of Kina. This museum is all about people and nature. You first walk all the way to the top floor in this museum and then slowly walk down. When we visited, they were just remodeling the museum, so we couldn’t do the scavenger hunt through the museum.
The museum has scavenger hunts for different age groups and these scavenger hunts are available at the museum’s front desk. The upper part of the museum is dedicated to reproduction and our daughter was just a little too young for that. The floors below are dedicated to animals and nature.
Most impressive to our daughter were the room where she could experience what an earthquake feels like and the luminous minerals that you could see in a dark room. In total, we spent a little over an hour in here, but when the museum is renovated and you can do the scavenger hunt through the museum, an hour is not enough time. For more information about this museum, check out its website.
Ghent with kids #8: world of Kina – garden
Besides a museum, the World of Kina also consists of a garden section, but this section is on the other side of town. We had rented bikes downtown and biked from the museum to the garden in about 15 minutes. When we visited Ghent, the weather was lovely, so it was definitely not a punishment.
At the Garden of the World of Kina, you have an indoor section as well as an outdoor section (a garden, how surprising ;)). The indoor section also focuses on nature, and here you can admire animals such as the tarantula and the walking branch. Kids can also draw here and hang their creations in the museum.
In the garden of this part of the museum, kids can do two different assignment books. For example, you have a scavenger hunt with a little dragon and kids have to complete tasks in different places in the garden, and the other book is a do-book and with it kids have to do different tasks.
These assignments include smelling flowers and even tasting certain flowers. We were unfortunately unable to do these assignments in full due to lack of time, but count on spending quite an hour or two looking at everything and doing the assignments from the booklet.
Ghent with kids #9: Streetart
Ghent has great street art and it is almost impossible to avoid this street art. In fact, it is everywhere in the city and there is even a special little street (Werregaren Street) that is completely dedicated to street art and is also something of a landmark in the city these days (it is also called the graffiti street).
If you and your kids are absolutely crazy about street art, it is possible to walk or bike a scenic route through the city and see the different drawings. On the Visit Ghent website, you can find a map with all the city’s street art displayed. You can download and print this map here so you can walk the route during your city break to Ghent with kids.
Ghent with kids: Ghent Citycard
Like most cities in Belgium, the city of Ghent has a Citycard that gives access to many museums and other attractions. In addition, you can then travel for free on public transportation. We had a card for 48 hours and could do all the activities we described above with this card. As a result, we benefited greatly from this card. We also rented bikes for a day with this card. As far as we are concerned, definitely a fine way to explore the city further once you have seen the downtown area. For more information about this map, check out the Visit Gent website.
Ghent with kids: food and drink
The Flemish cities in Belgium are known for their cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy good food and drinks. Consequently, you can almost eat on every street corner in Ghent with kids. There are nice little squares everywhere with cozy terraces where you can eat and drink something. In addition, the city is known for its candy: the Ghent nose. This cuberdon is very sweet and will certainly be very popular with kids.
If you are looking for a restaurant where you can enjoy Flemish food, Meme Gusta is a nice restaurant in the city center. This restaurant is very well known for its fries with stew, and you should definitely make reservations here in advance on weekends, or there won’t be a spot left. When we ate there on Saturday night, at least fifty customers were turned away because the restaurant was completely full. Here you can eat really delicious food if you like these dishes.
Where to sleep in Ghent with kids
You can stay in Ghent with kids just fine. There are plenty of hotels that offer family rooms for families. We ourselves stayed at the Novotel Gent Centrum, a hotel that is right in the center and serves a delicious breakfast in the morning. For more information about this hotel, take a look here.
For other options in this city, we have listed the best options in different price ranges below.
Budget hotel: Hotel Carlton
Mid-range hotel: Hotel Onderbergen
Luxury hotel: Hotel Cathedral
To find other hotels in Ghent with kids click here for more information.
Check out other blogs we have written about other Belgian cities or, for example, our blog about the Adventurous Ardennes.