Wondering if Ghent is a place to visit with your kids? It is! There are a lot of fun things you can do in Ghent with children. Here you will find a list of five child-friendly things we did during a stay in Ghent, Belgium.
1: Visit Gravensteen Castle – The Castle of the Counts
Knights, swords, torture-instruments, a moat, a guillotine and toilets with a “dump-hole” to the street. What’s not to like for two boys aged six and nine? Not much, according to our boys who spend half their time in some imaginary world where I’m sure elements of Gravensteen can be found now. The Gravensteen you see today was built in 1180 by count Philip of Alsace and was modeled after castles he had seen while participating in the second large crusade launched from Europe. Before its construction, there stood a wooden castle on the same location, built in the ninth century by Arnulf I (918–965), Count of Flanders. When you enter Gravensteen you embark on a journey that takes you through all the castles most important rooms. First stop is a very impressive big hall, and from there you go to rooms such as the chapel, the Knight’s Hall, the pantry and a room where a unique weapons collection from the Middle Ages is displayed. As Gravensteen also functioned as the Court of Justice of the Council of Flanders from the fourteenth century you can see a whole room filled with torture instruments such as The Rack, The Wooden Horse and a large selection of thumbscrews. You also get to go to the roof and walk on the castle-wall. All in all a really impressive experience for adults as well as kids.
Where: Sint-Veerleplein 11. (You can’t really miss it)
Price: 10 € for adults. Children under 19 years of age are free.
Find more info on Gravensteen here: The Castle Of The Counts.
2: Do a boat trip on the canals
We, and this includes our kids, find that one of the most enjoyable ways to explore a city is from a boat, and in Ghent you really want to make some time in your schedule for a boat trip. The view from the water gives you the full experience of Ghent and that special relaxed atmosphere displayed on the banks of the canals. You can choose to go on a traditional boat trip through the historic parts of Ghent, but you can also go on a picnic boat trip, hop on and of the water tram during the weekend, rent a canoe and much more. We chose to do a traditional boat trip with a duration of about 45 minutes. The trip takes you past some of the most beautiful and historically interesting buildings in the city.
Where: Kraanlei 2
Price: 7.5 € for adults. Children under 12 years of age cost 4.5 €.
Find more info on boat trips in Ghent here: Boat trips.
3: Burn energy at Blaarmeersen
Kids like to be active, and at Blaarmeersen, a recreational area close to the historic city center of Ghent, you can be sure to find some sort of activity they will enjoy. The area covers 100 hectares and you can indulge in activities such as swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, skateboarding, playing volleyball, tennis etc. The temperature kept going up, up and up when we visited Ghent, so one day we decided to skip sightseeing in the boiling city center and go for a swim in Blaarmeersen. We were pleasantly surprised by the whole area, the water and the beach. Being from Denmark where oceans are for swimming and lakes for fishing you tend to be a bit skeptical when introduced to the idea of swimming in a lake. Is the water clear, clean and fresh, you wonder? And even though there is no getting around the fact that ocean water is clearer and fresher than lake water, the water in Blaarmeersen is very pleasant, and the beach is filled with soft sand. On top of that, there is a waterslide, which is a huge plus when you go with kids. If you want to go for a real swim you can also do that as there are lanes for the ‘serious’ swimmers. There are also lifeguards, and if you bring small children there is a whole area dedicated only to them. We really enjoyed our “cooling-off” day at Blaarmeersen.
Price: Swimming is free.
Find more info on Blaarmeersen here: Blaarmeersen.
4: Buy Cuberdons
Buy Cuberdons, a cone-shaped sugary Belgian candy, hard on the outside – gooey on the inside, and watch your children’s faces contort. A bit cruel – but fun. Cuberdons come in many colors and look very tempting, but I think they are an acquired taste. They are so sweet you want to kick a rhino in the balls. But hey, we come from Denmark, the home of licorice.
Price: Depends on how many you want.
5: Explore Graffiti Street
Graffiti art is by no means dead in Ghent, and there are a few places you can go to see it. One of the most known places is Werregarenstraat. This is a street that was opened up to graffiti artists in 1995, and since then it has become an institution. The winding alleyway is totally covered with spray paint designs, but none stay for long as Werregarenstraat is a living canvas.
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