Some of the links might be affiliate links and, at no extra cost to you, we earn a small commission. See our disclaimer for more info.
Ghent is a charming city that has something for everyone, especially for families planning a trip. The city is home to a plethora of medieval gems that are scattered around its historical center. Ghent boasts of a rich history and culture, making it an ideal destination for families with kids. The city’s historical center is a great place to explore with kids, as they can learn about the city’s past while having fun.
Here is our guide with the best things to do, where to stay and practical tips to plan your family visit in Ghent.
In a Nutshell
- Best hotels
- Best luxury hotel: B&B The Verhaegen is a 18th-century mansion turned luxury B&B near historic center of Ghent with beautiful garden, fitness center and private parking.
- Best midrange hotel: Hotel Harmony is close to the Gravensteen castle with a heated outdoor pool and family rooms, private parking
- Best budget hotel: Novotel Gent Centrum is in the heart of Ghent with an outdoor pool, sauna, and gym
- Best activities
- Guided tour from Brussels to Ghent and Bruges
- Guided tour from Brussels to Ghent and Bruges that includes guided walking tours in both cities and an optional boat tour in Bruges.
Ghent with Kids
Ghent with kids is an experience that is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. The city has a host of attractions that are ideal for children, including the Gravensteen Castle, which is a medieval castle that is sure to spark your children’s imagination.
Another popular attraction is the Ghent Belfry, which offers an excellent view of the city and is a great place to explore with kids. The city also has several museums that are ideal for families, including the Design Museum Ghent and World of Kina, which has interactive exhibits that kids will love.
In addition to its historical and cultural attractions, Ghent is also a great place for families to have fun. The city has several parks and playgrounds that are perfect for children to run around and play. The Maaseikplan is a great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery, while the Blaarmeersen Recreation Area is ideal for families who love water sports.
You will find details on all these recommendations under Best Things to Do in Ghent with Kids.
In conclusion, Ghent is a great destination for families planning a trip. With its scattered medieval gems, rich history and culture, and attractions that are ideal for kids, the city promises a memorable experience for the whole family. So, if you’re planning a family trip to Ghent, be sure to include all these attractions and activities in your itinerary.
How to get to Ghent
Guided Tour from Brussels to Ghent and Bruges
This highly-rated guided tour from Brussels to Ghent and Bruges includes guided walking tours in both cities and an optional boat tour in Bruges.
Ghent does not have an airport. You can fly to Brussels Zaventem and take the train or the shuttle bus to Ghent, or fly to Brussels Charleroi and take a shuttle bus to Ghent. You can book the shuttle bus here.
We compare all airlines with this search engine to get the lowest price possible for flights. You can also set ‘Everywhere’ as destination and it gives you the cheapest flight anywhere on any given day or find out when is the lowest price to fly to a specific destination.
Search for flights here
Ghent is about 35 hours from Brussels by train. The train station is very close to the center. If you go to Ghent by train and you want to follow this cyclical route, then you’ll start from Maaseikplein, where the trampolines are (and ice cream, never forget the ice cream!)
Ghent is about 45 minutes from Brussels by car and about half an hour by car from Bruges.
We always use this search engine to find the best car rental deal. They compare all major companies, like Hertz, Sixt, Europcar, and more, and you get the lowest price. The earlier you book a car, the lower the price. You also get free cancelation up to 48 hours before pick up, which is great if anything happens
Search for rental car deals here
Where to park in the center of Ghent
This parking is ideal to visit the three medieval towers of Ghent (St Nicholas, Belfort and St Bavo’s Cathedral)
Parking Sint-Michiels (P7)
Sint-Michielsplein 8, 9000 Gent
This parking is ideal for visiting the Vrijdagmarkt [apparently :)], Patershol, Gravensteen castle and Huis van Alijn
Vrijdagmarkt 1, 9000 Gent
Low Emission Zone in Ghent
There is a Low Emission Zone in Ghent. If your car is Euro 1/2/3, then you can buy a permission (EUR 35 per day). If your car is Euro 4, then you need to buy a permission again, just different category (EUR 25 per week). If your car is newer than Euro 4, then you can access the city by car with no worries. Be careful not to overlook this, as there are people that have been fined.
More details here
Also if your car has number plates that are not Belgian or Dutch, then you need to register the vehicle to enter the city.
Best Kids-Friendly Hotels in Ghent
When planning a family vacation, finding the best kids-friendly hotel in Ghent is crucial to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Luckily, there are plenty of options available in this charming Belgian city that cater to families with children of all ages.
€€€ B&B The Verhaegen: For those seeking a luxurious experience, The Verhaegen is the top choice. This 18th-century mansion turned luxury B&B is just a few steps away from the historic center of Ghent, making it convenient for exploring the city. The beautiful garden and old world charm of the property provide a serene atmosphere for families to relax in. In addition, the fitness center and private parking make it a convenient choice for those looking to stay active and have easy access to transportation.
€€ Hotel Harmony For those looking for a midrange option, Hotel Harmony is a great choice. Located close to the Gravensteen castle, this hotel offers heated outdoor pool and family rooms, making it perfect for families with young children. The private parking is a bonus for those with cars, making it easy to explore the city without worrying about parking.
€ Novotel Gent Centrum: For budget-conscious families, Novotel Gent Centrum is a great option. Located in the heart of Ghent, this hotel offers an outdoor pool, sauna, and gym, making it a great choice for families looking to stay active. The affordable rates make it an attractive option for those looking to save money without sacrificing comfort or convenience.
Best Places to Visit in Ghent
Here are the best places to visit in Ghent. All are in the historical center and within a short walk from each other.
The best way to see Ghent is with a guided boat tour around the medieval center of Ghent. We highly recommend a boat tour in general because you get to see Ghent from a different perspective. A boat tour is a great idea especially with little kids, as you get to see everything without the kids getting tired.
A private guided walking tour is another way to see the main attractions in the center of Ghent and get a feel for the city. There are also guided walking tours in groups that are more budget-friendly.
The places numbered 1-5 are the absolute must-see in Ghent.
Gravensteen is the most important attraction of Ghent. The 10th-century medieval Castle of Counts is the only castle in Europe that is in the center of a city.
The castle has a turbulent history. It started as a wooden castle, then was built in Tournai limestone. It has been a court, a prison, a place for torture, a textile factory, and at the end of the 19th century they also wanted to demolish it to sell the land. Thankfully there was no interest in that.
The audio guide is lots of fun, but unfortunately, they only gave one to me (they said they give to kids as of 9 years old). You also get a nice view of the city from the top of the castle.
You can book tickets here (recommended).
St. Michael’s Bridge
Stop for a moment at Sint-Michielsbrug, the bridge of St Michael, an arched stone bridge with a view of the three towers of Ghent, St Nicholas Church, the Belfort and Saint Bavo’s Cathedral
St. Nicholas Cathedral
Saint Nicholas Cathedral is a 13th-century Scheldt gothic church. Note how the the tower is not above the entrance as usually but in the middle of the building. The organ is one of the most important romantic organs in Belgium.
Right next to St. Nicholas Cathedral you will find Ray, a cafe/restaurant with an indoor play area. See photos and details under Kids-Friendly Cafes in Ghent
Belfry of Ghent
The Belfry of Ghent offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. At 91m this 14th century building is the tallest belfry in Belgium. You will need to climb up about 50 steps to take the elevator to the top of the tower and then you will need to climb down approximately 250 steps to get back.
Do not attempt this with young kids, as the steps are very steep and small!
You can book tickets here.
St Bravo’s Cathedral
Saint Bavo’s Cathedral is famous for the altarpiece Lamb of God by Van Eyck
. You can experience an augmented reality tour that gives a lot of information about the era and the story behind the painting (this was lots of fun for our kids!). I especially appreciated the flying teapot that was leading the way 😉
You can book tickets here.
Walk around Patershol, the neighborhood with the tiny cobblestone streets and the medieval small buildings. It is also full of cozy restaurants and some have a view over the canal at the back
Korenlei, Graslei & Kraanlei
Walk along Korenlei or Graslei, the streets along the banks of river Leie, and enjoy the marvelous architecture
Ghent Town Hall
Pass by the Ghent Town Hall and notice how the two façades are different. One is built in Gothic style and the other in Rennaisance style!
Vrijdagmarkt is a charming square, where a market is held every Friday since 1199 [yes, 1199, this is not a typo 🙂 ]. Nowadays there is a market also on Saturday.
This is where royalty were officially received at the “Joyous Entries” ceremonies and also where people were executed (last execution was in 1863). You can see there the 15th-century Toreken, meaning ‘Little Tower’, the only building that is originally from that era. The rest were built in the 19th century. Toreken was the house of the tanners’ guild.
Pass by Dulle Griet, the 15th century red iron canon (info panel at the bridge nearby)
Exact location here
The Design Museum is one of our favorite museums in Ghent. If you are into design, then it will be interesting to walk around. Kids can do a treasure hunt for hidden playmobile among the international design collection and there is also a soft area where kids can play
You can book tickets here (recommended).
Read our full post on the Design Museum in Ghent here.
Huis van Alijn
Huis van Alijn, the museum of ordinary daily life, is not one of the top attractions and I would recommend just passing by. It was once an almshouse, where the old and sick were cared for. The little terrasse there is nice for some quiet time
Ghent City Hall
You can take a look at the Stadshal, an example of modern architecture in the city by architects Robbrecht & Daem / Marie-José Van Hee. If you are lucky, you might get to see a concert there!
Best Things to Do with Kids in Ghent
One of the best things to do in Ghent with kids is to take a boat tour around medieval Ghent.
Book a boat tour in Ghent here
Ice Cream and Trampolines in the Center of Ghent
After lots of sightseeing, a short stop for trampolines and ice cream at Maaseikplein!
Geraard de Duivelhof, 9000 Gent
And here are the details for ice cream (right across the street of Maaseikplein)
Limburgstraat 36, 9000 Gent
Kids-friendly Cafes in Ghent
Ray is a café right next to St Nicholas Cathedral, where you can sit in a glasshouse (!) and enjoy your drink, while the kids are playing at the kids corner
Klein Turkije 20, 9000 Gent
Looking for more kids-friendly cafes and restaurants? We have gathered tond of them on our map under a separate layer!
De Speelfontein is another kids-friendly cafe in a toy store. This is about 10 minutes by car from the center and next to SMAK, the City Museum for Contemporary Art, and the World of Kina.
Kon. Astridlaan 169, 9000 Gent
De Speelfontein has been shared in our Facebook community!
Join our Facebook community
World Wild Schooling – BENELUX (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg)
The World of Kina
The World of Kina is an interactive and fun museum on science and technology. It is about 10 minute’s drive from the center of Ghent and it makes for a great couple of hours with kids on a rainy day (or any day really!).
There are different sections with several themes and almost all kept our son’s interest!
Walk along the graffiti street, where graffiti is legal and artists enjoy creating
Exact location here.
Rent a kayak
Another way to see Ghent from water is to rent a kayak!
Sint-Michielsplein 21, 9000 Gent
Provincial Domain Blaarmeersen
If you are in Ghent and you want to spend time outdoors with the kids, then Provincial Domain Blaarmeersen should be on your list! There is a lake where you can swim with water slides and the playgrounds are awesome. It’s just 4km from the center of Ghent (10 minutes by car or 40 minutes by public transport).
Spring in Ghent
There is a street full of cherry blossoms in the spring in Ghent! You will find all details in our post on where to see cherry blossoms in Belgium.
Read on to find out where you can see the stunning cherry blossoms of Belgium and practical tips on how to visit.
Practical Tips for a Self-Guided Walk in the Center of Ghent
Map of the Route
You can start at any point, as this is a cyclical route. We usually park at Vrijdagmarkt, so we start from there. You can also park at St Michael’s bridge and start from the medieval towers. You will find more details on where to park farther below. The route passes by all the places listed below and is about 3km. You can follow the route with this Komoot link here.
This self-guided walking tour is stroller friendly and wheelchair friendly. However, not all activities along the route are. For example, the Belfort requires you to climb up 50 steps to take the elevator. There will be separate posts coming soon on all places
Where to Swim near Ghent
Swimming Pool with Play Area for Kids in Ghent
LAGO Gent Rozebroeken has an indoor swimming pool with play area for kids and a small outdoor pool
LAGO Gent Rozebroeken
Victor Braeckmanlaan 180, 9040 Gent
Looking for more ideas on where to swim? Then check our guide on where to enjoy water in Belgium
Provincial Domain with Water Slides in Lake
If you are in Ghent and you want to go swimming in a lake with water slides and awesome playgrounds, then Provincial Domain Blaarmeersen should be on your list! It’s just 4km from the center (10 minutes by car or 40 minutes by public transport)
Pin It Now,
Read It Later
Travel Planning Resources
Jo Koni (Georgia Konidari) is a writer and the creator of World Wild Schooling, a digital platform dedicated to travel. She is on a mission to explore the globe and share her experiences with fellow travelers. You can follow Jo on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.