Overshadowed by the much more popular Bruges (we took the children last summer!) this beautiful, undiscovered gem is well worth a visit (with or without children!). It has all the charm of Bruges but with a quirky edge that makes it very appealing. Staying nearby we set out after a leisurely breakfast (yes chocolate yet again!) and parked centrally (and very easily) in Vrijdagmarkt Gent parking.
Easter in Ghent
Given that it was Easter Sunday we were slightly concerned about things being closed. We took our lead from the Ghent tourism website. It is very up to date and shows the daily opening times etc. We found that most places were open and there were lots of special touches – Easter egg hunts in the central square and a chance to meet the Easter bunny himself, free chocolate in the market hall and lots of decorations, church bells chiming etc. Combined with the beautiful chocolate we’d picked up on route to Belgium as well as the thoughtful basket of eggs left by our Airbnb hosts it made for a lovely family day. the
Top 3 activities for children
So if, like us, you only have a day in this wonderful city then why not check out our top 3 family friendly activities.
1. Street Art
Ghent has a lively street art scene. A map from the tourist office shows prime viewing locations. We took this route. We didn’t do the whole tour but enjoyed the bit we did do – some scooting potential (for the little people!) and plenty of play parks (and of course waffle shops!) on route. A better option might be to hire a bike – this way you could cover more ground with little people in tow.
2. Indoor food market
I’ve spoken in other blog entries about the ease and joy of visiting an indoor food market with little people (it really does give you so much more flexibility!). Our favourite so far has been Rotterdam but the one in Cordoba is equally good (oh and Copenhagen!). Ghent boasts a wonderfully unique market, The holy food market is housed in a converted church. There was a delicious selection of food from more traditional Belgian croquettes (oh and how yummy they were!), to pizza and pasta and falafel and hummus. Something for everyone. High chairs were available and there was plenty of seating. All very relaxed. The meal was topped off by the most incredible magnum (imagine – ice cream dipped in chocolate and covered in your own choice of sprinkles – a toddlers paradise!). It’s worth noting that the toilets are located next door and given that they are public toilets they were not overly clean. Oh and the market converts into a trendy nightclub at night (wishful thinking with little people!).
3. Sight seeing
Ok so perhaps not the first thing you’d think to do with children but a little bit of carefully planned sight seeing can and does work for the whole family. In Ghent we left the market and walked towards the Cathedral of St. Bavo (Sint-Baafskathedraal) and the Belfry, picking up some must try Ghent noses on route (must try they say, fairly yucky I say!).
The square was busy with Easter celebrations and an impromptu organ recital was a big hit with both of our little ones. The square was surrounded by a number of chocolate shops that the children (and grown ups!) enjoyed admiring (although who does spend 180 euros for the handmade egg?!?) . From here we walked down to the canals. A trip to this part of a Belgium wouldn’t be complete without admiring the canal side views! The little people loved the boat spotting (just make sure you can keep hold of them – swimming in the canals probably shouldn’t be on the agenda!). You could take an organised boat tour of the canals but we gave this a miss (tired little people needed to get into the car!).
All in all a fab day. Ghent is a wonderful city and we will certainly be back!