A bit like a little Amsterdam with its advent calendar-like stepped buildings and canals, Gent is an authentic medieval city with an enchanting castle, cobbled streets and it is very child friendly and welcoming to families. It is a university town and has a nice vibe; pretty and interesting but not too touristy. It is a fairly small city and is easy to get around on foot and with buggies. The streets in the centre of town are all pedestrianised and Gent has a buggy station or “Buggy Punt” at the City Pavillion, next to the Belfort restaurant where you can borrow a buggy free of charge while you visit the city. Every baby friendly shop, restaurant or bar which has a changing area and feeding area has a “Baby stop” sticker in its window showing that it has baby changing facilities.
Gent has a lot of child friendly museums and its worth knowing that all museums here have free entrance for children (up to the age of 19!)
There are various companies which organise boat trips along the Gent canals and that is a lovely thing to do while you are there. Pick up a boat trip in the historic part of town and learn about the history of Gent while you sail around the city!
Chocolate ! You can’t escape chocolate when you visit Belgian cities and this is very much the case in Gent too. One of our favourite places to watch chocolate being made (and eat it) is the Van Hoorebeke chocolatier by the Belfry on the Sint-Baafsplein. They have the most fantastic selection which almost looks too good to eat and it’s one of the places you can watch the chocolatiers hard at work melting and shaping all the chocolates.
While you’re in Gent you’ll probably notice a street cart or two selling “Gentse neus” or Gent noses! These are funny looking, nose shaped raspberry flavoured sweet treats! Worth trying even just for the novelty factor of making your toddler laugh with his new big nose!
Gent is brilliant for quirky, independent shops and is home to some fantastic and original children’s clothes and toy shops. Here is a lowdown of some of our top finds for families with babies and toddlers:
De Speelfontein- Koningin Astridlaan 169
High quality toys and clothing, using natural materials. The concept here is very much about encouraging creativity and imagination in little ones!
Wonder Years- Serpentstraat 8
A fun and high quality toy and clothes shop with some independent and well known brands, located in the heart of the historic centre.
Verantwoord Speelgoed- Kortrijksesteenweg 280
A toy shop specialising in traditional toys, dolls and puzzles. It has a special section focusing on babies and toddlers.
A short drive from the city are two fantastic toddler friendly parks; the Blaarmeersen, 15 minutes drive to the West of Gent, and the Brielmeersen, 30 minutes drive from Gent in Deinze. Both have large, open spaces to play as well as several play areas for different ages. The Blaarmeersen has a sandy lake beach next to a snack bar whilst the Brielmeersen has a cute little petting farm and some great play equipment for very small children. We think it’s great to have these large open green areas so close to the centre.
Gent is a bit of a hidden gem as it’s not the most obvious or well known city to visit when on holiday in Belgium, yet it’s possibly the most authentic and least touristy place too with plenty to keep toddlers entertained! Many overlook this in favour of Bruges but it has just as much to offer, if not more!
Using local knowledge to bring you the best baby and toddler accommodation, attractions and toddler friendly activities.