This is a Guest Post by Nicole Noel
Belgium is the land of extraordinary medieval castles, urban legends, rich and exciting history, and an amazing cultural offer. Add festivals and theme parks, its legacy in comic art (it’s where Tin Tin and Smurfs were born!) and the fact it is home to some of the most exquisite chocolate factories with tasting options – and you’ll see that Belgium makes a perfect destination for a family trip. What’s the one thing kids want? Adventure, of course! Belgium has a rich tourist offer for your precious ones, giving you an opportunity to mix fun with education. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss.
Brussels, a kid-friendly capital
Kids will love the Gulliver-like experience of walking through the Mini Europe park: at the scale of 1:25, this park displays around 350 important European landmarks. Entry for kids under 12 years old is €11.20, but there are other price packages you can consider. Nearby is the Atomium, a distinctive symbol of Brussels which has an amazing program for kids: Kids’ sphere, a special urban pedagogy project aiming to educate kids about architecture and the role of major cities today. Kids usually spend the night there (€30 per night), soaking in the city’s scenery, learning, and having fun along the way. As for all those who have a sweet tooth, two words for you: chocolate tasting. Visit the Laurent Gerbaud’s chocolate factory (free entrance, chocolate prices vary) and enjoy the creamy and dark yummy bites made from the best cocoa beans. Also, consider going on a comic strip walk: kids will love it! Don’t miss visiting the Children’s museum too, with a rich interactive offer for little rascals.
Bruges, a true medieval treat
Strolling around Bruges makes you feel like you’ve entered a fairy tale: medieval architecture will certainly spark up your kids’ imagination and before you know it – they’ll be playing play-pretend starring dragons and knights! To get a fuller experience, take a ride in a horse carriage (about €36 for half an hour) and soak in the scenery. With Bruges’ beautiful canal system, it is known as the Venice of the North. Don’t miss going on a boat trip or even on a barge travel cruise: kids will love exploring the city while gliding across the canals. A 10-min walk from the city center can take you to the Koningin Astrid Plein – a park with a playground and a small lake with swans and ducks (it’s allowed to feed them), which is always a nice stop with kids. Sint-Janshospitaal is a 13th-century hospital that is now open to travelers: here your kids can enjoy learning about history.
Antwerp, home to the oldest European zoo
The Antwerp Zoo was built in 1843 and it currently houses around 7000 animals. Children under 3 years are entrance-free, while kids under 12 years old need a €19 ticket. There are daily programs organized so your kids will be thrilled to participate in some of the activities, be it feeding the penguins, elephants, or hippos. You can also join a touring group and learn from an experienced guide, just make sure you book your place at least 3 weeks in advance. You can also visit the Aquatopia to complete the trip with exploring fauna: it’s one of the largest underwater worlds in Europe, with two floors and 35 different aquariums. Walk while there are sharks and fish swimming above your heads, or pet a snake and iguana: an experience guaranteed to make your kids happy! While in Antwerp, visit De Ruien, its canals and sewers: perfect for a Ninja-turtle-like adventure!
Ghent, a fun historical site
This Belgium’s hidden gem has a tourist offer suitable for kids that is a party mix of learning, exploring, and having fun. The 12th century Castle of Counts is the most popular attraction: you can enjoy an armors exhibit as well as the medieval torture museum that includes an 18-foot dungeon and a boasting collection of medieval instruments. It is a bit eerie but considered to be an exciting spot for children. Entrance fee is €10, while it’s free of charge for persons under the age of 18. Climb the Belfry Tower for the best panoramic view of the city: it does have a lot of steps to conquer which may be tiring for the kids, but luckily – you can take an elevator to some height and then continue ascending on foot. Kids will love the copper dragon on top that’s partially gilded. Also, Ghent has a well-established network of bicycle paths, so consider renting bikes and exploring around.
Dinant, a place for a nature adventure
Located on the river Meuse, Dinant is a charming town marked by prominent fortifications. Its landmark is called Citadelle de Dinant, placed on a hilltop above the city. You can reach it by climbing over 400 steps, which isn’t a good option because of the kids. Take a cable car ride (from Place Reine Astrid): you and your kids will love it! At the top, a beautiful view awaits, along with a stunning gothic church. It’s good to take a map while exploring: you can reach a lovely playground nearby with a café by its side. Touring the citadel, you will find out more about the complete history of the area, especially regarding the World War I: wander around, go through tunnels and eventually you’ll stumble upon cannons in the courtyard. Dinant offers you an opportunity to go on a nature adventure: visit the Grotto of Dinant and the Caves of Han where you can enjoy guided cave tours and discover native flora and fauna. Make sure to bundle up your kids: temperatures can drop below 13°C in these stunning nature tunnels.
Belgium is truly a treat for kids. Pack your things and get ready for a trip you’ll never forget!
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