Top Things to do in Mechelen with Kids (Flanders - Belgium)

This article first appeared in My Travelogue by Bhushavali

Mechelen is a quick & easy day trip from Brussels. It hardly takes about 30 minutes by train from Brussels and almost all the train stations of Brussels including Schuman & Merode & Evere have a direct train connection to Mechelen. I have been to Mechelen 5 times so far and I still have a couple of places to visit here. 
The top of the places to visit in Mechelen is, of course, St.Rumbold's Cathedral and the top of the things to do in Mechelen is to hear the Carillon being played at St.Rumbold's Tower from the square. While the Cathedral is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belgium, and the playing of Carillon itself comes under UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. The next of the best things to do in Mechelen is to go on a brewery tour at Het Anker Brewery, followed by a guided tour of the Winter Gardens of Ursuline Nuns.
That said, to keep a child occupied, different other Mechelen attractions need to be chosen and my 3rd, 4th & 5th visits to Mechelen were completely child-friendly and things that would make Atyudarini interested.

TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN & AROUND MECHELEN WITH KIDS
...wat te doen in & rond Mechelen met kinderen...
 
TECHNOPOLIS
The most important of the places to visit in Mechelen with kids is definitely Technopolis Science & Technology Museum. It is a kids museum to have hands-on experience on various basic scientific principles. I have visited Technopolis, not to actually experience Technopolis itself but for the Dinopolis exposition! This was my 3rd trip to Mechelen and was a quick half-day trip from Brussels. There is a dedicated play area with life-size building blocks and more meant for 3yr old kids. I didn't want to spend on the ticket when Atyudarini was too young that we could experience only the kids' play area. I think Atyudarini is ready to visit here now, hopefully very soon. Bookmark this article, because I'll be updating it here soon after my visit.

Where is Technopolis (on Google Maps)? Technopolis
How to reach Technopolis, Mechelen? DeLijn Bus routes 282 and 682 are available from Mechelen railway station to Plankendael Zoo. Mechelen Railway station is well served by SNCB-NMBS Belgian Railways.
Technopolis Mechelen tickets: €19.50 for adults; €14.50 for children 
Technopolis Mechelen annual subscription: €61.50 for adults; €46.50 for children
Both can be purchased online on the Technopolis official website
Technopolis Mechelen timings: 9:30AM to 05:00PM everyday

Domain Tivoli Mechelen Map

Domain Tivoli Mechelen Attractions

Domain Tivoli Mechelen Attractions

Domain Tivoli Mechelen Attractions

Domain Tivoli Mechelen Attractions

DOMAIN TIVOLI
On my 4th trip to Mechelen, I visited Domain Tivoli and Speelgoed (Toys) Museum. Like most other domains this is also a castle surrounded by a large green space. When compared to the other Castles around Brussels and in Belgium, this is tiny. It was more of a summer palace or farmhouse of the nobility instead of being a full-fledged castle. 

History of Domain Tivoli: Tivoli Castle is the brainchild of Corneel Scheppers, who owned this entire space. In 1792 CE, he travelled to Rome and visited the nearby town of Tivoli, which mesmerized him with its beautiful ponds, fountains, bridges etc. So he decided to make a mini Tivoli here! He built the country house, ponds etc in 1802 CE. After being transferred to a couple of hands, it finally came under Mechelen City in 1978 CE. In 1966 CE it was declared a monument.

Why is Domain Tivoli best of Mechelen Attractions? The Tivoli Castle by itself is not open to the general public but only for events. However, the greenery all around is open free of cost. This 12 hectares of area is a beautiful place to walk around and it is definitely one of the most instagrammable places in Mechelen. The beautiful wooden bridges and majestic trees are such a treat and apt for kids to run about. Monumental Trees is an effort by Mechelen city to protect its oldest, thickest, and special trees and one of those is here in Domain Tivoli. It is a beech tree with a trunk circumference of 330cm! 

What to do in Domain Tivoli with kids: The most child-friendly feature of Domain Tivoli is its animal farm! There are goats, sheep, pigs, donkeys, ponies, geese, chickens & more. While it is not allowed to get into these enclosures, it is still fun for kids to stand beside the fencing and 'chat' with the animals. Another awesome feature of the Domain is its playground. It has quite a few games including towers with net tunnels, slides, basket swings and more. It is possible to spend quite a few hours up to half a day at Domain Tivoli with the kids, just walking about the domain, seeing the farm animals and playing.

Where is Domain Tivoli (on Google Maps)Domein Tivoli
How to reach Domain Tivoli , Mechelen? Located about 4km from Mechelen Railway Station. Quite a few DeLijn buses are available from 
Domain Tivoli Mechelen tickets: Free
Domain Tivoli Mechelen timings: 9:30AM to 05:00PM everyday

Speelgoedmuseum Toys Museum Mechelen

Speelgoedmuseum Toys Museum Mechelen

Speelgoedmuseum Toys Museum Mechelen

Speelgoedmuseum Toys Museum Mechelen

Speelgoedmuseum Toys Museum Mechelen

SPEELGOED (TOYS) MUSEUM MECHELEN
While I had known of Speelgoed Museum (Toys Museum) of Mechelen for a long time, its recent addition to the Museum Pass Musees all the more attractive! Speelgoed museum is equally fascinating for both adults & kids alike! While Atyudarini was fascinated by the toys & dolls, I got all nostalgic looking at the dollhouses & miniature kitchen sets that I used to play with as a child! There were tons of vintage Lego & Playmobil sets as well as modern ones! There was the vintage Star Trek video game, complete with the setup! There are also many working ones like circus models that turn when you push a button. 

Where is Speelgoed Museum Mechelen (Toys Museum) (on Google Maps)? Speelgoedmuseum
How to reach Speelgoed Museum Mechelen (Toys Museum)Located just beside Mechelen Nekkerspoel railway station
Speelgoed Museum Mechelen (Toys Museum)  tickets: €10 for adults; €7.50 for children; Free with Museumpassmusees. Can be purchased online on the Speelgoed Museum official website
Speelgoed Museum Mechelen (Toys Museum)  timings: Tue to Sun 10:00AM to 05:00PM 

PLANCKENDAEL ZOO
Planckendael Zoo is a part of the KMDA (Koninklijke Maatschappij voor Dierkunde van Antwerpen - Royal Zoology Society of Antwerp) which also manages Antwerp Zoo. I'm yet to visit here and considering buying the annual subscription. If I take Atyudarini to just Planckendael Zoo, it costs €51 for a visit while the annual subscription for both zoos together for unlimited visits costs €135 for us both. Yet to decide and yet to visit! Anyway, bookmark this page or follow My Travelogue by Bhushavali on Facebook to be notified when I update this article after I visit the zoo.

Where is Planckendael Zoo (on Google Maps)? ZOO Planckendael
How to reach Planckendael Zoo, Mechelen? DeLijn Bus routes 284, 285 and 686 are available from Mechelen railway station to Plankendael Zoo. Mechelen Railway station is well served by SNCB-NMBS Belgian Railways.
Planckendael Zoo Mechelen tickets: €31 for adults; €25 for children 
Planckendael Zoo Mechelen annual subscription: €99 for individuals; €135 for 1 adult & 1 child
Both can be purchased online on the Plankendael official website
Planckendael Zoo Mechelen timings: 10:00AM to 6:00PM all days

Troll Hunt Belgium Deschorre

Troll Hunt Belgium Deschorre Magic Tower Kamiel

Troll Hunt Belgium Deschorre Magic Tower Kamiel

Troll Hunt Belgium Deschorre Hannes

Troll Hunt Belgium Deschorre Mikil

DESCHORRE PROVINCIAL DOMAIN (TROLL HUNT BELGIUM)
DeSchorre provincial domain is located just in the outskirts of Mechelen in the village of Boom in Ruperstreek. It is very well known for the annual event of Tomorrow Land. However, on other regular days, when the event isn't happening, it is an awesome place to visit! This is the place to do the very interesting 'Troll Hunt'! 

Troll Hunt: This awesome Troll Forest is the brainchild of Danish recycle artist Thomas Dambo! He has made 7 humongous giants called Trolls, scattered all over the woods here. The smallest is 4m and the largest is a monument 18m sculpture! All made of waste, discarded wood! These have been here since June 2019. The walking trail here takes you through the 7 magical trolls. It was a very cloudy day when we ventured to DeSchorre.
The first spot is with 2 trolls and they're the biggest of them all - Una & Jeuris. They are beautifully laying on the grass, sunbathing and admiring the skies & the clouds together! Kamiel is the next troll who is just beside the Magic Tower. Here's the poem that describes the whole story as well. Kamiel is wearing a tribal mask. Climbing atop the magic tower is easy and is in 3 levels. It was super duper rainy when we reached this spot, so we really didn't get to see any 'view from above'! The next stop was deeper into the woods, portions of which even looked like a marshland. There were quite a few birds here, so it is also a good idea to carry a pair of binoculars! The passage then goes on a wooden staircase, followed by a wooden elevated platform path! On the way, on this platform passage is the next troll Arvid, sitting on it, wearing an exceptionally beautiful nose ring and gorgeous hair! Arvid is carving his desires on wood! Soon, far away, on the other side of the waterbody, you could spot the next troll, Mikil, fetching water in his bucket. My next stop was to go to Mikil. This requires a teeny tiny bit of downwards trek through a muddy passage, through tree roots, holding on to trees & branches etc. It is a very short trek, so don't worry, just go ahead. After a bit of walk ahead, we met the next troll Hannes. He's sitting atop a ruined building and is making a necklace out of clay pearls. He has a beard too. The very last troll is Little Nora. She's hiding in the middle of the woods and required a bit of searching and walking through a muddy passage to find her. She's the tiniest of them all (at 4m tall!) and is collecting stones in her wagon. She has a tail too!!! It was super fun to do the 'troll hunt' with Atyudarini and we started singing, "we're going on a bear hunt" changing the lyrics to troll! 

Troll Hunt Belgium Deschorre Arvid

Troll Hunt Belgium Deschorre Arvid

Troll Hunt Belgium Deschorre

Troll Hunt Belgium Deschorre Little Nora

Troll Hunt DeSchorre Belgium Una Jeuris

One World Bridge: Apart from Thomas Dambo's creations, another magnificent art here is Arne Quinze's walking & cycling bridge with 210,000 messages engraved in wood! All the messages are from across the world in very many languages to denote that art & music bridges people across the world! 

Tips for visiting DeSchorre Provincial Domain: Apply mosquito cream/band. Wear full-length pants to further help with keeping the mosquitoes at bay. Wear sturdy shoes and if it is rainy wear rain boots. The hiking path, esp. near Little Nora & Mikil gets super muddy in rain.  

Where is DeSchorre Provincial Domain (on Google Maps)? Provinciaal Recreatiedomein De Schorre
How to reach DeSchorre Provincial Domain14km from Mechelen railway station. DeLijn Bus route 500 takes you to Boom Schorre bus stop near Parking 2. 
DeSchorre Provincial Domain tickets: Free 
DeSchorre Provincial Domain timings: 10:00AM to 6:00PM all days
DeSchorre Provincial Domain Troll Hunt Map: via DeSchorre (opens/downloads as PDF)
Best time to visit DeSchorre Provincial Domain for Troll Hunt: Whenever Tomorrow Land event is NOT happening!

ONE DAY IN MECHELEN WITH KIDS ITINERARY
  • Option 1 - Just Technopolis
  • Option 2 - Domain Tivoli and Speelgoed Museum
  • Option 3 - Just Planckendael Zoo
  • Option 4 - Troll hunt and more at DeSchorre
MECHELEN HOTELS
While it is very much possible to visit Mechelen, in Flanders as a day-trip from Brussels, there are a couple of unique hotels where you could stay in Mechelen. 
Martin's Patershof Hotel Mechelen is one of the luxury, 4-star hotels in Mechelen that is housed inside a renovated 13th C Church! It belongs to the same Martin's group as the Dream Hotel in Mons which is also a renovated historic building. 
Another interesting hotel is the Het Anker. Yes, the same as in Het Anker Brewery! So it is possible to spend the night here, in a beguinage, with a view of the brewery. 
There are, of course, very many more hotels and b&bs in the city at all price points. Unfortunately, I can't give a personal review of any of the hotels in Mechelen, coz I've never stayed in Mechelen overnight and all these trips to Mechelen were day trips from Brussels.

Giant Trolls in Belgium Speelgoedmuseum Toy Museum Mechelen

Things to do in Mechelen with kids Giant Trolls in Belgium


Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

8 comments:

  1. Mechelen offers a lot to children! But even without children, I would enjoy a visit at the Toys museum, i think. I also like the dinosaurs at Technopolis. Great for quirky pictures. But the entrance fee for Technopolis is quite high....

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  2. I visited here a few years ago when I spent time in Brussels. I remember stopping in the old town square. I can see how this city is family friendly with so much to see and do for kids.

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  3. Domain Tivoli followed by a visit to the Speelgoed Toys Museum would be really nice an experience. Like most other domains this is also a castle surrounded by a large green space. I love the looks of summer palace even though it's not a full-fledged castle. There seems to be so much to do with kids including the Technopolis. Thanks for a great insight.

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  4. These places would undoubtedly appeal to both children and adults. All of them are enticing, but the Speelgoed Museum piqued my interest the most. Not only will the children have a good time, but they will also discover new things. I've added Mechelen to my travel plans in the future!

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  5. I love the trolls and you made a cute picture with your daughter! There's one troll in Breckenridge Colorado made by the same artist, Thomas Dambo. But in Mechelen you got to see 7 of them! Domain Tivoli reminded me of a botanic garden here that I used to go when my son was little. Children just love playing in the garden. Just like your daughter in Domain Tivoli. The Speelgoed Museum and Technopolis are definitely attractive to children, too. Mechelen is a town that put children in their mind.

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  6. These are fun ideas! We'd love to visi the Technoplolis. I am sure my kids would have a blast. It would be a nice experience as well to do those hands-on activities. We look forward to visiting. Thank you for this detailed post.

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  7. Mechelin in Brussels seems to be built with kids in mind. I am sure I would love to visit here by myself and enjoy the Technopolis in particular. I love kid stuff like kid parks, aquariums and zoos. Interactive hands-on activities are the best. Mechelin reminded me of Kew gardens in London that has activities for kids of all ages. Corneel Scheppers has done a wonderful job at creating the Mini Tivoli castle with a pond in front and greens around. I will certainly check out Mechelin when I am in Brussels next.

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  8. I can see that Mechelen is a great family location. You've highlighted so many wonderful places to visit. I know my grandchildren would especially enjoy Technopolis and the hunt for trolls in Troll Forest.

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