My family of four will be in Delft, Netherlands for three days in October. My daughters are ages 5 and 8. We were thinking of taking a day trip to Ghent and/or Bruges, Belgium from Delft. Would you recommend this? If so, should we take the train or rent a car? Should we spend one night in Ghent or Bruges to eliminate two long drives in one day? I also might be interested in hiring a guide/driver. Any recommendations?
Just for driving up and down Bruges or Ghent the train remains the most convenient and think in this case the cheapest option.
But with a car you can drive through the Delta Region, and visit lovely places like Goedereede, Zierikzee, Veere, Middelburg and not to forget having a drive over the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier. Fun for the kids is theme park Deltapark Neeltje Jans halfway the barrier. Going back to Delft you can drive along Antwerp, Bergen-op-Zoom and Willemstad, if having time all worth a visit. But the latter is easy to reach and a lovely well preserved fortified 17th century town, maybe a good place for dinner before arriving in Delft.
In case using a car best is making a selection what to visit and spending a night in Bruges otherwise it will be too much for the time you have. Btw and just an idea: Really fun for the kids and adults too is the Efteling, Netherlands most well-known themepark north of Tilburg, needs at least a whole day, but think not easy to combine with a visit to Bruges. Especially of interest for your 5 and 8 year old daughters is the Fairytale Forest and the steam carousel. https://www.efteling.com/en/park/attractions
We have contemplated a day trip from Delft to Ghent in the past as these are two of our favorite places to visit in Europe. Each time, though, we just couldn’t convince ourselves that day tripping from Delft to Ghent (or Bruges) was worth the time or effort. First, high speed Thayls trains are only available for a portion of the journey so times to Ghent would be at least 3 1/4 hours, and that doesn’t factor in the time to get from the train station into Ghent (nor the time to get to Delft’s station). You are really looking at a total of 8 hours of travel time-round trip. Even without kids in toe, that is a lot of time. With your limited time, I would consider Antwerpen instead. While I prefer Ghent to Antwerpen hands down, some posters on here prefer Antwerpen. We have day tripped to Antwerpen from Delft and you can get there in a much more manageable 2 hours approximately. Antwerpen is a pleasant city with some really top notch sites.
Edit-We prefer trains and other public transportation when in Europe so the above post is not factoring in driving as an option, although I have heard some horror stories with driving in Belgium (traffic, reckless driving etc...).
Looking at b-europe.com, I see journeys from Delft to Brugge in only 2h 23, and Gent will be shorter than that.
Unrelated to Belgium . . . are you planning to visit Madurodam in The Hague? I've been twice, fun for adults as well as kids.
Check whether the Den Haag train station offers any better connections than Delft. Surface tram or train between the two stations. Part of the Ghent Altarpiece may be out for conservation. Both Ghent and Bruges need a local bus from the train station to the old town. I walked it in Ghent once. But use Google Maps to view your hotel location.