“It’s a fairytale town, isn’t it? How’s a fairytale town not somebody’s fucking thing? How can all those canals and bridges and cobbled streets and those churches, all that beautiful fucking fairytale stuff, how can that not be somebody’s fucking thing, eh?”- from the movie "In Bruges"
If you are planning short breaks to Bruges then this little romantic town in Belgium will definitely capture your heart! Bruges or Brugge is the capital and the largest city in West Flanders in Belgium. It’s the perfect place to escape reality and spend one day in Bruges, in a fairy tale. Follow the cobblestone streets and they will lead you to the different historical treasures of Bruges. The friendly atmosphere, smell of waffles and chocolate, fascinating architecture, cute bridges and swans on the canals are all attributes for a perfect peaceful day.
Historic Centre of Brugge – UNESCO World Heritage Centre
My first impression of the city was that it’s a very clean and green. Official Bruges’ language is Flemish but people speak English fluently. Locals really not happy with French tourists expecting everyone to communicate in French, complaining that they don’t even try to switch the language.
Bruges City Break: Grote Markt & Belfry of Bruges
So what to see in Bruges? It’s a tiny town, it’s compact size allows you to wander around with no fear of getting lost. So it’s perfect to experience Bruges city break or just a weekend in Bruges! By the way locals would call it “Weekedje Brugge”. All roads run into the heart of the town to the Grote Markt, Bruges centre. You can recognize it by the striking building of the Middle Ages, the Belfry of Bruges and the uncountable amount of tourists. Belgium tourism is growing so every year over 4 million visitors pass through this area to admire Bruges’ symbol for freedom and wealth. It was built in the 13th-15th centuries and suffered through some tragedies like fire. If you visit Bruges must do is to climb the 366 steps of spiral staircases to the top to enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view of the Old Town.
If you are interested in Belgian Beers my Belgian friend helped me to create a list of the best Belgian beers that you definitely need to try.
On the left side of the Belfry of Bruges is the Neo-Gothic Provincial Palace of the 20th century. It includes a Beer museum and the Historium, where you can walk through authentic backdrops, with film and music. There you can also find Tourist Information, which is opened daily from 10am till 5pm.
Bruges’ attractions: Belgian Waffles
I have great news for the sweet tooth: There is a small alley on the side of the Beer museum with delightful chocolate and waffel shops! There you can enjoy a typical Belgian waffle or heavenly tasty Belgian pralines. There is also a cool shop “Waffle on sticks for €4”. It looks very photogenic but doesn’t taste as nice as real big waffels.
If you follow the chocolate and waffle street you will reach the birthplace of Bruges, Castle Square. It used to be the administrative, juridical and religious centre of the town. On the right side you will discover Bruges’ oldest building, Basilica of the Holy Blood built in the 12th century. Legend tells that Count Diederick of Alsace brought Jesus Christ’s Holy Blood to the church.
Belgian Chocolate Brands to try & the Best Bruges’ Chocolate
There are numerous little shops with the tasty Belgian chocolate nevertheless not all of them are good. There are some that are focused on to sell quantity to the tourists and then there are some like Leonidas Belgian chocolate who’s intention to create good quality. They also sell delicious Belgian chocolate seashells. Chocolatier Dumon is also excellent and it’s Belgian chocolate price varies from 7€ for the small box of pralines. The best Belgian chocolate truffles you will find in my favourite store “Chocolate Brothers”. You can also visit Bruges chocolate museum and try plenty of it there!
The best Instagram spot in Bruges
Behind the Castle Square you will be amazed by the coziness and appeal of the Huidenvettersplein. There you can also choose one of the places to eat or have a coffee. It doesn’t matter where you will go, because food in the touristic areas is pretty similar and the prices too. But my advice is to enjoy your coffee in one of the restaurants next to the canal, so you can breathe in the fresh air and watch the little boats passing by with the smiling people.
Bruges is not only the perfect place for the lovebirds. If you have an affinity for photography, you should definitely visit this charming city. It doesn’t matter where you go in Bruges, you will always find an ideal spot to take a stunning picture. One of the most famous photographed spots in Bruges is Rozenhoedkaai though. Even if you are not familiar with photography, make a pause for a moment and enjoy the beautiful scenery. There you also have the possibility to experience Bruges’ canal tour and explore the city from a fresh perspective: sitting in the boat, listening to the tour guide and getting to know this wonderful city. Bruges’ boat tour is a perfect decision if you are a bit tired after your journey before or maybe after your hard working week. The prices are also acceptable, around 8€ and the length of the tour is about 4 km.
How to get around
Another possibility to get to know the city in a comfortable way is by horse drawn carriage tours. And it’s not only during the day but also in the evening, when the stars begin to sparkle in the sky and again you can cherish that moment with your beloved one.
Bruges, Belgium Points of Interest
If you would like to experience something totally different, something that will give you a thrill then you should visit two exhibitions in Bruges. One of them is in Musea Brugge, it has an interesting exhibition about witches. Bruges is one of the most authentic locations to discover the world of witches. The reason for it is, that the city had a big influence in medieval times, known as the time of witchcraft. Another museum will introduce you cruel instruments, which were developed to torture human beings. In the Torture Museum you can see different devices that were used in particular centuries. The museum is also located in one of the oldest Europeans prisons and it’s name is “De Oude Steen”.
I’m sure as a traveler you are not only hungry for knowledge but also for real tasty food. Don’t worry after the many museums you can enjoy delicious meals, but before you need to turn into one of the Rolling Stones’ band members. You were probably asking yourself already, why the title of that column says that Rolling Stones will be jealous? So now it’s time to share my secret! Belgium is very popular for it’s delightful chocolate, so it’s a paradise for choco-addicts. This country is filled with plenty of chocolate stores, but one of them is not like any other. It’s crazy, it’s rebellious and it offers unexpected and unique flavors. They call the owner a rock star of the chocolate world, he calls himself “Shock-a-latier”. The audacious chocolate maker Dominique Persoone’s opened his first shop in 1992, “Chocolate Line”. Mr. Persoone can currently boast with 50 chocolatiers and a crazy invention made special for the Rolling Stones: sniffing chocolate powder. The mix of a ground dust of pure cocoa, ginger and mint catapults in your nostrils with a special device, to give you unbelievable fireworks of the flavors.
Even rock stars need a moment to relax, so it’s time to get some good food and to digest all the impressions that were gathered during the day. Next to the crazy chocolate place is an adorable bio café called “Le pain quotidien”. From the outside it looks like one of the common bakeries, but when you enter the café, you will be overwhelmed by the size of this hidden place. The warm atmosphere, inviting feeling and pleasant smell make you feel like home. In the back of this location you will find a cozy terrace, where you can get away from the noise of the streets, enjoy your delicious drink and intimate conversations with your beloved. In the menu you can find delicious healthy food for a relatively low prices if you compare it everywhere else in Bruges. Don’t hesitate to try one of the cakes, they are undescribably great!
Free Things to Do in Bruges
You can enjoy Bruges walking tour. By the end of the day have a pleasant walk down the Lake of Love in “Minnewaterpark” and cherish the moment of togetherness. Therefore you can enjoy the view from one of the charming bridges or watch the sunset from a bench in the park. There is also a little secret about that place, a local legend telling that you will experience eternal love with your partner if you walk over the lake bridge. Even if you are sure you have found a love of your life, why not try it just to guarantee a bright future.
Places to Eat in Bruges
The dining possibilities in Bruges are constantly changing because it follows new trends but still keeps it’s traditions. There are some nice places that are beloved by locals and that I would definitely suggest to visit:
Everyone knows the cult Patisserie Academie in Bruges. It’s an amazing place where you can enjoy extraordinary sweet and savory creations made by incredible chef-patisserie Tom van Loock. If you would like to have something savoury is a great alternative. There are many Michelin star restaurants in Bruges like Den Gouden Harynck.
If you prefer savory meals with a lot of meat and live music from time to time then you doubtlessly need to visit Lokkediz. The restaurant opens at 6pm except Tuesday and Wednesday. I would suggest to reserve the table because this place is always full!
Fancy for a drink? Hungry for a lovely meal? Then enjoy all of it at the Bruges’ best place to eat, De Republiek. Nevertheless don’t expect to get traditional Belgian beef stew because that one you can get from your grandmother at home!
If you have an opportunity to visit Bruges, don’t think twice. Go there for 1 or 2 days and you will no doubt fall in love with that endlessly fascinating city! And if you are planning to visit other beautiful cities of Belgium I would suggest to go from Bruges to Brussels. You can find out more about Brussels here.