I lost my heart to Bruges. I’d heard it was beautiful, but I hadn’t quite expected what we found. Romance, history and beauty around every corner. You could spend a week in this city doing nothing but ambling around the stunning streets, getting lost, eating waffles and drinking beer. If it’s a short city break escape you’re looking for… look no further than Bruges.
It couldn’t be easier to get to either. Simply hop on the Eurostar from Kings Cross St Pancras (if you’re UK based that is!), a quick change at Brussels and BOSH you’ll be soaking up the medieval atmosphere before you know it.
And if you don’t like it? Well you’re more than welcome to come after me with your bow and arrow in tow. (I’m THAT in love with the place). To help you make the most of it… here’s a handy list of the 10 best things to do in Bruges. You can thank me later ;).
Eat waffles, moules frites and lots of chocolate
This needs no explanation. There is delicious food around every corner in Bruges and I defy you to return from your trip without putting on at least 3 pounds. If you haven’t – you didn’t do it right!
If you travel with kid, this is a must.
Tour the local brewery and spend an afternoon beer tasting
Don’t miss the De Halve Maan brewery tour, the only active family brewery left in Bruges. The tour lasts for 45 minutes and costs 7,50 euro per person, which includes tasting the beer – you can’t go wrong with that!
Tucked away down a side street in the beautiful St. Anna Quarter, you’ll find Bruges’ oldest inn; Cafe Vlissinghe. This is the perfect place to grab a beer, order some local food and take in the atmosphere.
Drink a cereal bowl of hot chocolate bigger than your head
This place is a chocoholics dream. Hidden up a small staircase at the back of a chocolate shop is this quaint tea room overrun with chocolate in every form. After ordering a hot chocolate my face was a picture of delight when the cereal bowl, chocolate cup, chocolate drops and marshmallows appeared in front of me. One word: Heaven. The Old Chocolate Shop.
Visit the Frites museum
We chose to visit the Frites Museum and enlighten ourselves on the life and journey of the modest potato. This was exactly as ridiculous and loopy as it sounds, but well worth a trip. It’s slap bang in the centre of Bruges, you can’t miss it. Don’t forget to swing by the gift shop on the way out, who doesn’t need a potato shaped stress ball?!
Harp music to escape to
We didn’t plan to go to one of Luc’s recitals.. but after passing the posters and venues we decided to pop in for a break from the hustle and bustle. We were unsure what to expect, but what we got was 40 minutes of peace, tranquility and stunning music. Luc performs for free and I would most definitely recommend paying him a visit.
Amble around the peaceful convent and listen to the choir
Founded in 1245, The ‘Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde’ sits in the heart of Bruges and is a cocoon of peacefulness. With its whitewashed houses, tree covered convent garden and museum, it is a magical place. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the nuns who inhabit the convent singing in the church – it’s serene and beautiful. The Beguinage entrance gate closes at 6.30 p.m so make sure you don’t miss out.
Climb the bell tower
Right slap bang in the historical centre of Bruges, stands the bell tower. One of the city’s most recognisable symbols, you’d be crazy to miss a trip to this beautiful place without tackling the 366 steps to the top. I promise you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and if you suffer with a thwarted sense of direction, this is the perfect place to find your bearings.
Take a cruise along the river and spot the dog from In Bruges
The river cruise is a definite must. Seeing this beautiful city from the water allows you to put your feet up and gain a whole new perspective on the place. Plus, you get a movie star sighting thrown in. I was extremely overexcited when we spotted this beautiful dog. He’s so chilled. Just hanging out with his legs out of the window as passers by recognised him from the movies. If you’ve seen the film In Bruges, you may recognise this little fella who appears in one of the shots. Was a highlight for me! 10 points if you find him.
Recommended reading: Visit Bruges with kids
Eat croissants and pastries at the most delicious breakfast cafe – Prestige
Eating is obviously a must when on any city trip and you won’t be disappointed with what Bruges has to offer. Breakfast at Prestige is absolutely fantastic… so much so that we may have gone every morning. Don’t miss it… they have more delicious pastries than you can shake a stick at. Don’t try that though… you may get thrown out.
Visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood
This place was staggeringly beautiful. The Basilica is best known as the home to a small phile that contains a piece of cloth said to be stained by the blood of Jesus Christ. There are obviously questions over its authenticity, but whether you’re a believer or not – it is an incredible sight and well worth a visit. Please do remember to be respectful in here… people travel from the far sides of the world to visit.
All in all, Bruges is a magical city that will always hold a place in our hearts. Walking around the medieval streets is like taking a step back in time. Yes it may be a little more touristy than other cities in Belgium – but that is simply testament to the beauty of the place. Please don’t let the ‘touristy’ comments dissuade you from visiting. Get up early, stay out later and you’ll catch the sights without the crowds. It really is a city not to be missed.