Having done very little research prior to my arrival in Brugge, I was surprised and delighted by the incredible beauty of this quaint little medieval town. I immediately fell in love and spent the better part of my three days there taking endless photos (sorry in advance). In hindsight, I’m not sure how this gem of a city wasn’t already on my radar (oops!), but thankfully it was on Tim’s… And apparently everyone else’s!
Yes! Bruges is very touristy, but even in the height of tourist season the city quiets down after dinner when all the daytrippers head out of town, and if you’re patient you’ll have the entire place to yourself! Of course Brugge is more than just a pretty face and we enjoyed exploring and tasting everything it has to offer.
Departing London after a three week road trip through Ireland and the UK, we traded in our rental car and set off for Belgium via train. The entire ride takes around three and a half hours, including a transfer in Brussels. Purchasing our tickets at St. Pancras Station one day prior to departure, we were really lucky to find seats together. An added bonus: we got table seats, meaning the four of us could sit around a table and look at our electronics and not each other. HA HA!
Three stops and one hour later we’d arrived!
My first impression upon our arrival to the center of the city:
Suddenly we were in one of the most beautiful cities I’d ever seen! Seriously! It’s not even fair to other cities, which don’t even stand a chance against the beauty of this place!
Brugge is a great place to wander, and although the chocolate shops (there are so many!) had all closed for the day we enjoyed window shopping and wandering through town before heading back to enjoy the amazing view from our room at the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce!
We loved this little hotel, and if you’re interested in a splurge I highly recommend it. The accommodations, location and service were all perfect! They even have their own box of cookies!
By the way is it Brugge, Bruge, Brugges, Bruges? You say tomato…
Our first day in town also happened to be American Independence Day. I must admit it felt a bit funny waking up in another country where the 4th of July is just another day. I’m not one to make too big a fuss over The 4th, but as we wandered through town, on our way to the laundromat, we noticed a number of rib restaurants and decided it would be fun to have an “American dinner”. We choose a place called Ribs n’ Beer (Really!), made a reservation for later, and set off to explore until dinner.
With no real plan beyond enjoying the city, we spent the afternoon wandering in and out of shops, many of them selling chocolate, visited a park and went on a boat ride through the canals.
When in Brugge a boat tour of the canals is pretty much a must do, after all they don’t call it the Venice of the North for nothing. No need to plan ahead as there are several companies offering tours and the stops are conveniently located.
The ride was lovely, though at 30 minutes, a bit short. The guides speak English, French and Dutch, however when our guide spoke English, he affected such a funny accent we had no idea what he was saying. Afterwards when we asked him a question he sounded completely regular. We decided giving the same tour every thirty minutes all day long must be somewhat tedious and that he was entertaining himself with funny voices.
Boating, Beer and BBQ
Our meal at Ribs n’ Beer was delicious and after our day of shopping and “boating,” Simon was delighted to discover they were all you can eat! We’d enjoyed three popular american favorites, boating, beer and BBQ, making our 4th of July celebration a complete success!
Continuing our tradition of sampling cocoa in every new country, we found ourselves a table at T’ Klein Venetie a little cafe overlooking the famous Rozenhoedkaai View. We met some lovely people visiting from Mexico City and Tim chatted with them in Spanish while I took more photos. A lovely end to a great day!
Starting our day off with waffles, we sampled two kinds. The boys were interested in waffles on a stick, which were then dipped in chocolate and coated with the topping of their choice (marshmallows), while Tim and I went for a more traditional style.
If you’re planning more than one day in Brugge you might consider purchasing the museum pass, which will give you access to 14 of the city’s main attractions. Over the course of our visit we saw The Belfort, the Archeological Museum, Brugse Vrije, O.L.V-Kerk. Sint Janshospitaal, and the Stadhuis.
Highlights were the city views from The Belfort, viewing Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child in the Church of Our Lady (O.L.V- Kerk), and the apothecary museum at Sint Janshospitaal.
After a long day of museum hoping we found ourselves at Brasserie Souffleur where we enjoyed a lovely meal before heading out to see Brugge at night.
Starting our day off with a visit to the Wednesday food market in The Markt, we picked up some fruit and a few other snacks to enjoy while wandering up and down the aisles. Many of the vendors displayed their foods in glass cases built right into the trucks they used to transport their wares.
Highlights were the chocolate making demonstration with yummy samples and the learning the fascinating science behind diamonds including interactive exhibits.
Recommended by a friend as the best place for frites in Brugge, our next stop was Chez Vincent. That said, we enjoyed our fries, and the many dipping sauces available, but I’m not sure they were the best. The hours are somewhat erratic and because of its popularity there are a lot of rules…
Brugge at Night
If you do plan a day trip to Brugge, I highly recommend sticking around to see it at night. The lighting is absolutely stunning, which makes for some pretty great photos!