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!
Arriving in time for dinner, we chose a little place just off The Markt, the city center and main square. Mussels, frites and of course a Belgian waffle were on our menu!
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.
Brugge is not only famous for chocolate, but also diamonds and we visited both the Choco Story Museum and the Diamond Museum.
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!
Pin for later:
Take me with you!
Would you like directions to all these fabulous places? Why not take me with you! you can download this and other fun hilarystyle articles using the GPSmyCity app!
Such gorgeous photos – it’s a long time since I was in Bruges but it’s so lovely, I do keep meaning to go back. I know my daughter would be happy with friars, waffles and chocolate too… thanks for linking up with #citytripping
Great photos and I love your enthusiasm for Bruges. It is, undeniably, utterly gorgeous but I have always felt a bit underwhelmed when I’ve visited, probably due to the crowds of tourists. I’ve never stayed three days though, so perhaps that’s the secret to seeing beyond the veil of mass tourism. I’ve always loved the Belfry though – it reminds me of Lego towers that my kids try to make, adding another layer, then another until the whole thing inevitably topples over. Let’s hope that the real Bruges Belfry is NOT made from Lego 🙂 Thanks! #CityTripping
I understand what you mean about too many tourists and about lego (I love lego!) but once everyone goes home it’s pretty nice having the place to yourself! Three days may have been a bit long, but after three weeks driving around the uk 🇬🇧 we needed a break!
I’ve never been to Brugge but I love admiring people’s photos of it and always think I should go. I’ve been to Antwerp and they have a huge diamond collection too. It’s so surreal to see such expensive jewellery there!
I love Bruges – as they say in the film it’s like a fairytale – great pics #citytripping
We stayed in Bruges for a week in summer a couple of years ago – loved every second of it. So nice to revisit in your post, your photos are gorgeous, I especially love the night time scenes! This was one of my favourite times, strolling around after most of the tourists had left.
Thank you!! Your blog, is one reason why I knew it would make a great jumping off place to other destinations in Belgium! After “hours” was my favorite too!
Bruges is on my list of places to visit in Europe. Loved your photos! #CityTripping
Bruges is our FAVORITE! Next time, I’m definitely getting a room along the canals! #CityTripping
My sister visited Brugges ages ago and said it was beyond words beautiful. That was in the day before the internet and being able to see such glorious photos like yours!! Oh, my I so want to go right this second!!
We were in Turkey once on July the 4th. I was mentally ready to be elsewhere and gave it little thought until we got back to the hotel in the evening and found 3 balloons – one red, one white, and one blue and a sign wishing us a happy july 4th. I was so touched. What a lovely gesture. 🙂
I love this story! Thank you for sharing!!
Obsessed with Bruges ever since the movie! Beautiful city!
What a city! I have never been but I have to make it there one day. I am a photo person, so, I like how many you have included. The city itself is beautiful but the food scene looks good too. #citytripping
Thank you! I always struggle with how many photos to include… in so glad you enjoyed them!
Fantastic photos Hilary, I fell in love with Belgium in Bruges. I recently found out that only about 6% of visitors to the city stay overnight and the impact on its medieval structures and unique way of life is under threat. We stayed overnight too and I loved exploring without the crowds. Such a beautiful place though I have to say I was not prepared for so much chocolate! #farawayfiles
Thank you! I must admit the empty streets didn’t hurt. Wow! Only 6%! No wonder it was so quiet after dark. The front desk manager at our hotel told us that very few people can afford to live “in town”… much like Toledo in Spain . We couldn’t get over how affordable the chocolate was!!
beautiful photos! I’ve been to Bruges too, but only for a day trip from Brussels. It was the perfect day trip:) #farawayfiles
It’s been 23 years since I’ve been to Bruges and we have avoided while living in Copenhagen I will admit – fearing it thronged by tourists. Happy hear that if you wait out the masses, you can find pockets of perfect still! You make it look as charming as I remembered it! Thanks for sharing with the first #FarawayFiles of 2017 – Happy New Year from Copenhagen, Erin
Trish @ Mum's Gone To
Oh my, it’s more gorgeous than I thought. And those photographs are just beautiful. Bruges/Brugge has now just jumped a few places on my must-see list. Thank you 🙂
This is a huge blast from the past for me, I spent three days in Bruge in 2009 and loved every minute of it. It’s so gorgeous (your photos are amazing) and the beer, french fries and hot chocolate are to die for. #farawayfiles.
Thank you! It’s such a magical place it seems like wherever you look there’s a photo waiting to be taken! Drive my family crazy!
Lovely photos. I loved Bruges so much I returned a month later for another visit. I’d love to go again as it’s so beautiful x
Thank you! It is a magical place… I’d love to explore more of Belgium in general!
Me too☺ It is magical and a very romantic place. X
fifi + hop
Beautiful!! Honestly your pics are stunning. I can’t believe I haven’t made it to Bruges yet..such picture perfect scenery. Love that you went to Ribs n Beer on the 4th! A true patriot:). #farawayfiles
Thank you!! Thankfully I do listen to my husband “sometimes” ha ha, because he suggested Belgium and I loved everything about it! A foodie and a photographers dream!
Your photos are always so beautiful, Hilary – Bruges really is a delight. We stayed for a few days, took the boat trip, climbed up the tower and ate moules frites. I love how easy it is to get to from the UK. You’ve inspired me to revisit again soon. Thanks for sharing this with us on #FarawayFiles
Thank you so much! Bruges is definitely a place I’d like to find myself in again! Next time I’m going to eat more chocolate!
Yup – so pretty, it’s a goal of mine to go this year after seeing so many beautiful photo’s. And I never knew they were famed for their diamonds either. Can’t wait to experience it! #farawayflies
You took some really beautiful photos Hilary. We visited Bruges in winter so didn’t see loads of the sun – or do the boat trip – as it was a rather chilly. We had a brill time though, it was very magical. #citytripping
Thank you! I was looking at winter photos and can see how it would be a completely different experience.
Wow, three days! I stayed for a day and a half, and I thought it was more than enough 🙂 #citytripping
Yes it would have been, but we used it as a base for day trips to other places! 😘
Wow you really packed in a lot! Lovely account and photos.
Wonderful post for a beautiful city!! Really enjoyed it!! 🙂