A Day in Bruges: Belgium’s Fairytale City

Bruges, often referred to as the “Venice of the North”, is a medieval jewel nestled in the heart of Belgium. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed city is an enchanting mixture of winding canals, picturesque market squares, and ornate architecture. If you’re planning a trip to Belgium, dedicating a day (or even more!) to explore Bruges is a must. Here’s a guide to making the most of your time in this captivating city.

Getting There

While Bruges isn’t the capital of Belgium, it’s easily accessible. Trains frequently connect major Belgian cities to Bruges. If you’re driving, parking might be a bit challenging in the city center. One recommendation would be the Underground parking garage – Zilverpand, which costs 2.5€/hour. It’s centrally located, giving you easy foot access to the heart of Bruges. If you’re driving, pay heed to the Low Emission Zones (LEZ). Ensure you check if your vehicle meets the criteria and apply for a permit if required. The fines for non-compliance can be hefty, so better to be safe than sorry.

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Market Square: Markt has been the commercial hub of Bruges for centuries. Surrounded by historic guild houses and medieval structures, the square tells tales of a time long past. The most prominent building, the Belfry, towers over the square, inviting visitors to climb its steps for a panoramic view of the city. The square bustles with activity. Horse-drawn carriages clatter over the cobblestones, street musicians serenade passersby, and visitors gather to soak in the ambiance. The perimeter of the square is lined with cafes and restaurants, perfect for enjoying a meal or a drink while people-watching. Apart from the famed Belfry, Markt is surrounded by a spectrum of colorful and beautifully preserved historic buildings. The facades of these buildings, with their ornate details and rich colors, are a treat for the eyes and a dream for photographers.

Canal Tour: The canals are the lifeblood of Bruges. Taking a boat tour is an excellent way to appreciate the city’s medieval architecture and its timeless beauty.

Burg Square: Another iconic square in Bruges, here you’ll find the stunning Basilica of the Holy Blood and the Old Civil Registry.

Culinary Delights

Brasserie Mozarthuys: Located close to the city center, this restaurant offers a delightful blend of traditional Belgian dishes. And of course, when in Belgium, waffles are a must-try. Theirs are mouthwateringly good.

Belgian Chocolates: While Bruges is home to numerous chocolateries, each offering their unique takes on Belgian chocolate, I’ve found myself particularly enchanted by Neuhaus. Originating in Brussels in 1857, Neuhaus holds the proud title of inventing the praline. Their legacy is deeply rooted in Belgium’s chocolate history, and their chocolates reflect a perfect blend of tradition and innovation. For those who fall in love with Neuhaus chocolates (as I did) and wish to continue indulging even after leaving Belgium, there’s good news. Neuhaus delivers across Europe, and if your order exceeds 50€, they offer free shipping. This makes it incredibly convenient to enjoy these delectable chocolates from the comfort of your home or to gift them to loved ones.

Local Brews: No visit to Bruges is complete without stopping by the iconic 2be Bar, also known as The Beer Wall. Nestled on the banks of the canal, this spot offers a stunning view of Bruges along with an unmatched beer experience. Before even stepping inside, you’ll be greeted by an impressive wall showcasing over 1,200 Belgian beers, each with its corresponding glass. It’s not just a nod to Belgium’s rich brewing heritage but also a visual treat for beer enthusiasts. The modern interiors of the bar blend seamlessly with the city’s medieval backdrop. You can choose to sit indoors or, better yet, take a seat on their terrace overlooking the canal. With the waterway, the historic buildings, and the occasional swan drifting by, it’s a serene spot to sip on your beer.

Shopping and Exploration

Bruges’ narrow cobbled streets are dotted with boutique stores, artisan workshops, and quaint cafes. Take time to wander and soak in the city’s old-world charm. However, remember that many shops close early, so starting your shopping excursion earlier in the day would be wise.

Interactions with Locals

The Flemish people, especially in Bruges, are generally more approachable and amicable compared to other parts of Belgium. They’re proud of their city and heritage and are often eager to share recommendations or stories with travelers.

Concluding Thought

Bruges is a dreamy escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Its fairy-tale ambiance, delicious gastronomy, and rich history make it a perfect destination for travelers seeking a blend of relaxation and exploration. Whether you’re sipping a beer by the canal, climbing the Belfry, or simply meandering through its streets, Bruges promises a magical experience.

Remember, this article is just a snippet of what Bruges has to offer. There’s so much more to explore and discover.

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