When I look back on the past decade of our travels, all I see are little city breaks scattered throughout the years. Instead of burning all the vacation days on one big, proper trip, we favoured spontaneous voyages around Europe and Ireland.
One thing I was surprised to discover I found real satisfaction in planning all the trips and loved the anticipation of what might happen. Actually, when I think about it, I enjoyed organising weekend getaways and staycations even more than remembering them after.
I got so hooked that I needed this happy feeling in my life repeated as often as possible. I started planning prospective road trips and crazy adventures. Over the years I plotted pretty much everything I could, from a two-week Pacific Northwest adventures to The Great Ocean Road trip and even several Around The World Trips.
Some of the journeys and routes that I have planned are still bookmarked for later, fingers crossed we make it happen, and some of them we’ve had a chance to experience several times.
When it comes to pretty European getaways, Bruge is one place I always wanted to go to. It was one of the first trips that I personally curated with great enthusiasm.
Was I seduced by chocolate fountains that never dry out or inspired by long exposure pictures of the medieval city at night with silky smooth waters popping up on my Instagram feed?
The purpose of our visit to Bruges, that was founded in the 9th century by the Vikings, was to see its beautiful squares, hear folkloric tales and to climb 366 steps to the very top of the Belfry.
And even though we arrived in Bruges hearing rain pound on the train window and even though we never made it to the medieval bell tower, we were swept away by its laid-back ambience and delectable foods.
The top 10 things to see and do in delightful Bruges city, Belgium
For those world wanderers who want to discover the best things to see and do in this city, we put together a list of some of the most beautiful places you’ll find in Bruges.
If you ask me, there’s no denying that with the quirky houses, incredible Christmas markets, and the cobbled streets, Bruges is one of the Europes most beautiful cities.
It’s so beautifully unique and full of history that, in fact, the centre of it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
After spending a full day in Bruges, we can recommend this medieval town to everyone. Bruges is a very walkable place, and you can fit all the major attractions in a day. So, bring your walking shoes and explore this place.
#1. Eat all the Belgian chocolate you can
On a quest to find the best sweets in town? You have come to the right place. White and dark chocolate, macaroons, pralines, truffles, strawberry ganache, waffles – whatever you fancy! Bruges is cheerfully dripping in sweets. For the most amazing chocolates in the World, go to The Chocolate Line. Lavender and the Cuban cigar flavour, anyone?
#2. Find the 18th-century windmills
The Koeleweimolen and Sint-Janshuismolen mills are located on the outskirts of town and are worth a visit. Out of four remaining windmills, these two are still used today to grind the grain. Each of the houses a small museum and if you are in luck, you’ll see the sails in motion.
#3. Look out for In Bruges filming locations
Before our trip I scrolled through the Netflix archives, looking for a black comedy starring Collin Farrell and Brendon Gleeson, In Bruges. Not only this movie was hilarious; it also revealed beautiful Gothic architecture, old bridges and lots of tourist attractions.
Most of the filming locations are freely accessible, and you can see Minnewater Bridge, The Groeningemuseum, the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce, The Huidenvettersplein, The Jan Van Eyckplein and many more. Bring your camera, get the map of all the filming locations at the tourist information bureau and have fun finding them.
#4. Go for a Boat Ride
The canal boat ride was the very first thing we enjoyed in Bruges. The price of the ticket is around 8 euro, it takes 30 minutes for a round trip, and this trip allowed us to see the town from a different angle. Jumping into the boat with other travellers was a perfect way to see the city and our tour guide was quite the character, telling jokes and interesting facts about everything we saw along the way.
#5. Go for a walk
When you go for a walk around Bruges, the evidence why this place never needs to fight for visitors attention, unlike Ghent or Antwerp, is on every corner. Strolling through unfamiliar streets and squares filled with small cafes and shops, we stopped many times to gaze into the beautifully decorated shop windows, tried to imagine what the rooms look like behind those pink painted window frames, admired the unique architecture and tried to absorb its energetic vibe.
#6. Explore Bruges on bike
Bruges is a land of bicycles. Our advice, rent a bike, ditch the mid-day crowds and go for a ride. You can use the pedestrian/bike path that circles nearly all the way around town. If you enjoy hopping on two wheels and like to see the countryside too then go all the way to Damme, situated north-east of Bruges.
#7. Find cute doorknobs
As we wandered from one cobbled street to the next one, we found many beautifully detailed doors often with symmetrical designs. One thing to look out for in Bruges is door knobs that come in all shape and sizes. We spotted everything from flowers and animals to beautiful ornaments. Knocking on the doors in this town sure is fun.
#8. See the impressive Town Hall
Located in Burg Square Bruges Town Hall is strikingly remarkable inside and out. Interior of this place is decorated with a golden ceiling and valuable paintings. 19th-century murals adorn the Gothic Hall and may original documents can be found in the historic chamber.
#9. Go on a tour with a horse-drawn carriage
While walking around medieval town, we quickly learned that that Bruges was in a class of its own. Another fun way how to enjoy the sights and listen to the stories told by the coachman is to go for a half-hour carriage ride along beautiful streets. It is definitely one of the priciest things to do in this city, but its good fun!
#10. Send some love
Last thing before we left – postcards. I send one home to Latvia and to my friends from every place we visit. I love this old fashion way of keeping in touch as it’s an effective way to show you care. Who doesn’t want to receive a hand-picked card with a personal note from the other side of the world?
How to get to Bruges
Typically for most visitors, the first stop in Belgium is Brussels city. From here, you can enjoy a short train ride to Bruges with Belgian Railway. To make the most of your trip, especially if you are going on a day trip, you need to get an early start.
It takes around an hour to make it to Bruges from Brussels by train, and it’s possible to purchase the ticket in advance. To do so, use the Belgian train online page.
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Now, over to you!
Have you been to Bruges? Let us know in the comments below!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Bruges and have travel-related questions!