My Bruges, Belgium Travel Guide
Bruges is arguably one of the most picturesque and romantic towns in Western Europe. I think I spent half my time wandering those cobble streets looking through my viewfinder attempting to capture every inch of the city, which made for a lot of klutzy tripping moments. The other half of our time was spent eating the most amazing Belgian waffles and sampling delicious Belgian beers. Carbs and more carbs was our unofficial motto in Belgium.
TRAVELING TO BRUGES & WHERE WE STAYED:
We took the InterCity train from Amsterdam to Bruges. The tickets were half the price of the faster Thalys train. We bought our train tickets on our first full day in Amsterdam at the station, which was surprisingly easy with the one exception of our credit card lacking the smartchip, which meant we had to take out cash to pay for our routes. Not that big of a deal, but if you’re traveling to Europe I’d highly recommend getting an international credit card with that smart chip. Just makes life easier. Once we arrived in Bruges, we took a city bus to our hotel. We stayed at a boutique hotel called Biskajer Hotel a few blocks from the center square and really loved it! It’s a small hotel with nice rooms owned by a really nice couple. We loved the location and would definitely recommend staying there!
WHERE TO VISIT:
Bruges is a small town making it easy to navigate the narrow cobblestone streets of the city by foot, especially if you’re staying near the center of town. It’s hard to miss it’s main landmarks like the Belfry and Center Square.
Found at the foot of the city square in the center of town the Belfry is one of the most popular attractions in Bruges, which means there’s usually a long line. After you hike up the 366 steps you’ll know why – the view is breathtaking! Literally. Those narrow winding steps are work! On a clear sunny day you can see for miles. Look for the craved arrows in the stone windsills pointing in the direction of Europe’s famous cities.
Take a seat at any one of the outdoor restaurants lining the square and enjoy a heaping bowl of fries, a few Belgian beers and lots of people watching. The prices are a bit steep, but it’s a nice spot to relax, especially after hiking to the top of the Belfry.
WHERE TO EAT:
Hands down, the best waffles we ate in Belgium! It’s the waffle in the second photo from the top of this post. I still dream about that waffle. Seriously. We loved our breakfast so much we decided to go their for dinner the next night.
Chang Thong Thai
Kleine Hoefijzerstraat 1
Never would’ve thought I’d come home from our trip saying I had the best Thai dinner ever in Bruges, Belgium. Book reservations, it’s a small place and it fills up quick, we just lucked out and arrived at the perfect time for a table opening.
Recommended to us from our hotel owners, we ate here our first night in Bruges. There weren’t any open tables when we arrived so we bellied up the bar. The learned the hard way the need for reservations at really good restaurants, especially in Bruges, but luck seemed to be on our side. We sat down and the bartender handed me their beer list, I nearly dropped the heavy hardcover book filled with over 400 Belgian beers! That night, we drank far too many beers, befriended our barstool neighbors, ate a delicious dinner and woke up with a well earned hangover. It was a great night!
WHERE TO DRINK BELGIAN BEER:
There are over a thousand different Belgian beers, and as beer lovers we wanted to try as many as we could! My personal favorites were of the blonde and amber varieties. We rarely ordered the same beer twice.
The last entry above in the “Where to Eat” is also the perfect place to stop in and thumb through their novel of a beer list, over 400 beers actually!
Walking down the steps into the cellar bar we felt like we were entering a medieval speak easy. We were greeted by easy going bartenders and mostly locals, one of which was the reigning mustache champion of Bruges. Yes, apparently that exists! It was a fun place to spend our last evening in Bruges.
2be Beer Wall
Best place to sip a beer outside next to the canal (top photo), on one the most beautiful canals in Bruges I might add! The beer selection isn’t over the top as the “All Belgian Beers” wall installation might suggest. This place is all about location and a relaxing atmosphere! And the bathrooms are crazy. There are goldfish. Real live goldfish!
THINGS TO DO:
The canal ride was nothing like I expected – definitely not like our canal ride in Amsterdam. The boats are tiny and very tippy and usually packed to the brim with people. The only boats on the canals are the tour boats zipping around the city, which makes it hard to snap photos of the picturesque town. Looking back now I’m not sure why I enjoyed it, but there was something so funny and entertaining about the whole thing. Not a must do, but it made for a lively memory.
De Halve Maan Brewery
Take that 45 minute guided tour through the last brewery in Bruges and finish with a tall glass of their famous Brugse Zot beer. We learned all about their brewing process, manufacturing and the story behind the families of the brewery. Near the end of tour, you venture to the rooftop of the building for a pretty view of the city.
Indulge in Chocolates and Candies
There are sweat shops sprinkled all over Bruges! I didn’t do much ‘research’ about the best one, instead we just wondered around sampling a few. Those colorful cone gumdrop things are everywhere too! Between the waffles, chocolates and beer we never went hungry or thirsty!
Bruges at Night
Bruges is especially beautiful at night! Joel and I joked in disbelief on our first night that town was secretly an elaborate storybook theme park for grown ups. We just couldn’t get over how truly magical the town feels. And then almost on cue, a single white swan appeared at the foot of the Belfry for my photo (first photo below) and I was convinced Walt Disney created this place!
Search for the Swans
Oh the swans of Bruges! We arrived a few days after the first sighting of the newest addition to the flock of swans that guard the canals – a solo black swan. The whole town, including the news outlets, were constantly in search of finding him (or her), and on our last night in Bruges we stumbled on the entire flock just outside our hotel! I spent nearly a half hour watching them and snapping a million photos. I just could believe were actually seeing this elusive black swan the entire town was buzzing about!
That’s it! A photo heavy diary and guide to one the most romantic and beautiful cities in Europe – Bruges, Belgium. Up next and last stop: Ghent, Belgium! If you missed it, we first visited Amsterdam for 5 days before arriving in Belgium. (We visited Netherlands and Belgium in August and September of 2014.)1