When visiting Amsterdam or Brussels (or this general area), add a couple of days to your itinerary so you can include a visit to Bruges.
I promise - you will not be disappointed.
Bruges is well known for its canals, cobblestone lanes and beautiful medieval buildings. The Old Town is wonderfully well preserved and home to unique and architecturally stunning buildings.
The only downside is that this town is not so secret any more. Everyone seems to know about it. The town's charm draws over 2 million visitors per year, especially in the summer months. We visited in early May, and while busy, I didn't find it overwhelming.
Other than a short 5 minute wait for the canal trip, we never had to wait for a table for lunch or dinner. I imagine July and August are quite different, so I highly suggest going in the off season.
Bruges offers plenty to see/do/experience. For those who love museums, there are over 30 to explore, ranging from art (including a Salvadore Dali exhibit) to history, a torture museum and, on the "lighter" side, beer and chocolate. We didn't have time to go through the museums, but a quick peek into the beer museum looked quite interesting, as did the history museum.
A must do is a canal tour. A short 30 minutes, the narrative is fun and informative, and the sites lovely.
Being in Belgium, Bruges of course shows off its specialties very well. The lace was beautiful (although I didn't look close enough to make sure it was really from Belgium). Chocolates shops and waffles were plentiful, and a "quality" check confirmed just how tasty they really are.
There was also no shortage of beer. Heaven for anyone who enjoys trying a new brew or two! Bruges is home to two breweries, but the beer shops offer hundreds of bottles to choose from. Amazing. Some of the brands I was familiar with, but most were ones I'd never seen before. Leffe was quite popular in the restaurants. Originally brewed by monks, it was quite good if I say so myself.
I've always known that the "mussels in Brussels" are quite good. The same can be said for the mussels in Bruges. Fresh and delicious, if that's your thing.
The most fun though, was simply wandering, getting a little "lost". I so enjoyed the lovely cobblestone lanes, taking in the architecture, window shopping. Cute boutique shops were tucked into unlikely spots, making me more curious to see what I would find around the corner.
The Markt Square, in the heart of the city, is surrounded by centuries old, yet very photogenic buildings, including the town hall (Stadhuis), which was built between 1376 - 1420. Beautiful. Check out the video below.
Equally fun was walking through the farmer's market that was set up in the city center square. The fresh fruits and vegetables looked delicious, the pate inviting, but I wonder why the nougat stand had the longest lines?
Although I had read up on this destination, seen pictures and positive reviews, I wasn't overly sure on what to expect. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. The charm alone would bring me back, but there is so much more to see that I missed this time around that pulls me back as well. And you can't go wrong with all the beer, chocolate and waffle choices!
Time is precious. Spend it wisely.
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder