Hello fellow wanderers! There is so much I want to share about the magical little city of Bruges! What had originally attracted me to make Bruges part of our honeymoon was because I heard from many people that Bruges was beautiful, romantic and known as the ‘little Venice’ of the north. So we hopped on the train at Brussels Midi station and in only an hour, we arrived at the city.
Here are suggestions for how you can spend a lovely, and maybe even romantic, day in Bruges.
Basic Facts about Bruges
First thing I realized was that Bruges was not as dual-lingo as Brussels, and Flemish is the predominant language. We grabbed an expensive city bus ride from the train station to the central square (about 10-15 minute ride) and then feasted our eyes on the beautiful and well-preserved architecture of the city.
Bruges is a medieval city which experienced a golden age between the 12th and 15th century before its port began to stilt and their trading economy went down hill. Surprisingly, it was in the 19th century when it became one of the world’s first tourist attractions for the wealthy because of its ancient architecture. While much of it is Gothic, the city also has its own particular style which I believe is similar to much Dutch-influenced cultures.
Go on a Boat Ride
One perfectly romantic way to see much of the city, is by taking a boat ride tour through the canals. No, there are no gondolas, but the tourist boats only cost 8 euros for a half hour tour, and the guide explains certain buildings as well as historical and cultural tidbits.
Every turn of the river bend seems to bring another beautiful sight to behold. Restaurants with a port, old yet classy homes, parks and gardens.
Climb the Belfry Tower
The city is not all lounging in boat rides, there is some adventures and challenges to be had as well. Such as climbing all 366 steps of the Belfry Tower! This is a medieval bell tower from the early 1200’s with a winding stair case all the way to the panorama view, just beneath the bells. If you ever go up the tower, do stay until the clock strikes the hour. You will hear a most enchanting and bewitching melody…
Eat Belgian Food
We purposely walked away from the main city square, and found this peaceful little restaurant. I had Mussels and Fries, which were very good. In case you don’t know, Belgians claim that the famous French fry is actually a Belgian creation! But if you’re not convinced that is authentic, you can also try Belgian beef stew, or Stoemp (mashed potatoes. cabbage and sausage). If you have a sweet tooth, why not try their Tarte-au-riz or internationally known Speculoos!
Take a Carriage Ride
With only a couple hours left, we went ventured off once more, back to the city square.
We found a young girl carriage driver, a very pretty redhead who gave a tour of the city as well! It is similar to the tour you get on the boat ride, since you go around most of the same areas, but this time by land, which gives you a slightly different perspective.
There is a break for the horse right by a park that is filled with swans! It’s a beautiful place to take a picture. This is also the halfway point of the tour, so after about 5 minutes or so, you get back on the carriage and head back to the city square.
Buy Some Chocolates
After the carriage tour, it was nearly time to head to the train station, which we found out was not too far of a walk from the city square, so we could pass on the pricey bus! I don’t think I ever took my time more than when we made our way to the train station. We walked passed chocolate shops and bought a few souvenirs. On our way to the station, we came to one of the cleanest, cutest most quaint neighborhoods I had ever seen in my life!
At this point, we were in love with this city. While much of it was old, we noticed it was impeccably clean, unlike anywhere we had yet seen. It also felt simply peaceful and safe. Belgium, after all, is known to be in the top 20 most peaceful countries to live in.
Next thing we know, we’re on our way back to Brussels, dreaming and imagining what life would be like if we lived in a lovely place like Bruges…And that concludes our short visit to the Little Venice of the north!
Have you been to Bruges? What did you think of it? Do you plan to go there soon? Let me know in the comments below!