Bruges is a picturesque, small canal-based city located about an hour and a half from Brussels sometimes referred to as “The Venice of the North”. Full of history and cobble-stone pathways, it is easy to walk around. It is a chocolatiers’ heaven with more chocolate shops than willy wonka’s factory. As well as chocolate, Belgium is famous for its beer, waffles, moules & frites/mussels & chips served with mayo.
With beautiful medieval buildings including the Church of Our Lady, whose brick spire reaching 401.25 ft, making it one of the world’s highest brick towers/buildings. The sculpture of Madonna and Child, which can be seen inside, is believed to be Michelangelo’s only sculpture to have left Italy within his lifetime. Bruges’ most famous landmark is its 13th-century belfry, housing a municipal carillon comprising 48 bells which is located in the Markt square. You can climb right to the top with stunning views of the surrounding belgian countryside but be warned it is a steep climb. The Markt also housed the christmas markets which were set around a ice rink. Another beautiful square, Burg square, is located quite nearby and here you can find the church housing the Basilica of the Holy Blood, the City Hall and of course the Brian Boru, an Irish pub. Also worth a visit is the beguinage, a peaceful place similar to a monastery for women known as ‘beguins’. Nearby is the minnewater or lake of love filled with swans. If you’re interested in art, a visit to the Groeningemuseum is a must to see the world-famous collection of Flemish Primitives with paintings by various masters, such as Hans Memling and Jan van Eyck, who lived and worked in Bruges.
Some places I would recommend trying include:
2be Beer Wall – well worth a visit to view the many varieties of beer on offer and the wall of beer or sit in the beer garden and enjoy a brew. I tried a cherry beer and liked it.
Cambrinus – Cambrinus is known as the King of Beer in Belgium and this restaurant/pub has over 400 varieties on offer. It also has great food. I’d recommend the steak.
Mozarthuys – a real local restaurant with great food and lovely atmosphere. Perfect place to try some local dishes including the famous flemish stew cooked in dark beer, available in rabbit or beef or moules & frites.
For the coffee/tea and cakes, there are plenty of tearooms to choose from but I would recommend one of the following places:
Tonka Tearooms – perfect for a quick sandwich or cake. Very good value. Love the way they always give you a tasty treat with your tea/coffee on the side. This had the nicest crème caramel and a very cheap ‘croque monsieur’.
Prestige Tearooms– one of the quaintest tearooms around with fancy sweet treats. Be warned though it’s not cheap with a pot of tea costing €3.50 but it is served in the prettiest china teacups. I’d recommend the pancakes with ice-cream and chocolate sauce – there’s more than enough to share.
Delisa – another nice coffee shop offering homemade pralines. Lovely staff and a nice place to sit for a while.
One thing I would check would be the closing hours as the one Belgian word I came to know during my short stay was “gesloten” meaning closed. The shops and restaurants seemed to close whenever the mood took them meaning that planning to go somewhere was something you couldn’t take for granted. Another warning would be to always check prices before ordering, two ladies ended up paying 60 euros for two drinks and two omelettes! We stayed three nights and that was plenty as Bruges is quite small.