Eat chocolate/waffles/fries and Flemish stew, drink local beer, walk round and round and take in the sights, feel the vibe, eat again, sleep and repeat. This is beautiful Bruges in Belgium and its worth at least a day or two of everyone’s time but if you have the luxury of time to stay longer – do.
There is so much to see, a short trip only scratches the surface! The architecture is stunning,the scenery intricate and mesmerising and by looking up you see things you would have never guessed were there
This was our first pit stop when we fled the ferry on our road trip back in July ’14. It’s only about 90 mins drive from Calais ferry port and really easy to navigate, we found a car park immediately which was really reasonable at around €6 for 24 hours and only a few minutes’ walk from the centre. We dragged our luggage to our hotel and we breathed a sigh of relief. We were finally on holiday!
We were both massively hanging; we thought it would be a great idea to catch an early morning ferry after attending our friends’ wedding the night before. Bad move. Most of that day was spent like zombies, falling asleep into a glass of beer, wandering the streets and getting lost – and not in my usual happy-go-lucky-let’s-get lost-and-find-some-new-shit kind of lost. No. Our eyes were half open and the energy was non-existent. But it was our anniversary so we couldn’t go to sleep at 5pm could we!? Ok, we did. But we got up at 9pm and had a pretty good but fairly pricey dinner that would have been worth it, except I could only eat half of it. Just as we started to really enjoy the situation and wake up, I got ten mosquito bites. Excellent. We caved in, went back to bed and I got about five more mosquito bites. BRUGES IS SWARMING WITH THE BUGGERS. TAKE PRECAUTIONS! Ffs, who knew?!
The first thing I did after breakfast the next day was get some industrial mosquito spray. They just had to go. Then our love affair with Bruges really started. Here are some tips and highlights for the first time visitor:
1) Get a map. Yeah, yeah – I know I rarely carry one of these unless I really need to. Most cities are well signed and I’m quite good with direction and mind-pinning my own landmarks according to where I’m staying. But this city needs a map, walking round in circles gets frustrating. I’m not saying you shouldn’t wander and see what you stumble across; this place is full of things to see with stunning architecture, pretty canals, parks and cobbled streets, but just be prepared with a map for when you do have a specific destination!
2) Eat chocolate. Lots of utterly delicious chocolate. Obvious? I know. But even if you think you don’t like chocolate, trust me. Eat this and you WILL like chocolate. And a lot of it has an extremely high cocoa content with little or no added sugar; it’s actually healthy. There you go, justified. Eat it all. Common sense says go a little out away from the main tourist spots and find a back street chocolate shop – I was given this advice and I am now passing it on to you. You can get kilos of good quality chocolate much cheaper than the bigger more central stores, and much cheaper than the UK! Take some for the journey and enough for the following three months 🙂 Stupidly, I didn’t take any chocolate photos. I probably didn’t have time while concentrating so hard to stuff it all in my mouth.
3) Learn about chocolate! Go to Choco-Story. This is a museum all about chocolate. You learn about the history, ingredients, and geographical information. There are chocolate making demonstrations where you get to taste different types and there are magnificent chocolate sculptures to drool over. The shop at the end is what gets you; I defy anyone who leaves there empty handed.
3) Take a boat ride This is a must and as this a canal town, it’s great way to see Bruges. It lasts about 20-30 minutes and was really informative and quite amusing (this is always subject to your captain and fellow passengers!)
5) Drink local beer, eat waffles and munch on fries. This is pretty self-explanatory. But trust me all these things are delicious and hard to resist! Also try a Flemish stew (my choice on our first night when I had no appetite!) but I must try this again, it was delicious. We also had the best mussels EVER…..I have since perfected the garlic sauce recipe of course.
6) So much to keep you busy. There are heaps of museums, exhibitions, churches and historical places of interest to visit. Take your pick to suit your taste. We particularly enjoyed the Beguinage (Begijnhof). There was a sense of serenity and a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the town centre.
But I wouldn’t bother…..
7) Going on a horse and cart. Personally I think this is a waste of money. It is about €39 for 30 mins, the drivers look pretty miserable and so do the horses – it’s a long slog for them and doesn’t look too kind to me. It’s small enough to walk around and see a lot so I don’t see the point in a silent tour. Frankly, the constant repetitive horse shoe noise is horribly jarring; please stop buying into this so I can enjoy Bruges without it!
8) Going Friday/Saturday to Monday. Almost everything in Bruges is closed on a Monday including museums, plus a weekend in any city is always the busiest so if I were you, I’d book mid-week.
Have you ever been to Bruges? Comment below and tell me what you love most! Or maybe you long to go there and have some questions – fire away!