What to see in Bruges
Bruges really is like “something out of a fairytale“. It’s a line which stays with you from the dark comedy, In Bruges. I first visited this beautiful city over a decade ago and going back there I was looking forward to rediscovering and falling in love with Bruges all over again. I was also looking forward to chilling out and enjoying a few more beers with Adam. After a couple of days in the big city, Brussels, it was nice to slow down with a few days in Bruges.
Here’s what we got up to in Bruges.
We took the train to Bruges on Wednesday afternoon. We’d spent the morning hanging out in Brussels, taking the City Bus Tour and having lunch at Chez Leon, close to the beautiful Grand Place. I know those buses might seem horrendously touristy but I often find them a good way to see lots of parts of a city quickly and get an idea of things you might want to see next time you visit.
A brief hours train ride and we were in Bruges. Bruges station is just outside the historic town centre. The centre of Bruge, where most of the sights to see are, is surrounded by a large canal which then feeds the smaller ones which snake through the centre.
The walk from Bruges station up to our hotel took us passed some of the prettiest parts of the city. Beautiful little bridges over the canals and passed the gorgeous main square or Grote Markt.
Hotel Hans Memling is right in the heart of the historic town centre of Bruges, just a four minute walk from the Grote Markt. Our room was quite nice, a bit of a step up from the hostel in Brussels.
The breakfast room, lounge bar and little courtyard were nicely decorated and it had that lovely, old world feel that I always like in places I stay.
We spent the afternoon wandering around the town, looking at the beautiful squares and streets before stopping off at a bar or two to try some of the local beers and ales.
We finished the evening with a few more drinks after dinner.
I started Thursday morning by fueling up with a good breakfast. Whilst waiting for Adam to wake up, I caught up by reading a bit of the book I was reading on holiday, Homage to Catalonia.
We didn’t have too much planned for our first full day in Bruges. We wanted to explore the town and catch a few of the sights and locations from the movie In Bruges. Bruges is pretty from any angle and it’s an ideal place to walk about aimlessly.
Whilst there are lots of places where it’s a good idea to follow a guided tour, like in a big city, in a small place like Bruges getting lost is all part of its charm.
We walked out to the edge of the old town and came to one of the old city gates. They are in pretty good condition and you wouldn’t think they are as old as they are.
We walked along the edge of the old town, following a beautiful towpath along the canal. If you follow it all the way around it’s about a 10k walk or jog if you fancy.
We walked a section of it and got to see some of these beautiful windmills which were dotted along the towpath.
After a good walk back towards the town we stopped at Jan Van Eyckplein (named after the painter) for a well deserved beer in a little bistro overlooking the square, and canal.
Back just of the main square we got a gorgeous Belgian waffle. I went for a big mound of strawberries on mine whilst Adam went for cream on his.
Then it was out to the canal for a sedate boat trip to see Bruges from the water.
It is a beautiful way to see the town.
I loved this little enclosure for the swans.
Then it was beer o’clock again and it was time to find the narrowest alleyway in Bruges. Down this little alleyway is De Garre, a really old world feeling bar.
They also serve De Garre beer which is stupidly strong, 11.5%, comes with a little bowl of cheese and and only available from this very bar.
On to t’ Poatersgat bar which is nestled beneath a church in what looks like the old basement.
Finally a good old Flemish classic for dinner, beef stew washed down with a good beer.
Friday the 13th, unlucky for some but this turned out to be a really nice day again in Bruges.
First thing we went to the Historium Bruges, or the history museum. I really enjoyed this and found it one of the best museums I’ve been to in a while.
The museum takes you back in time to a day in 15th century Bruges. As you make you way through the experience you see the day unfold, learning about the town back when it was one of the biggest trading cities in Europe. You’ll see special effects, movies, music and lots more.
You’ll meet the painter Van Eyck and lots more beside.
The museum tour finishes in Duvelorium, a Duvel themed bar with a huge beer menu and a terrace with great views out over the Grote Markt, or main square.
We had a good time wandering around and exploring Bruges again and taking the sights in and exploring a lot of Bruge’s many churches. Here’s just some of the beautiful churches we went to.
Lunch was some great Italian, pizza and pasta.
For the afternoon we wandered around the lower part of the old town. We went walked down to the Minewater lake and park . It is a beautiful place for an afternoons walk around.
Just across from our hotel was Le Trappiste bar. As with several we went to, this was set under another building.
You could easily miss these bars when walking passed on the street.
We had a tasting flight of beer which you can learn about in my Beer in Belgium post
We hit up some more Italian for dinner then had a little nap before heading out for some more beers in the evening to celebrate our last night in Bruges and Belgium.
For our last day in Bruges we decided to go and explore a few more churches dotted around the city.
We also went to a little market where I got Hana a present as well as visiting a chocolate shop or two.
We also visited the Archaeological Museum of Bruges. Though all the information and exhibits are in Flemish, which means you won’t get as much out of the visit, it is still worth the five euros for the visit. And when it started raining, it was time to stop off and get… not a beer but a coffee.
We caught a train back to Brussels late afternoon, arriving in plenty of time for our Eurostar back to London.
We both had a really fantastic time in Bruges, Brussels and Belgium in general and couldn’t recommend it enough! You can get to Brussels with Eurostar for as little as £29 one way booking in advance. We stayed at the three star Hans Memling Hotel, right in the heart of Bruges. Thanks to Eurostar for a fantastic journey as always and to the hotel for a great stay.