The city of Bruges is timeless. The medieval market square with colorful gingerbread houses and the romantic canals melt my heart every time I visit the city. Bruges can be easily explored in a day and because of that the city is very popular with day trippers. Naturally if you want to visit the museums and all the landmarks it would be better to stay a few days. A couple of weeks ago I met my friend @jilltjelescrauwaet for a birthday lunch in her beloved hometown Bruges, so I figured it was about time that I’d share with you my favorite spots in the ‘Venice of the North’.
Explore the Minnewater Park
I hopped on the train in Ghent and 20 minutes later I arrived in pretty Bruges. Fast and easy! As the Minnewaterpark is just in front of the train station we decided to make that our first stop of the day. Minnewater Park is possibly the most beautiful park in Bruges. At the heart of it is Minnewater Lake, or “The Lake of Love.” The tragic romance of Minna and her warrior love Stromberg has evolved into local legend saying that you will experience eternal love if you walk over the lake bridge with your partner. Cute right?! Not sure if it’s a true, but please let me know if you and your significant other have proof of that! Minnewater Park is the perfect place to get away from the crowdy city center, and enjoy the quiet water with the city’s iconic white swans.
Visit the Beguinage
Cross the ‘Begijnhofbrug’ to go to the ‘Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde’, which was founded in 1245. The Beguinage was originally a convent, in which the beguines (religious women) lived together. In the small beguine house, you can still gain insights into what daily life was like back in the days.
Walk around the Arendshof & Bonifacius Bridge
The area of Bonifaciusbridge and Arentshof charm every visitor, and yes I am one of them, as this is also one of my favorite spots in Bruges. This cute bridge surrounded by typical Flemish houses is for sure one of the prettiest and most romantic views in the city. Bonifacius Bridge looks very ancient, but don’t be fooled, it actually only dates back to the 20th century, making it one of the youngest bridges in Bruges. At this point we are also very close to the Groeningemuseum and if you are a fan of the Flemish Primitives this is a museum you can’t miss out on.
Explore Bruges by boat from the Rozenhoedkaai Jetty
The most touristic spot in in Bruges is Rozenhoedkaai and it’s totally understandable, as this spot is the picture-perfect Bruges postcard. Don’t forget to take your Bruges selfie guys! 😉. Rozenhoedkaai is also one of the jetty’s where boat trips are departing from. One of the best ways to see Bruges is from the water, so hop on board and enjoy the beautiful canal views, I promise you won’t regret it!
Visit Burg Square
Pass by the charming Huidenvettersplein on your way to Burg Square, one of the oldest and most beautiful squares in Bruges. It is said that this area was already inhabited in the 2nd century and that by the 9th century, it was the central base for the Count of the Flanders area. The square is surrounded by the Town Hall, the Old Civil Registry and the Basilica of the Holy Blood, where the relic of the Holy Blood is kept.
Spend some time at the Grote Markt
Bruges is a city filled with photogenic squares, but the one that stands out the most is the ‘Grote Markt’. On one side of the square you will find the colorful gingerbread houses you see on most Bruges postcards. Don’t you just love them?! This is also the square where you find the Courthouse, Historium Museum and the spectacular Belfry tower. If you want to see the city from a higher perspective, you have to climb the Belfry tower. At least if you don’t mind the 366 steps. Otherwise you can also go to the ‘Duvelorium’, the café of the Historium Museum and enjoy the view while drinking one of Belgium’s most popular beers; Duvel.
Lunch at That’s Toast
At this point you must be hungry (I know, we were), so head towards the popular shopping street, Noordzandstraat, for That’s Toast, a hip food bar that serves all day breakfast, brunch and lunch. That’s Toast is located inside a beautiful restored, historical building with a lot of light and Scandinavian influences. But let’s talk food! Ever since I saw the yummy salmon toasts popping up on Instagram, this spot has been high on my to do list. We tried ‘The Smokey’ and ‘The Triple Madame’ and both were too good to be true! But there’s more than toast on the menu: poke bowls, smoothie bowls and different kinds of breakfast plates are available too. I also loved the homemade Lemonade and Ice Tea.
Shop at Noordzandstraat & Zilverpand
If there is one shopping street in Bruges that you should do it’s the Noordzandstraat. I find the stores a little bit more exclusive than the ones in the ‘Steenstraat’, Bruges other shopping street. You will find a few of my favorite shops there; Juttu and Scoth & Soda. If you are a shopaholic, your trip to Bruges will not be complete without spending some time at the ‘Zilverpand’ too. In this unique shopping concept, you will find 25 hip and trendy stores around three cute little courtyards.
Coffee break at Vero Caffé
Honestly a day without coffee is like… not for me and after some ‘shop till we drop’ fun, we were looking forward to a short coffee break. Vero Caffé looked like the perfect place to do so as it was on our way to the Jan Van Eyckplein and it’s also a place where you can relax and enjoy an excellent cappuccino away from the crowds (although the Markt is only a 3min walk)!
Walk along the Brugse Reien
One of the things that I love most about Bruges is strolling along the ‘Brugse Reien’ (canals) and getting lost in the maze of little streets. Doing so you will come across secret gardens, cute bridges and breathtaking views. Enjoy!
Cocktails at Grand Hotel Sablon
On our way back from the Langerei to the railwail station, we paused at Grand Hotel Sablon for a cocktail. Hooray! I had seen some pictures of the cozy patio of the hotel popping up online, so curious as I am, I had to check it out. And waauw, the patio truly is the perfect spot to escape the buzz from the city and enjoy a drink. It’s hard to believe that the hotel is located between the two busiest shopping streets and is still able to offer such a peaceful and relaxing experience.
From the Grand Hotel Sablon, it’s a short walk towards ‘t Zand, where I took the bus to Bruges’ Central station. Thanks @jilltjelescrauwaet for being the perfect Bruges guide! I had a great day!
- Direct trains from Brussels and Ghent leave every 20 minutes to half an hour. Which means that you can just show up at the train station and there should be a train leaving soon. From Bruges’ Central Station it’s a 20 minute walk to the city center. You can also take bus number 1, which will drop you off at some of the main sights of the city; ‘t Zand, Lange Steenstraat and Grote Markt.
- In Bruges longer than a day? In that case you will need a place to stay right? I have stayed at Crowne Plaza Brugge several times now and enjoyed it very much! This wonderful four star hotel is located in the heart of Bruges and offers all the comfort you need during a city trip.
- Looking for dinner spots? I got you covered too! Rock Fort and Tom’s Diner is where you need to go. It’s been a while since I’ve last been there, but both restaurants serve delicious food and drinks in a wonderful ambiance. You’ll love it, I’m sure!
- Currency: Euro (€)