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Let’s be honest, Bruges is definitely one of the most romantic cities in Europe which easily gets overlooked by its popular neighbor, Paris as well as Venice. Bruges is often called the “Venice of the North” with its crisscrossing canals which encloses its historic center making it one of the most beautiful canal cities in Europe. Whether you take a stroll during the day or during the night, romance will certainly be found in this quaint town as you stroll hand in hand.
It is also more than just a quick day trip. It is so much more beneficial to your health to slow travel, really enjoy the sights and take in the atmosphere. While Bruges definitely caters to the hordes of tourists who come in, you can find peace and serenity in the bustling little town. It’s definitely worth to take the extra time to explore the hidden gems tourists miss when they’re busy checking off their bucket list.
Many people also ask the questions, Bruges or Ghent? Having been to both, Bruges is incredibly romantic with a ton of charming canals, stunning architecture and horse-drawn carriages, but that beauty comes with a price: #Overtourism. However, if you’re looking for a similar feel without the crowds and more laid back city feel, then Ghent is right for you with equally impressive architecture, romantic canals and embankments to stroll along and one of the most interesting culinary scenes in the country! But honestly, you can’t go wrong with either as they’re both some of the most stupid pretty towns in Europe!
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So, what should you do when in Bruges?
Well, turns out there are many things you can do in Bruges in a weekend! Not only will you have enough time to circle the entire town twice, but you’ll be able to do a canal boat tour, try some Belgian beer and waffles as well as admiring the beautiful architecture! You definitely don’t want to miss Bruges’ main attractions, but try not to get lost meandering along the canals!
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Head to the Grote Markt and enjoy one of the most beautiful market squares in Europe and listen to the endless chiming of the clock tower!
Climb the Belfort Tower for a view over the square
Enjoy a beer at the Duvelorium Grand Beer Café in the Historium Brugge
Take a horse drawn carriage ride
Admire the old, step-gables houses from the 13th century
Learn about the history of chocolate by taking a chocolate tour!
Head over to the Burg to oogle at the Stadhuis (City Hall)
Check out the Heilig Bloed Basiliek (Bascilia of the Holy Blood) which is has Europe’s most sacred relic: a phial supposedly with a few drops of the blood of Jesus.
While hanging out in the Burg, grab a waffle from the waffle van. Yes, it’s WORTH waiting in line for fresh waffles!!
Check out the Welcome Church of Our Lady which took 200 years to build and has a sculpture of Madonna and Child by Michelangelo.
Walk along the Canals and admire the architecture!
Learn about Trappist beers
Find the Beer Wall and check out all 400+ Belgian Beers on display before having a drink at the end of the wall.
Go shopping for Belgian Beer at the Bier Palais and then sit down to enjoy a beer in one of the most peaceful beer gardens!
Take a boat ride around the canals
Stop for Afternoon Tea at one of the many tea houses! Preferably the Gingerbread Tea house as they have Black Tea with hints of Belgian chocolate! mmm
Check out the Vismarkt which is an open air fish market, which still sells fish every morning.
Eat at a fritterie, preferably eating a cheeseburger or even fish’n’chips!
Sit along the banks of the canal along the Rozenhoedkaai
Go shopping for some Belgian chocolate
Take a tour of the Brouwerii de Halve Maan (Half Moon Brewery) – one of the oldest breweries in Bruges since 1856.
Check out the Frite Museum to learn the history and secrets of Belgium’s national culinary triumph – Belgian fries!
Then check out the Choco-Story museum to learn how cocoa is made into chocolate, of course with a tasting!
Take a walk through the make-shift antique market along the canal
Meander your way through they allies before finding the Minnewater, a peaceful park with a lake loaded with swans that have been here since 1488.
Take a tour between 2 and 5pm at the Kantecentrum to learn how lace is made
Continue walking until you find the last 4 windmills in Bruges.
Drink more beer
Eat your fill of fresh mussels
Find the locations that Colin Ferrel was in the movie In Bruges
Stroll around the town at sunset to increase your chances of romance and admire Bruges by night
Enjoy a Meringue at Aux Merveilleux
Get up early and enjoy the town before the tourists come in
Where to Stay in Bruges:
Hotel ‘t Putje ⭐⭐⭐ – We stayed at this adorable little hotel on the edge of the Old Town during our first visit and loved it!
Hotel Loreto ⭐⭐⭐ – This is a great hotel if you’re looking for a last minute hotel in the heart of the Old Town that is comfortable and affordable and has a great breakfast!
If you’re interested in visiting Europe and are looking for more information, I highly recommend using the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide or Lonely Planet! Without these guides, I would be lost! This is my travel Bible! As well as two books on Belgian beer I highly recommend for understanding Trappist beers and all of Belgium’s beers!