With beautiful squares surrounded by gingerbread houses and cobbled alleys running alongside pretty canals, Bruges is a city adored by lovebirds. They flock to the Belgian town for its picturesque parks, old world hotels and sentimental legends. The Minnemeer (Lake of Love), for instance, was named for the romance between Mina and her warrior sweetheart, Stromberg; their folkloric tale ends tragically with the girl’s death, but Stromberg buried her underneath the little lake, and now every couple that kisses on its bridge is promised everlasting love. Bruges boasts beautiful architecture, charming locals, great beer and delicious chocolate.
That medieval handsomeness is more than evident in eye-catching sites like the Belfry and Rose Hat Quai, but perhaps even more delightful is bumping into peaceful nooks and crannies unseen in travel guides. One such place is the Hof Bladelin, once a prominent branch of the Medici bank system; knock on its doors, and the nuns will let you into its lovely courtyard.
Even more medieval pearls lie in wait in what’s know as ‘Brugse Ommeland’. This wider region around the small city is dotted with stately castles and abbeys, many of which are accessible to the public and make for magnificent stops on bike rides. At Loppem Castle, a 19th-century garden maze designed to amuse the noble family’s offspring now entertains one and all, and Castle Wijnedale has a whole museum dedicated to the stronghold’s illustrious history.
One of the best ways to explore Bruges is by boat ride on its web of canals, providing unique vantage point on the picturesque historic core. Float by the Jan Van Eyckplein and its Burgher’s Lodge, once the kow-tow place du jour for the city’s rich and influential. It’s a tourist classic, of course, but there’s no place like Bruges to embrace the corny.
In Bruges, the summers are comfortable; the winters are long, very cold, and windy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 2°C to 21°C and is rarely below -4°C or above 26°C.
The top three things to do/see in Bruges
Visit the Belfry Tower
At the heart of Bruges city centre – a Unesco World Heritage Site – stands the Belfort, a bell tower built in the fifteenth century.
Enjoy a cosy spot at L’Estaminet
A popular spot with the locals, L’Estaminet is a charming and cosy restaurant with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The restaurant is always busy and doesn’t take reservations so be prepared for a short wait when you arrive.
Tour the Beautiful City of Bruges by Canal
You can see the city by horse and carriage or by foot but the best way to see it’s beautiful architecture is by water. Canals weave their way through the historic centre of Bruges and stretch off into the city beyond. Beautiful buildings stretch off in every direction with the rugged skylines reflecting in the water.
If you’re not sure what to expect from famous cuisine in Bruges, think of incredibly sweet delicacies, high-quality beers, and plenty of salty delicacies! Items borrowed from neighbouring French, Dutch, and German food cultures.
You will need at least a few servings of frit for each trip to Belgium. Supposedly the inspiration for french fries (American soldiers reportedly ate them during World War II and mistook Belgium with France when they were recreated at home). These Belgium cuisines in Bruges are usually a little crispier here, and the sauce on top is almost as important as the potato itself, with a huge selection which offers most of the features (potato making places, and a few others). Mayonnaise is the classic sauce, although many Belgians love andalouse – a mixture of mayonnaise, tomato puree, and pepper.
If you are in Belgium by the sea, you only need to eat one dish: mussels and fries. Choose the perfect season to eat them too. The North Sea mussels are harvested from June to April, but the best is at the peak of the season. Larger than French mussels, served in separate cauldrons on the side of frites, and you only have to decide which sauce to choose – be it classic white wine and vegetable soup.
What is so special about Belgian waffles? They have deeper grooves than the United States so they can hold more of the dressing. These famous food dishes in Bruges are usually bigger as well, but less doughy and also more crispy. Nationwide stalls offer any number of toppings, but the classics are usually whipped cream, Nutella, or fresh fruit.
Researcher and Writer