A guide on what to see and do in the charming city of Bruges, Belgium. Bruges is the Cutest City Ever
Bruges, Belgium is – without a doubt – one of the cutest cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. Located in the northwest corner of Belgium, Bruges is about a 90-minute train from Brussels.
There are a few lovely hotels to choose from, but I stayed at Hotel Prinsenhof. It is a cute family-owned boutique hotel right in the heart of town. It’s very cozy and sweet inside, and the staff were very welcoming and warm. The rooms were very large, decorated nicely, and most importantly, very clean. The bathroom was also stunning. It looked as though it had been redone recently. I loved the bathtub accommodations as well. There’s nothing better than a long soak at the end of a day spent walking around and exploring. Of course I indulged myself at Hotel Prinsenhof.
Take a stroll down to the breakfast room in the morning. My favorite menu items were the mini donuts and Belgian waffles. Yum! You can’t be in Belgium and not have a Belgium waffle.
After breakfast, you can take a free guided city tour, compliments of the hotel. As you leave Hotel Prinsenhof, you’ll see the Hotel Dukes’ palace. Their architecture is incredible, but so are their prices. Very expensive. I did go in for a drink just to check it out. I waited for 20 minutes in the bar with no service. So I walked out completely disappointed. Stopping by for a photo of the front isn’t a terrible idea, though.
The city, itself is small and rather quaint. The buildings are colorful and true to Belgian architecture. It’s quite romantic here. There are even horse and buggies. The square is big and known as Markt. You will find lots of cute restaurants, cafés, and so many chocolatiers.
This is the popular famous photos of Bruges you see online. It’s the main attraction and it’s adorable. It is typically full of tourists and can be very expensive. Perhaps go for the photos and views instead, and then take a cute little side street off the main Markt and find a restaurant there. It will be half the price and probably double the quality.
As for sites, the town hall is exquisite and great for photos. You should also go inside the Belfry and market halls. It’s the gothic looking bell tower in the square that looks a bit lopsided. It used to be a market, but today you can still climb to the top and get lovely views of the colorful Markt and the clock mechanism. Admission is 8 euros.
The Church of Our Lady is a beautiful 15thcentury church filled with some pretty cool mausoleums. It’s also home to the “Madonna and Child” sculpture by Michelangelo.
Another cool site to explore is the Basilica of the Holy Blood and its intricate details and ornate gothic style. Inside the Basilica of the Holy Blood is a tiny vile of blood that is said to be that of Jesus. Many tourists come here to view just that vile of blood. It’s also beautiful inside and, again, the details are truly remarkable.
Near to there is the historic area of Bruges. This is also full of gothic style buildings, museums, cafés, and cute shops and bridges. I walked this entire area of canals and cobblestone. If you don’t mind being on the water, I suggest taking a boat ride down the canals. It’s very romantic and the perfect activity for a nice sunny day. Bruges is described as the “Venice of the North” because it’s filled with canals. The rides last around 30 mins.
If you’re not a fan of being on the water or want to see more of land, then hiring a bike and riding around is another fun and inexpensive option. Take a ride out to see the windmills. Yes, I know. Holland is widely popular for them, but so is Belgium. The Koeleweimolen and Sint-Janshuismolen are still vital parts of the city’s heritage, and both are still actively running.
For the best, most authentic chocolate, you must go inside Jan De Clerck. It is an adorable chocolatier, Pralineur, and confiseur. It had anything chocolate you could think of. It’s the first one in Bruges, family owned, and been around for decades. It’s authentic and not a chain like many of the others in the city are. The chocolate was so good. They had a large variety of chocolate, everything from chocolates to truffles to chocolate sheep to chocolate bears, frogs, elephants etc.
The lovely owner I spoke to was kind enough to explain the difference in the chocolates and told me the fascinating history of the building itself.
Also check out the chocolate museum called “Choco-story. That’s interesting and you learn everything you could ever want to know about chocolate. The best part is that you get a really yummy chocolate bar at the end. This truly is a chocolate lover’s dream.
If you love French Fries, then you can check out The Frietmuseum. It’s the world’s first and only museum dedicated to fries. It’s a fun and interesting experience to say the least. I didn’t do it but I’ve heard great things.
You must also give Chez Alberts’ a try, get a loaded Belgian waffle with whipped cream, strawberries and Nutella. It’s Heaven. For lunch, I had a good lunch at Blackbird Café which was again, really cozy inside and cute with rustic chic décor. I had a tea at Vero Caffe and some nice red wine at Blend.
I walked along the canal and embraced all the colorful little buildings and the beautiful trees along the river. I think they are willow trees, but they were a great backdrop for a lovely photo.
The whole city is truly picturesque. I wish I was able to go in December when the Christmas markets are up. My friends have gone during that time and said it’s the most beautiful, festive place ever. The city, though, is truly special any time of year. I Just know anyone would fall in love with this place like I did. It’s something out of a Disney fairytale.
Because I enjoy a beer or two, I also had to check out the Halve Maan Brewery. I took my chocolate and enjoyed a few local Belgian beers, chocolate, and some fries. It was a cool experience. My waitress was very sweet and had a great sense of humor. I sat there alone till it closed.
Also be sure to check out the Crowne Plaza and its underground ruins. Go inside and ask the reception, and they should let you have a peak even if you’re not staying there. I don’t recommend staying in a chain hotel here. It’s just not as authentic feeling.
I’ve already got another trip pending in December, and I can’t wait. I will be returning to Hotel Prisenhof. I really want to be there to experience Christmas.
You can easily experience Bruges in 2-3 days. It’s a city you can walk all around and really get a true taste of Belgium. If you have any other time, I strongly suggest taking the train over to Ghent or Antwerp as these are other really cute Belgian cities.
I had no idea how much I would fall in love with Belgium, and it really stole my heart. Brussels is a nice city, but not so much to see. The city center is impressive, but to truly be swept off your feet, check out the smaller cities. I promise you will want to go back over and over and over.