If I told you to close your eyes and picture a real-life version the typical “fairy tale” village you see in movies, I guarantee it would look something like Bruges. Also known as Brugge, this Belgian town was one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever been! I’m excited to re-live the fun few days we spent there in November.
If you read my last post, you saw that we spent three full days in Amsterdam. Getting from Amsterdam to Bruges was pretty easy – we took a 2-hour train from Amsterdam Centraal to Brussels Central, then we transferred to one of the Belgian trains and took a 1.5-hour ride to Bruges. It was slightly confusing to find the right platform for the Belgian train, but we just asked an employee and he helped us.
Where We Stayed: We stayed at Hotel Lucca, a mid-range hotel that included a simple breakfast. The service was amazing and the location was pretty good. I booked through United Hotels so I could use my points.
General Tips for Bruges
- Food in Bruges is expensive. I’m not a budget traveler by any means everything seemed to be very pricey – I’m talking equivalent to NYC prices! Beer is cheap though lol.
- You really don’t need to plan too hard, it’s a small village and you can walk around the whole thing in just a few hours.
- PRO Tip: Select your chocolate shops carefully! Look out for shops with the yellow symbol surrounded by swans, that means they are trained by the official Bruges Guild of Chocolatiers (or something like that). A lot of the shops are purely made for tourists, but selecting a shop with this symbol means the chocolate is actually really good.
- If you want to see the Christmas markets, go in early December. We just missed them.
Day 1, Saturday
By the time we arrived, it was about 4pm and FREEZING. We hopped in a cab and headed straight for our hotel, which was in the city center. After relaxing for a little and showering, we headed out for dinner. To be honest, I didn’t even think about making dinner reservations in advance, which ended up being a big mistake. Both places I had wanted to try were booked, and almost every restaurant was SO crowded! My guess is that a lot of people come for weekend trips from neighboring countries (there were a lot of Brits!) I was craving mussels & frites (a popular dish in Belgium) so we hopped around to a few places looking for menus and ended up at De Mosselkelder. The mussels in butter and garlic were very tasty and hit the spot with a glass of white wine. My boyfriend got their Flemish beef stew which was SO good – hearty and delicious.
After dinner, we walked around the city square aka the Markt a bit – check out my “Bruges” story on Instagram for videos, so pretty! I picked a bar near our hotel called Le Trappiste, hands down my favorite bar there! It’s in a six thousand year old medieval cellar, and it was a great environment, everyone was out having fun on a Saturday night. I had my first sip of Belgian beer and was floored, it was SO Good! I loved how tasty and smooth every beer I tried was, and keep in mind that I’m not a beer drinker. After a few drinks, we were exhausted and headed back down the street to the hotel to call it a night.
Day 2, Sunday
We were still so groggy in the morning, I don’t think we ever got used to the time difference throughout our whole trip! By the time we showered and got ready, we missed the free breakfast at the hotel, so we ended up at a popular brunch place called That’s Toast. I’m not ashamed to admit that I will pay for a good avocado toast, so that’s exactly what I ordered along with iced coffee and a green juice. My boyfriend got something similar and both of our dishes really hit the spot. It felt so nice to have a healthy-ish meal especially when I knew we would be eating more chocolate and frites all day :p. Be warned – it’s a very popular place so we waited a while for a table, but it was worth it!
We scheduled a free walking tour with Viva Bruges that started in the Markt square. Right before the tour, I got some frites from one of the two stands in the square. Don’t do that! As soon as we started the tour our guide said not to get fries from there and made a few suggestions (tourist fail). They were fine but I was annoyed at myself for not holding out for some seriously good frites. The tour itself was interesting, we saw the entire city in 2.5 hours and our guide had a ton of tips for locals including the chocolate store tip I mentioned earlier.
After the tour, we stopped in to the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which is free to tour, and walked around town a bit more. We attempted to go on a tour of the Belfry, but the line was over an hour long and we were freezing. The weird thing is that we usually don’t mind the cold! In this case, I don’t think we were dressed properly for the weather so it was really hard to be outside at times. We headed over to Brewery Bourgogne des Flandres for a tour, but it was sold out when we arrived. We had meant to go to De Halve Mann Brewery but stumbled across this one instead thinking it was the same thing. Since we missed the tour, we hung out and split a flight of beer with cheese cubes. I loved the cheese! I can’t remember what it was called but they seemed to have the same kind of Belgian cheese at most of the bars. I had wanted to go to the Old Chocolate House, but we didn’t make it there – lines galore.
A little later on we sought out to find a hidden bar – De Garre. It was honestly pretty hard to find, we walked passed the “street” twice! I say “street” because it’s more like a crack in a wall between buildings. De Garre was eclectic and cozy, definitely a must see. They have their own beer which the serve with ton of foam on top.. I think on purpose?? Beer drinkers: Is this a thing? Kind of weird but I still really liked it, plus they serve it with that yummy Belgian cheese I mentioned.
After De Garre we treated ourselves to a Belgian waffle at Fred’s near our hotel, and took a short rest back in the room. We went to dinner at a Mediterranean place not even worth naming, then headed out again for the night! We walked around town a bit more and ended up at Le Trappist again at the end of the night. It was much less crowded and still a great time.
Day 3, Monday
Goodbye Bruges! We made it to the free breakfast at the hotel (served in yet another medieval cellar), and packed our bags to go right after. Though I thought about exploring Bruges a bit more before leaving, we heard that most places are closed on Monday’s so we headed to the station. Next stop, Brussels!