If you set out to design a fairy-tale medieval town, it would be hard to improve on central Bruges. Picturesque cobbled lanes and dreamy canals link photogenic market squares lined with soaring towers, historic churches and old whitewashed almshouses. And there’s plenty of it.
Despite all the recent chaos that has been said on the news about Belgium this did not affect our trip to Bruges in any way. In fact it probably made it nicer as the overcrowded streets and queues of tourists were no where to be seen. We had a perfect weekend, beautiful weather and absolutely loved the magical town of Bruges.
So if you’re thinking of travelling here is my advice:
Go at Christmas
Bruges really is a magical city, especially in the heart winter when its cobbled streets are alive with festivities, glowing with Christmas lights on every building, draped over every tree and decorating every street. It reminded me of a skiing village. To add to the atmosphere, an ice rink is built on the Bruges Market Square close to the many food and festive gift stalls, which offer traditional seasonal delights.
Christmas market dates: 22nd November 2015 – 2nd January 2016
Taking a Canal Tour is a must. Yep, it’s touristy, but what isn’t in Bruges? Viewing the city from the water gives it a totally different feel than by foot. Cruise down Spiegelrei towards Jan Van Eyckplein and it’s possible to imagine Venetian merchants entering the city centuries ago and meeting under the slender turret of the Poortersloge building up ahead. The tour man knows everything there is to know about the town, providing every little detail and speaking in every language to make the trip memorable and entertaining for everyone.
For our beer experience in Bruges we chose to vist ‘De Halve Maan Brewery‘ to taste the local beer and warm up by the open fire. For centuries the Maes family has been brewing beer on the Walplein in Bruges. The history of the brewery is contained in a unique museum which is said to be very insightful and entertaining… but we skipped this and went straight to the bar instead.
Hot Chocolate Tea Room
I am not normally a fan of recommendations when it comes to Trip Advisor but I have to say they definitely were not wrong by titling Tea-Room De Proeverie as ‘The Best Hot Chocolate in Bruges!’ – it really was one of the highlights of my trip. You get a mug of steaming hot milk and a pot of melted dark chocolate along with a pot of cream as well as a couple of chocolates to have with it, and just in case that wasn’t enough we ordered salted caramel waffles on the side. YUM.
Dinner: Night 1
Right in the heart of Bruges Cafedraal is the place for tasty French-Belgian cuisine, with an independent streak and a passion for regional products.
Here you can eat both seasonal and local with dishes that are prepared out of a love for the job. Some of their delicacies. North Sea cod. Small Dover sole. Asparagus. Endives. A home-made steak tartare. Or even a dish which incorporates the local Brugse Zot beer?
Dinner: Night 2:
At the end of 2001, “petit” Line and “Grand” Tom opened their cosy grill-restaurant named Au Petit Grand in a side street of the Bruges market square. The restaurant has become a well known address in a short period of time. The interior is warm and cosy a perfect little romantic restaurant for two.
Where to stay:
The weekend away we decided to stay at the Grand Hotel Casselbergh. Centrally located, at just 150 metres from the Burg and the Main Market Square. This unique hotel is a perfect blend of historic and modern luxury. The hotel was ideal: with a big welcoming lounge covered in Christmas decorations, open fires, buffet breakfast and underground parking for my little car what more could we need.
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