Having heard so much about the small, quaint and fairytale-like town of Bruges, I was eager to get there and see it for myself. And it really is all of the above with extra cuteness on top.
Only an hour away from Brussels, by day Bruges is filled with tourists on day trips and it’s hard to move between the large tour groups that fill Market Square. Queues are long for the main attractions like climbing the 366 steps of the Belfry, sampling the chocolate at the Choco-Story Museum, and taking a boat ride along the canals that wind through the town, much like the canals in Venice except here they don’t make your eyes boggle at the price!
The one attraction that was never busy was the Frites Museum – maybe going to a museum about potatoes didn’t interest most people, but we can definitely say it’s the most random museum we’ve ever been to!
But, by early evening, when all the day trippers have left, Bruges’s cobbled streets are empty and quiet and you can wander around feeling like you have the place pretty much to yourself.
At night the buildings sparkle with different coloured lights and it looks magical. I can just picture how even more magical it would be at Christmas (return trip? Yes please!).
The city is only a small one but it was so easy to just walk for hours, getting lost along the way, finding a pretty new sight around every corner. The mills, something you’d think was right out of the city, were only a short stroll from the centre, and the whitewashed buildings and convent of Beguinage, that look like mysterious houses hidden deep in the woods, were right on our doorstep, tucked away behind a stone wall.
I was so looking forward to trying lots of yummy food in Belgium but Bruges surprised me by being even tastier than Brussels. We seemed to drift into a different chocolate shop on every corner (purely by accident of course), the old fashioned and quaint looking La Belgique Gourmande being my favourite, where I helped myself to lots of delicious treats, particularly the white chocolate with a sweet and creamy strawberry centre and the milk chocolate with an orange truffle centre (drool!).
Chez Albert had a huge long line of people every time we walked past, all eager to get a bite of their waffles, and the wait was definitely worth it. I’m pretty sure my sugary Liege waffle with hot cherries, cherry sauce and whipped cream was the most amazing thing I have ever tasted!
For our daily fix of brunch/midday/supper/pretty much any time of day snacks, we couldn’t keep away from the stands at the bottom of the Belfry. Go to the left one, even if the queue is longer. The frites with a huge dollop of mayonnaise were crispy, fluffy and salty all at once, and I gobbled up the cheese croquettes in seconds.
I really wish I ate mussels as they were such a popular choice in almost every restaurant. I did have some fish though and Alex tried some seafood, all cooked in the Flemish style, and, along with a bottle of wine or some Belgian beer, it was truly delicious. There are so many restaurants to eat at it’s impossible to choose between them all, but we wandered into the smaller side roads where we came across some lovely cosy places to eat that were less touristy and better quality.
If you haven’t already seen the comical film “In Bruges”, give it a watch. Even Colin Farrell’s miserable character eventually comes around to the conclusion that Bruges is like “a f***ing fairytale or something”.
And don’t be a day tripper; Bruges has a lot more to offer than a quick day trip. We loved this magical little city and I know you will too 🙂