Have you been watching BBC’s The Apprentice? I caught up on the episodes I’d missed this week and was reminded of my wonderful trip to Bruges a few years ago. Beer, chocolates and Christmas markets- what’s not to love!
How to get to Bruges
Belgium is so close to the UK, it’s almost criminal that we don’t visit it more often! You can fly from many UK airport direct to Brussels, and hop on a train to Bruges. Trains cost around £13.50 each way for a 55 minute journey.
Ship‘s also sail from Southampton with P&O. Costing around £250, the focus is more on the cruising element, with only one day spent in Bruges. However, for some this may be enough.
We choose to take the Eurostar! Starting with a two hour train journey from Liverpool to St Pancras before embarking on around two hour Eurostar to Brussels followed by our 55 minute train to Bruges. At five hours in total it was a long day but a fabulous experience.
Well, it would of been more fabulous without our first train being delayed, which led to us missing our booked Eurostar. The amazing staff booked us onto the next one with no fuss, leaving us to enjoy a glass of fizz to calm our stresses!
Where to stay in Bruges
Located a stones throw from Grote Markt and the Belfry, Martins Bruge offered us a stylish base for our weekend of Christmas spirit! This three star hotel treats it’s guests to a delicious breakfast buffet after a long lie in their super comfy beds. Bliss.
Rooms at Martins Bruges over a weekend in November currently costs just over £400 per room. However, we bagged a deal for 3 nights at £250 by going mid-week- something to consider perhaps!
What to see in Bruges
The Christmas markets were our initial draw to Bruges, and took up a large proportion of our time in the city. Unfortunately, they didn’t really meet our expectations. Given the standard of European markets we are lucky enough to have in the UK, we expected the Belgium markets to blow us away. The stalls were plentiful, but the goods far from the traditional wares you’d imagine. Think mass produced, ‘made in china’ stamped on the bottom, and you get the picture.
So, if you are thinking of a Winter weekend escape I’d definitely recommend Vienna or Bratislava over Bruges. You can read about our recent experience of Christmas markets here.
With the honest review of the markets behind us, lets move onto the bits you can see all year round!
Did you know Bruges is known as the Venice of the North? It’s obvious why when you stroll along the number of canals here, which often are decorated with a number of boats. A boat trip would be a lovely way to take in Bruges’ sights, but the November chill didn’t do enough to convince us!
Not only are the canals picturesque, the streets are too. I could of quite easily just wandered around with my camera capturing hidden gems all day long. There’s nothing better than seeing a city on foot is there?
Bruges has one spot which is pretty famous for it’s postcard perfect view- Quay of the Rosary (Rozenhoedkaai) Only 5 minutes away from Market Square, you’ll find this spot by the hoards of tourists rather than the buildings themselves.
Outside of the festive period, Market Square is a beautiful place. Painted buildings, horse and carts and almost medieval style court buildings add to this tourists favourites charm.
Around every corner you’ll spy something new- and a little unusual. Which just adds to the charm of this pretty city!
Where to eat in Bruges
Two things you must try in Bruges- Belgium beer and chocolate! The former I’m not the biggest fan of (give me a cider over a beer any day) but the latter I can definitely get on board with.
Cabrinus , located just off Market Square is exactly how I’d imagine a European pub. Warm and cosy, serving up beer and stew by the bucket load. Not 100% on board with the beer idea, we opted for fruit Belgium beers which were delicious- and the bartender didn’t treat me like too much of a wimp.
To satisfy your sweet tooth, you must had to Pralinette. With every piece made my hand, your mouth will be watering within seconds of walking through the door. Make sure you purchase lots to bring back- even if your waistline won’t thank you!
Flemish food tends to be inspired by neighbouring cuisines of the French, Germans and Dutch. Think mussels and fries, rich beef stew and sweet waffles to finish. Real comfort food!
We dined at the colourful Bistro t’Lammetje which was utterly delish.
The markets also offer some great food options, including Gluhwein and ‘Christmas Coffee’. I’d recommend trying the festive named drink which consists of a a coffee liqueur served warm, with a dollop of whipped cream on top. You really can’t beat it.
Off the beaten track
In such a small city, it’s difficult to find something off the beaten track that wouldn’t take you out of Bruges. So, we’ll travel upwards rather than outwards instead!
At over 83 metres tall, the beautiful Belfry stands proud in Market Square. Housing 47 bells and 366 steps, the belfry was one of my favourite attractions in Bruges.
Open from 9.30am to 6pm daily, admission to the Belfry is on the dearer side, at £10 per adult. However, there is lots to see- from the Carillon Drum, the wrought iron gates dating back to 1300 and the panoramic view from the top.
One of the most magical moments was stumbling across the tower room and the carilloneur playing the carillonist’s keyboard. This keyboard ‘plays’ the 47 bells, which signify time, important announcements or even o warn of danger.
After heading up the 366 narrow steps to the top, the view is a worthy reward. On a clear day you can see so much of the city, and it would be a lovely spot to enjoy sunset.
Have you been to Bruges? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this picturesque city!
If you are inspired to take a trip to Belgium, why not save the image below on Pinterest for future viewing!