Bruges, a small, midevil city in Belgium, not far from the North Atlantic, is a charming little city to spend a weekend in. There are canals, reminiscent of the ones in Amsterdam, that run through the city, a stunning center square watched over by a giant clock tower, twisting and winding cobblestone streets lined with houses hundreds of years old, lots of old, beautiful churches. All of this is accented with hundreds of chocolate shops, small cafes serving waffles or french fries (or both!), and pubs where the bar is lined with taps pouring fresh, but strong, Belgian beer.
Bruges is the quintessential European city. It's only a couple of hours from Brussels making it easy to get to. But just because it isn't one of the big cities in Europe doesn't mean it's boring. In fact, there are a ton of things to do in Bruges, enough to warrant a couple of full days in the city. To get your started, here are _ things to do in the beautiful Belgian city of Bruges
1. Eat Chocolate and Waffles
Few things are more Belgian than chocolate and waffles. There are literally hundreds of chocolate shops in Bruges. Honestly, they are all wonderful and for this self-described chocolholic, it was hard to not go in every single one. Make sure you pop in to a couple to see the differences, and pick up a bag of truffles to take with you.
Belgium is also famous for their waffles. While most Americans are used to them being served with maple syrup or perhaps strawberries and whipped cream, in Belgium, they are served with a variety of toppings: nutella, bananas, apple sauce, powdered sugar, strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate sauce. You name it, it can usually be found on a waffle.
2. Go on a Walking Tour
Walking tours are always a great way to get acquainted with a new city. Tours are usually given by locals and you can get some fascinating stories and history while on the tour. The guides can usually point out some of their favorite places, too. Nothing better than finding a great place to eat at where there are no other tourists. We really enjoyed the two tours we took with Legends of Bruges.
3. Tour a 150 year old brewery
In Bruges the same family has owned De Halve Maan Brewery for over 150 years. They recently went through and upgraded their entire brewing operations, but kept the historical feel (and a lot of the old equipment) of the complex. The beer is brewed and aged in Bruges, but is bottle outside of the city. The two facilities will be connected by a their still-under-construction beer pipeline. They offer tours multiple times a day in multiple languages. For the best experience, go for the XL tour where you get to try not one, but four, of their beers.
4. Visit the Madonna with Child
The sculpture is one of only two sculptures to leave Italy during Michelangelo's lifetime. It is housed in the Church of our Lady on a side alter. During World War II, the sculpture was stolen by the Nazi's (if you've seen the movie, Monuments Men, then you know the story), after which it was later returned to Bruges.
5. Visit the Chocolate Museum
This one was on our list of places to visit, but with a 4 week old in tow, we just didn't have time to go. You can choose to just visit the museum to learn the history of chocolate and how its made, or you can even enroll in one of their workshops where you learn to make pralines, truffles, or mendiants. They even have workshops for kids as young as 6!
6. Get lost in the city
Bruges is small, but it has so many picturesque streets and alleys. Just wander around, admire the architecture, and get lost. Poke your head into the churches you walk past and admire the artwork. Stop into a chocolate shop and grab a truffle or two to enjoy. Grab a seat at a small bar to rehydrate by ordereing one of the delicious, but strong, Belgian beers bound to be on tap (on tap is always better then in the bottle!). This is one city where it's nice to just wander and see where your feet take you.
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I loved visiting Bruges and it reminded me how much I love Belgium. The food is amazing, the people are super friendly, and the country is beautiful. Bruges can also be done as a day tour from Brussels, but for the best experience, spend a night in this old city. It's so much nicer (and quieter) when all the day trippers have cleared out.
Have you been to Bruges? Do you have something to add to the list?