thinContinuing with our Belgium trip, we took a train from Brussels to the beautiful medieval town of Bruges (Brugge in Dutch). The Brussels to Bruges train was straightforward as soon as we were able to work out which train we needed to take!
We were visiting Bruges in early January when, luckily for us, the Christmas Market was still bringing festivity and brightness to the town-centre. I’d recommend visiting Bruges, and Belgium in general, at this time of year as the Christmas markets run from the start of December right up until January 3. You can actually get a Eurostar from London to Bruges via Brussels Midi, or do what we did which was fly to Brussels and get the train.
Instead of opting for a Bruges hotel, which are quite expensive, we stayed in a gorgeous ’boutique’ B&B which we found on Airbnb and was located a short walk away from the town centre. Bruges is very walkable as long as you wrap up warm!
After our brief and windy walk into town, I noticed there’s a lot of Dutch influence in the buildings in Bruges, which isn’t a surprise seeing as Bruges is right next to the border with The Netherlands; the ‘crow-stepped gables’ buildings in the market place are a perfect example of Dutch influence and make for a lovely shop-front once you’ve added some fairy-lights and wreaths!
We spent the majority of our first day in Bruges simply walking alongside the canals and down the cobblestone streets admiring the shops. We’d have liked to go to the top of the Belfort Tower which offers panoramic views of the city, but the queue was over two hours long by the time we joined it! I’ve heard it’s definitely worth the 366 step-climb though. There are lots of quaint things to do in Bruges, there’s no major attraction like there are in other cities, but it makes for a relaxed and enjoyable stay as you wander around and make your own discoveries.
In the morning of our second day we took a boat tour round the canals which offered a new perspective on on the city. Little tip – all the boat tours in Bruges follow the same route so always choose the to start it away from the beaten track and at the stop with the shortest queue! Tours are given by Bruges residents who aren’t actually official tour-guides, but offer great local knowledge and facts about the area in an impressive variety of languages.
After our boat tour, we wandered into Bruges’s second main square ‘Burg’ where the Gothic architecture reminded me of the Town Hall in Brussels. Tucked away in the corner of the square is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, a very ornate church that claims to contain a phial of cloth that is stained with Christ’s blood. We watched a queue of people wait to touch the phial but we didn’t personally!
Bruges is renowned for its good food and it’s near impossible to find somewhere ‘bad’ to eat. However it is recommended to avoid the main square and other main tourist areas when choosing a restaurant. Just like Brussels, I was spoilt for choice with chocolatiers again.
We watched the action/comedy film ‘In Bruges’ whilst we were away, it’s a bizarre watch but funny now and then. It makes fun of the fact everyone refers to the town as a ‘fairy tale’ but it really is an apt description. It’s probably done wonders for Bruges tourism! There is something very special and olde worlde about Bruges, mostly because it has kept the majority of its original medieval buildings. It is truly a lovely city to walk round and take in the atmosphere.
If you do visit Bruges I would love to hear about it! The next stop on our whirlwind tour of Belgium was the complete surprise of the trip, Ghent.
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