Much have been raved about Bruges (rhymes with ‘rouge’), one of the most immaculately preserved medieval city in Europe. Finally seeing it for myself, I can certainly assure that it lives up to the hype, no matter how inflated it is with tourists. Although I did wonder if Bruges would be a good contender to the beautiful town of Namur, I was not the least disappointed but rather pleased that I have saved the best part of Belgium for last.
Bruges is the 6th largest metropolitan area in Belgium but it is the number 1 tourist destination IN THE COUNTRY.
After soaking in the city vibe of Brussels in 1 day, it was quite the contrast visiting Bruges. Wandering around the town felt like stepping back in time — historic churches and the bell tower soared mightily, pathways neatly cobbled with not a drop of litter in sight, the lush greenery and dreamy canals thread through the town ever so calmly, and at every block sits a surprising narrow alleyway that very often smells heavenly of chocolate and freshly baked goods.
It was a truly relaxing discovery of yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site gem on foot. If you are not pressed for time, spend at least 2 days in Bruges so you can pace the trip comfortably.
(scroll to the bottom for what to eat in Bruges)
Also known as the Venice of the North, Bruges got its name from the canals that thread through and surround the city in an oval shape.
In the middle ages, Bruges was once the wealthiest city in Europe due to its canals.
Half Moon Brewery (De Halve Maan), a family-run brewery museum to complete any drinker’s experience in Belgium.
Leading towards Sint-Salvator Cathedral from the 1300s
The very centre of Bruge city, Market Square (Markt).
Provinciaal Hof, the former meeting place for the provincial government of West Flanders
Inside the square beneath the Belfry of Bruges
WHAT TO EAT IN BRUGES
Bakeries, patisseries and chocolatiers are a must in Belgium. Prestige Patisserie scored 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor, as confirmed by my mini sinful indulgence there consisting of the classics — almond croissant and hot chocolate for 6 Euros.
You wouldn’t miss chocolates in Bruges, ever. The highly acclaimed Dumon Chocolatier has only been around just over 20 years but it makes some of the best chocolates in town.
After the day indulging in sweets and chocolates, you might want to give it a break and have a taste of the best family-run mediterranean food in town — don’t pass up The Olive Tree.
With near perfect reviews, The Olive Tree indeed surpass my expectations in every way — fresh fishes and perfectly grilled lamb chomps in generous portions accompanied with salad, bread and olives, and desserts on the house to sweeten our taste buds yet again — all done in the best manner and hospitality possible, served personally by the owner’s son and meals cooked by the owner himself.