You know that (terrible excuse/kind of a true story) quote “Sometimes life gets in the way”? Well, I may have accidentally let life get in the way of me exploring one of Belgium’s most famous cities…for almost 2 years! I have lived in Belgium on and off now for a total of 16 months – and have yet to visit Brugge! SHAME ON ME, right?
Well, last week I finally caught that train, explored until my feet hurt and obviously fell in love with this city. Because who wouldn’t?
GETTING TO BRUGGE:
If you’re in Belgium, you could easily catch a NMBS/SNCB train from practically anywhere. Getting to the more well-known cities by train, bus or taxi is pretty simple as well. Visit www.belgianrail.be to catch a train this weekend!
Our first stop was Minnewater.
ADDRESS: Minnewaterpark, Minnewater 8000 Brugge
Known as “sweetheart lake” or “lake of love”, Minnewater was named after a local legend of a woman (Minne) and her warrior lover Stromberg. Naturally, this has become a pretty romantic place to be, due to the lake, bridges and beautiful architecture. (Of course, if you’re me and suffer from an irrational fear of birds; this is not a very romantic place, as there are swans, ducks and birds everywhere!)
Walking through the park, to the lake, you are bound to see horse and carriages strolling by with happy tourists snapping photos. The drop off/pick up spot for these carriages is located by the main bridge; really easy to find.
Our Second Stop was the Belfry/Bell Tower of Brugge.
ADDRESS: Markt 7, 8000 Brugge
The views from atop the bell tower were breathtaking, as you could expect. I have always been a fan of bell towers, and usually climb up the (many) stairs in every city that has one. Brugge’s tower has by far one of the nicest views I’ve seen.
The belfry was added to the market square around 1240, when Brugge was prospering as an important center of the Flemish cloth industry. To this day, you will stroll by many shops of lace and cloth on your way to this tower.
After a devastating fire in 1280, the tower was largely rebuilt.
Our Third Stop was the Market Square.
ADDRESS: Markt, 8000 Brugge (outside the Belfry)
This was one of my favourite spots, largely because of the stunning architecture and canals that Brugge is known for.
Most commonly known for it’s beautiful architecture, the market square is home to a lot of different festivities throughout the year. When we went, the square was full of Christmas lights, trees, laughing strangers and even an ice rink!
Our Last Stop was the canal tours!
The canal tour (lasting 40 minutes), was a wonderful way to see the city and hear about some of the historic sites around. We hadn’t actually found an address for the canals, but we were very easily able to find it by following the canal street a few blocks away from the centrum.
By the time we stumbled upon the canal tours, we had pretty much ventured all around the city; but we had seen the city without a guide. Once on the canal tour, we learned more about some of the buildings we had been passing by all day. It was really informative and inexpensive (8 euro/person), and a wonderful way to end the day.
NAVIGATING AROUND BRUGGE:
Navigating our way from the train station (Brugge) to the Markt (center square) was really easy.
Leaving that morning, we had a vague idea of what we wanted to do (the Belltower and the canals), so we mapped those out and just decided to see what we stumbled upon. (Which, by the way, is a GREAT way to travel!)
Stumble upon things, we did! (This is what I love about Belgian cities; you don’t HAVE to plan things. You can plan a vague route and just see where that goes!)
In Brugge, there are signs every for the “centrum” as soon as you step out of the station (thank GOD for idiot-proof signs and maps that have a “YOU ARE HERE” pin on them!)
Stumbling upon souvenir shops along the way was also really easy, because they were everywhere!
Below is the map we used for the day. We loved having a rough outline of a plan, but also the flexibility to see what the day brings us!
We saw a bunch of stuff in between; cute little stores, souvenir shops, chocolate stores, a ton of waffle stands and a really great tea room called Carpie Diem Tea Room (which I will be writing a review for soon!) Spoiler; I tasted a one of a kind Belgian tea and am not obsessed with it.
Brugge is very beautiful, and definitely makes my list of favourite cities ANYWHERE. It’s easy to navigate, beautiful to see (even if you get lost, there are still a bunch of beautiful things to see down little alleys). Brugge has a really rich history, really beautiful architecture and really fun tourist sites.
What I Missed in Brugge;
There is one thing we didn’t have time to do in that day, and that would be the chocolate museum! Choco-Story is an entire museum dedicated to chocolate (and admission comes with free samples!) So obviously that’s something you should make the time for!
(Post previously published on Travel Pray Love as “An Afternoon In: Brugge, BE”)