A Day in Bruges, Belgium
Visiting Belgium in February was cold, gray, and rainy like much of the year, but it made Bruges feel that much more magical. The old, long-standing buildings paired with the canals running through the city make this place fit for a fairy-tale setting.
Now, if you’ve seen the movie In Bruges, you might have a different, darker outlook. The movie was of course actually filmed in Bruges, but the city did not feel as sinister as the movie makes it feel.
My boyfriend is from Belgium and grew up just a 30 minute train ride from Bruges, but had never been! We just did a day trip because his house was so close and we did not have any money to spare for another night in an airbnb or hotel. We hopped on the train and rode the half an hour into Bruges.
After hopping off the bus, we followed the crowds of people, many who had suitcases, to the city center. Once you get close enough, the cathedral is visible and is a helpful landmark to guide you into the city. As you can see, it was a very gray and dreary day, but that just gave it more atmosphere!
Things to do in Bruges?
Walk around and take in the scenery! We spent a full day doing just that. There are so many buildings that have been there for centuries, bridges over the canal, and chocolate shops on every corner. You don’t need to plan ahead or have any sort of agenda for Bruges. It’s easy to just be content walking through the back streets of the city. The city center is a bit more “happening” but it is also more touristy – where you go and what you do depends on your preferred vibe!
The main square was bustling with people even for a double pants, triple sweater kind of weather day. We decided to head to the outskirts of the city away from the people and that is where the real beauty is! Every street is picture-perfect and I even got Kevin, who absolutely hates his photo being taken, to post in front of the canal and brick, crow-stepped gable buildings (I googled the name of that so you don’t have to, you’re welcome!).
There is not a single building that isn’t worth stopping to look at. It was fun to sit and guess what kind of people lives in the apartments and houses along the canal – even though it was nearing the evening and temps were dropping quickly.
Have I mentioned how cold it was? Okay, enough of that, I know. BUT, there was actually snow on the rooftops! It was magical in “I feel like I’m in Harry Potter” kind of way and it made me forget about the shivering and frozen fingers for a little while.
Where to Eat? Where to drink Belgian Beer?
Anywhere you go will have good beer. That isn’t something you need to worry about when in Bruges! We had no plans so meandered around and popped into a little, weird vintage shop/pub we stumbled across. It was an odd setting, but a warm, cozy place with a HUGE selection of beers and a patio out back. I just couldn’t leave Belgium without getting a La Corne! Highly recommend.
If we had planned ahead, I would have made a reservation at Half Moon Brewery for dinner and drinks. We stopped in there to use the bathroom and grab a table, but they were all full or reserved! It had a great atmosphere and was a large brewery compared to the hole-in-the-wall restaurants I saw around the rest of Bruges. It gets great reviews, too! Bookmarking it for the next trip. If you go or have been, let me know how it is!
So you’ve got the beer part down, but don’t forget the Belgian chocolates! There were at least a dozen chocolate shops we passed while exploring the back and side streets. We didn’t stop in any, but they all looked delicious. I could eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if it didn’t make me sick to eat that much chocolate.
In conclusion, Bruges was wonderful and I would love to go back during summer and see how different it is when I’m not all bundled up looking for a restaurant to warm up in! Drink some beer, eat some chocolate, and don’t be afraid to veer off the beaten path to discover some treasures outside the main square. Writing this makes me wish I was there now sitting at a cute cafe near the canals on the outskirts of town Enjoy your trip if you’re visiting soon! I’d love to hear your recommendations.