As you might know from my previous travel sharings, I am a great fan of short city trips within Europe. In between moving houses and changing of jobs, I managed to take a short escape with my boyfriend to our southern neighbours. Nothing beats a visit to the Venice of the North for a romantic trip to succeed. As Bruges is relatively small compared to other Belgium cities, it is just perfect for three days and two nights. During this stay, my boyfriend and I have turned Bruges upside down. This medieval city with modern treasures has made it a trip to always remember. A combination of culture sniffing, food indulgence and lovely romantic walks pretty much summed it up. Be inspired as I now take you to the highlights of Bruges.
Situated at the southern end of Bruges, is the Minnewater park. The lake Minnewater (after which the park is named) and the Minnewater bridge form the heart of the park. They are been called Lake of Love and Lovers Bridge, respectively. Needless to say, this recreation area is considered to be the most romantic spot of Bruges. Especially the lake bridge has got something magical. Walking across this bridge of love is the perfect way to declare each other eternal love. The additional romantic effect is created by the beautiful swans in the lake that symbolise pure love. Pictures captured at this beautiful place come with an indescribable magical glow.
What makes it absolutely worthwhile to visit Burg is the fact that it belongs to the oldest part of the city. This square was already inhabited since the 2nd century. In the 9th century it became a fortress which was surrounded by gateways. After this period, Burg gradually took on a dual function of serving both the civil society and the church. Up until today the square is still surrounded by historical buildings, such as the Townhall dated from the 13th century and the The Basilica of the Holy Blood built in 12th century. This place is really a self-telling narrative with no additional explanation needed.
When you take a visit inside and look around, you will notice that this hotel has something special and differs itself from other hotels within Bruges. This accommodation is built on ruines from a cathedral. You can still freely admire the remainings by first informing the staff at the lobby. This is a great way to give yourself another deepdive in the history of Bruges.
This is a beautiful example of “less is more”. Although the bridge itself is small, it does come with an immense great experience. One that will last forever in your memory. The Bonifacius bridge radiates a charm with its refined details. The beautiful courtyard in which it is located and the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwen cathedral at the background make the picture complete. Do you know that legend has it that the one you first come across on the other side of the bridge is the one you will marry?
This is the name of a canal and the two attached streets. It was part of Bruges’ first city fortifications. When we were there, I thought I was in Venice for a minute. The beautiful canal with impressive historical houses brought me back to the Italian city of water. It is definitely one of the most peaceful places in Bruges. It is a perfect location to make pictures and to come back to your inner self. Allow yourself to do nothing but feel the breeze on your skin and the birds flying over your head.
Jan van Eyckplein
At the centre of this square you will find the statue of the famous Belgium painter Jan van Eyck who has lived the last years of his life in Bruges. Surrounded by many trendy restaurants and cafes, such as Black Bird which is described later, this place is a popular rendezvous for young and old. It is a dynamic place where there is always something happening.
This is called the most photographed place in Bruges. For this reason, it is a very popular spot among tourists. As it can get considerably crowded in broad daylight, I suggest you to go here early in the morning. It is tempting to take tons of photos there but we managed to restrict it to two photoshoots.
Belfort Tower Climb
One of Bruges’ tallest and most historical landmark is the bell tower which rises 83 metres above the ground. Although it takes you 366 steps to reach for the top but there is no better thing than to ace this challenge together with your loved one. During the climb you will even be treated with a beautiful exhibition of Bruges’ historical treasures, such as the city’s charters and public funds, that were stored there during the Middle Ages. Once at the top, you will be rewarded with an amazing view over this medieval city and the beautiful music sound of the unique carillon with 47 bells.
Run by a couple, this restaurant serves the most authentic Belgium dishes prepared according to grandma’s recipe. Ideal for those among us who want to taste original Belgium cuisine. As this restaurant is at the foot of Minnewater park and lake, an after-dinner walk through this fairy-tale park is highly recommended to boost your digestion and end the day in a lovely way.
It is a dining concept as complement of the already existing menu of Tom’s Diner. The special thing about this “restaurant within a restaurant” is its set menu. This carte is comprised of unique dishes and changes once every few weeks. Every dish we enjoyed came with a surprising effect which we did not expected, such as the tomato carpaccio and the Thom Kha Kai noodles. The only thing was that we needed to wait a long time for the dishes to arrive. So it might not be the best option if you have plans scheduled afterwards.
If you are a fan of toast, such as I, then this is the place to be. You will be amazed by the wide choice of toasts, sandwiches and international specials they have here. The latter include dumplings and poke bowls. Match this with one of their fresh cold pressed juices for an energetic breakfast, brunch and (late) lunch.
Gelateria Da Vinci
Fuel yourself up with an ice cream after a long day of playing tourist. Gelateria Da Vinci has been called the best ice cream parlour of Bruges and even whole Europe. This is not without reason. So do not miss out on the great opportunity to try it yourself when in Bruges.
This spot is usually completely full around breakfast and lunch time. That is not surprising as their bagels with unique flavours are very popular among both inhabitants and tourists. So either go for an early breakfast, late lunch or afternoon break to skip the queue. Opt for its delicious apple crumble as dessert to finish it off.
As the name already suggests, this cozy breakfast- and lunch hotspot is decorated with beautiful birds and cages. We went for the Essential Breakfast which came with a complete meal with fresh bread, pastries, confiture, savory spread, fresh juice and hot drink. Compared to the outstanding interior, the breakfast is rather straightforward but fresh and nice. Besides the petit dejeuner, you can opt for their tapas for breakfast and brunch items. What is interesting to know is that Black Bird positions itself as a lifestyle concept, rather than just a place to eat. That is why you can find a mini concept store for different lifestyle items, such as stationary and interior pieces.
TinTin concept store and museum
Have you also been a great fan of TinTin and his adventures when you were younger? Then it is time to relive your child memories. Here you see a complete collection of the books.
Let yourself indulge in this chocolate paradise. Filled with the most unique chocolate flavours, chocolate lovers can really pamper themselves here. Besides the best-selling iconic chocolates, you can also try their exclusive temporary chocolate creatures.
Part of the famous Spanish ecologic perfume retail store, this branch in Bruges offers a wide range of eco-friendly private label perfumes. It is interesting that many of their fragrances show similarities with A-brand perfumes, although they have included their own small twist to each of them. We really had a great experience spending a lot of time testing and smelling the different fragrances.
Cat & Dog Shop
Animal lovers among us simply cannot miss this spot. This cat and dog heaven has everything your fluffy friends could wish. From toys to food and from clothing to name tags. You will be amazed about the uniqueness that comes with every item.
It is easier to justify shopaholic behavior when you are travelling around as tourist. Buying souvenirs is simply part of being on holiday. This alleviates the guilty feeling among shopaholics like me, rendering us to do some shopping with a clear conscience. One of the shops which is definitely worth visiting, is Billyjune.Bruges. With its unique and extravagant clothing pieces, you will definitely find something as sweet addition to your wardrobe.
Have you been to Bruges before? What were your favorite hotspots there? For me, it was definitely one of the most romantic trips I have ever had in one of the most romantic cities of Europe. I am already planning a trip back to the Venice of Belgium. If you have any additional suggestions for Bruges yourself, do not hesitate to share it with me below.
Until next time!