I decided to dedicate a whole post to Bruges because I just loved it so much. In my previous post on the Netherlands (if you missed it, you can see it here), I said the Netherlands set some high expectations for the rest of the trip, which it definitely did, but Bruges.. oh, Bruges was amazing. So far, I think it’s definitely my favorite city in Europe, of the ones I’ve visited. Side note: a little pronunciation lesson since I think this post is more fun to read if you’re pronouncing Bruges correctly in your head. This is the way I like to think about it.. pronounce it like bruschetta without the ‘etta’ part. Well it kind of works, haha, you can hear the real pronunciation here if you’re still not convinced.
Before coming to Belgium, basically all I knew about the country was.. beer, waffles, and chocolate. Now that I’m finally here, there is so much more to Belgium than those three things even though they make up about every other store on the street.
We started our Belgian adventures in Bruges after a short day in Antwerp (more posts to come on Antwerp after the trip is over). Bruges is one of those cities that made all those “Europe’s Hidden Gem Cities” or whatever all those articles are titled. I think it’s definitely true that Bruges used to be one of those European hidden gems, but now, unfortunately, it’s pretty overrun with tourists so it’s not so hidden anymore. It’s all for a good reason though, because Bruges is a phenomenal city! Cobblestone streets, peaceful canals, stunning architecture, and a romantic ambiance envelope the city. What’s not to love?
We started our first full day in Bruges by heading to Grote Markt (translated: big market), which is in the center of Bruges. Grote Markt is where the Belfry of Bruges, or Belfort, is located and we decided to climb 366 steps to the top of the bell tower to get panoramic views of the city. Was it worth it? DEFINITELY. I think I might have fallen in love with Bruges right in that moment standing at the top of the Belfry tower with the tower bells chiming right next to us. It was breathtakingly gorgeous and you could see all of Bruges from the top, so definitely make the climb if you’re in Bruges.
The Belfry at night
After taking in Bruges from above, we set out with a map to explore the streets. Fortunately, Bruges is a very compact city and is therefore easily walkable. We left Grote Markt and headed toward the Burg, a square housing the town hall, a museum, and a chapel. Even though it was an extremely short walk between Grote Markt and the Burg, we just had to stop for waffles because, well, it’s Belgium! Plus, it’s really hard to say no when there are waffle and chocolate shops around every corner. Anyway, we made it to the Burg, waffles in hand, and found a bench to take in the views and enjoy our delicious waffles.
After enjoying the Burg, we set off again in search of all that Bruges has to offer. What better than to stumble upon the only active brewery remaining in Bruges? Of course, we had to take a tour and find out what all the hype is about surrounding this amazing Belgian beer. We bought tickets and spent the next hour touring the Half Moon Brewery (De Halve Maan) which, of course, ended with a “free” beer. We got to try the Brugse Zot which was actually really good! I’m not a huge beer fan, but this one was really tasty so I can see what all the hype is about.
Fast forward to the next day (more detailed posts about the rest of our Bruges findings will come after our trip). Since we saw a vast majority of what Bruges has to offer the previous day, we decided to explore some of the Belgian countryside. We loved biking in the Netherlands so much that we decided to rent bikes again and set off toward the outskirts of Bruges. We decided to bike to Damme, a small village just outside of Bruges. We followed alongside a canal in the northeast of town and after about 20 minutes of cycling and beautiful countryside we arrived in Damme. As we wound through the streets of Damme, we found a biking trail leading into the country and decided to follow it. The Belgian countryside is truly stunning and reminded me a lot of the Midwest. Flat, scattered houses, farms, cows, sheep, and lots of trees. We ended up biking through Damme and the countryside for a few hours before heading back along the canal to Bruges.
Hopefully, through some of these photos you can see why Bruges has stolen my heart. It’s such a beautiful city with an abundance of history and breathtaking architecture. My favorite parts of Bruges were climbing the Belfry Tower and biking to Damme and around the countryside. In reality, I loved every moment of our time in Bruges especially eating waffles and ice cream for dinner (because that’s what being an adult is all about, am I right?!). I will most certainly return to Bruges one day, in my opinion, it’s a must see city in Europe for anyone.
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