Bruges TourismBruges - Picture-Perfect
High on the romance factor, Bruges is where you go to fall in love. With horse-drawn carriages, medieval bridges and quaint squares, it’s a surreal picture-perfect town. A chilled out locale, a weekend in Bruges is about indulging in food and beverage while staying in beautiful hotels. For those times you need inspiration for a last minute getaway, Bruges is it.
To rest your weary head, spend the night in a real palace at Hotel Dukes’, a surprisingly luxurious place that you would not expect for such a small town. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Dukes’ has been rehabbed for the 21st century with heated bathroom floors, plush sheets and impeccably decorated common areas. It reminds you how grandly royalty must have lived back in the day. For the quintessential bed and breakfast experience, be a guest at the unforgettable Number 11. The Chocolate Room is our favorite, where the smell of waffles will wake you every perfect morning. While you may have stayed at many a grand dame around the world, Number 11 is just as luxurious, but in a different way.
Breakfast means leisurely waking up and lingering over a beautiful Belgian spread of pastries and cappuccino, while perusing the morning paper. A heavy tourist circuit from the crack of dawn until dark of night this is not. Bruges is where you stop to smell the waffles.
The first morning should take you to the Markt, the hub of the city and center of cultural activities. Ascend the Belfort for the most panoramic view of this picturesque town. From here, get some culture at the Salvador Dali Gallery Museum, taking in the eccentric art. Since much of Bruges is a pedestrian-only zone, be ready to walk everywhere and anywhere in this compact town.
Lunch will soon beckon, and the only way to go is a big pot of mussels and pommes frites. You’ll have many choices including Chagall, steps away from the Markt, where you can freely gorge yourself. The salads are also generously portioned and brightly colored, tempting even those who have an aversion to greens. Another alternative is located in a quaint square where you can sit outside among dozens of tables enjoying traditional Belgian fare.
After lunch, spend the afternoon ducking in and out of pubs. Our favorite for beer is De Garre, which will leave a lasting impression long after you’ve taken that last crisp, sweet sip, and it’s where you’ll spend a good chunk of the day chatting with the locals. From here, head over to ‘t Brugs Beertje, located on a non-descript street, and disappear into the dark tavern for the rest of the day. With 300 beers, you will have plenty to keep yourself busy — and quenched.
Chances are after ‘t Brugs Beertje, you’ll need a little bit of food. The taverns are not big or recommended for sustenance but it’s the perfect excuse to stop and get a waffle at Lorenzino before heading back to your hotel. This corner takeout stand is the single best waffle in Bruges and will change yourdefinition of waffle. Almost the consistency of cookie dough before they griddle it, it’s a decadent afternoon treat. You will gladly let go of your Eggo after indulging in this one.
For dinner, head to Hotel Die Swaene to eat at Pergola Kaffee, an impossibly romantic restaurant in the famed hotel. Request a canal view table to serve as the perfect setting for the fine degustation menu of seasonal ingredients. Yet another surprise, that a small town provides such a five star dining experience. After dinner, wander through the dimly lit streets to your hotel. For a low-key nightcap that can easily turn into more, head to Bar Atelier in The Dukes’ before retiring to your palace room or heading back to the 11.
The following morning, head to the Burg if you didn’t already stumble upon it the day before. Spend your morning wandering the Stadhuis and Paleis van het Brugse Vrije in this historic square. . The rest of the day should be spent exploring the lace shops, gift stores and of course, chocolate shops, which are literally on every corner. For beautiful gifts, especially for the children in your life, do some retail damage at Ursus Brugghiae. Children and adults will love the miniature Belgian houses, handmade sail boat models and other unique gifts. Also make sure to stop by Chocolat Oe Praline, which in a city where chocolate is the commodity, distinguishes itself with the best chocolate goodies in town. After you’ve wandered to your hearts content, spend the rest of the day and early evening at Herberg Vlissinghe, a tavern of distinction since the 1500s and one of the oldest pubs in the world.
For your last dinner, head to De Stove, the coziest of restaurants that epitomizes the charm of Bruges. Around for 20 years, the husband and wife team that own De Stove, make everyone feel at as if they are invited guests. If Bruges nightlife is on your agenda, it’s all about the pub. De Republiek is one of the more popular bars with a DJ who cranks up the music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Although Bruges is a little town, it’s a slam dunk for an easy romantic weekend and chance to experience true Belgian culture. After all, there’s nothing not to like about all the mussels and frites you can eat and a different chocolate shop on every corner. And where afternoon tavern hopping is considered a cultural activity, it’s tough to beat for a place to recharge for a low-key weekend. You’ll quickly realize there are so many ales, yet so little time.