Bruges, Belgium

After landing in Brussels (Zavantem), I hopped on a train to the charming town of Bruges in the Flemish Region of Belgium. Bruges seemed like the perfect place to adjust from American to European time because of its slow pace. Everything closes by 8 o’clock, as by then, all of the day-trippers have fled the cobblestone streets for another sightseeing tour. While Bruges is an attractive destination for visitors, particularly among the elderly, the town is not ruined by tourism. The visitors are respectful and the locals do not make a fuss at pushing sightseeing on foreigners. Personally, I found the tourism in Bruges to be very different to that which one would experience in say, Rome.


The old town itself is very small, enclosed by a circular river that now has a walking and bike path alongside the banks. There are four surviving gates of the city wall built in the 1st century, which make it easy for visitors to tell when they have strayed outside the medieval city. The architecture is typical of the Low Countries, and the well-preserved buildings deservedly make the town a UNESCO World Heritage Site.






















  • Bruges is teeming with B&Bs that look like they were built to be the set for Cinderella. I stayed in a very central Airbnb on a residential street (Pandreitje), but became a bit envious of guests at The Pand Hotel, located directly across from our apartment. The 18th century carriage house was converted to a charming and cozy 26-bedroom boutique hotel. The location is unparalleled – central, yet tucked away. ​


  • ​Rent a bike or go for a run on the outer loop of the old town.

  • Stay a night or two in Bruges to enjoy the town in the early evening, when the crowds have left. If you visit in September, it will still be light out at 8 o'clock.


  • If you don’t love chocolate, you must be evil. If you don’t love chocolate, don’t go to Bruges. Every other shop is a chocolate shop, though only nine are handmade. After three days of taste testing as much chocolate as one’s tummy could hold, my boyfriend and I unanimously agreed the best shop is Heidi Neyts (Rozenhoedkaai 1, 8000 Brugge, Belgium). 




  • There’s not much in the way of nightlife here, unless you extend dinner until closing, but I would suggest grabbing a beer at the following bars:

    • Shout-out to my favourite beer loving boy for stumbling upon Brewery Bourgogne des Flandres. This brewery has a patio out front, but if you walk through the bar area, there is a deck overlooking a busy part of the canal (great for people watching). To get there, you have to go through a side street that most people miss, plus the plain patio out front deceives most passers-by. We snagged a table right by the water. Pro tip: Drink up and skip the brewery tours. If you've ever done a brewery tour, you've probably done them all.

    • If you can find De Garre, please let me know. We looked, but had no luck. Apparently they serve the world’s strongest beer.

Tourist Attractions:

  • You could spend all day doing tours in Bruges, but the only one I did was the canal boat ride. It’s pretty much the only way to see Bruges on water.

  • What I enjoyed most was sightseeing outside to absorb the fairy-tale atmosphere. We walked past the Belfry, the Markt, and the church (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk), while stumbling upon shops, cafes, plazas and parks. Each night, we read up on things we had seen to get the historical and cultural context of the sights. I’m not a fan of hoards of crowds, so we didn’t spend much time in the Markt. Eventually, all road lead to the Markt, so it’s full of people.

I don't drink beer, but I tasted this flight at Brewery Bourgogne des Flandres, overlooking the Dijver Canal.