One Day in Bruges
North of Brussels there lies a little town called Bruges. Or Brugge, if you speak Flemish. Which I, unfortunately, do not, even though Josh and I live in the Flanders region of Belgium.
Flemish is a dialect of Dutch, which makes it a tricky language, and so far we've been able to survive on alstublieft (please), dank u wel (thank you), and hand motions. Eventually we'll start taking those language classes we were so determined to begin the moment our feet hit the ground in Belgium, but for now we're slowly picking up words as we go.
Josh and I are continuing to learn about our host country, and our favorite way to do that is traveling. On our most recent day off, we spent the day in Bruges.
Bruges is one of our favorite places we've been to in Belgium. It's known as one of the top romantic cities in Europe, and Bruges is deep-rooted in rich history. If it's not already, this city should be on your travel bucket list. It's an hour's train ride from Brussels, which makes it the perfect day trip when visiting Belgium.
Read on for my tips on spending a fantastic (and inexpensive) day in Bruges!
The Bruges train station is on the outskirts of the city, and it's a bit of a walk to get to the city center. This is good news, since Minnewater Park is on the way. Take a leisurely stroll and enjoy some of the most romantic scenery in Bruges.
Once you make your way to the city center, check out:
Grote Markt. It's the gigantic square in the middle of town, you can't miss it. Take a few minutes to sit on the steps of the statue in the middle of the square and just soak it all in.
Tip: Avoid the restaurants around the Markt; locals agree that most of them are overpriced and touristy.
Basilica of the Holy Blood. Tucked away around the corner from the Grote Markt, this beautiful basilica claims to have the blood of Jesus Christ preserved in a vial, which is displayed inside the church. When the vial is brought out for veneration, the short (5 minute) ceremony is open to the public.
Note: The basilica requests a small offering/donation (€2 suggestion) for the upkeep of the church if you choose to venerate the vial up close.
Take a free walking tour instead of a canal boat tour. It's not only cheaper (depending on how you tip the walking guide; boat tours cost around €8 for a 30-minute ride), but the walking tour is more in-depth, a more personal experience, and it's a great way to meet people.
Recommendation: Legends of Bruges Free Walking Tour (website here). Their guides are friendly and knowledgeable, plus at the end of the tour you get free chocolate and beer tastings!
End the day by visiting one of the many bars and sample some Bruges specialties. Try a Brugse Zot (translates to "Bruges Fool") or Straffe Hendrik, which are both brewed in Bruges by De Halve Maan Brewery. The Straffe Hendrik is one of my favorites!