If there is ever such a thing as a contest of the prettiest town on earth, my vote shall go to Bruges, without a second thought. This Belgian medieval town has the most enchanting lanes, arresting architecture, and romantic canals to die for. And the waffles can blow your mind away. Bruges (or Brugge) is a three-hour drive from Amsterdam and calls for a great day trip. From Brussels, it is an hour away. While we did make only a day trip, I would, however, insist on planning to spend a night at least. Evenings can bring a completely different charm to any place, and for a town like Bruges, it will be simply magical.
We had decided to travel by bus via a local tours company here. Though we are not really big fans of escorted tours, as it limits your flexibility, despite that, the one good thing about these tours is that it gives you the freedom to sit back and enjoy the trip without taking efforts to figure things out. Drop-offs and pick-ups are at points very close to the city center and the time in between that is left totally to you.
The first thing that strikes you in this pretty little town is its quiet and quaint cobblestoned lanes. They seem like right out of a fairytale. Walk into any of these to discover a world of their own. And do not worry about getting lost. You will find your way out without much effort. The fairytale continues into the canals as well. We were so awed by everything around us that we made multiple stops before walking our way to the market square. The square is a melting pot of activities and also the confluence of locals and tourists. It is dominated by rows of stepped gabled buildings, a characteristic seemingly very conspicuous in traditional Belgian building design. The Belfry (bell tower) is one of the most remarkable structures at the square. So is the town hall which is a little ahead. We headed to the Historium, a museum at the market square that gives a tour of the Golden Age of Bruges. However, we were not really heading for the tour, rather to the terrace that gives a great panoramic view of the square. The terrace has an adjoining beer cafe and since you are in Belgium, a Belgian beer is undoubtedly a must in the itinerary ( FYI there are a hundred and twenty varieties).
We walked around exploring adjacent areas and discovered a delightful food truck selling heavenly-looking waffles. I was ecstatic! I love waffles, and it was the best one that I have had till date. And do not miss Belgian potato fries; fresh and crispy, they are definitely the best in the world. And they flaunt it too. We bought the fries from a stall called ‘Frituur Shana’ and they were awesome. It was interesting that the owner of the stall speaks eleven languages, and spoke to every other customer in a different language. And then it was time for some souvenir shopping and chocolates. When in Bruges, spare some of your time for some local purchasing. Apart from the standard souvenirs and traditional beer mugs, bring home some local chocolates and lace work. There are some really fine chocolate shops around and buying an assortment of Belgian chocolates is an integral part of the trip. The lace work here is a renowned handicraft with very intricate designs, and its origin goes back to a couple of centuries.
We spent the day in Brugge without realizing how time just flew and since we were time bound, we had to head back to our pick-up point. The next visit is going to be longer for sure. Memories of this town will be etched in my heart forever. I am totally in love with you, oh, beautiful Bruges!
- Check the weather before making any plans.
- Stay for a night at least.
- Visit in the summer. Winters can get painful
- Belfry tower
- Town Hall
- Canal Cruise
- Gelateria Food Truck for Waffles
- Frituur Shana for Fries and Snacks
- Lace Works
- Local Assorted Chocolates