Last weekend I took some of the ESA-girls to Bruges, to show them around my birth city. I thought this would be a great time to actually write my blogpost about Bruges (finally!), so here it is :). No matter where you are staying in Belgium, Bruges is super easy to reach. Plenty of busses and trains go towards the city and if you have a rental car you can park for only 3.5 euros a day at the train station. Arrived at the train station you basically just cross the street (or follow the streams of tourists as they all cross the street in the exact same spot) and you keep walking straight to start off a beautiful walk along the most interesting spots. If you have water on your right side and buildings with trees on the other side you are correct ;). The first stop is a photo on the bridge, where you have a nice view over the water and the city. Next up is the Minnewater, a romantic scenery full of white swans (there was a big fuss when some people noticed a black swan once… no need to say the poor animal was deported as soon as possible).
If you keep walking, you will encounter the Begijnhof on your left side. It is inhabited by a few nuns of the Catholic Church and kept in its original 17th Century look. When you exit the Begijnhof through the same gate you entered, you are back in the city center. You can stroll through the old city and visit the many lace and chocolate shops. Eventually you will for sure end up on the Simon Stevinplein where the best Belgian chocolatier has his own shop. Dominique Persoone makes the most unexpected chocolate creations (pralines with weed or bacon are no exception here) and he won many prizes doing so. His shop is definitely worth a visit since you can see how chocolate is being made. If you are lucky, you might even get to see him making chocolate (like we did). The chocolate is pricy though, and Dumon or Galler tastes just as good.
Another must-do (seriously) is the Old Chocolate House. Upstairs is the best chocolate milk bar you will ever find and with an old-Flemish interior you have my attention. Their chocolate milk goes from regular to special world chocolates (Brazil is my all-time favourite) and combo’s with banana and marshmallows. Don’t go too late in the afternoon, it will be packed! We went for some french fries on the market square, and continued our walk to the Burg where the Basilica of the Holy Blood is located. Usually they display the Holy Blood to be worshipped from 9am to 5pm and entrance is free. The Basilica itself is beautiful and definitely worth a visit. From the Burg you can easily access the Vismarkt, the spot where they used to trade fish back in the days when Bruges was still a harbour.
If you are into beer, you can take a guided tour through de Halve Maan, the brewery of a famous Belgian Beer called ‘Brugse Zot’. Or just go by for a cloudy Brugse Zot, only available here! For dinner, you should definitely try out de Stoepa (world cuisine) or l’Estaminet (a typical brown bar). If you want to go fancier, Tanuki is the place to be for great Japanese food in style. Another tip is Lizzie’s wafels where they have great waffles over double the size of a normal waffle. Their chocolate sauce is made from real chocolate (and not some cheap kind of chocolate syrup). Just like the rest of my favorite places, this one is superbusy in the afternoon so mind this and plan ahead.
Tips & Tricks
- Fly to Brussels
- Take the train to Bruges
- Staying elsewhere in Belgium? Look at http://www.nmbs.be or http://www.delijn.be for public transport
- Tourist shops often accept foreign currencies such as USD