Capturing the essence of Bruges is a lot like writing about something that isn’t real. The fairytale charm, cobblestone streets, Neo-Gothic architecture, and astonishingly preserved canals leave you wondering when you last had your eyes checked. Yes, that’s the level of picturesque we’re talking about!
Often referred to as ‘The Venice of the North,’ Bruges is Venice’s northern, slightly-less-touristy, equally-as-magical sister. So if you’re looking for all the charm of a historic port city without the massive crowds and tourist-fatigue, Bruges is your destination.
The typical Bruges experience is one of relaxation, leisurely exploration and lots of observation. From the friendly shop owners to the quaint market squares, you’ll step back in time and open up to the myriad of unique sights and sounds at every turn.
When you’re on one of our Bruges tours, our expert guides will show you the iconic spots, and then you’ll have the opportunity to explore on your own. Here are some suggestions on how to have an authentic Bruges experience in your free time:
Belgians do lots of things really, really well, and parks are one of them. Remember all that observation and relaxation we were just talking about? Strolling through Bruges’ several little parks is a wonderful way to blend in for a bit and people-watch. Watch the passersby, meet happy locals, sip an espresso, read and float away for awhile. Get a sense of the pace of life here in Bruges, which is slow and thoughtful. Besides Minnewaterpark (which means “Lake of Love”), check out Koningin Astridpark, located in the southeast part of the city, for a delightfully peaceful respite.
Perhaps you already know that Belgian beer is among the best beer in the world, but do you know why? Find out what sets Belgian beer apart with a tour of De Halve Maan, one of Bruges’ famous and award-winning breweries. Located in the heart of the city and offering views of the canals, this tasting tour will teach you about the history of brewing in Bruges and its economic and cultural significance today. If you don’t drink beer, you can still enjoy the lovely ambiance of the brewery, as well as the fantastic lunch offerings.
Pay a visit to some of the several unique, live music spots in the city. What’s so special is many of these venues are located in spectacular historic buildings, such as the Bistro Zwart Huis. Erected in 1492, this late-Gothic building was originally a merchant’s house. The brick interior, cozy fireplace and flickering candles set the ideal mood for listening to some live tunes.
When you think of great food, Belgium is probably not the first country to come to mind, but we don’t think it’s getting a fair shake among foodies. Bruges offers tons of fabulous dining options, some of which might surprise you. For a culinary experience you aren’t expecting, visit Kok au Vin. This chic restaurant has everything from squid fried in hazelnut butter to white sausage and snails to tease your taste buds.