My second guest post blogger is the lovely Amy from Amy and the Great World. Amy has written a guest post before about London and is currently living in Budapest. Go and check out her lovely blog for some serious great travel posts.
Bruges, Belgium has the distinction of being one of those rare places I’ve visited more than once while living in Europe. I’ve been there in summer and over Christmas and it is such a delightful little town. I love it so much I’m hoping to experience it, someday, in the autumn and the spring!
Try the waffles
Let’s be real: one of the main reasons you are probably going to Belgium is the famous Belgian waffles, and you must try them immediately! Try the Liege waffle, named after a city/region, and take it for a stroll while you get oriented to the adorable Bruges. You can get it loaded with ice cream, whipped cream, the works–like I did below–but I think they’re just as delicious plain and warm from the waffle-maker.
Climb the Belfry of Bruges
You won’t miss the Belfry, smack dab in the middle of the main square, or Markt. There’s been a belfry on this spot since around 1240, when Bruges was in its heyday. The climb isn’t bad and the views are gorgeous! Go on a clear morning to beat the crowds, and ideally your first day, to help you get oriented to the little city.
Take a canal tour–from a boat!
This is quite a touristy pastime in Bruges (it’s not an undiscovered city by far!) but it’s so wonderful to see the beautiful city from the water. The tours last about thirty minutes and give you a good, quick overview of the city’s history. I loved learning the specific history of more of the distinctive buildings we passed.
Choose the best fries in the Markt.
Apparently there is a debate over which fries are better–the ones from the cart on the left-side of the Belfry or the ones on the right-side. Really, you’ll just have to try both to decide for yourself! It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.
Visit the Groeninge Museum
If you are an art lover, this is a must-see! It’s a fairly compact museum with quite a few painting by important Flemish artists. Most of the paintings in this museum are from before the Renaissance, to give you an idea of how long Bruges history is.
View Madonna and Child
That’s right, there’s a Michelangelo…in Bruges! This tells you what a powerhouse Bruges was in the thirteenth century. This was actually the only piece of his to leave Italy during his lifetime. The Church of Our Lady, where you can find the statue, is also a beautiful cathedral to visit.
Visit the Chocolate Line
I know you’ve heard of Belgian chocolate–and it most definitely lives up to the hype. You can pop into almost any chocolate shop and be happy, I think, but you must visit the Chocolate Line–reputed as some of the best in the world. My now-husband tried the Cuban cigar flavor, mostly to say that he had, and I tried the lavender. This is a pricey spot that probably won’t be where you buy your souvenir chocolates, but it’s worth a visit just to try the most interesting flavors around.
Bicycle to the nearby town of Damme
Damme is a mini-Bruges a leisurely bike ride away from the actual Bruges. This was one of my favorite activities we did while in Bruges because you bike along a canal and past windmills. It is incredibly picturesque! It’s also nice to get away from the city and into the countryside of Belgium. The town itself is cute and has its own little church and is known for its bookstores and book fairs.
Find your favorite Belgian beer
Yet another gastronomic delight Belgian is famous for? The beer, of course! I quickly found my favorite (Kasteel Donker, if you’re wondering) but doing a tasting at a place like Cambrinus is another way to go. It’s not a hardship to taste a few before choosing the best, after all. Just remember, Belgian beer tends to be strong compared to most beer, so take your time unless you really want to party!
Get lost in the streets
Bruges is a magical little city that often does feel lost in time. However, there are a lot of tourists. Luckily, just a few blocks away from the main tourist center and the Markt, you’ll be able to find quieter, small streets to explore. Follow your feet and see where the charming little streets take you!
Have you been to Bruges? What would you recommend for a first-time visitor?
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