one day in bruges.

how to spend one day in Bruges, Belgium.

Last week, I shared some photos from our rainy stay in Amsterdam. The morning we left, the clouds started to fade while we were on the train to Bruges. When we arrived in this little city, the sun was finally shining--and we were able to ditch our heavy winter coats in favor of our lighter jackets. After some consultation with friends and family who have visited Bruges, we decided one day would allow us to get a good taste for the city. It also served as a great via point between Amsterdam and Paris. As a warning, this post is a bit photo heavy, but consider it your little getaway for the day!

{one little note: there are a number of conflicting ways to spell Bruges {i.e. Bruges, Brugges, Bruge}, but for the sake of this post, I'm sticking with Bruges.}

pretty windows in Bruges, Belgium.
quaint streets in Bruges, Belgium.
pretty windows in Bruges, Belgium.
quaint streets in Bruges, Belgium.

We arrived in Bruges just before noon and set out immediately in search of some lunch. I quickly fell in love with the cobblestone streets and vibrantly colored homes. Bruges is an ancient city by European standards. Many of its medieval buildings remain, which allows you to slip back in time. I had been to Bruges for a singular afternoon in 1999, but I remember little from that trip other than the weeping willows over the river.

Once we neared the center of town, we stumbled upon a quiet café near the center of town called Brasserie Rozenhoedkaai. {cv} and I shared an enormous order of moules frites {aka mussels and fries} to fuel up for the day. After lunch, we continued our stroll into the true center of town, finding a full-on Christmas market along with an ice rink. Though we didn't lace up our skates, we did pay a couple of euro to try the glühwein {aka mulled wine}. While on the market square, we wanted to see the Belfry, but the line to enter was two hours long. With time in short supply, we kept on exploring the city.

Brasserie Rozenhoedkaai in Bruges, Belgium.
a taste of glühwein in Bruges, Belgium.
winter in Bruges, Belgium.
Bruges, Belgium.

In true Belgian fashion, {cv} and I decided to seek out some beer. With some encouragement from Trip Advisor, we ended up at Cambrinus. We were lucky to score a few seats at the bar and witnessed the beer-pouring spectacle firsthand. Every beer was served in a "matching" glass. With countless beers available, this was quite a feat.

After Cambrinus, {cv} and I found The Bottle Shop. Though they didn't serve beer, they did have an incredible selection of bottled beer paired with their matching glasses. We knew the Belgians took pride in their beer, but this shop illustrated it in a magnificent way.

Cambrinus | Bruges, Belgium
The Bottle Shop | Bruges, Belgium

I promise beer wasn't the only thing on our brains while in Bruges. Of course, we had to be on the hunt for chocolate too. {cv} and I did a little research and ultimately ended up at The Chocolate Line. As one might expect, the smell of the shop was out of this world. I didn't want to anger the shopowners, so I sadly don't have any photos to illustrate the beauty of their chocolate. One thing is for sure: if you go to Bruges, you need to save a few minutes for a visit to The Chocolate Line.

t' Brugs Beertje | Bruges, Belgium

Though we didn't have a dinner reservation, {cv} and I were able to squeeze into a corner booth at t' Brugs Beertje. Full to the brim with both locals and tourists, we couldn't get enough of the sights, sounds, and smells of this place. I would definitely recommend it for an authentic Bruges dining experience. One word of warning: they only accept cash. {cv} had to leave me for ransom {as noted in this Instagram} while he went to an ATM to pull out the appropriate funds. It was definitely a learning moment.

Bruges, Belgium at the holidays.
Bruges, Belgium at the holidays.

After dinner, {cv} and I made one final lap through the quaint streets of Bruges. My nighttime photos of this charming city don't do it justice. Before we turned in for the night, we had some late-night fries at Friterie 1900, though I must say they paled in comparison to my NYC fave Pommes Frites. With the help of Hotwire, we scored a room at the Hotel NH Brugge. Though it wasn't a super posh hotel, the rooms were well-kept and it was easily walkable to the train station and the city center. We wouldn't hesitate to stay there again.

In any season, I would certainly recommend a visit to Bruges. It is a nice change of pace from the larger cities in Europe, but it isn't too small to entertain you for a full day {or more}. Our wintertime visit provided even more charm {if that's possible} with its twinkly lights and holiday markets. In retrospect, we could have taken a ride on the river or booked a brewery tour, but {cv} and I enjoyed our visit immensely the way we did it. As we've found, smaller cities are best enjoyed while on a leisurely stroll--without ten million places to stop.

Have you ever been to Bruges? What else would you recommend for a one-day visit? xoxo {av} 

12 comments:

  1. I have not been, but all my friend who have visited say it's one of their favorite cities in the world. So it's definitely on my list! :)

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  2. Beautiful pictures!!

    Best, Mree

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  3. looks so beautiful ali! adding it to my to-visit list :) xo

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  4. I loved Brugge! We took a boat down the canals and had a great time sampling the chocolate. I highly recommend checking out the Chocolate Line, and if you do you must try the "Atlanta" truffle. It tastes exactly like a Coke! You are right though, just strolling through the cobblestone streets is kind of magical.

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  5. My son and I really enjoyed looking at your pictures this morning. The buildings and the cobblestones and lights. And those beer signs. Maybe one day we'll see it for ourselves. You did your homework and got to return! Thanks.
    Love,
    Shalagh

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  6. Looks like it was was a fun, food-filled day (the best kind!). I'm dying to get over to Europe during the winter markets - they always look so magical!

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  7. Europe at Christmas time is THE BEST! I love experiencing all the different Christmas traditions of each country! Amsterdam is definitely on my To See list and now a day trip to Bruges might be as well.

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  8. Oh wow I am incredibly jealous! Your photos are incredible and Bruges looks so charming! I want to go!

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  9. This looks just so lovely! Glad you shared :)

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  10. I love Bruges as well! Everything about it is wonderful!

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  11. I will be there in December. Thanks for sharing your photos.

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