Welcome to Bruges, one of Europe’s most grammable medieval cities and the good looking capital of West Flanders. Sitting pretty in Belgium’s northwest, complete with picturesque canals, winding cobblestones and ancient brick bridges, it won’t take long to find your perfect backdrop and discover why it’s considered one of the most beautiful places in Europe.
Prepare for fairytale vibes a plenty, here are seven reasons to visit Bruges the next time you’re in Europe.
The Canals Were Made For Cruisin’
Contrary to everything you thought you knew, it’s not just Venice that boasts stunning canals. Coined the Venice of the north, Bruges is actually best seen by boat, which is great news to any weary traveller. The best spot to jump on one of these tours is in Rozenhoedkaai, which is where the Groenerie and Dijver canals meet. Lasting an enjoyable 30 minutes (even if it’s raining), you’ll do a loop of the city and have ample time to soak it all in.
It's Home To One Of Europe’s Most Famous Christmas Markets
The Brugge Markt or market square is one solid hectare of history and shopping. This medieval market square hosts a weekly market each wednesday from 8am to 1pm, with everything from classic market fare like fruits, vegetables and cheese as well as handmade artisanal products on display. The square really ups its game come Christmas time when the annual christmas market sets up shop from November through to January. Complete with ice skating, waffles, hot chocolate and beer, as well as all the fairy lights your inner child can handle, this is one of the best christmas markets in Europe for a reason.
You Can Stroll The UNESCO Protected Old Town
Pack your walking shoes because once you’re off the boat it’s time to hit the streets. There’s no better spot to begin your walk back in time than the UNESCO heritage listed Burg square in the centre of the city. Given this title due to its intangible cultural heritage, the square is an impressive mix of gothic, renaissance and neoclassicism architectural styles. In centuries past this was the political and religious centre of the region, and the town hall built in 1376 is officially one of the oldest in the Low Countries. From the gothic style town hall, to the Palace of the Liberty of Bruges, and the Blind Donkey Alley or Blinde Ezelstraat (which is a super narrow pedestrian passageway through to the fish market) this is a holiday peruse like no other. The building with a real claim to fame however is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which combines both romanesque and gothic architecture in one. As for why it’s famous, the story goes that there is a vial containing a small piece of cloth stained with drops of Jesus’ blood brought during the crusades by the Count of Flanders. Whatever you choose to believe, it’s something to tick off the bucket list.
You'll Eat And Drink Yourself Flemish
What’s a holiday without stuffing yourself silly on local cuisines and drinking your weight in quality tipples? Exactly! In Bruges you’re in good company for both. For the popular Mussels and Frits that should be on everyone's hit list in Belgium, head to Poules Moules for some of the best in the city. For a flemish stew of slow cooked meat in beer and selection of traditional local favourites be sure to book a spot at Den Amand Bistro that prides itself on keeping things authentic.
Now for the beers, and we definitely mean beers plural. Whether its blonde, strong, strawberry or craft you’ll find it here and plenty of it. Local favourites include ‘t Brugs Beertje which is a pub and tasting house, The Beer Wall located in a fifteenth century manor house with (you guessed it) a serious selection of quality brews on the wall, and the Duvelorium Grand Beer Cafe which is the home of Duvel beer.
It Boasts The Lake Of Love
Whether your lucky or still looking, there’s one spot in Bruge guaranteed to ignite a spark. The tranquil Minnewater Park located at the southern end of the city is your perfect introduction to Bruges. At its centre, you’ll find the aptly named Minnewater Lake and the famed Lovers’ Bridge. Legend has it that a kiss on the bridge isn’t just for the likes, but a guarantee that you will have eternal love. There's only one real way to find out...
Here's Exactly Where To Find The Best View In Town
A 366-step climb will take you to one of the best views in the city. The Belfry Tower at 83-metres high boasts stunning views over the city and a history that dates back to the 13th century. Open seven days per week and with panoramic views across the city it’s best to climb this one on a clear day to take full advantage.
Art, Art And A Little More Art
Art lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to the cultural scene in Bruges. One locale at the top of many an itinerary is the Groeningemuseum with a collection of both Flemish Primitive and Renaissance works. A close second is the permanent Salvador Dali museum with rotating exhibitions by the master throughout the year. It’s not only museums that attract art lovers from across the globe, the Church of Our Lady lays claim to Michelangelo’s Madonna with Child carved by the man himself at the turn of the fifteenth century and donated to the church by a merchant.
Once you've been wowed by this dreamy city, head over to Belgium's captial city, Brussels.
Image Credit: Emma Vendetta, Matt Seymour, Maria Teneva, Olivier Depaep, Remo Scarfò, Thierry Lemaitre, Olga Subach