You don’t need much time to explore the wonderful Belgium City, Bruges. This is my day trip to Bruges vacation itinerary. I provide top picks for art, activities, food, souvenirs that every traveler should experience.
Travel From Brussels To Bruges
Boarding a train from Brussels to Bruges, I feel like death. All that beer. I did it to myself. The worst part, there are no seats, and the only open space is in the connecting area of the train cars, next to the bathroom. I am bent over the stairs; dying. After a traumatic hour long train ride, we finally arrive in Bruges.
As you leave the train station, follow the crowds; walk down the street across from the station square to the old city center. Walking up a quaint cobblestone streets, there are rows of cottage houses, canals, willow trees, and swans everywhere…it’s a fairytale. The smell of chocolate, the sounds of the city square, everyone drinking beer, I am not lying when I say Bruges is magical. Except I was feeling like death. Did I mention this?
Knowing I need a bloody mary and some toast to go on, we stop at a restaurant on our way to the Church of Our Lady; we are on our way to see the Madonna of Bruges Statue. Sitting down at ‘t Schrijverke, I immediately throw my head down. I know, so dramatic. Not knowing how to make a bloody mary, I told the bartender the ingredients, and voila, I get my bloody mary. Soup and vodka, I feel like 97% better. Who knew? Now that i’m functional, it’s time to go see some baby Jesus.
FINDING BABY JESUS
Being a history buff and seeing The David in Florence, you’re damn right I want to see the famous Madonna of Bruges statue. Finding the Church of Our Lady is no big deal, but trying to locate the entrance is an issue. There is no signage, and construction is going on everywhere. We finally find the door, (Facing the front, it’s on the right side of the church, and there is a $7 fee to get in.
Walking in the Church of Our Lady, you feel very small and very cold. Straight out of medieval times, the gothic architecture is amazing. With not many people inside the church, we are able see the statue with no issues. The statue is quite small, located in a glass case a distance away from the roped off area. Elegant, but it’s no David.
This church is worth a visit not because of Michael Angelo alone, but because of how magnificent the church is. Still revealing it’s history, restorationists are uncovering artwork that has been hidden by hundreds of years of plaster. The art and gothic architecture of this church is for sure worth the $7.
After exploring the church we head out to see the rest of Bruges. The streets are charming with extraordinary sounds and smells. Getting distracted at the local market, Justin is on a quest to find an antique candelabra. Haggling for about in hour with old Flemish women, while trying on several helmets and playing with swords we convince Justin that we will come back for the candelabra. I think we may have just crushed his soul. I reassure him, we will be back, just not for the Knight’s Helmet.
We continue to walk aimlessly up and down the streets, crossing the canals and popping into different places. With so many chocolate shops, it can sometimes be hard to find a local shop versus a chain. Going with what we are smelling we enter into one of the many chocolate shops in Bruges, Dumon Chocolatier. We are greeted by the cutest old lady and her daughter. The old woman is so sweet, going into detail about how everything was handmade by her family for generations; handing us samples to try. It turns out that this chocolate shop is one of Rick Steve’s favorites. Jackpot!
Continuing to walk aimlessly, we walk through the splendid main square of Bruges. Accordions playing, people conversing, kids laughing, carriages riding around, it was amazing. We decide to go for a canal ride. The canal rides in Bruges are charming; a 40 minutes ride through the canals you get to see the city from a new perspective. It’s insane how these buildings are built right into the water; it reminds me of Venice.
BAR HOPPING IN BRUGES WITH RICK STEVES
Next up on my Bruges vacation itinerary is with beer! Getting cultured in architecture and history of Bruges, it is now time to culture our palates with some beer and cheese. Yup, I am back at it. An enjoyable way to walk aimlessly around Bruges is to take a tip from Rick Steves, go bar hopping through Bruges. Following a trail of one of kind Belgian monk beer, the following bars have a hundreds of beer to choose from:
- ‘t Brugs Beertje
- Café Vlissinghe
- The Beerwall
- De Garre
- Café Terrastje
- Herberg Vlissinghe
- Pub ‘t Gezelleke
BRUGES TO AMSTERDAM BY WAY OF CANDELABRAS
Coming up on 4pm, Justin reminds us that we need to head back soon, so he can get the candelabra. Damnit, turns out he did not forget about the candelabra. We made our way back in time, so Justin could buy his candelabra. At the train station in Bruges, we are finally making our way back to Amsterdam. There is no direct train from Bruges to Amsterdam, so we connect in Brussels. For more information on what to expect on your Belgium holiday, read Top Bruges Travel Tips.
Please share any tips or thoughts for a short first time visit to Bruges, Belgium.