For about $20 and an hour long sit on a train you can skip out of Brussels for the day and visit the fairytale-esque town of Bruges. Our goal was to plan a day with a mixture of historical topics, delicious food and beer, and of course plenty of pretty sights! The day panned out perfectly so I am going to share with you exactly what we did!
Firstly, just walk! If you’re a big walker you can make your way around most of the town without paying for transportation. We followed the canals that wind through the town to its outer edges, effectively leading us to the “windmill walk”! Park Kruisvest stretches along the riverbed and is decorated with classic, wooden windmills, some of which are gated off from the public while others are accessible and ready for photos!
You won’t have any problem finding picture perfect Bruges backdrops between its charming brick buildings, cobblestone roads and quaint windmills. While you won’t have to look too hard for an ideal location some classic choices are the Markt Square, Park Kruisvest, Rozenhoedkaai and Belfry Tower!
Along your walk you can fuel up with waffles and beer! I’m pretty sure no waffle is a bad waffle, but while in Bruges we snacked at Go.fre, located just around the corner from the Markt. The equally delicious and adorable waffles are served on a stick with a dipping and topping for just three euro! Buying multiple is definitely not frowned upon, you are walking if off, after all!
While you can take a brewery tour of De Halve Maan we chose to simply visit their tap room to rest our feet and rehydrate. The brewery dates back to 1856 but the tidbit of their history I found most fascinating was relatively recent. In 2016 they laid a pipe system that stretches two miles long under the roads of Bruges to transport the beer from the brewing site to the bottling facility! This helps decrease vehicle traffic, their overall ecological footprint and allows them to remain brewing in the same spot that they have from the start.
Visiting the Basilica of the Holy Blood is the perfect choice if you’re interested in neo-Gothic architecture or holy relics. We actually had trouble locating it because it isn’t the towering steeple-style church you’d imagine, but fits snuggly between two other buildings. Inside the upper church you can attend a viewing of the vile that contains a cloth soaked in Jesus’ blood. While it is seemingly difficult for experts to prove the authenticity and timeline of this relic it is believed to have been brought to Belgium in 1150 after the Second Crusade. Regardless of its legitimacy I’ve never come across a relic so unique, so it was a must visit!
The Church of Our Lady Bruges is home to Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child, his only piece to leave Italy during the artist’s lifetime. Brought to Belgium in the early 1500s the sculpture has been a token to be stolen over the course of many wars but always finds it’s way back. While there is some controversy over the church’s “free admission” that barricades you outside the most exciting areas, I don’t recall paying any amount more than five euro. With paid admission visitors can see many examples of uncovered artwork and tombs that have remained hidden in the church, as construction dates back to the 13th century.
On a lighter note, if you want to learn about the history of potatoes that traces back centuries, their healing properties or the scandalous connotation they bare, you must visit the Frietmuseum. Initially we chose to visit the museum for comical reasons but quickly realized it was chock-full of interesting information and child-friendly interactive areas! Their gift shop is also exclusively potato themed, so I recommend you load up on touristy knick knacks there!
Bruges had so much beauty and culture to share with us and I am very pleased we chose to journey north of Brussels for the day! I strongly encourage anyone considering a visit to just take the plunge and purchase that train ticket! It’s $20, what have you got to lose?!