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Our "Insider Tips" Bruges Travel Blog

 

Photo © Travel2Give - a typical scene in Bruges historic centre

Bruges in Belgium is an amazing place to visit: the historical architecture is stunning; there’s lots to do and great chocolate, beer and delicious Belgian food to enjoy. You can go at any time of the year: the weather is fine in the summer and cold and moody in the winter (you might get some snow if you’re lucky). In the summer it’s busy with hoards of tourists and day-trippers, taking photographs; riding round in horse-drawn buggies and browsing in the chocolate, lace and tapestry shops.

 

Insider tip – in winter there’s lots of lovely cosy bars and character restaurants to snuggle up in, with open fires and picture-postcard views.

Photo © Travel2Give - romantic Bruges by night

The history of Bruges is linked to the sea, its golden era was between the 12th and 15th century where it was a world renowned port. That silted up centuries ago and has now been replaced by the sea-port at Zeebrugge. The old town is a mostly contained within an oval-shaped canal and it’s now a UNESCO protected world heritage site. It’s brilliantly preserved and in the last 100 years any gaps have been filled with sympathetic building, which mirrors the historical architecture surrounding it. In modern Bruges, brewing and tourism are the main trades.

Insider tip – Even though it’s busy in summer it’s still easy to find a deserted canalside walk, just wander away from the tourist sights and you’ll be surprised how quiet it gets, you’ll still see beautiful historical buildings everywhere.

 

Photo © Travel2Give - away from the crowds in Bruges other canals

The historic centre is a must see, though you can’t miss it. It’s dominated by its two towers: the spire of Our Lady church and the Belfry. Bruges can be enjoyed by simply wandering round and soaking in the sumptuous views of the canals and amazingly preserved buildings. Don’t miss the peaceful Beguinage and the Minnewater lake or the thriving Markt square and the Basilica of the Holy Blood.

Insider tip – Use your view of the two landmark towers to help you navigate round if you get lost.

Insider tip – Treat yourself to a lovely walk around the old town canals, start at the St Janhuis and Koelewei windmills and follow the path round the city.

There’s plenty to do in Bruges other than absorbing the architecture and drinking beer. If you do want to walk around we’d suggest a free walking tour, they’re never boring: you’ll get humour, history and lots of insider tips about what to do and where to go. Though these tours are advertised as free, they are in fact ‘a trip with a tip’, you just give the guide a tip that you think the tour merits: the tip will be less that other tours, the tour will be better and it’ll be worth every eurocent. If you fancy drinking beer then a tour of De Halve Maan Brewery is fascinating. For art lovers a visit to the Groeninge Museum is a must as it’s collection of Flemish art is world-renowned.

Insider tip –De Halve Maan Brewery tour only costs a few euros but includes brilliant rooftop views and a glass of beer in the bar at the end of the tour.

Insider tip – The canal boat trips are touristy but fantastic and worth it, they’re better off-season as they’re not busy and you won’t have to queue for ages.

Photo © Ian Bush Top Drawer Holidays - yum yum, a Bruges patisserie window display

Bruges can be an expensive place to eat out but it’s also an indulgent food destination, with lots of patisseries, waffle houses, steak restaurants and chocolate shops to enjoy. You don’t have to spend a fortune eating in Bruges: you can pop into a bakery and buy a picnic or have a beer in one of the bars and buy a bar snack to go along with it. If you are looking to splurge the cash on a good meal my recommendation is that you go to the top of your budget as fine-dining prices in Bruges aren’t always more expensive than fine-dining prices elsewhere, so offer you greater value for money. Another tip is to get off the beaten track and find a nice restaurant which is for locals rather than the tourists.

Insider tip – Try Ribs ‘n Beer, a fantastic restaurant with a great bar, very reasonably priced. The house speciality is all you can eat ribs, try the beer & chocolate variety- gorgeous!

Insider tip – Try Books & Brunch for a relaxing breakfast, bookshop/ café is popular with tourists and locals. Lovely fresh bread, cakes and salads as well as hot food and good coffee.

Insider tip – Patisserie Academie is a very smart patisserie, serving amazing pastry treats and excellent coffee at very reasonable prices. Everything is securely packaged when you buy, so perfect for a picnic or a treat in your hotel room later.

Insider tip – 't Brugs Beertje have 300 different Belgian beers to try -and they are delicious- they also serve bar snacks but it’s the lovely atmosphere and friendly staff which make it extra special.

Insider tip – Thinking of splurging on an expensive meal? Le Mystique at the Hotel Heritage is a fantastic restaurant in a Relais & Chateau hotel with a Michelin-starred chef. The food is outstanding and the 4-course menu with wine selection is worth every cent.

Photo © Travel2Give - a typical scene in Bruges historic centre

Now you’ve got the insider view of Bruges, why not go? It’s perfect for a weekend citybreak or why not go via Eurostar from St Pancras and have a night in London too? 

Mark from Travel2Give

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