Yes, I’m well aware Christmas is over and it’s time to move on… but, nah I can’t do that. One of the most fun getaways from 2017 was a weekend impulsively booked to Bruges, on a hunt for some of Europe’s best Christmas markets. While the market lived up to every expectation of being one of the cutest yet, the city itself is easily the quaintest I’ve ever visited in Europe.
Take the Eurostar over from anywhere in Europe to Belgium, and connect to a quick train on to Bruges for an ideal weekend away. While this city definitely comes alive on a whole new level around the festive season, I’m sure it’s beauty remains undiminished throughout the year.
Even 24 hours is perfect to get a flavor of the city, so if you’re stressed for time, don’t hesitate hitting it up! Walk around the city’s many side streets and get lost amongst them, each quainter than the next. Some of our highlights from the getaway below!
Bruges Christmas Market
If you’re here between November and December, this is your first stop! Right in the town square, this beautiful market surrounds an ice skating rink and has everything from your classics (think mulled wine and bratwurst) to some of the cutest little handmade stores. Prices aren’t steep and there is something for everyone! If you’re planning your trip around the market, check out the details here!
Think gingerbread houses in the perfect European setting. The main market square, known as Markt, is the epicenter of Bruges’ everyday life and makes for a perfect stroll and plenty of Instagram opportunities. Admire the Medieval architecture of the square, particularly of the row of cafes and restaurants across the Belfry tower. Growing in popularity during the centuries of Bruges’ hay-day as a central port for Belgium, Markt continues to hold the remains of its former fame, with local markets populating the square every weekend.
Belfry Bell Tower – Climb it!
While it is part of Markt, this landmark is one of the most iconic in Bruges. Initially serving as a perfect lookout point in the case of enemy invasion, the Belfry offers one of the best views of the city (buy a ticket to reach the top and it is well worth the view – about 8 Euros per person). You will probably be deafened by the carillon ringing continuously in this bell tower, but the panoramic view of the city is like none other!
Chocolates & Waffles
I can’t possibly tell you to hit up Belgium without naming some of my favourite chocolate and waffle shops. Chocolatier Dumon was my top choice – go for an experimental box and just tell the owner what you’re ‘feeling’ like and let them surprised you. Their original store is just off the market square, as you head into the western streets across the Belfort.
Head on over to Chez Albert for some true Belgian waffles. And, try the waffle on a stick! Go.Fre is located on the little street between the market square and the Basilica of the Holy Blood and is a must-visit! It’s a sugar rush like no other but totally worth it because oddly enough, you can’t stop at one bite.
Depending on how much time you have, hit up a boat ride on the canal for a unique way to see Bruges (only 7 Euros!) or catch the boats sailing by from Rozenhoedkaai for a perfect little Instagram spot. Eat yourself into a Greek food coma (it’s actually fantastic!) at The Olive Tree, live out a dinner fairytale at Restaurant Pomperlut feed your seafood fantasies with some classic moules frites at Bistro Pro Deo.
A great place for souvenirs, Belgian lace is particularly gorgeous and you’ll pass several little stores on the inner streets approaching the market square – surprisingly not overpriced, some beautiful handmade lace goodies will make for the perfect souvenirs from your trip!
Where to Stay
Hotel Van Cleef (book here)