Many people think of a few things when "Europe" comes to mind: romantic walks down cobblestone streets, decadent chocolates sold in charming shops, deeply rooted medieval history, and of course... BEER.
If you're looking for all of the above (especially the beer-centric part) in the cutest little package, set your sights on the Belgian city of Brugge!
But there's SO much more to Bruges (or "Brugge" in their native tongue of Flemish) than beer... even thought it does host one of the world's most highly sought after beer fests. Brugge was once the textile manufacturing hotspot of Europe and the second largest city in Europe, after London... I can't believe that given how MASSIVE London is these days, but Brugge offers access to the English Channel which was a major selling point for the industrious and opportunistic people who migrated there close to 100,000 years ago! Belgium is full of RICH history that goes a little something like this: Roman Empires, being ruled by a ton of different monarchies, Waterloo, World Wars, NATO headquarters, and then... Belgian company InBev merges with Anheuser-Busch to become the world's largest beer producer. That should sum it up for you, right?
The quaint little gem is perfect for a 2 day weekend getaway, especially if you're hitting some other great areas in beautiful Belgium such as Brussels, Ghent, and all the cozy towns in between! Below I am sharing a few ways to spend your time in beautiful Brugge!
Make your way to the market...
The Markt is a great place to browse and hang like the locals. There is a large open market on Saturdays where you can grab some pastries and fruits for breakfast to start your day. Lots of great little brasseries line the "Markt" in Brugge. We enjoyed a nice little dinner at Sint Joris Brasserie where I had Chicken Waterzooi, a traditional Belgian dish of poached chicken in a sauce with diced vegetables (leeks, carrots, celery) and boiled potatoes.
Get your learn on... at one of the many specialty museums in Brugge! Pottery, diamonds, lamps, and of course your standard art thrown in there. Personal favorites of mine? Get creepy at the Torture Museum Oude Steen, stuff your face with fries at the Frietmuseum, swoon over drool-worthy treats at the Choco-Story chocolate museum, and cap off your day of indulgences with a visit to the Bruge Beer Experience- an interactive museum with plenty of samples waiting for you at the end. I think I went 3 paragraphs without mentioning beer... you're welcome.
Book it to the Belfry
Centrally located among the Markt and originally constructed in 1240, the Belfry offers 360 degrees of scenic views and you guessed it... LOTS of stairs. 366 to get to the top, to be exact! Parts of the tower have previously burned down (more than once!) and been restored because it wouldn't be an a classic piece of European medieval history without a little bit of excitement, right?
366 steep stairs at the Belfry! If you've visited this blog before you know I will tell you where to indulge in food and drinks, but I'll also tell you how to burn some of those treats off!
Brugge is seriously as gorgeous as it gets! This medieval city has been mostly preserved since the 1500's, a big plus considering that some nearby areas of Belgium were completely wiped out during World War I and II. You'll be sure to find pretty sights for your pictures around every corner!
Just look at this... swoon!
Brugge has been nicknamed "Venice of the north" because of it's prominent canals (if you want to compare, you can check out my trip to Venice HERE), so naturally one of the highlights of hanging in Brugge is to hop in a boat and cruise the canals. I'm not sure I would go THAT far (Venice's canal count just can't be touched) but it sure does make for charming scenery.
8 Michelin star restaurants and some mega hip spots as well! PS- head to Nxt dOOR if you're interested in seriously upgraded "street food" style small plates that promise to be a tasty trip around the world!
All the delicious restaurants of Brugge are a short walk away!
Kick it at a cocktail bar
For its size, Brugge is stocked with cute cocktail bars! We were lucky enough to get some recc's from our awesome bartender at the lovely Hotel Navarra
upon arrival. We also got some good drinks from him... see how happy we are??
Check out our pick Groot Vlaenderen HERE!
A few more great options:
BGC Brugse Gin Club
De Halve Maan Brewery- one of the last remaining family-owned breweries
A note on where to stay:
Honestly, accommodations in Brugge are not terribly hard to plan because you can stay pretty much anywhere! The city center's attractions are in a relatively small area, so you can access most places that you'll want to go by foot. This would also be a great city to grab an Air BnB, then stock up on fresh supplies at the markt!
We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Navarra and walked everywhere from here. Can I just say that the breakfast here was legitimately one of the best I have ever had in a hotel?!
If you have a few days on your agenda in Belgium, consider Brugge for your next low-maintenance getaway. The museums, canals, and cuisine scene are sure to please you!
BON VOYAGE, BABES!! xoxo