Towards the end of November me and Hubby thought we would treat ourselves to a weekend get away to the gorgeous city of Bruges to get us in the festive spirit. I think there is something so magical about Europe city breaks at this time of year – being able to wrap up warm and drink hot chocolate (or mulled wine!) in the street.
So here is my guide if you are heading over at this time of year – oh and a big shout out to @CityUnscripted on Twitter who got in touch to give some great hints and tips – check them out!
We went via the Eurostar and it was incredibly easy – you can get a train direct to Brussels and then it is a change to another train for one hour to Bruges itself. From Bruges station it is a quick 15/20 minute walk right into the centre so you don’t have to splash out on a taxi if your trying to watch your pennies! I just find the Eurostar experience much more calming and easier than flying, it’s not as start and stop.
Where to Stay
There is a lot of places in the centre of Bruges across a variety of price points. We chose to stay at the Grand Hotel Casselbergh – it was a fantastic location less than a 5 minute walk away from the main square. It was a stunning mix of old classic design with a modern annex and it was just gorgeous. I loved the bar area complete with open fire and the most stunning Christmas tree – it was lovely having a sneaky drink there before venturing out of an evening. Included in the price was breakfast which was brilliant – a great selection of hot and cold food so ideal for filling up before venturing round the city.
Things to Do
Bruges is a very small city, you are able to easily walk around the entire place in a day, we had 3 days so were able to spread out our adventuring with some food and lazy afternoons sampling the local beer (more on that later!). Bruges is famous for it’s canals so a boat trip is a must and it’s a great, inexpensive way of seeing the city, we paid €8 each. There are several outlets which do the tours so you shouldn’t have to wait to long anywhere.
Once you’ve hopped off the boat and got your bearings it no doubt will be time for a drink – I would highly recommend visiting De Halve Maan bewery. This is where Burges Zot, the local beer is brewed. It is a family brewery which does tours throughout the day which talk about the brewing process and the traditions and historical family ties. The highlight is a trip to the roof giving you the most stunning views over Bruges – and you get a free beer at the end – what’s not to love?
Not one who is a beer lover – then the other thing Belgium is famous for is chocolate so head to ‘Choco-story’ – a museum dedicated to the history and traditions around chocolate, did I mention you get a bar when you buy your €10 ticket to eat on the way round? Heaven! There is also an area at the end where you can see chocolate being made live – the smell was enough to satisfy any sweet tooth!
Of course, there is all the Christmas festivities this time of year, i
ncluding stunning decoration shops which will warm even the coldest scrooge heart! It was impossible without leaving with one purchase for our tree this year and there is plenty of homemade treats to be purchased in the market.
Eating & Drinking
Belgium is famous for beer and there is an abundance of places to sample the local beers with some boasting to have up to 300 beers available – the menu’s were like books! A couple of our favourites were Cambrinus where you can get a beer sampling menu and affordable food if you are looking to line your stomachs. The food is very much on the comfort end of things – the Trapest cheese croquettes are deliciously sinful and the onion soup the perfect thing to heat you up from walking around in the cold.
If you’re looking for a more alfresco beer tasting experience, then 2Be has a wonderful outside heated area overlooking the canal – the perfect way to take in the cities sights and delicious beer. You can pick between strong, mixed or light beer tasting boards or if you have already found your perfect beverage they have every beer you can imagine which you can buy.
So, between all the drinking you’re going to need a decent meal to line your stomach! Brasserie Mozarthys is a lovely romantic option. Inside the restaurant has an open fire and is light outside by fairy lights and offer local specialities such as Moules Frites (Mussels & Chips!) Flemmish stew cooked in dark beer which was delicious and great steak. They specialise in stone grilled steak giving you a piping hot stone at your table and you cook your own steak and vegetables to your liking.
If you fancy some entertainment with your food then if the timing is right then try and catch the live jazz night at Bistro Zwarthuis – it was such an incredible evening and the food is delicious and décor feels very modern industrial. I would recommend checking it out even without the live music – it is a hidden gem.
So, those are my top tips for visiting Bruges – It is a gorgeous city and I can’t wait to return maybe in the summer next time!
Until tomorrow! x