Bruges is a really lovely city. We went a few years ago and had fond memories of the place, so we decided to spend a few hours there en route to The Hague from Ypres on our European road trip the other week. With its picturesque canals, the Medieval city centre was the perfect prelude to the canal-focused cities of Holland that we were heading to.
Bruges is considered one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe, and it’s not hard to see why its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the famous 12th century Belfry.
And this is the Market Square, with its distinctive colourful buildings.
The square is almost completely traffic-free, except for the odd horse-drawn carriage.
There are a few cafes and restaurants dotted around the square, and though they are expensive, they’re a nice place to stop for a drink and watch the world go by. I must say, one of the nicest things about being on holiday, or on a day off, is having a drink during the day. It feels so decadent!
I was intrigued to find out what was behind the door surrounded by that grand porch across the bridge…
…and it turned out to be a monastery, with a peaceful courtyard surrounded by delightful little whitewashed almshouses. Signage instructing people to keep quiet was not, alas, being obeyed.
Horse-drawn carriages are a common sight in Bruges city centre, as in many touristy places. I always feel sorry for the horses, but at the same time like the sound of their hooves on the cobbled streets.
Being August, Bruges was full of people, but it was perfectly bearable. In fact, looking at this quiet square, you’d never think it was peak tourist season.
And there are lots of lovely quiet streets like this one when you want to escape the crowds.
We didn’t have time to do a boat trip, but that’s something for next time. It’s nice enough just to wander around the city’s canals on foot.
Last time we visited there was a little market set up under these trees, with stalls selling antiques and other things. I remember having a waffle while browsing the things for sale! No market in evidence this time, though there are plenty of other places selling waffles if you feel that way inclined.
Finally, I couldn’t leave Belgium without treating myself to a massive bag of these little beauties. They’ve always been a favourite of mine, and they didn’t last long after we got home!
You could easily drive to Bruges from Calais for a weekend away, and it’s dead easy to park in the city centre. It sounds strange to say it, but the car park we went to was amazing! So clean, and with slanted parking spaces that make it so much easier to park. Very reasonably priced, too. I know that sounds a thoroughly mundane note on which to end this post, but it does make the experience of visiting so much less stressful!