When I heard about the magic little medieval town of Bruges in Belgium I knew I simply had to visit. THEN when I heard it was host to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe I knew I simply had to visit ASAP! So with Christmas in the air and a cheerful spirit all around my friend and I headed off to Bruges on our adventure last weekend. If you hadn’t noticed already, we really do love Christmas and fondly refer to ourselves as little Christmas elves because we just adore the festive season.
Bruges, to me, is like something out of a picture book. The architecture is so distinctive with its iconic stepped shapes; there is history simply pouring out of every structure in this town. The cobblestoned paths and uneven walkways hint to times long before even my great-great-great-grandparents could remember and castle-like structures loom over the edges of the many canals to create a breath-taking sight.
There are a great many things to enjoy in this place and if you do visit at Christmas time the markets should certainly be number one on your list. They have a range of decorations, knick-knacks and food and drink stalls set up, along with festive carols and an ice-skating rink all set in a forecourt overlooked by the medieval Belfry bell-tower which chimes out relentlessly on the hour.
Take a stroll down one of the many winding roads and you’ll find an array of beautiful stores, or stop in at a café for a soul-warming hot chocolate. The main cathedral Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed is also worth a peek inside for a dose of serenity. And what seemed beautiful by day becomes magic at night – when the lights come on the charm of Bruges is evident everywhere.
This is definitely a town for walking. Honestly there is no need for transport within Bruges. Everything is within a short distance and the cobblestoned paths provide the perfect location for wandering. We just walked around with no purpose, getting lost and stumbled across so many beautiful and wonderful things. If you fancy taking to the water, there are various boat trips that run through Bruges’ canals, or you can take in the sights on land in a horse and carriage.
I’ll make it easy for you: frites, waffles and chocolate. That’s it. If you’re in Bruges then you’re eating these three things! A chocolaterie sits on literally every corner – in fact I’d go so far to say that every third shop will be filled with sweets. Once you’ve had your fill of these delights you can find yourself a waffle shop. I had the best ones of my life at Chez Albert, honestly these were so so good. Then if you’ve got space later you must try some of Bruges’ special frites (fries) which are made with a special type of flour. Unfortunately we got our frites from the wrong shop (stay away from the Friterie on Market Square) but I heard Best Frites do them very well.
Looking back on my weekend, I felt like we spent two days in a Disney novel. This little place is not like anywhere I’ve been and its true character is something I’m sure to remember for a long time.