Charmed by the fairytale buildings, Jim and I were utterly smitten with Bruges, Belgium. This enchanting town, crisscrossed by its peaceful canals and sprinkled with architectural gems from a bygone era, quenched our hunger for new exploits and appetites for the delectable Belgian waffles.

Since the turn of the millennium, Bruges’ historic center has proudly worn the UNESCO World Heritage badge. Its beautifully conserved medieval flair and layout have helped it clinch a spot on the atlas as a pièce de résistance of cultural heritage.

Getting There

We only had one day to visit Bruges, so we took the train from the town we were staying in nearby. Boarding the train was simple, and upon our arrival, we commenced a short walk toward the city’s center. It felt like walking into another world, like Bruges had its secret vibe thats only shared with you once you were there. Step by step, we meandered through the cobbled streets of the city. With every turn, we found ourselves face to face with the grandeur of times past, from lofty, sky-grazing belfries to houses adorned with elaborate gables.

Canals in Bruges Belgium
Canal next to street in Bruges Belgium
Canal with boat in Bruges Belgium

The Canals

Often dubbed the “Venice of the North,” Bruges holds dear its waterways. As boats weave through the canals, you are treated to various fascinating sights, imposing medieval structures, and charming bridges tucked away in nooks. If you plan to take a canal tour, do it as soon as you arrive, as the lines can sometimes be long later in the morning. Tickets are easy to come by; no need to book in advance. Find a vendor, fall into line, and soon you’ll be cruising through the waterways. The queues can be a hit or miss; some areas see longer waits, while others, you might be lucky to sail straight on.

Lace and Tasty Treats

The delicate craft of lace making, another of Bruges’ pride, caught our attention. The tradition lives on in its famed lace shops, their meticulous works a tribute to the city’s creative soul.

Chocolate shop in Bruges Belgium
Belgium waffle with berries and coffee in Bruges Belgium
Waffle shop in Bruges Belgium

And, oh—the chocolates! Stepping into a cozy little chocolate shop, we were hit with a rush of amazing smells and couldn’t help ourselves—we dove right into those fabulous Belgian chocolates. They’re pros at this chocolate game, and let me tell you, we didn’t think twice about trying a few!

Oh, but then there were the waffles! There is no way we could skip those. We gave in and got some of that fluffy, crunchy goodness. Seriously, Belgian waffles? Next-level stuff. Every café and bakery we passed was like, “Come get some!” with their waffle-y goodness just waiting for us. And there are a LOT of waffle shops! There is no need to go to a large café to sample them; walk down any side street, and you will see several shops just waiting to serve you.

Historic building in Bruges Belgium
Historic church in Bruges Belgium
Historic building in Bruges Belgium

History

Bruges has an amazing history that you can feel when you’re there. It was a major deal in medieval times, a heavyweight in the trading world. Today, you can see that rich past written all over the city with these incredible Gothic buildings like the towering Belfry and the grand Church of Our Lady. They’re like the old guardians of Bruges, reminding you of how important this place was once upon a time.

Climbing that Belfry is no joke; it’s like a mini workout with 366 steps, but the view from up top is worth it. You get to see all of Bruges spread out under you. And The Church of Our Lady? It’s home to this stunning piece by Michelangelo, “Madonna and Child,” which is beautiful. Going inside the church is free, but if you want to get close to Michelangelo’s work, there’s a small charge.

Past and Present

Bruges definitely knows how to mix the old with the new. One second, you’re strolling past these cute little boutiques full of handmade chocolates, and the next, you’re dodging shoppers in big brand stores. It’s kind of wild how you can go from old-world charm to mega-mall feel just like that. But honestly, we were more into the classic Bruges scene, so we just took a quick detour back to the more quaint streets.

Inside the train Bruges Belgium
Sign inside train Bruges Belgium

Time to Head Back

As the afternoon rolled in and our day in Bruges wound down, we were worn out from all the interesting stuff we’d seen and done. It was time to head back to the train station. The station in Bruges is huge; there was an information office and staff helping people buy tickets. There are even a couple of fast-food restaurants and a Starbucks. We grabbed a sandwich for the ride home.

 

Bruges, Belgium is a mix of stunning scenes, super tasty treats, and a charm straight out of a storybook, all wrapped up in one unforgettable day. We highly recommend it!