If you’re looking for a trip to Europe that includes beautiful architecture, tons of history, plus amazing beer, chocolate and waffles, then the little town of Bruges in Belgium should be next on your agenda. Only a short train ride from Brussels, you could easily add it on to your Europe itinerary – especially if you’re travelling about by rail! Here’s how I spent 48 hours soaking up all those magical medieval vibes…
Free walking tour – Legends of Bruges
I’ve never really been the kind of person to join a free walking tour – but after this one, I’ve been fully converted. If you’ve only got a couple of days in a city, this is by far the best way of soaking up all those nuggets of information! Plus, Bruges is steeped in history so this was super interesting. Plus, walking tours take you places you probably would ordinarily miss, like charming little alleys – and if the guide is good they’ll recommend places to check out. Some people opt for the canal tour, so that they can see the fairytale town by boat instead – I did both, as the canal tour was only €8. But I actually preferred the walking tour.
The Old Chocolate House
You won’t be short of chocolate shops, workshops and cafe’s selling ‘the best hot chocolate’ as you wander around the laneways of Bruges – helloooo, Belgium is known for its chocolate! But believe me when I say that the hot chocolate from The Old Chocolate House was definitely the best. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best I’ve ever had in my life (and I am a serious chocolate fiend). I’ll talk you through the photo above: salted caramel hot chocolate, presented as a deconstructed version of itself, where I had to whisk a pile of chocolate drops into my giant mug of warm milk. Interactive hot chocolate session – who knew.
Waffle heaven from a food truck
Venture to Burg Square and you’ll find a little white food van – I have to admit that I totally forgot to write down the name of it. I was way too wrapped up in this delightful little plate of warm doughy waffle, strawberries and nutella. I’m not even a waffle fan – I know – and I would happily eat one of these every day for the rest of my life. With little to no care about my expanding waistline.
2be Beer Wall
This was up there with one of my favourite drinking spots of the weekend – there’s a huge glass wall full of different Belgian beers and glasses, and it goes all the way to the bar from the entrance. Cue every tourist standing getting a shot for their Instagram. Before then turning around and getting photos of the walls that are decorated in beer labels and signs. When you’re done taking snaps of all the cool stuff, you can head to the bar, which serves 16 yummy beers on tap (and small beers are only €2.50). When the beer starts going through you, you can head to the toilets, where the sinks are fish tanks! Yep.
Beer tasting and card playing at Rose Red
We found this gem because it was actually our hotel bar – lucky us. The place is quite intimate as it’s small in size, quite romantic as it has roses hanging from the ceiling, and very local as we didn’t actually see that many tourists there. The bar staff instantly knew which beers to recommend based on our likes and dislikes – and they got it spot on every time. They do a plank of five tasting beers for only €10, and if you ask, the waiters will give you a deck of playing cards to use while you’re there.
Chocolaterie Jan De Clerck
Walking into this shop was literally like walking into heaven – if your idea of heaven is a billion different chocolates (it is for me). Throughout the weekend we went in and out of truffle shops, buying and tasting til we felt sick – but this place definitely seemed to be the best value. ¼ kilo only set me back €4, whereas I spent that on just 4 truffles at another place! To be honest, I could have bought about 5 kilos, but one has to restrain oneself.
Michelangelo in the Church of our Lady
You can see a real Michelangelo of the Madonna and Child here. Apparently it was made for a Pope (I can’t remember which one – could be to do with all the tasty beer I was drinking), however he didn’t like the fact that Jesus was older than he should have been in the statue (or that’s what the dude doing the walking tour said, anyway), so it was sold to two wealthy brothers from Bruges and eventually ended up in the Church of our Lady. It’s the only Michelangelo I’ve seen so far, so that was pretty special for me. Plus, the Church of our Lady is an impressive building!
De Halve Maan Brewery
This is the main brewery in Bruges that exports the two beers Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik via a unique pipeline from the brewery to the bottling plant – the brewery tour comes highly recommended, and it’s only €9 if you want to do it. We didn’t – we just spent a couple of hours chilling out on their leather Chesterfields drinking their two exports. Sitting in a comfy seat next to a window with a burning log fire, and a beer, sounded way more tempting to me than hearing about how they make it.
The story behind this place is seriously interesting: it was built to house only women, and still does – it was like its own little community back in the day, with men not even able to set foot in it. Today, men can set foot there, but only women can live there. A group of nuns run the church inside, and when you walk in it feels like you’ve actually walked into another town – it’s so much quieter than the hustle and bustle outside of the Beguinage walls.
Le Trappiste beer cellar & bar
Another great drinking spot, this place is underground which makes it feel really cosy and it gives off a serious medieval feel. They serve 17 beers on tap, including a beer brewed by monks. I could have sat here for a good couple of hours because it had a great ambience, and it’s not often you get to drink underground. But, places to see, things to do and all that!
So, there you have it – my absolute musts when visiting Bruges for 48 hours. This UNESCO listed beauty has hopped right up on my list of favourite places – and for a chocolate (and now beer) lover, this city is IDEAL. Feeling like you could do with a European escape? Head to our destination guide for some more Europe inspiration!