Our family vacation to Europe took us to lots of big cities. I love big cities, but I also wanted to explore the small towns of Europe and really get a feel for what it was like to live in a smaller town. Last week I mentioned a bit about skipping Brussels if you are worried about being in large cities in Europe due to current state department travel warnings, and instead, heading to the smaller towns and villages. You definitely want to put Bruges, Belgium on your list. The best way I can describe Bruges is as a fairy tale village. I felt like I had stepped onto the set of Beauty and the Beast.
Quaint little restaurants abound in this charming town, along with popular (and familiar spots) like McDonalds.
Owned and operated by a mother and her son, this charming little spot will make you feel like you are dining at home with friends.
Oude Burg 26, Bruges 8000, Belgium
Some of the best Italian food I had while in Europe…and I spent almost a month in Italy!
Sint-Jakobsstraat 45, Bruges 8000, Belgium
Our favorite authentic Belgian Waffles. Don’t eat here, just get waffles. Order them through the window on the street for about 1 euro. You want them plain, trust me.
Wollestraat 20, Bruges, Belgium
Wandering the charming streets eating and shopping is our top activity in Bruges. Bruges has a very modern shopping street full of stores like Zara, Fred and Ginger, and interior design shops like Munt. I could spend hours here. There are SO many historic buildings, churches and museums to see, as Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact and most of it’s buildings are noteable. Many are free, some require tickets, but few should need advance reservations. Search sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor to find spots that might interest you and pick a few to see.
Historic City Center
Beautiful buildings and horse drawn carriages abound in this historic city center. The historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. You can’t miss it! Enjoy some time just wandering and sitting here watching the world go by.
Canal Boat Tours
Known as the “Venice of the north” explore the stunning canals of the city and learn about it’s history on a delightful hour long boat tour.
This tour is really good value €8 per adult and it takes about 30 minutes to complete. The tour guide/boat driver speaks lots of languages and each has their own way of passing on their historic knowledge of Bruges.
Pick up a horse and carriage ride for about 50 euro for 35 minutes. It’s expensive, but considering you can fit the whole family it isn;t that bad. Plus, the sound of the carriage on the cobblestone streets is like something out of a movie. Pick any of the carriages up at the Historic City Center.
Go Chocolate Shopping
There are literally chocolate shops across the street from chocolate shops, next to other chocolate shops in Bruges. You can’t escape it so you might as well give in. Stop in at a few and purchase a few pieces from each to find your favorites.
We stayed in a charming spot called the Hotel Navarra. It was just about a block from the Historic City Center down a charming little street of it’s own, had a wonderful family room, and a pool in the basement which the kids loved! It is very customary for these hotels in Europe to include a full breakfast and the Hotel Navarro was no exception. I would highly recommend it. Check sites like Travelocity and Priceline for reviews and information from other travelers before booking your stay to find something that suits your needs.
The weather in Bruges is chilly. The warmest month is August, and even then, temperatures rarely get out of the 60’s. Days are sunny, so be sure to pack sunscreen, sunglasses and hat, but layer, layer, layer. Long sleeve shirts, a sweater and a coat with comfortable denim and some cute flats will have you ready for anything that comes your way. An umbrella is a good idea to keep in your bag in case of an afternoon shower.
There is no place on earth like Bruges. It is magical. I hope that you are feeling excited for your adventure.
If you’re heading to other places in Europe, here are some more posts you don’t want to miss! You can check out our entire Europe Travel Gallery to see all of our posts and helpful info.
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