Pumpkin spice and everything nice in Bruges
Bruges, this fairytale medieval town in Belgium is one of Europe’s best preserved cities and a highlight in the region. Approximately 1 hour away from Brussels, with many train rides per day, Bruges is a wonderful destination if you plan to visit Belgium.
When to go there?
If your favorite color is October, don’t hesitate and book your flight ticket for a romantic autumn getaway, ‘cause Bruges will amaze you with its beauty in a second. From my experience, it’s better to go there early in the morning, before the crowds start to show up so you can enjoy the cobbled lanes by yourself even for 1 or 2 hours.
What to see in Bruges?
There aren’t many things to do in Bruges, but the city itself is a lovely experience: romance, gingerbread houses, delicious beer, cobbled alleys and dreamy canals. Definitely a perfect destination for lovebirds, the Venice of the North offers unforgettable views and a lot of…chocolate.
There is no better place in Bruges to enjoy those pretty perfect autumn colors than on the shore of the Minnewater, known also as the Lake of Love, this name coming from the story of Minna whi died trying to escape from an arranged marriage into the arms of her lover, Stromberg. Local legend says that lovers who cross the lake’s bridge are promised everlasting love.
The lake is also part of Minnewaterpark, a public green area where you can stroll peacefully during the morning, like we did. The crisp air, the still warm wind, the chirming birds, that golden light and the beauty of the city reflected on the tranquil waters were more effective than a morning coffee and energized us for the entire day.
2. Belfry of Bruges
The tower stands 83 metres tall, and can be found in Bruges’ impressive Markt square. One of the city’s most prominent symbols, the Belfry formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger. If you’re feeling energetic, you can climb to the top of the tower and take in the impressive view of Bruges from the very top. A narrow, steep staircase of 366 steps, accessible by the public for an entry fee, leads to the top of the 83 m (272 feet) high building, which leans 87 centimetres to the east.
We ended up here after visiting lane after lane and photographic each gingerbread house along the way, so the first thing we did was to have a break at Duvelorium Grand Beer Café to enjoy a good beer in an interactive historic setting with the best view over Belfry and the market.
3. Grote Markt
This medieval market square is probably the main attraction of Bruges. Always crowded, the Grote Markt is a mix between chic sidewalks cafes, horse-drawn carriages and pretty buildings straight out of a Hans Christian Andersen’s story. It’s the perfect place to say farewell to Bruges while having a one last waffle before leaving the city. Enjoy the colorful facades and blend in the fuss while hearing the Belfry bell ringing out the hours. Bruges has an incredibly rich history and its story can be best told while soaking in the city streets and markets.
4. The canals
The canals of Bruges are part of the personality of the city. They are one of the main attractions in Bruges to the extent that the city is known as the “Venice of the North”. Navigating through them or walking alongside the river is a must in order to enjoy the essence of the city and discover most hidden corners of Bruges. Of all the canals, the Groenerei (the ‘green canal’) is the most romantic. It is best seen from Peerdebrug (Horse Bridge). Looking towards the Meebrug, the canal is lined with trees and creepers, elegant 17th-century mansions and almshouses and topped by the cathedral tower.
Bruges is a very instagramable place, but the stunning network of waterways were the most beautiful in October and my photos will convince you. Picture-perfect buildings, quaint, arched bridges, leaves changing colors…it looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon. The beauty of the city gains a different perspective near the canals and you can capture moments in photos that are almost too pretty to be real.
What to do in Bruges?
1. Have breakfast in a typical boulangerie.
2. Buy some chocolate…the delicious smell will guide your way to all the chocolate shops around Bruges. You can buy tasty gifts for your friends and family: Belgian chocolate in all shapes, chocolate truffles, chocolate cream, liquor pralines…and many other. All is handmade with a touch of fairy dust. The prices may be a bit high, but the quality is worth it.
3. Drink a cold beer…with a view. Even if you like beer or not, you will be able to discover Belgian tradition and craftsmanship and this will also be the perfect opportunity to enjoy another source of Belgian pride: their specialty beers. You can have the chance to sample a various selection of Belgian beers some with different flavors, from special glasses and served accompanied by chocolate truffles.
4. Get lost on the pretty streets and discover secret gardens, picturesque corners and incredible views. During October days, you will almost feel the poetry in the air. Although it may sound as a cliché, Bruges’ loveliest places may be the secret ones…narrow streets, empty cobbled alleys just around the corner, charming family owned restaurants are even more spectacular when you admire them by yourself away from the noisy crowds. The surroundings start to feel more familiar and you have a strange feeling like you belong in that dreamy place.
If my pictures will convince you, pack your autumn essentials and start planning your Belgian getaway (a Brussels travel blog will up on the blog in the following days as well). Bruges is just perfect for a weekend break – easy to get to and explore on foot, and bursting with charming streets, fantastic beers, boutique chocolate-makers and canalside bars.
Just a tip if you’re a movie aficionado: if you haven’t seen the hilariously dark comedy film In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell, make sure you watch it before you visit Bruges. The film did a great job of showing the real beauty of Bruges – the wonderful architecture, Grote Markt and the famous Belfry, old bridges and beautiful parks. The locations are so much a part of the film, it’s like Bruges itself is playing a leading character’s role.
All I can say is that I am so glad I live in a world where there are October…city breaks!
Wishing you all a very happy fall! May you have a season to remember and lots of places to explore!
Arina In Wonderland
PS: Don’t forget to check the entire gallery below!