This charming Belgian town has a well-preserved old core with enough romantic lanes to wander for hours.
Bruges is one of the most charming medium-sized towns I’ve visited in Europe. It’s filled with old buildings and friendly people, and is definitely worth a visit. Though the town is very touristy, many of the visitors are day trippers and the historic core becomes considerably quieter in the evenings and early mornings. I would recommend spending most of your time in Bruges during these hours to avoid the crowds.
Here’s what we here at Tripping Over the World loved during our short visit to the town:
The romantic alleys and canals
Bruges is sort of like a mini Amsterdam; it’s crisscrossed by old canals and narrow lanes, which make for great walking. The evenings in particular are quiet and atmospheric in Bruges, and strolling was probably my favorite thing to do there.
The star of Bruges’ historic art is the Madonna of Bruges, a sculpture of Mary and Jesus finished in 1504 by Michelangelo. The piece is located in the Church of Our Lady and offers a chance to see a work by the master sculptor amid much smaller crowds than you’ll encounter in southern Europe. The Madonna of Bruges was also smuggled into Germany during WWII, and that story later became part of the movie The Monuments Men.
Buying chocolate in Bruges is a pretty touristy thing to do, and in all honesty the best chocolate I’ve ever had was not in Belgium. But caveats aside, the chocolate was good and it was interesting to see the products the town specialized in. We ended up taking away a package of chocolate covered oranges, which produced divided opinions here at Tripping Over the World (one of us loved them, one of us did not).
Most old cities in Europe have incredible buildings, but I found the architecture in Bruges to be particularly impressive. The building above is a 12th century church called the Basilica of the Holy Blood — so named for a relic it houses that purportedly includes the blood of Christ. (We actually participated in a service at the church during which they brought the relic out and we got to get up close to it.)
But that’s just one example of a great building. The truth is that much like Bruges’ old canals, its old buildings make it a great place for wandering and soaking in the history.
— Jim Dalrymple II