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2 days Bruges

My husband and I just returned from a 10-day trip to Amsterdam (4 nights), Bruges (2 nights) and Haarlem (4 nights). I am posting our experience on this forum in case others are planning a similar trip. (The Amsterdam and Haarlem portions are posted under separate topics in the Netherlands section of this forum.) Bruges is an ideal side trip from the Netherlands, and we found 2 nights sufficient.
Day 1 (Monday): Arrived by train around 2:30. Checked into apartment—we stayed in the “old town” about 8 -10 minutes walk from Market Square—IMHO you definitely want to stay in the old part of the city. Walked to the Rozenhoedkaai (great view and photo-op) just off Burg Square and bought canal boat tickets at the kiosk there for a delightful boat canal tour. The boat was open air, and our (live, not recorded) guide was very good (30 – 40 min). This gave us a great sense of Bruges from the water. Afterwards, wandered around and just explored Bruges—it’s not very big and you can’t get lost for long. Several museums etc. were closed—it was a Monday-- but just exploring is a real treat—you are immersed in medieval times when you wander around this wonderful city. Dinner @ Cambrinus (not far from Market Square, recommended by RS). LOVED this place! We ate here both nights, as we saw so many things on the menu/plates served at nearby tables that looked delicious. I had made reservations by phone earlier that afternoon. It was a full, bustling place that we wouldn’t have gotten into otherwise. This is a pub, but in my estimation, one with very high quality, non-pub food. They offer an immense number of beers (they serve wine too). Veal tornedos, ribeye steak, shrimp tagetellia, many appetizer options, goat cheese salad, French onion soup, and to-die-for crème brulee, to name a few items. Looking at some of the menus of other restaurants earlier that day, it seems that Bruges leans towards the pricey end of the spectrum food-wise, but this pub had excellent value. Cozy, wood-panelled, convivial atmosphere/good service.
Day 2 (Tuesday): Breakfast/coffee at earlier hours (before 10:00 a.m.) is hard to find in Bruges, or I don’t know where to look! We had an excellent breakfast, however, at San Serverai; they specialize in both sweet and savory bagels. Climbed the Bell Tower—this is well done, with interesting display info on a couple of floors where you can take a breather on as you climb. Did Groening Museum; excellent, manageable--mostly Flemish art that helps further immerse you in medieval-ness—we spent a couple of hours there. Lunch @ SOUP--fantastic, homemade soups with bread, paninis, just off Market, sit outside (it’s a tiny place). Recommend! We were going to take advantage of the nice weather and bike ride out to Damme, but the bike rental place we went to was unexpectedly closed. We decided with our relatively limited time to do RS self-guided walking tour starting at Market Square and identify some of the lovely places we’d walked by, (and wondered what we were looking at!) We didn’t go into all the stops on the tour, but really enjoyed the exploration of the city this way. Excellent waffle treat from Chez Albert, near the Square. The walk ends at the Begijnhof and Minnewater, which are a real treat to see! Swans, water, tranquility. Some really charming-looking restaurants too, but you do pay for the views of park and its canals. So glad we saw this area…and such a non-hurried way to spend the rest of the afternoon. At 6:00 we went back to the Sint-Janshospitaal where we thoroughly enjoyed a free harp concert (30 -45 minutes) performed by Luc Vanlaere. This was a lovely surprise—we saw a sign earlier in the day about it. He does 3 free concerts a day (Tuesday-Saturday)—he is amazing and plays different harps from around the world and also his own handmade harps –all music he composes himself. We bought a CD to support his art—this was a real highlight, highly recommend! (continued on 2 days Bruges, part 2)

Posted by
293 posts

Bruges wins the dang prize, doesn't it? for sheer loveliness, for the sheer joy of seeing something so "old world" - I just love that little place. Yes it's touristy, but still. The beauty of it can't be denied.

Posted by
131 posts

(2 days Bruges, part 2; it was suggested that I repost part 2 as a reply so these posts can stay together in one thread :)

DAY 3 (Wednesday): Breakfast @ San Salvatore—excellent, and they open earlier than some places. Our train to Haarlem wasn’t until late morning, so we got an unexpected treat to experience the market on the square (open on Wednesdays and Saturdays). Bought chocolate at Dumon, just off the Market—the most charming, fairy-tale little place. I thought the prices were not bad, and the chocolate is beautifully presented and packaged—great for gifts. Off to train station.
Overall, I would say you need 2 nights minimum here, and you could certainly add on an extra day to take in more of this lovely city and perhaps enjoy a bike ride (way less hectic than biking in Amsterdam). You can see we followed many of RS recommendations, and were not disappointed! Travelled on to Haarlem to our last leg of trip—see my post under Netherlands section.)

Posted by
131 posts

Yes Shelley, I so agree. It is magical day or night but especially at night. Really glad we got to see and experience it!

Posted by
248 posts

Agree with above poster that 2 nights (which usually amounts to a little more than one full day) is a minimum for Bruges/Brugge. It has been described as the best preserved (at least one of the best medieval towns in Europe