Help a Reader Travel: Bruges

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Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel! As I’ve mentioned before, I have not been to every destination (unfortunately), but do get questions from friends and other blog readers on all sort of travel destination questions. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to MauiThe Greek IslandsPacific Coast HighwayArgentina / Buenos AiresCosta RicaCape Cod & The IslandsIcelandGenevaCanadian RockiesRomeIsraelPeruLas VegasStockholm, ChicagoParis, Hanoi, Austin, and Puerto Rico.

So this weeks travel destination includes Bruges, Belgium. I received the following email from reader Matt:

“I am taking off a month of work and traveling around Europe with my wife. We have most of our itinerary set but am still looking for 1-2 more cities to fill our time. I’ve read some good things about Bruges in Belgium, but don’t hear of it often enough from other travelers. Does anyone have any suggestions about this city? Would you recommend going to it? Where would you stay and what is there to do? We are looking for a few “off the beaten path” locations and Bruges seems to fit that criteria. From what I’ve read it is supposed to be beautiful and some have called it the “Venice of the North.” If anyone has been there or has suggestions for other cities, it would be much appreciated. Thank you everyone!”

If you’ve ever been to Bruges and any recommendations, let’s help out reader Matt by commenting below.

Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at dealswelike@gmail.com to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!

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  1. I highly recommend Bruges! It will definitely give you that ‘off the beaten path’ feel, especially if you’re coming from bustling Brussels. I don’t know about spending more than a day or two there, though.

    My friend and I snagged one of the sub-$300 Air Canada tickets to Brussels for a long weekend this past February and decided to add a day trip to Bruges – and I’m really glad that we did. One day is plenty and requires very little (to no) planning. Grab a train ticket the morning of your trip from the nearest major station (from what I remember, there were SEVERAL timings for both going and coming), hop on board, read through your guidebook on the short ride over, and you’ll be fully prepared to explore all the main sites by the time you reach.

    The tiny city is very walkable. You can walk around Bruges in a matter of hours. There are beautiful canals, walkways, cafes, shops and plazas (hence the similarities with Venice). The city feels like a quaint medieval fairytale town.

    If you get a chance, as you make your way back to the train station to leave, check out the swans in Minnewater Lake for a quick nighttime stroll.

  2. Look into scheduled parades (often tied to religious holidays) and get there early enough to secure a seat in the stands that are sometimes setup or better yet at a cafe or pub (drink local). Check out the chocolate shops too. Enjoy.

  3. I love Bruges. I would highly recommend visiting. This is a great hotel http://www.hotel-heritage.com/

    Things to do:
    Go to The Chocolate Line and take a tour – buy some chocolates.
    Go to the Markt (Market Square in English)
    GO to the Groeninge Museum (but it’s only open Tuseday-Sunday)
    Basilica of the Holy Blood is one of the most ornate churches I’ve ever seen
    Belfry Tower is beautiful especially at night.

  4. We hopped off the cruise ship, ran like maniacs to catch the only train from Warnemunde to get to Bruges. It was June and so crowded it was hard to enjoy. If we’d have known, we would’ve made reservations on the canal boats which looked lovely. Just don’t go when school is out:)

  5. My wife and I went to Bruges for a day in August… I higly recommend the De Halve Maan Brewery tour (link below)and lunch on the brewery restaurant patio (in the warmer months).

    http://www.halvemaan.be/index.php?id=5&L=2

    The canal boat tour was great as well – there are a handfull of companies offering essentially the same exact tour of the canals.

  6. We stayed at the Hotel de Orangerie and loved it. After one stay at any SLH Hotel, you are considered a “loved” member and get complimentary breakfast. The champagne breakfast at the Orangerie is one of the nicest I have ever had, and the hotel itself oozes charm. I also highly recommend renting bikes in town and seeing the city that way. We rode our bikes along the canals all the way to Holland (not actually that far, but a 2-hour ride or so). It was beautiful!!

  7. My wife and I were in Bruges for 2 days this past February. We both agree with everything above – canal boat ride is beautiful, great cafes, rent some bikes, and the chocolate is delicious (if a bit pricey). But we love Bruges, and Belgium, for its beer. Pick up some Duvel or Gulden Draak at the corner store for less than half of what it costs in the states, and there’s a nice beer museum and bar called The Beer Wall. They showcase over 1000 beers that are brewed in Belgium, there’s a great patio right on a canal, and you can even bring your own food in. For the best beer drinking experience Ive ever had, seek out a small place called Poatersgat. It’s a few blocks off the main square, and it’s literally a hole in the wall with a wooden sign above it – you walk through a door that is a little too short, down into a basement of an old church. Inside, there’s large tables everywhere, comfy chairs around the fire, really nice bartenders, and a thick leather bound book filled with all the Belgian beers you could want, also at prices that make us American Belgian beer lovers never want to leave.
    Also, just as additional input, we stayed at the NH Brugge hotel. It was comfortable and affordable, there’s a little convenience store next door, parking across the street, and the city is walkable from there. There is also a tram stop right across the street.

    Have an awesome trip. My wife and I can’t wait to visit there again.

  8. Would agree with all the above sights and rec. for the Hotel Hermitage or Orangerie. Both are expensive but nice. Take a bike to explore the city after you’ve taken the canal boat tour. Also take a trip to nearby Damme along the canal passing by the windmill and see the church and have lunch. Brugge is nice and quiet at night once the tourists have gone, but also has nice music festivals in summer by the Belfry tower. Do the brewery and the Basilica. Easy train connections from Brussel-Zuid/Bruxelles Midi (main station in Brussels,)but are crowded in summer with people going to the beaches at Ostende.

  9. Brugges is one my most favorite cities. In fact it was the first place I ever visited in Europe. Then I chose to spend 5 days their for my 30th birthday with 7 of my good friends. We rented a house for a midweek stay. It was the end of March beginning of April and the weather was perfect. My favorite day was riding bikes to the Damme, drinking beers at many of the local bars, shopping for food in the market, and making a wonderful dinner in our kitchen. In my three visits I’ve never taken a canal boat ride. Maybe one day I will. I second the Poatersgat. A local recommended it to us.

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