“You know, get to see Bruges. I’d like to see Bruges again before I die”. – Ralph Fiennes as Harry Waters, “In Bruges”.
Bruges is like a fairytale. Cobbled streets, Gothic architecture surrounded by willows, swans and ducks cheering from the beautiful canals…all topped with tons of medieval charm! I find myself writing this post with almost no words to describe how beautiful Bruges is. Truth is, I’m a sucker for old historic buildings and cultural traditions (guilty). I’ve lost count of the times I’ve enthusiastically made a little jump/dance every time we bumped into cute antique shops, fragrant chocolatiers and epoch-making buildings.
And Bruges is chock-full of them.
Following Colin Farrell’s steps in the classic black comedy “In Bruges” and what we’ve discovered from our own wandering, we have compiled a list of the things you must see in Bruges (it’s in Belgium). *Wink wink*.
As part of the historic centre of Bruges, the Burg Square was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in the year 2000. And I am not surprised! This lovely square is surrounded by the Palace of the Liberty of Bruges, the Court of Justice and the Basilica of the Holy Blood where the relic of the holy blood is preserved. A brass phial is said to contain the bloodied cloth used to clean Christ’s body after his crucifixion. It is quite an interesting thing to see, even if you’re not Christian.
Either way, I can’t help myself but wonder – how did it end up in Bruges, so far north?
Watch out for the Blind Donkey Alley (Blinde Ezelstraat) connecting Burg Square to the Vismarkt and its beautiful canals. It is pretty easy to miss as it looks like a part of the Civil Registry building. Once you cross it, it will blow your mind. Rozenhoedkaai to the right. Groenerei to the left. Old bridges? Check. Traditional stone houses? Double check. Perfect Instagram pic? Super triple check! The Rozenhoedkaai is the most photographed part of Bruges, after all. You will love it.
It is also great for a romantic hand-in-hand walk with your beau! Sam (secretly) loved it. I know he did.
Burg Square | Burg 15, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Markt & the Belfry of Bruges
The bustling main square of Bruges finds itself just a stones throw away from the Burg. Acting as a meeting point for the hundreds of locals and tourists, it surrounds itself with restaurants and its own Dalí Museum while the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck crowns the centre of the square. However, the most spectacular building there and without a doubt something you must see in Bruges, is the medieval Belfry of Bruges. Standing at 83m and more than 300 steps tall, its 47 bells that can be heard throughout the whole city. Going up will definitely guarantee you the best views of the city! Just don’t follow Brendan Gleeson’s steps from “In Bruges” here.
Ten Wijngaarde (Béguinage Princier de la Vigne)
A pleasant and quiet atmosphere reigns in the Begijnhof, another UNESCO Heritage site dating back to the XIIIth century. Now home of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, it was once the place where a community of Beguines lived peacefully following religious rules, being able to leave at any time. Bright yellow daffodils fill the garden in spring, making a pretty contrast with the white painted houses of the Béguinage.
Ten Wijngaerde | Begijnhof 30, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
The Minnewaterpark is just around the corner from Ten Wijngaerde. Its Lake of Love and Lovers Bridge are probably one of the most romantic spots of Bruges, where many lovers kiss and this way are said to swear eternal love to each other. I, of course (forcefully), made Sam kiss me there. How am I supposed to miss this opportunity? There is no escape for him from now on.
That one is a heavy backpack, let me tell you. It is certainly a challenge to look cute when you are carrying that around! It’s all about the views!
Minnewaterpark | Minnewater, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk & Oud Sint-Janshospitaal
Make sure you pay a visit to the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Chuch of Our Lady) nearby, where you can see the Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child. Opposite is the medieval Oud Sint-Janshospitaal (Hospital of St. John), one of the oldest hospitals in Europe where monks and nuns took care of sick travellers and pilgrims.
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk and Oud Sint-Janshospitaal | Mariastraat / Mariastraat 38, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
So, grab your bags, jump on the first train to Bruges and get lost in its medieval streets. It will be an unforgettable experience, I promise you.
Want to read more posts about Belgium? Check out:
- Your ultimate guide to Belgian cuisine (Part 1) – Bruges
- Your ultimate guide to Belgian cuisine (Part 2) – Brussels
- Best Brunch place in Brussels, Peck 47 | REVIEW