So you have a hankering for beer, waffles, and chocolate. Look no further! Bruges, a small city in the Flemish part of Belguim, conjures up images of beautiful stone buildings and delicious treats. Just a quick train ride away from other popular destinations like Amsterdam, it’s a wonderful addition to any itinerary, and one not to be missed.
1. First things first: lose your map and get lost in the maze of winding cobblestone streets. Bruges is small, so even if you try to get lost, you’ll still find your way back to the main square. Without a guidebook, you’ll be able to actually enjoy the beautiful surroundings and find some local establishments off the beaten path.
2. Have lunch at Brasserie Medard. They serve heaping bowls of delicious spaghetti for 3 Euro, and have local Belgian beer on tap. They also serve coffee and waffles for cheap, and have games for little ones to play.
3. Take a tour of the local brewery, De Halve Maan. The guides speak English and a few other languages, and give you an in-depth history of the brewery and the way the beer is created. All that learning makes you thirsty, so at the end of the tour you can enjoy a complimentary beer out in the courtyard.
4. Walk the parks. There are several beautiful parks within Bruges, each one different and charming. Some are known for football and picnics, while others are for kissing and hand-holding. At the top of the town, you can walk by several old windmills hidden amongst the trees – perfect to visit on an afternoon with a blanket and some snacks.
5. Hang out at the Bauhaus Hostel. There are lots of young travelers here from all over, not to mention a big TV playing sports matches and free wifi. The inside is cozy and comfortable, and the sidewalks outside the hostel are full of conversation and new friends.
6. Choose one of the many cafes overlooking one of the many canals and watch the sunset. The early evening is a very romantic time in Bruges, and you’ll find many couples of all ages enjoying a quiet moment at dusk. The tourists posing for backlit pictures of themselves by the water are also very entertaining.
7. Eat a waffle covered in chocolate and strawberries. Or at least try. I could hardly finish mine. These incredibly decadent snacks are available around the city. I got mine on the sidewalk out of a window, where a small crowd was trying to figure out which toppings they’d like. Caramel, bananas, and sugar, oh my!
8. Find the sheep of Bruges. According to the map our hotel provided, there is a park near the northern part of the city where flocks of sheep hang out and eat grass. Supposedly not many locals know about this phenomenon, but how could they miss it?
9. Have dinner at Passage Restaurant. This is the place to get mussels and french fries! The dimly lit interior is cozy, and makes you feel like you’ve been transported back to a different century.
10. Before you leave, climb the Belfry Tower in the Market Square. 366 steps up a spirals staircase, and you can see all the winding streets you’ve been exploring. It’s a breathtaking view, so bring your camera.