Bruges: The Perfect Day Trip from Brussels

Brussels is such a lovely city rich with history, gorgeous architecture and fabulous beer.  But if you are itching to explore, Bruges is just a short train ride away. Bruges is capital and the largest city of the province of West Flanders. Trust me, when you arrive in Bruges you will notice the Flemish influence.  The street names alone are tongue twisters having more consonants than most English words.  

There are so many things to experience in Bruges,  but I have boiled it down to my top three. 

1. Canal Boat Tours:  Bruges is sometimes called the "Venice of the North" thanks to its network of canals. There are a few different tour companies, so if the first one you encounter has a terribly long line, keep walking. There is sure to be another one a few blocks down offering the same tour without a wait. Tours are typically 30 minutes in duration and cost approximately 8 Euros. This was my favorite part of the trip because it was a fun, inexpensive way to gain a unique perspective of the older part of the city.  If possible, avoid the seats in the middle of the boat as it will make it more difficult to obtain hands/head free photos.  We were lucky enough to sit right in front near the guide making for fantastic pictures and comical commentary.

2. De Halve Maan Brewery:  Located in the heart of Bruges, this is one you don't want to pass up. De Halve Maan offers brewery tours daily between 11:00AM and 4:00PM in Dutch, French, and English. Be sure to stop by early and secure your ticket as tours have a tendency to sell out early. Tours are approximately 45 minutes long and cost 8.50 Euros. Perhaps the next tour isn't available for a bit, feel free to wander around the shop and plot out which beers you are going to procure or even stop in and have lunch/dinner. One thing to note, most of the beers that are available for purchase are distributed in the United States or can be purchased at most beer shops in downtown Brussels (just in case you don't want to schlep beer around the remainder of the day). Stop by, grab a beer and enjoy the scenery!

3. Markt:  Peppered with cafes and chocolate shops, the Markt is located in the city center of Bruges.  The buildings are so brightly colored, it's almost as if you are peeking into a box of Crayola crayons.  The Markt is a beautiful area to wander through or if your feet need a rest, grab a beer and sit and watch the world go by.  Keep in mind that this is a rather touristy area and food and beverages can be quite costly. 

I know I said that I would limit this to my top three choices, but there is one more stop that you should sneak in.  Check out go.fre for that perfect afternoon snack, even if you aren't hungry it's a great place to pop in. Go.fre has Belgian waffles on a stick that you can dip and top in whatever flavors suit your fancy.  I opted for the milk chocolate coating with Speculoos sprinkled on top. This will cure whatever ails you, take my word for it.  If your taste buds are falling hard for these little cuties, there are several prepackaged options that you can grab and take back for friends and family.