When researching for our spring break Belgium-Netherlands trip, gorgeous photos of Bruges continuously popped up on Pinterest and when I found out that it was super close to Brussels (about 1 hour train), we quickly added to our “to-do” list. Many people do a Ghent-Bruges day trip from Brussels and it is totally doable. However, I knew I wanted to spent some more time slowing down in each location so we decided to split them up to two days.
Today, the De Halve Mann (The Half Moon) Brewery is the only one currently in the city limits of Bruges. They are recorded in the city census as far back as 1564! I am personally not a huge beer-drinker but I absolutely love the smell of wineries, distilleries, and breweries. Will, the man of science he is, loves the scientific knowledge gained on these tours. We signed up for the 11 o’clock tour (about 8.50 euro) which provided a free drink at the end (WIN!). Although there is a restaurant on site, they were slammed by the time we got out of the tour and we decided to duck in elsewhere to eat.
Read more: Foods of Belgium & the Dutch
Historic Center of Bruges
This part of Bruges is actually a UNESCO Site. 🙂 The city itself is an example of a well-preserved northern European medieval town and during the Middle Ages Bruges was a hot stop for commercial activity. This was the Manhattan of medieval Europe!
The architecture itself is also an outstanding example of Gothic brick, very typical of northern Europe and the Baltic areas. One of the most outstanding sites is the belfry, which is part of another UNESCO Site: Belfries of Belgium and France. The belfries included in the UNESCO listing were built between the 11th and 17th centuries and they represent the growing urban influence on Northern Europe, namely the power of the merchant class.
Read more: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage
The Béguinage was the most outstanding and blessed surprise on this day, and it was actually the highlight of my time in Belgium! I have a whole post going into the history of the UNESCO Flemish Béguinages but all in all it was just the most peaceful place I have experienced on Earth. Not only was it blissfully quiet with the only sound being the crunch of my boot on the gravel and the wind whispering through the trees, but we were there during the short-lived blooming of the daffodils. The meadow was a carpet of yellow and white flowers bending in the breeze.
Read more: UNESCO: Flemish Beguinages
I read a lot of articles saying this was the most romantic spot in Bruges, but I was really underwhelmed. It was pretty, but nothing to really gawk at. We walked along the lake on our way back to the train station after lovely and restful day.