You are wandering picturesque cobbled lanes, flanked by fabulous medieval buildings. You keep crossing bridges over century-old canals. A smell of warm Belgian waffles is floating in the air. Horseshoes are ticking on the cobblestones. You have just arrived in the most beautiful city in the world: Bruges!
Located in Flanders in Belgium, very close to the North Sea, Bruges is an open air museum. Its medieval center has been extremely well preserved which explains why it is listed as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO.
The city flourished in the Middle Ages, when it was a major trade center in Europe. The “Venice of the North”, as it is often called because of the many canals stretching across the city, is the perfect place to stay at for a get-away weekend.
We decided to organize a “return journey” to my grandmother’s hometown and we spent 3 wonderful days in this beautiful city. As far as I can remember, my dad always told me that Bruges was the most beautiful city in the world. As a child, I thought he was just telling me this because Bruges is my grandmother’s hometown. It was the occasion for me to find out if my dad was right or not about Bruges being the most beautiful city of the world…
We walked around Bruges’ little lanes and I could not stop taking pictures. We also spend one day by the beach in Blankenberge. Here is the best of what we saw of Bruges.
The Market Square
We started our explorations at the Market Square, a very central place to start exploring Bruges. It seems that not much has changed since the merchants were gathering around this square in the Middle Ages.
Overlooking the Market Square is Bruges’s belfort, a fabulous medieval bell tower from the 13th century. Towering 83 meters above the ground, it is one of the most recognizable features of the Maket Square. It was built on the Market square around 1240, when Bruges was prospering as an important centre of the Flemish cloth industry. But it was mainly destroyed in a devastating fire in 1280 and then rebuilt. We went up and followed the narrow, steep staircase of 366 steps to enjoy the beautiful view on the red-tilted roofs and the canals. We were told that the tower leans about a meter to the east!
We could not miss the French fry stand selling the best fries of the world, right at the foot of the Belfort… They truly are delicious!
A few steps away from the Market Square, we reached these beautiful canals. The boat ride on the canals is a great way to discover Bruges.
The Rozenhoed quay
We then took the little lane called “Huidenvettersplein” and enjoyed the most famous and most beautiful view of Bruges from the Rozenhoed quay.
The Nuit Blanche House
We continued walking along the canal and reached the beautiful Nuit Blanche building which houses a hotel.
Lake of Love (Minnewaterpark)
We continued until we reached the very romantic Lake of Love.
The Chocolate Corner
We then took Wijngaardstraat and Waldplein and reached the famous Chocolate Corner. Another must when visiting Belgium!
Why is Belgian Chocolate so famous?
Belgium’s history with chocolate dates back as far as 1635 when the country was under Spanish occupation shortly after chocolate had been brought from South America. By the mid 18th century, chocolate was extremely popular in upper and middle class circles, particularly in the form of hot chocolate. From the early 20th century, the country was then able to import large quantities of cocoa from its African colony, the Belgian Congo. Both the chocolate bar and praline are inventions of the Belgian chocolate industry.
The Gruuthuse Hof
We then took Walstraat, Katelijnestraat and Mariastraat and enjoyed the view on this beautiful building called Gruuthuse Hof. This incredible medieval building houses the museum of Applied Arts.
We then took Steenstraat and found ourselves again on the Market Square. From there, we started exploring the North side of Bruges.
We took Geldmuntstraat and Geerwijnstraat and reached Moerstraat, the famous street where Inspector Van In lives in Pieter Aspe books.
On the footsteps of Inspector Van In
The adventures of Inspector Van Inn, the famous character of Belgian writer Pieter Aspe, are set in Bruges! Another great reason to visit this beautiful city! You will follow the footsteps of the famous inspector. If you have never read a book by Pieter Aspe, now is a good time to start. You are going to love it!
The Northern canals
We finished our tour of Bruges by exploring the Northern canals which are far less visited by tourists. I loved the quieter atmosphere. This was my favorite part of Bruges !
As we were staying several days in Bruges, we took a whole day to go to the beach in Blankenberge. It is very close to Bruges and very easy to access by train. We did not swim as the water was – very – cold, but walking by the North Sea was amazing!
– Our itinerary in Bruges –
Click on the markers to see pictures
My dad was right. Bruges truly is the most beautiful city of the world! What do you think?