Updated: 12th May, 2017

Bruges was on the travel wish list for quite a while. Belgium is one of the closest European countries to us and I’d heard tales of this perfectly preserved medieval city that was small enough to visit in a weekend.

As a Christmas present to Paul I booked flights and a hotel for the first weekend in December, the aim of the visit was to relax before silly season got underway and to start to get ourselves in the festive spirit.

 

A true revelation to us over the last year has been how fantastically cheap and speedy it is to explore Europe from our home base in the UK. Flights are no more than 3-4 hours max and you can pick up some real bargains if you go with the low cost carriers.

 

The desire to explore more of Europe is allowing us to take a greater number of trips because of the cost savings, so it’s win win. I’m a new convert to Ryanair (despite their less than stellar reputation) and I’m a firm believer that if you just read all of the documentation carefully and adhere to the strict baggage allowance then you won’t have any problems.

As for how comfortable the flight is – I really don’t care when I’m going to be on a plane for just an hour and anyone who does complain is really just being a snob, it’s a plane the same as any other.

The £40 ($60) PP return price for this particular flight sealed the deal – it was a no-brainer.

Minnewater swan Bruges Belgium Bruges in 3 days

Lonely swan just by Minnewater Lake

The more research I did into Bruges, I started to panic that it would be incredibly twee and maybe a bit like medieval Disney. I was also worried about the crowds at Christmas – I couldn’t have been more wrong.

 

It is perfect example of medieval preservation and yes, on a Saturday there are tons of people milling around, but it retains the feel that it’s a real, working and functioning city.

 

Just take a 5 minute walk in any direction from the main square and you can find yourself down a deserted street, perfect for anti-social folks like me and Paul!

 

Paul hotdog Bruges Belgium

Paul enjoying his first (of many!) hotdogs

Day 1

Markt and Burg

St Gillis, the west of the city and Marktburg

Arrival just after lunch to Bruges train station.

Check-in to hotel and head straight out to explore. We walked up to the Markt and Burg which are the main squares within the city – both were very busy but we still managed to take a good look around the Christmas market and sample the first of many hotdogs.

 

Bruges Belgium

One of the many glorious little lanes we discovered

 

It’s worth mentioning that we only ate inside for one meal throughout the whole weekend, and that was purely to warm up after a long walk – we just ate street food the whole time and it was very good!

 

We headed north and west and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the deserted streets and canals in much more residential areas, we covered around half of the city on foot.

When it started to get dark, we walked back through the city centre to admire the beautiful lights that adorned almost every building.

Bruges at night

Beautiful Bruges at night

Our day finished up by finding a tiny bar (just at the corner of the north entrance of Minnewater Park) with only 3 tables but a huge menu of Belgian beers to sample – we sat for a couple of hours and had a real catch up with each other.

An early night was had in anticipation of another day of pounding pavement.

Day 2

Boat Tour

Bruges Beer Museum

All the waffles!

Minnewater

We started our day by grabbing a hot chocolate and a waffle from a street vendor and jumping on one of the first canal boat tours of the day. These tours leave from around 5/6 spots along the Groenerei Canal which runs through the city centre and they are all priced at around 8€.

 

A canal tour is a great opportunity to see the city from a different angle and the canals often meander through areas that you can’t get to on foot.

 

We then visited the Bruges Beer Museum which is in between the Markt and Burg squares. This is such good value for money – we spent a good amount of time learning about the history of beer in the museum before heading to the museum’s own tap room.

You get 3 tokens as part of the entry fee (15€). Each token buys you a taster glass of one of the many beers brewed in the museum – we picked 6 different ones and split each glass.

 

Bruges Beer Museum

One of the yummy beers we had at the Bruges Beer Museum

Feeling a little bit tipsy in the middle of the day had us running to find frites with mayo and yet another waffle – both of which were delicious. Our favourite street for grabbing a bite on the go is Walplein, just around the corner from Minnewater.

We then spent early evening covering the city to really appreciate it at night. Evening is where Bruges really come into its own, all of the tourists disappear and everywhere seems to be either covered in fairy lights or bathed in clever floodlights.

 

Burg Christmas Bruges Belgium

The stunning Burg Square at night

Day 3

Begijnhof De Wijngaatde

The Belfry

Windmill walk

Sint Anna

Day 3 started with a pastry from an amazing bakery over the street from our hotel. We then wandered to Begijnhof De Wijngaatde which is one of a number of enclaves in the city, similar to a monastery or convent, where women who renounced wealth but did not take holy orders would live.

This one is now a convent but the public are welcome to visit, they are incredibly peaceful places.

 

Bruges canal Belgium

Just around the corner from our hotel

Unfortunately our second plan for the day was not to be. We had originally wanted to climb the steps of the Belfry, the enormous tower in the middle of the Markt, but it was unfortunately closed due to strike action. From the photos I’ve seen I would definitely recommend it!

 

Early afternoon saw us find our favourite area in Bruges – Sint Anna. Once upon a time this was the Blue Collar area of the city and it has a slightly less chocolate box feel to it, but a real beauty in terms of green space. It was also desolate, we hardly saw another soul all morning.

 

At one point Bruges was surrounded by 25 windmills along the banks of the canal that acts as the old town’s circular border, there are now just a few left and they are mostly located on the Sint Anna (east) side of town. We walked all the way up to the North Gate and back along the canal to see as many as possible.

windmill Bruges Belgium Bruges in 3 days

One of the windmills on our walk along the perimeter canal

We finished up by spending an hour or so with some friends who co-incidentally were starting their holiday in Bruges just as we were leaving, obviously this involved hot dogs and waffles!

 

waffles Bruges Belgium

Waffley goodness in every combination you can imagine

Bruges really is the perfect weekend getaway from the UK. We left on a Saturday morning and arrived home on the Monday night, but we could have realistically left on Sunday evening and still have had a fantastic weekend.

 

The old city is so small that you can walk from one side to another in around 20 minutes. For someone as unromantic as me to get swept up in the whole romance of the place says a lot about how gorgeous it is.

 

There are a ton of museums that we could have visited but honestly, we were just happy to meander around at our own pace and admire the fantastic architecture and indulge in the beer and waffles!

Trip Information – Bruges in 3 Days

  • Flight – Ryanair, Manchester to Brussels – £40 ($60) PP return.
  • Bus from Brussels Charleroi Airport to Bruges Centre – from as little as £10 ($16) PP if you book in advance.
  • Hotel in the city centre for 2 nights – Ibis at £72 ($115) per night. We stayed on Katelijnestraat and it was fantastic, 5 minutes from the main attractions and a 10-15 minute walk from the train station.

 

So what do you think, fancy a weekend in Bruges? Or have you already been and have some more tips to offer?

Don’t forget to Pin Me!

3 days in Bruges - Two for the Road Travel Blog

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

11 Responses

    • Maddie

      Thanks Em, I really think you’d love it and it’s just so easy to get to.

      Reply
    • Maddie

      We are lucky that the low cost carriers are so reasonably priced in Europe but I’m going to flip this into a positive and say that the benefit of the U.S is that you can just get in the car and drive – you could have lovely weekends in Northern California or BC, the San Juans, (Bainbridge 🙂 ). It’s about making the most of what’s on your doorstep mostly and setting aside the time at weekends to do it. Bruges is bloody lovely though!

      Reply
    • Maddie

      I know how you feel, we are due to go to Tuscany fairly soon and we haven’t done anything but book a flight! If you guys are starting out in the Netherlands and Belgium that will be perfect, lots of flat stretches to ease you in gently 🙂

      Reply
  1. Laura

    Great post and useful as I’m heading to Bruges in December for a New year and partner’s 30th birthday combined trip. Slightly concerned about the crowds at this time of year but hopefully we’ll also be able to find some peaceful spots!

    Reply
    • Maddie

      Thanks Laura 🙂 We were really concerned about the crowds and there are ridiculously busy areas, but… you can escape them quite easily. My biggest tip is to get out at night, the city was so quiet (maybe not on NYE!) but it was my favourite time of the day in Bruges.

      Reply
  2. Mrs. FI

    This day trip sounds AWESOME. And affordable! Mr. FI are currently planning our UK/Europe trip for April/May of this year and we’re thinking of hitting London (that’s where we’re flying in) and the surrounding area, The Netherlands and Belgium. We’re going to have to try and add Bruges to the list of destinations 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge