One of Belgium’s
largest cities, and capital of the province of West Flanders, Bruges is a medieval and renaissance jewel. Tourists flock to the city to marvel at the mostly intact historic heart of the city, that is almost unrivalled in Europe, as well as the many canals. Bruges is also a city of craftsmen, justifiably proud of their lace, handcrafts, beer and chocolate - each of which you should sample!
Where to go
See the only Michelangelo sculpture to have left Italy at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk. Find solace and tranquility in the gardens of medieval Princely Béguinage Ten Wijngaerde. Be awed at the Gothic majesty of the Sint-Salvator Cathedral. Visit artisanal chocolate makers and sample their wares. Pick up some lace, made here since the 16th century. Enjoy one of the greatest collections of medieval and renaissance art in Europe at the Groeningemuseum.Food & Drink
French fries, slathered in mayonnaise are considered the national dish. However, Belgian cuisine is however, considerably more complex. Drawing from both the cooking of France and the Netherlands, hearty stews and casseroles sit side-by-side with steak, game and seafood dishes that wouldn’t look out of place in a haute cuisine photoshoot. If you want to indulge in the national obsession with delicious potato fries, we recommend you try any of the fritur carts in the main thoroughfares. For those who’d rather eat a meal not smothered in mayonnaise, Assiette Blanche (Philipstockstraat 23) offers classic dishes with ultra-modern presentation and service - seriously cool. Nightlife
Bruges is proud of its beer, and has been so for centuries. Surprisingly, many of the pubs serving the local brew have an ambience and style that we would more associate with a wine bar or lounge than a jostling local. Cafe Rose Red (Cordoeaniersstraat 16) certainly fits this bill, with a warm, intimate interior that many have described as ‘romantic’. For those who prefer the product of the grape to that of the hop, Wijnbar Est (Brambergstraat 7) is a tiny place near the Fish Market that specialises in Flemish and Walloon wines. Where to stay
The Relais Hotel Heritage is a boutique hotel in the medieval heart of Bruges with a superb restaurant and attentive staff. Just under half an hour’s drive from the centre of Bruges, the Manoir du Dragon is a secluded luxury hotel with nearby golf course, extensive gardens and an excellent restaurant.
How to get there
The best way to get to Bruges is either by taking the channel ferry or Eurostar to Paris, then driving.