I was lucky enough to spend two nights in Bruges. When I arrived at the city it was late so I decided to stay in and relax before heading out for a full day of adventure. I walked from my Airbnb the first day but ended up taking the bus the rest of the time. My Airbnb host was beyond amazing - she met me at the train station and dropped me off in her car so I wouldn’t have to carry my luggage on the bus! I was heading to Ghent the last day but got up early and asked if I could leave my luggage at her house after check out so I could continue to explore! They town is so cute that I could have spent days there. It did have a touristy vibe though because on the weekend it was hopping!
Where: Bruges, Belgium
When: September 2019
Again the Airbnb was amazing and I would highly recommend it. One of the things I appreciated most was she had beer, wine, coffee, soda, water, snacks, etc for purchase. The town is a bit away and a lot of things are closed early and on Sundays so it was nice to be able to spend the remainder of the night in the room without having to run out because I was starving. The next day I walked to a nearby bakery, grabbed a few pastries, and walked to a little walking path to enjoy my breakfast. I ended up with powdered sugar ALL over me but it was so worth it! It’s definitely autumn here. The next day I got a Belgium waffle for breakfast, along with a coffee, and sat in a little square with a statue and ate it. I also bought finger nail clippers and cut a few finger nails that broke. Being able to shave my arms and legs and cut my nails was one of the best things. Haha. I couldn’t bring either of those on my plane because I did a carry on so I will have to leave them in one of my Airbnbs. But it was nice because with almost 3 weeks over here you need some of those little things.
Then I continued into town. It was Sunday so there was a giant market in the square. I stuffed everything I could into my small carry on bag so I had no room or desire to shop! I just wandered around until I got to the center of town.
The town was VERY busy, with tourists from all over the world and even those from other countries and other parts of Belgium. My Airbnb host said a lot of people go to the beach too on the weekends. I was going to go the next day but it ended up being a very rainy day so I decided to skip.
It was about 1130 and I was ready for a beer and little sitting so I hopped into the local brewery. They had an amazing little patio I had to try. I ended up getting a flight, which is a little of a few different beers. They were very good. I was surprised by the variety because they even had a lambic which is a sweet beer. I just looked and apparently lambics originated in Belgium, which I never knew. I have had them in the states before. There was no one when I first got there but it quickly filled up. I was sitting alone and taking up a whole table so I jumped to a table with some other girls. We ended up talking and there were visiting from France. One was from Norway and the other I believe from The Philippines. They are going to school in Lille and took the train over for the weekend to do some exploring. It was fun to talk to them about their lives, college, and travel! Afterwards I wandered until I found a little shop with an inside patio. I ordered beer and a pizza, which I unfortunately had to carry around for the rest of the day.
After that I continued to wander. I went inside a church and lite candles for my family (we are catholic).
I ended up walking to the end of town and finding the old town wall. The streets were super sleepy as you can tell 1) because it was Sunday and 2) because it’s tourism off-season. I loved wandering around Europe in the fall. I am here Sept 18 to Oct 4 and I think it’s one of the best times to come. There are less people and the leaves are changing colors. Back home, actually, it is currently snowing (that’s not normal - climate change).
I will say the crowds and the prices were a bit of a turn off. Lunch was about $10-15 more than other places, especially The Netherlands, which was very cheap (ie wine, coffee, lunch for $13!). I thoroughly enjoyed the city but as a solo traveler I was excited to leave too. I have been trying to do a mix of city vs small, tourist vs local activities so I can get the full experience. Where I live in Montana there are a lot of things tourists do that locals do not so I am trying to find that balance.
One of the things I really wanted to do was climb the famous tower for the city views. The Belfry of Bruges has 277 but the views are worth it. The line can get quite long because only a certain amount of people can be in the tower at a time. I was carrying my pizza (leftovers) and people kept asking if I was dared to climb it with the pizza or if I was going to eat it at the top. I will say the stairs get narrowing going up and on the way down it’s a nightmare because you can’t really see your feet. I was afraid I was going to fall but I made it. You have to move sometimes to let other people pass because it’s too narrow but there are ropes you can hold on to. There are also a few landing points on the way up to break up the climb if you get out of breath. My suggestion? Bring water if you can! :)
The second day I decided to walk along the river on the outside of town. They have a nice biking and walking path. You can definitely rent a bike and bike around. I would suggest it because it’s easier than walking although walking didn’t take too long. Also be careful. Apparently the “rent-a-bikes” look a certain way and sometimes locals target them with their cars… No joke a local told me that! Just don’t bike in front of someone with a “rent-a-bike”! And make sure you ask about insurance if you do get hit?! There is a cool little tower for entering the city and a neat windmill that people were climbing. I didn’t.
Things I would recommend if you are going to Bruges - climb the tower if you are able, visit the brewery, eat the delicious food, and wander around and look at all the amazing buildings. Depending on how touristy you are feeling the boat rides looked nice. I did one in Leiden and I am planning on doing one in Amsterdam so I wasn’t wanting to do a 3rd one. They are fun though!