I recently had the chance to spend a week in Paris. You can spend a year in Paris and not see everything. So, why did I take a day away from my time in Paris? And why do I highly recommend you do the same? Read on to learn about my day trip from Paris to Brugge, Belgium.
What is Bruges?
This medieval trade center is a UNESCO World Heritage site because it is one of the most well-preserved towns of its kind. It’s beautiful stone buildings, town square and churches are set on a system of canals. I found it absolutely magical.
Bruges is the capital of the Flemish region of Belgium. The Flemish region is Belgium’s Dutch influenced state. In Dutch, the town is called Brugge. In French it is Bruges.
Everyone we met spoke English, so it was a very easy place to visit. It is definitely a tourist attraction, but the crowds were so small compared to Paris.
How to take a train from Paris to Bruges
I love how convenient and comfortable train travel is around Europe! We had been exploring Paris for almost one week at a frantic pace. Believe it or not, I was really looking forward to the peace and relaxation of the 2 1/2 hour-long train ride. We took Rail Europe’s fast Thalys train which had tables, a cafe and bathroom. The train leaves from the Paris Nord Station which is easily accessible from any Metro line. We bought our tickets on the same day from the large, well-marked Rail Europe office, but you are always safer to buy your tickets online ahead of time. It was nothing like the confusion of trying to buy tickets to Giverny!
How to get around in Bruges
Part of the charm of Bruges is its size. You will need nothing but your feet to explore! Bikes are also plentiful.
What to do in Bruges
Take a boat ride on the canals
Since this city is set on water, exploring the canals on a boat tour is a must. It is easy to find the landings and, in spite of quite a few tourists around, you shouldn’t have to wait too long to get on-board. The boats are not too big or crowded and provide a great view. The guide was very good about explaining what we were looking at. Find operating hours here.
Enjoy Vlaamse frites, or “Flemish fries” on the town square.
While I loved this town, it is very touristy. The food on the square is even more so, but the view and feel are so fun. We chose to eat our dinner off the beaten path, but enjoyed beer and Vlaamse frites while relaxing and people watching on a patio on the market place.
It really is so very good! There are shops everywhere and you can’t go wrong. We brought a lot home with us. We may have eaten some there too.. Maybe…. There is even a museum Choco-Story.
Climb the Bruges Belfry.
I am always about the view and had some chocolate to work off. The views from 83 metres above Bruges are so worth the 336 step climb, entry fee and line! There is a history museum about half way up and you can watch the bells ring. From the top you can see the whole market square and town.
Visit a few museums.
I just wanted to spend the day soaking in this town, but my sons and husband really enjoyed the Bruges Torture Museum set in the oldest European prison. There is also a beer museum, folklore museum and art museums.
Be absolutely sure to try the waffles!
Remember how I said the chocolate was terrific. Well, imagine that in liquid form over the best waffle you have ever had loaded with fresh berries! It was a highlight of my whole European trip! It even had Lingonberries on it! Did you know that a “Belgian Waffle” is an American creation, just like a french fry. Here you can get two types, a Brussels waffle, as we ate here and a Liege waffle. Liege waffles are thinner and denser and have a sort of caramelized brown sugar on the outside. Both very yummy and worth trying!
I was so happy that we made the decision to go into Belgium and Bruges specifically. I would love to go back and explore more of the country.
Have you been to Bruges or other parts of Belgium? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.