Bruges was a truly lovely place and I would highly recommend it to anyone travelling in Belgium. Here’s the practical information about our stay and some advice if you decide to go:
The train ride from Brussels to Bruges was cheap and very quick, just a couple of hours with nice scenic views. If you happen to be in Brussels, you could absolutely make a day trip to Bruges, though I’d recommend giving it more time if you can – it’s small but there are so many nooks and crannies to discover. Plus it is super beautiful at night!
We stayed at St. Christopher’s hostel, which was a 15 minute walk from the center of town. The hostel was very cool, with a giant clock in the lobby and a bar on the ground floor. Sadly, despite the cool factor, we didn’t love it – the beds were super uncomfortable, the bathroom was smaller than one you’d find on a cruise ship, and the shower required you to press a button every 2 minutes to keep the water on. Oh yeah, and the breakfast buffet consisted of… just rolls. Seriously. Just. Rolls. But it was clean, the staff was friendly, and it was VERY affordable, so I’d still say it was a good pick.
No need to worry about how to get around – pretty much everything in Bruges is walking distance. We did take a bus for 3 euro to get us from the train station to our hotel when we arrived and again when we left. Other than that, we left it all up to our shoes. If you’re very comfortable riding on cobblestone streets with cars (we weren’t), there are also many affordable bike rental places, including one in St. Christopher’s. For romance factor, though, you can’t beat a horse-drawn carriage!
Food in Bruges wasn’t the greatest. It was particularly over-priced and most of the restaurants had similar menus – typical of such a touristy place. You can get the quintessential pots of mussels just about anywhere. We chose a place on the main square so that we could admire the view. It wasn’t bad, but we probably could have gotten similar food anywhere. We certainly ate our share of mediocre food in Bruges and paid dearly for it.
We had one great meal at a place called Brasserie Cambrinus. It was still spendy but completely delicious – plus they had 200+ beers on the menu. It took us forever to choose one! It’s honestly the only non-chocolate food recommendation I could confidently make.
As for chocolate recommendations, I have two! First, get yourself a waffle. Stat. We were there for two days and I ate 2 & a half waffles. I wish I’d had 4. The best waffle stand is on the main road between the square and the clock tower. It sounds vague but you can’t miss it. Just follow the smell!
If you want some real Belgian chocolates, you must go to Chocolatier Dumon. I got this recommendation from Rick Steves and it really paid off. The woman behind the counter was very nice and we bought a box of mixed chocolates for less than half the price of the ones in Brussels. And they were 10 times as good! Some of the best chocolates I have ever had – and that’s saying something.
On that sweet note, we say goodbye to Bruges!