Many traveling souls have fallen head over heels for a particular Belgian beauty named Bruges. The Flemish capital was the first stop on our epic babymoon adventure back in 2017. Little did Justin and I know that it would be the perfect place to start a trip that celebrated our marriage and our love. Allow me to give you a glimpse of this city and share seven reasons to fall madly in love with Bruges!
Just a little note: Bruges is the French spelling, while in Dutch and German, it’s spelled Brugge/Brügge. Because we are focusing on the romantic side of this city, I will refer to it using “the language of love” – French! :)
7 Reasons to Fall in Love With Bruges
Reason 1: Whimsical Waterways and Whirling Windmills
The small network of connected canals that wind their way through the historic center of Bruges puts this city’s charm off the charts. Couple them with beautiful architecture and you have yourself a postcard perfect place.
Boat tours glide through the main canals, giving cruisers a unique vantage point to see the city. Tours run from March to November and most companies offer half-hour rides for around 10 Euro.
As if the water element wasn’t romantic enough, Bruges has historic windmills still standing just outside the old city walls, and now the entire rampart circle is a park – great for biking, running, or leisurely strolls through greenery. Interestingly enough, some of these wind-powered machines are still operational, but all of them make for picturesque landmarks!
Reason 2: Outstanding Architecture and Standing History
Reaching its Golden Age during the early Middle Ages thanks to a vibrant trade economy and its oceanside location, Bruges blossomed from a wealthy merchant class that set new architectural standards for the city. Even if you are not a building buff, it’s hard to deny the appeal to the centuries-old brick homes and storefronts with stepped gables juxtaposed to neighboring gothic cathedral spires. Plus, those canals really do add another level of enchantment to the winsome architectural styles!
The Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaerde is another architectural and historical point of interest of Bruges. The Beguinage of Bruges is a remarkable walled complex of brick row homes and courtyards dating back to the 16th-18th centuries. The Beguinage served as a community home for lay-women, providing safe space for pious and independent women to live and work. Now, these well-preserved buildings belong to Benedictine nuns who use the gorgeous grounds as a convent. It’s open to the public during daylight hours.
Reason 3: A Bustling Market Square And An Impressive Carillon Tower
With its commanding belfry tower from the 12th century (prominently featured in the black comedy film In Bruges), the gleaming neo-Gothic Provincial Court of West Flanders, more colorful buildings, and an army of horse-drawn carriages waiting for starry-eyed customers, the “Markt” of Bruges has become a central source of entertainment and enjoyment for travelers and locals alike.
Passing through the Market Square at different times of day will reveal the many personalities of this central city space. It’s most quiet in the mornings and most exciting in the early evenings.
Reason 4: Sacred Relics, Sculpted Masterpieces and Other Timeless Treasures
Bruges is home to the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which regularly displays its most prized possession, the Relic of Precious Blood. Since it was brought to Bruges in the 12th century, many have asserted that this small phial contains a bloodstained cloth, a cloth that Joseph of Arimathea used to clean Jesus Christ’s body after his crucifixion and before his burial. Whether you believe this relic to be a sacred treasure or not, the basilica is still a fascinating site to visit.
Bruges is also the surprising residence of a sculpture by one of Italy’s most famous artists, Michelangelo! A modestly sized model of The Madonna and Child poses inside The Church of Our Lady. This marvelous work of art is a valuable piece to the Belgian collection and was captured by opposing forces during the French Revolution and in WWII. Now, you can view Michelangelo’s work for a small admission price to enter the church.
The Church of Our Lady is another notable landmark of Bruges in its own right. The bell tower is still the tallest structure in the city, and it is the second tallest tower built of bricks in the world. Truly, something worth admiring!
And if all those wondrous items give you the itch to acquire something special for yourself, maybe you can find the perfect antique souvenir at the flea market along the Dijver River!?!
Reason 5: Rich Flavors and Flavorful Brews
From the tantalizingly sweet scent of waffles wafting through the air to the salty snacks available street-side (I’m looking at you, frites!), Bruges is a wonderful destination for finding rich fare. Almost inescapable, chocolate shops – seemingly posted on every corner in the historic district – contain rows and rows of edible works of art. And with a number of local breweries serving up a vast array of Belgian beers, what’s not to love about Bruges with a belly full of delicious goodness?
Luckily, pregnant women (like myself at the time) do have some alcohol-free beer choices in Belgium. Bless them!
Reason 6: Bike Rides and Country Sights
Hiring a bike and heading out of town is one of Bruges’ more active options for travelers. A ride through the Belgian countryside reveals windmills slowly turning, sheep grazing in pastures, and fertile farmland lying between creeks and canals – scenes that inspires poets to pen romantic verses.
The historic village of Damme is less than 8 km away from Bruges’ city center and is easily accessible by bike (just follow the bike path along the Damse Vaart canal). Damme is a great place to grab a meal at one of its many restaurants, and it’s also a haven for book-lovers! A ride out to this village is certainly an enchanting endeavor, but I can’t quite say the same for the round-trip excursion out to the seaside town of Blankenberge (which we did, against strong winds and on failing bicycles). After all, not everyone would find much romance in a 50+ km biking day…
Regardless of our ‘accidental’ adventure to the coast and back, I can say with confidence that renting a bike was an absolutely delightful way to spend a day in Bruges. You’ll love it!
Reason 7: Dazzling Colors and Romantic Settings
When the tulips are blossoming, you can join other travelers in marveling at the gardens bursting with colors. With over 400 varieties of vibrant blooms, you’re sure to find at least one that captures your heart.
For a city its size and history, Bruges has a remarkable amount of green space and park settings. With outdoor cafes, trails and gardens, historic towers and ancient walls, the city is primed for leisurely moments with your loved one. You’ll have no lack of opportunity to pick out a favorite spot and spend time soaking up the many reasons to love each other and this Belgian city!
Truly – whether exploring Bruges by foot, on a bike or in a horse drawn carriage – you can’t help but fall in love with this city!
At least, that’s how we felt!
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN TO SHARE…
Hey there! Have you ever been to Bruges before? Is it on your Travel Bucket List now? Which Belgian food or drink most excites you? Did you know there were so many varieties of tulips?