My first look at Bruges, Belgium came when I watched the 2008 movie “In Bruges” starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. This black comedy tells an interesting story of crime, guilt, forgiveness and revenge, and features superior acting from it’s two stars and supporting cast, but it is the back- drop for this tale that really captures the imagination. The combination of old-world European charm, culture and history make it a noteworthy and unique place worth exploring. Watch our slideshow below for some of the reasons “Why You Need to Visit Bruges”!
Beer from Belgium may not be everyone’s “cup of tea” but you have to give it a try at least once. Then visit the family-owned De Halve Maan brewery, the last remaining brewery in the Historic Centre. Climb up staircases, down ladders and through the attic on the 45-minute tour, which looks at the history of drinking and beer in the city, and reveals the secret to avoiding a hangover – drink beer brewed with coriander seeds! A complimentary glass of T’Zot brew made from hops, malt and special yeast is included at the end of the visit.
The Groeninge Museum was built in 1929-30, on land belonging to the former Eeckhout Abbey. The district in which it stands has been called ‘Groeninge’ (because of its greenery) since the 13th century. It has a comprehensive collection of the “Flemish Primitives” artwork, which was characterised by detailed realism and expert use of oil techniques. Today, more than 200 works from the 15th century to the modern day hang in 11 galleries, including a fantastic 15th-century map detailing the Historic Centre. In the 15th century, Bruges was an attractive place for prominent artists to take up residence.
Need we say more? Bruges is home to more than 50 chocolate shops, serving everything from sandwich-size chocolate crackles to delicate pralines filled with wasabi. Highly recommended is Dominique Persoone’s “The Chocolate Line” on the Simon Stevinplein, where you can see chocolates being prepared by hand through a large glass wall at the back of his store. Look out for Michelin-starred chef Bart Desmidt’s speciality chocolate brand “BbyB”, which focuses on decadent flavour combinations such as basil and passionfruit syrup covered in white chocolate!
One of the best ways to explore the Historic Centre of Bruges is from the water. Boat tours depart from five different launch areas surrounding the city, and the boat captains provide an excellent narrative of the city, pointing out the mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architectural styles throughout the city while passengers duck their heads to clear the low-lying bridges. Group excursions are about 30 minutes long, but if you want a little more flexibility, we would highly suggest you book a private boat/guide and make the experience a little more intimate and much more memorable.
If you’re looking for a little European romance, Bruges is your kind of place. Perhaps a late night rendezvous at a little bistro, or a stroll across a handmade stone bridges over a canal filled with swans? At night, as gargoyles watch from the corners of Gothic churches, slightly askew towers are illuminated by magical, golden light. Think horse-drawn carriage rides along tiny cobbled streets, and leisurely, intimate boat rides down ancient, charming canals. Perhaps the ultimate in romance is the hot air ballooning for two. The historic centre of Bruges is one of the best-preserved mediaeval cities in Europe and It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Steve Thompson is Co-Founder of New Jetsetters with over 20 years experience writing about luxury travel. You might say Steve was “born” with the travel bug. Born in the western foothills of the legendary Black Forest in Germany, he spent the first 12 years of his life tagging along behind his parents as they explored Europe. His first memories are of exploring German castles, and his early childhood education consisted of navigating the Austrian Alps, and mastering equestrian skills at the small sea-side town of Maspalomas, along the Spanish coast. Find out more about Steve below: