As far as small town charm, Bruges is just as great as Rothenburg, Germany.
Enjoy the Market Square
From restaurant terraces, the Bell Tower and old buildings, this square is quite charming. There are even a few food vendor stands. We split an order of Belgian-style French fries and a hot dog and simply people watched. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, a farmer’s market is held in the Market Square. It was so fun to shop the stands and I only wished we would have rented an apartment so we could cook like a local.
Visit the Church of Our Lady
This holds the famous Michelangelo statue Madonna and Child. It’s the only statue that was able to leave Italy! The church was under construction during our visit and there is a fee to see the inside, but we enjoyed it.
Enjoy the local desserts
Ok, the moment you step into the square you can smell chocolate! There are chocolate shops everywhere! As as matter of fact, they have an entire “Chocolate Row” street dedicated to their famous Belgian chocolate. I bought chocolates from the well known Dumon shop and B&B. The Belgian waffles are also delicious! This one is from Chez Albert. Yum!
Take the De Halve Maan Brewery Tour
An 1856 brewery, we toured both the new and old areas of the brewery. They still kept the 150 year old beer casks and cooling rooms. Funny enough, the highlight of the tour was the viewpoint from the top of the brewery. It overlooked all of Bruges. It was a great tour and ended with a freshly brewed beer.
Rent a bike and ride the outer skirts of town
We peddled all over the place! We had 3 hours with the bikes and rode around the city moat viewing original windmills and stopping at a park to take a break and watch the lazy river make its way around. Locals here were picnicking, reading books and taking naps.
Wander the city and enjoy it’s beauty
Some locations are so pretty they are known as the Postcard Canal View or Picturesque bridge. We enjoyed walking to the Minnewater which is filled with weeping willows, swans and a peaceful lake. If you like ruins, be sure to check out the Crowne Plaza Hotel. In the basement rooms are lined with original stone walls and there are many display cases filled with what modern archaeologists found here.
The Basilica of Holy Blood : This double-decker church, built in 1150, holds the drops of Christ’s blood a Crusader brought back from Jerusalem. We were there to observe the relic itself. This church also has a pretty painting at the alter and it tells the story of how the blood arrived in Bruges.
For local cuisine, try the mussels! I’m not a big seafood person, but when I travel, I love to have as many local experiences as I can. No matter what restaurant you choose, it’s a good meal to split because the pot is huge!