When we booked our week long trip to Paris, we decided that we wanted to spend a night outside the city experiencing another culture and taking in a different view. We decided on Bruges, Belgium. The adorable, picture-perfect canal city is just a couple hours’ train ride from Paris. It did not disappoint! The only thing lacking was a little more time to experience the city more fully, but we are glad we made the trip nonetheless!
If you are traveling to Bruges from Paris or another city nearby via train, click here for a step by step travel guide.
We purchased our Thalys train tickets to Bruges from Paris 90 days in advance to get the best price possible. We departed our Paris hotel around noon on a Saturday afternoon. After a brief train delay, we arrived at the Bruges station at about 4:00pm. We chose to walk the 15-20 minute distance to our B&B, but to take a taxi probably would have cost us about €12. The walk was pleasant but quite bumpy to roll our suitcases over the cobblestones the whole way!
We had booked our Chez Paul’s B&B through Airbnb and it was LOVELY. It was so perfectly and accurately depicted in the photos and we loved it. If this is your first time using AirbnBb, you can use my referral link to get $40 off your first stay of $75 or more! Chez Paul’s place is already competitively priced, so at $40 off, it would be a complete steal. You can read more about our Airbnb experience at Paul’s place coming up soon.
We dropped off our luggage and set out to explore. We walked a handful of minutes through the winding picturesque streets to the Markt Square. We headed straight to the stand under the belfry for some famous Belgian French fries. Belgians eat their fries topped with a heaping pile of mayonnaise, but that was a bit much for us, so we settled for some ketchup like many of the other unadventurous Americans and appeased our appetites.
The Markt area is as quaint and beautiful as it appears in photos. It was bustling with activity on that end of summer weekend day and the horse and carriage rides were in full effect. We passed on the carriage ride and explored on foot. Every street we walked down felt like a photo op and as if we were on the set of a movie. I loved every second of its adorable-ness.
We made our way to Rozenhoedkaai to photograph the most captured scene in all of Bruges. Popular it may be, but disappointing it was not. We paid the €10 each to hop on the canal boat for a tour by water. The lines for this can be long, especially on the weekends, but if you head over at the end of their day between 5:00-6:00pm hopefully you can avoid the lines like we did.
They really pack you like sardines into the boats, but they are still very much worth their while. The guide shares some historical tidbits and you are able to see much of the city that you would not be able to otherwise.
The belfry tower is a beautiful sight to see. We admired it from down below, but you can climb the tower for about €8 to see a beautiful view of the city from above.
Bruges’ Beer Wall is another famous instagrammable spot. We stumbled across it by accident tucked into a lovely courtyard.
That evening, we wandered around for a bit checking out restaurants to grab dinner. We had heard that the ones around the Markt area were not very highly rated. As we checked reviews while standing in the middle of town, we found that to be true. As exhaustion set in and places began to close, we had the great idea to get waffles for dinner! We chose Oyya Waffle and ordered a beautiful waffle covered in strawberries and whipped cream. Delicious!
For those of you looking for something less waffle-y, Bruges is known for its moles frites and beef stew. Shrimp coquettes are also a good choice. Had we planned ahead a bit more, we probably would have chosen Au Petite Grande or Pomperlut for dinner. But I still don’t regret my waffle!
We crashed in our comfy beds on our quaint, peaceful street, and slept soundly until late the next morning. We slept late and with a bit of regret, passed on our plans to rent bikes and ride along the canal for 6K to Damme and check out the windmills along the way. Those of you that can pull yourselves out of the comfy bed earlier than we can should totally try it out! It’s on our must-do list for next time.
We went on a search for chocolate and waffles instead and admired the city in a new light. The afternoon and evening before had shown us the city bathed in sunbursts and the yellow hazy light of sunset. The morning sun brought out the colors more vividly and vibrantly.
I had read about the difference in types of waffles in Belgium. There are Brussels waffles which are crispy, light and fluffy. Liege waffles on the other hand, have sugar crystals mixed into the batter and are more dense and chewy. I was on a mission to compare the two, but found that the people of Bruges really love their Liege waffles and that was all that we could find. We picked up a plain one for breakfast from Fred’s. Yum!
We went on a hunt for chocolate for our families to thank them for watching our children. We found a difference in the shops that tended to have more tourist-like offerings with prepackaged treats and those that were making the chocolate as we shopped and offering us fresh samples. We chose the authentic homemade aroma of Chocolat de Julie on Wollestraat and purchased our gifts.
We meandered along the canal and made our way to Sanseveria Bagelsalon for a quick lunch of bagel sandwiches. We didn’t have the time to sit, so they graciously wrapped them up to go. Oh. My. Goodness. I got the Amelia with white sausage, apples & fried onions. My husband was also fond of the Richard with egg, avocado & bacon. As I am typing this, I am brainstorming on trying to recreate these in my own kitchen this weekend. So tasty and budget friendly. We are casual, simple eaters usually, and these were perfect.
After lunch, it was time to begrudgingly make our way to the train station. We wished we had the rest of the day to soak up the feeling that is quintessentially Bruges, but Paris was waiting and so there wasn’t much time to be sad! My husband convinced me to stop one more time for waffles at Fred’s (the third waffle in 5 waking hours!) as he hadn’t gotten one yet with ice cream. We literally inhaled one more waffle with ice cream, strawberries and whipped cream and promised to be back.
If we had to do it all over again, I still wouldn’t have wanted to take much more time away from Paris, but we would schedule to arrive in Bruges the evening of the first night, explore the full next day, and leave the morning of the third day.
Bruges was simply magical! I highly recommend including the picturesque city in your itinerary for a day or two. The cobblestone streets made us smile, the buildings made our jaws drop, the canal made us breathe deeper, and the waffles made our trip complete. I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy all that is Bruges! Please feel free to comment if you have any questions that I can answer to help you plan your perfect trip!