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Last November we took a little city break away, just the two of us. We planned our holiday mid-summer and booked the ferry in advance, to save some money. Mikey booked some time off work and we decided to have a mini Christmas city break in Bruges.
It just so happened that a few weeks before we were off on our holiday, I found out I was pregnant! So although we had lots planned, I was really tired and a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to get around to everything that we wanted to. Thankfully, the aim of our little get-away was to relax and spend some time together as a couple. Bruges is quite small in comparison to other European cities, but don’t let that put you off, there’s still so much to see and do and it’s easy to get around on by foot, making it a great city break destination or road trip stop off point.
24 Hours In Bruges – Top Things To Do
Historic Centre Of Bruges
The UNESCO certified city centre of of Bruges holds historical importance thanks to it’s stunning gothic architecture and the way in which the centre has held onto it’s medieval culture even through society’s advancements. The Belgian city center is cited as a great example of a medieval historic settlement, even while it has evolved over the years.
Shop In Bruges’ Famous Christmas Markt
We visited in November, specifically because we wanted to visit Bruges’ famous magical ‘Christmas Markt’. Nothing says “Christmas is coming” like this iconic scene. The market square is magically transformed into a winter wonderland with an ice rink, Belgian waffles, hot chocolate, Gluehwein (traditional mulled wine) as well as brimming with Christmas gift stalls. Be sure to wrap up warm is it does get a bit cold when evening draws in, but you need to make sure you’re there when the sun sets so you can witness that extraordinary Christmas lights in this fairytale setting. Don’t worry too much though, there’s plenty of food and drink readily available to warm you up if you get too chilly.
Climb The Belfry
Located in the market square, this medieval tower stands at an impressive 83 metres high and is home to the old treasury and it’s 47 impressive melodic bells. If you are happy to queue and climb the 366 steps to reach the top of the Belfry, you’ll be rewarded with the most awe-inspiring panoramic view of Bruges. The Belfry is classed as an UNESCO world heritage site and is one of the most important historical building in Bruges; therefore, it’s definitely not one to miss. During the climb, there’s lots of information for tourists to read and learn about the importance that The Belfry played; you can also visit the old treasury where the city’s charters, seal and public funds were kept during the Middle Ages. I recommend arriving early if you’re keen to climb to the top of the Belfry Of Bruges as it does get quite crowded.
Visit The Basilica Of The Holy Blood
Culture addicts will appreciate this one: The Basilica of the Holy Blood is home to the blood of Christ himself. The blood, collected by Joseph of Arimathea was bought to Belgium from The Holy Land. Serving as a deeply religious connection between us and God, the Basilica also stuns visitors, regardless of their faith, with it’s beautiful adornments and graceful simplicity. The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a building of great historical value, consisting of two chapels. The lower level chapel sports minimal decorations, however the higher Gothic level is alive with the buzz of delicate details and eye catching colours. At certain hours throughout the day, the cloth with Christ’s holy blood is bought out into the public space, where visitors can queue to touch and kiss it, bringing them extremely close to their religious figures and leaving them feeling truly blessed.
Bruges Beer Experience
Who goes to Belgium without trying out the local brew? Armed with an iPad Mini, you’re taken deep into the world of beer, learning about all the most fascinating aspects of brewing beer in Bruges. From the history of beer, types of beer, the brewing process and more, you can taste, smell and feel every beer ingredient. Foodies can enjoy learning about how to combine the right beer with the right culinary dish and understand which of the ingredients are actually beneficial to our health. You can’t visit a Beer Experience without a little taster, right? The price of the admission also covers the tasting of 15cl glasses of three beers of your choice.
Photo credit: Www.Lifeinthemumslane.co.uk
Grab Some Food
After all that beer, you’ll probably want to stop off for a bite to eat. The market is lined with gorgeous little cafes, chocolatiers and restaurants. As a vegetarian, I always get nervous about order in restaurants, let alone restaurants on holiday where I struggle to speak the language. Luckily, we found that many of the people working in Bruges spoke good English and we were able to order some amazing food for a very good price. The beer menus are, of course, fabulous and the restaurant we visited had a great selection of vegetarian food, as well as some delicious traditional Belgian meals.
Buy Some Masterfully Made Chocolate and Go Gift Shopping
You simply can’t visit Belgium without experiencing the finest that Belgian chocolatiers have to offer. Bruges’ city centre is lined with inviting chocolate shops and a mix of quirky and traditional gift shops. Picking yourself up some expertly made truffles is a must, but just make sure you don’t pick up the chocolate unless you’re planning on buying it – you will get told off!
Photo credit: www.cloverandtonic.com
Obviously, there are still lots of other attractions to visit that I’ve left off this list. They range from art galleries and museums, to stunning restaurants, canal boat rides and even more historical buildings. If you’re looking for a truly magical Christmas wonderland break, visiting Bruges in November is a must have on any travellers bucket list. But Bruges also ticks all the boxes for all those culture addicts and Christian’s wanting to contemplate their religion.
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