Saunter around cobblestone streets, gaze at the milky white swans swimming in vivid canals or take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage to soak in the bucolic landscapes; just hanging around Bruges makes you want to be in love.
When you think of romantic getaways, you think of candle-lit dinners, luxurious, pampering accommodations and long walks on the beach. But some destinations need none of these; just a certain je ne sais quoi about them makes them insanely enchanting. Bruges, the capital of West Flanders, is one such out-of-a-fairytale, dreamy setup. There’s just something in the air here that makes you desperate to hold hands with your partner. Even if you’re one of those least expressive couples, you’re bound to find yourself wooing your significant other, when in the beautifully-preserved medieval city.
For unexpected pleasures
Immortalised in the crime caper In Bruges, the city galvanises you by its historic beauty which is largely unspoiled by progress. Postcard-perfect market squares brimming with cute lace boutiques and artisan chocolate shops, soaring clock towers, gothic churches, canals with arched footbridges and old whitewashed almshouses – all transport you to a time long forgotten. Built in a bygone era before the motor car, the Old Town isn’t designed to accommodate vehicles, and hence, you’ll see the locals – even the handsome 70-year olds – getting around on bikes.
The heart of Bruges is its Markt Square (market) dominated by the towering Belfort that stands 83 metres tall and offers jaw-dropping views of the expanse of the quaint town below. If you’re strong-hearted, you can dare to scale its 366 steep, narrow steps as what you see from the top is well worth the climb. The atmospheric Markt is also an ideal place to sit and enjoy a delicious and cheap snack like the popular frites and mayonnaise or sample some local hits like mussels, North Sea prawns, cream-covered waffles and apple tart. Bruges boasts of several spots that leave you speechless. All you want to do is admire their beauty for hours.
If you’re up early, slip off to the secluded Beguinage for some serenity. The walled oasis of religious calm, with its impressive courtyard garden, wind-bent trees, white-painted gabbles and limitless silence charms even the greatest cynic.
For the inquisitive historian in you, visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood; it has a fascinating history. There’s a lot to see – a beautiful Romanesque lower chapel, a striking Gothic upper chapel and areas with wonderful stained glass and murals.
An ultimate way to loose yourself in the charm of the World Heritage City is to explore it on foot, keeping a walking route map handy. Start walking from the market place, down Wollestraat and on to the canals. The map will act as a guide to help you discover the less touristy attractions with ease.
If you’re short of time, a 30-minute boat tour is arguably the most civilized way to see the old town from a different perspective; an evening boat tour is well worth the brownie points for romance.
Fascinated by the sound of clunking hooves? Do it in the manner of the Middle Ages by hiring a horse-drawn carriage, and feel nostalgic. Whatever mode of transport you choose, be sure to visit the aptly named “Lake of Love” (Minnewater Lake). The colours and graceful swans make this a beautiful and relaxing retreat from the lively city.
A brilliant idea to save some bucks and get to know the city for cheap is buying a Bruges City Card. It allows you an entry into 27 museums and attractions in the city for free including the trip on the canal. Choose the validity of your city card – 48 hours (47 euros) to 72 hours (53 euros) – depending on your stay.
WHEN IN BRUGES, DON’T MISS
Chocolate sniffing at chocolate maker Dominique Persoone’s The Chocolate Line. The 19th century-inspired device allows you to catapult a few mg of the cocoa-herb mix directly in your nasal cavity. Presented for the first time at a Rolling Stones birthday party, the chocolate shooter (45 euros) arouses a complex taste adventure. Be prepared for an experience that tinkles your nose and guarantees a cocoa ‘high’.
Beer tasting at De Halve Maan brewery, a family-owned brewery that brews two delicious beers – Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik. Learn to brew beer and find out more about the fascinating world of malt and hops. The brewery also offers a stunning panoramic view of the city.
A FROZEN FAIRYTALE
Brugge is at its most beautiful when covered in snow. During winter, the city moves at a more relaxed pace, landscapes are transformed into frozen fairy tales and everywhere in the city, you see smiling faces. In this way, Brugge becomes even more of a paradise for photographers and lovers alike
HONEYMOONERS, LISTEN UP!
TOP 5 ATYPICAL ROMANTIC SPOTS FOR COUPLE PHOTOGRAPHY IN BRUGES
- Groenerei: A typical view of old bridges and historic buildings, framed by just a hint of nature.
- Koningin Astridpark: This classic park is a hidden gem, with its small pond with fountain and the colourful kiosk.
- Jan van Eyckplein: This was once the commercial heart of the city. Nowadays, it’s a very pleasant spot to pass a few hours.
- Gruuthuse: The beautiful courtyard of the 15th-century palace enfolds you in the wealth and luxury of a bygone era.
- Bonifaciusbrug: The charming and picturesque Bonifacius Bridge, with the Arentshof alongside, won’t fail to charm you with its sense of history and romance.
This trip was originally published on Soul-searching Journeys