Those who have been reading my blog for the long stretch, may remember that I took my sister to Copenhagen for her 30th birthday in 2015. Thankfully, 'what-goes-around-comes-around' really is the case, as my generous gesture two years ago landed me with a 30th birthday trip to Bruges last month. Only this time we took a couple of stowaways (in the shape of our boyfriends) along for the ride.
Bruges is unequivocally the most beautiful city I've ever visited. Picturesque cobbled lanes and dreamy canals link photogenic market squares lined with soaring towers and historic churches. There is charm and beauty around every corner, and it's clear to see why it's been hailed as the Venice of the North.
Whilst our first half day was spent leisurely exploring the city, we wanted to really kick off our second day with gusto. After a delicious breakfast at The Gulliver Tree we joined the Legends of Bruges walking tour. This was the first walking tour I've done abroad and I can't recommend this company enough. Our guide, Louis had spent his entire life in Bruges and was therefore the perfect host to show us all the sights. The tour is completely free and takes just over two hours, however it's polite to tip around €10+ per person as a thank you.
Meeting Point: Markt Square
Old St John's Hospital, one of Europe's oldest surviving hospitals - started by widowed women in the 11th Century.
The Begijnhof - a walled community for religious lay women from the 13th Century, that still remains completely intact. In Spring, daffodils carpet the tranquil courtyard making this an incredibly romantic setting.
The 'Halve Maan' (Half Moon) brewery is the last of the original breweries in the city and also the first brewery to build a 3.2km underground beer pipe to transport beer from the brewery to the bottling plant.
The Church of Our Lady which houses a Madonna and Child scuplture by Michelangelo (entry to the church is free but tickets to see the sculpture cost €4 per person)
The Basilica of the Holy Blood, reported to house a vial of Christ's blood.
In the afternoon, we decided to hire bikes and cycle along the canal to see the few remaining windmills in Bruges. It's a really nice, easy cycle and bike hire costs around €5 per person, per hour.
After a boozy night, only Jack and I managed to wake up early on our last morning to climb the 366 steps of the Belfort Tower, as we'd been promised the best views of Bruges from the top. This is a really popular attraction so I'd advise getting there early in the day as they operate a 1 in 1 out policy which can make queuing times long. It is however, worth it...
Bruges is an absolutely stunning city that I fully intend to travel back to. It's small and the majority of the sights can be seen over a long weekend - just make sure you drink plenty of the local beer and eat all the waffles you can. I miss them.
Have you ever been to Bruges?