Bruges: the city you can explore in one day

Bruges might just be the best destination for short breaks from the UK.

Maybe you’ve not got much time to spare or perhaps you want to go somewhere you can explore every last corner on foot; either way, you’ve got plenty of options for your next city break with Sunny Heart Travel. I haven’t been to all of the world’s most walkable cities (yet), but Bruges is my favourite so far. You could even explore Bruges in a day if you want, staying just one night. It’s highly do-able! But I personally think that this is a city best savoured over a weekend or midweek mini-break. Why is it so special, I hear you ask? Well…

You’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time, or into your imagination.
Bruges really is like a flipping fairy tale. (One for the film buffs, there.) But how has Bruges held on to its enchanting good looks? History lesson coming up!
Once upon a time, Bruges was a bustling port. But then the waterways that served it were allowed to silt up, leaving this little place to carry on without much outside influence. And as the city’s medieval heart is encircled by canals, it couldn’t sprawl out or be changed much. But then beautiful Bruges, like Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty, was rescued from her isolation. And I suggest you make sure you pay a visit. (Can you guess how much I enjoyed my short stay there?)

Bruges isn’t just walkable, it’s almost entirely pedestrianised.
Yep, cars are banned from most of central Bruges. The streets are so old, narrow and cobbled that it just makes sense for it to be a traffic-free zone. After all, it’s one of those old-world places that were designed for people, not cars. And that means you can wander at will… just watch out for the horse-drawn carriages!
I loved following little alleyways to see where they led, often somehow ending up back exactly where we started, or arriving at a dead end by a canal, or stumbling across a hidden garden or a fascinating old doorway. Yes, even the doorways are worth a selfie-stop in Bruges.

There are tons of great things to see and do in Bruges.
For such a small city, Bruges has a lot to offer. Tucked away in those storybook buildings, you’ll find restaurants serving moules-frites (mussels and chips, a Belgian classic), bars selling Belgian fruit beers, museums celebrating everything from chocolate to lamps, and art as varied as a Salvador Dali exhibition and Michelangelo’s ‘Madonna and Child’.
If you’re only there for a short time, you won’t be able to do absolutely everything, and I for one am sad that I missed out on the Frietmuseum; the world’s first museum dedicated to chips. We did eat a lot of them, though, as you can buy them in the street and they smell so good we couldn’t resist! Ditto waffles.

It’s one of the best places in the world to buy Belgian chocolate.
Because, well, it’s in Belgium. And the chocolate shops in Bruges even look like lovely chocolate boxes, all quaint and traditional. Friendly, too! You can choose your own pick-and-mix type selection, or if you’re in a hurry buy a ready-made box. And where will you get the best chocolate in Bruges? From one of the shops that make their own. (I recommend the pralines.)
Even if you’re not looking for a chocolate fix or a holiday present for whoever’s feeding your fish, it’s worth checking out the window displays; some of them really go to town with incredible chocolate sculptures. (But really, you must try the pralines.)

You can climb the belfry for a view of the city.
At one end of Markt (the big market square) is Bruges’s famous Belfort. You can’t exactly miss this bell tower, it’s quite tall and the city’s most noticeable landmark. Plus you’ll hear its 47 bells ringing while you’re out exploring the city. I’d even go so far as to say that climbing to the top is the best thing to do in Bruges. Yes, there are lots of stairs but there are places to stop on the way up, such as the old treasury room, so I say go for it if you’re fit enough! It’s well worth it for the views, looking down on the city’s muddle of rooftops, squares and parks, and out to the misty horizon.

When you’re on a city break in Bruges, it’s ridiculously easy to escape city life.
Bruges isn’t your typical bustling city but it’s still nice to get away from the central streets and into more open spaces. And you can walk there in next to no time. We took a canal-side walk on the edge of the old city to see the old wooden windmills, which are just as much a part of Bruges’s history as the architecture at its heart. There are four now but at one time there were as many as 23!
I also really loved the peaceful grounds of the Begijnhof, home of Benedictine nuns but open to walk through; so long as you promise to keep the noise down. If you’re there in spring, the central lawn will be bright with daffodils. Nearby, you’ll find Minnewaterpark, where swans bob about on the Lake of Love and you can play Pooh Sticks from Lovers’ Bridge.

Been there, done that, got the Brugge T-shirt? Why not book a Sunny Heart holiday to one of these other famous European cities you can explore in a day?
– Dubrovnik, Croatia: fortresses, fountains and a shiny marble street.
– Luxembourg, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg: bridges, castle ruins and abandoned tunnels.
– Monte Carlo, Monaco: a grand palace, a grand casino and fancy yachts.

Still not quite sure where you want to go? We’ve got so many ideas! Just drop us a note at [email protected] and we’ll help you find your next adventure.

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