What: Insidertips for sightseeing, restaurants, things to do Where: Bruges, Belgium
Bruges – Belgian pearl of medieval architecture. Here the market place “Markt”
For me as a Lübeck-native, a visit to the Belgian city of Bruges is like a déjà vu. Only that my hometown can not keep up with this collection of picturesque patrician houses, baroque city palaces and classical façades. Walking through Bruges’ old town, the many canals and bridges are reminiscent of Amsterdam. You can feel it in every corner of Bruges, that this architectural jewel was one of the most successful commercial cities from the 13th to the 15th century and it impresses me in which historical homogeneity the city still presents itself seven centuries later.
Bruges was never destroyed by wars or large-scale fires, which is why the famous historic center – since 2002 Unesco World Heritage Site – has been preserved
To get in the mood for my visit to Bruges, I watched the US film “In Bruges” with Colin Farrell and asked myself how they kept away the tourist crowds during filming. I was warned by my Belgian friend Winny: “Yes, it is always crowded in Bruges. Nevertheless, you should have been there once.” Maybe not on a weekend and certainly not when 20,000 football fans storm the city and celebrate the championship title of their club FC Bruges at the market in the old town. Day tourists flood the historic walls in every season from no later than 11 am and roll through the narrow streets of this picturesque village in West Flanders. Those who want to escape the crowds during the day simply walk beyond the respective squares such as “Markt” and “Burg” and suddenly find themselves in quiet residential areas or in greened patios. A break is also offered by the Beguinage, which is indeed a sightseeing highlight, however in which groups have no access.
Fancy a break? The Beguinage is a green oasis of peace, but in the center of the city
Culinary, Bruges has adjusted to the tourists: around the market, castle and other “places to see” there are many restaurants, unfortunately not always good, and often with overpriced food. And although I know, you should spare mussels in months without the letter “r”, I ordered Moules Frites. The Belgian specialty is offered here all year round, is frozen foods and of doubtful quality. My tip: have lunch or dinner at one of the many Michelin and Gault Millau restaurants, many of which offer comparatively affordable lunch menus. Or one discovers the locals’ spots beyond the tourist paths, such as the café “Sanseveria” in the Predikherenstraat.
Discover the locals’ spots beyond the tourist paths, such as the “Sanseveria” in the Predikherenstraat: The hip side of medieval Bruges
When the night comes over Bruges, the day tourists have left again, and the city and its inhabitants sigh recognizably. The old town dives into a special light, which effectively stages the old walls. Just around the corner from my hotel Prinsenhof lies the gourmet restaurant Guillaume. I enjoy a delicious menu and a super nice service. On the way to the hotel I experience the now deserted streets of Bruges by moonlight. Pure romance! A feeling that would hardly have come up a few hours earlier. BvH
Bruges at night
Art installation by Studio KCA at Jan van Eyck place
Attention, art fans: Until September 16, the Triennale Art Exhibition in Bruges awaits with 15 – partly accessible – works and installations that are spread over the entire Old Town. Central theme: Liquid Society highlights the implications of ever-changing interpersonal relationships. Art and city can thus be jointly explored by a tour.
Below the blue whale, the gourmet restaurant Spinola has built up its kitchen. Art enjoyment from close proximity
Speaking of enjoyment: This café on the Biskajersplein square is only available during the Triennale
Stretching towards the sky: Sculpture Lanchals – long necks – by John Powers reminiscent of a gooseneck
Temporary bridge installation by Jaroslaw Kozakiewicz
Want to cool down? From the pink plastic pavilion of the Spanish architect Selgascano you can dare to jump into the canal
Urban Model Belgian artist Wesley Meuris called his triennial contribution to architecture and urban life
Minne Floating School by Kunlé Adeyemi: A kind of floating school, dealing with climate change and an incentive to create renewable energy
Planning is everything: What is where at the Triennale Bruges 2018?
Where to bed in Bruges
There are some promising boutique hotels in Bruges such as the Van Cleef, Hotel Die Swaene or the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce. The Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce is beautifully decorated (I love the Belgian interior with its soft colors) and is right by the canal. With its historic façade, it is one of the most photographed spots in the city. An aspect that causes some unrest. I decide for the Prinsenhof, which is within walking distance of three minutes from the market in a quiet side street.
Boutique Hotel Die Swaene
The Hotel Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce is right by the canal…
…and beautifully decorated. I love the Belgian interior with its soft colors
Rozenhoedkaai: one of the most photographed spots in the city. What a terrific view!
…with its pretty lobby and Delft tiles surrounding the fireplace
My spacious room is decorated with beautiful fabrics and equipped with a separate toilet. The service is professionally friendly, but unfortunately not cordial
Bruges and Culinary
I let myself be spoiled in the star restaurant Guillaume. The gourmet restaurant Guillaume in Korte Lane is located in an old cottage. From the outside it seems almost a bit unspectacular, so we almost passed it. I opt for the three-course menu “Crazy Creations” for 52 euros: Amuse Gueule from reinterpreted Vitello tonato, roast beef and pike-perch. As a starter: lobster, Fois Grois, Iberico ham and exotic fruits. Followed by guinea fowl with roasted diced tomatoes and a raspberry slice for dessert. We renounce the wine and choose the Rosé Luberon from Provence, 32 euros a bottle.
I let myself be spoiled in the star restaurant Guillaume
As a starter: lobster, Fois Grois, Iberico ham and exotic fruits…yummy!
At the Aux Merveilleux at “Eiermarkt” place you not only enjoy the view to an imposing chandelier …
…but also a delicious breakfast with oven-warm bread and croissants
Welcome to chocolate paradise: Belgium’s chocolate is legendary, but there are also qualitative differences here. Therefore, not every truffle praline offered on the Wollestraat in umpteen side-by-side laying confectioneries, is of superior quality…
…A feast for the eyes: The chocolate mountains tower up high
The Assiette Blanche restaurant is cozy with its wood paneling. A lunch menu is served for 37€:
After the Amuse-Gueule – Anchovy and Parmesan-stuffed Macaron – a deep-fried sole with lettuce and aioli is served…
…followed by grilled hip of lamb with blanched and pureed carrots and wildflowers
Dessert: Rhubarb and strawberries with meringue and vanilla ice cream. A glass of open white wine from the Macon is offered for 7 euros. The service is excellent and especially friendly
Passage to “Burg” place
Richly designed facades on the houses around “Burg” place
Here the town hall
Lush Baroque, wherever you look
Long waits and queues in front of the boat launchers for a ride on the canals of Bruges. Tip: Boots take a half-hour trip to neighboring Damme three times a day, the formerly important trading city. Previous reservation required
Beautiful architecture in “Kortewinkel” street as here the bar Groot Vlaenderen
…with impressive door details
…and again 😉 …
…and an imposing private door portal
Above the rooftops of Bruges
Impressive I find the roof structures with the winding chimneys and playful towers. What a splendor!
Does Harry Potter live here?
It’s best to always keep your eyes turned upwards so that nothing escapes you
…such as this magnificent house facade
I love the Belgian style with the pale red clinker and the darkened door and window frames. Sooo noble!
Places of silence
Yes, they exist, the tranquil places of peace and silence in Bruges
…like this delightful red-clinker cottage located right by the canal
Meeting point for the ducks and swans of Bruges to the opposite of the Beguinage
Tower with a view and beautiful shutters
The enchanted garden paradise in the middle of the city of Bruges and directly by the water: more is not possible
Idyllic street café Terrastje
Only a few cobblestone streets away from the Bruges hustle and bustle, you enter a quiet residential area that reminds a little of London with its bay windows and front yards
And of course, windmills are as much a part of Bruges as the old rampart along the canals, on which they were once built