What if we told you, there exists a quaint little European town that’s the stuff of fairy tales, has a pipeline of beer running across the city and has remained untouched during both World Wars, despite being occupied by German forces? Say a heart-eyed Hello to Bruges, Belgium.
This tiny city in the north-western part of the county is akin to that goddess-like older woman you always kind of had an unacknowledged crush on. Every so often, she’d flirt with you just a little, to the point where she can manage to overwhelm you with the curve of her lip. Finally surrendering to her embrace is what being in Bruges feels like.
And you thought Belgium was only famous for chocolates!
Bruges, Belgium – Claim to Fame
By the way, Colin Farrell stars in a movie, In Bruges (2008), which revolves around this city, and repeatedly calls it a “Fairy tale fucking town!”; you’ll know by the end of this article why. But before we tell you any more about this unrealistically beautiful European destination, here’s one of my favourite Bruges images to give you an idea of what we’re talking about…
Bruges, Belgium – Things To Do
There’s no way that picture didn’t fire up a compulsive yearning to explore the Belgian delight. When you check that European holiday off your bucket list, make sure you add a pitstop in Bruges, Belgium, to the itinerary.
Here is our recommendation of Bruges’ things to do to make sure you soak up the experience in true earnest:
First: Bruges Beer (Always)
Sometime in the 15th Century, Bruges boasted of as many as 54 breweries! But a decline in the country’s economy, combined with the high expense beer production incurs, most of those breweries had to shut down. Today, only three of those historic breweries stand – Bourgogne des Flandres, De Halve Maan and Fort Lapin.
These breweries offer guided tours in various languages to tourists all year round and take one through the journey of beer-brewing in Belgium, only to culminate in a cheerful round of beer-tasting. Each brewery also has a shop where you can purchase the beers you liked the best!
Second: The Bruges Beer Pipeline
One of the most interesting aspects of the city is the beer pipeline, put in place by De Halve Maan (Half Moon) brewery. It’s actually an underground pipeline that transports enough beer to fill 12,000 bottles every hour! If that doesn’t put Bruges in your ‘Must Visit’ list, we don’t know what will.
Besides beer being a national obsession – with everyone drinking it in Belgium-specific glasses for breakfast, lunch, dinner and between-meal snack – beer is also extensively used for cooking the native dishes in Bruges. From beer-based croquettes to beer-marinated meats, you’ll find pretty much everything you can think of.
Third: Food (Of Course)
It would be madness to be in Bruges, Belgium, and not gorge on endless waffles. The waffles in Bruges are nowhere close to the “Belgian Waffles” you’ve eaten in India. Anywhere in India (talking to you, metro-city brats). What’s the difference? They’re light as a feather, crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, without being eggy!
Besides waffles, the city is home to some out-of-the-world chocolate desserts. You can also choose to buy endless freshly made chocolates from the various chocolatiers in the city.
If you’re not one with a sweet tooth, there’s a barrage of Michelin-starred restaurants in the city – nine, to be precise. But don’t worry, the city has more than enough interesting food to go around for every kind of budget.
During our visit, we happened to stumble upon the best-ever Beef Tartar in the city, at De Halve Maan’s restaurant. If you’re into seafood, Bruges is supremely famous for its oysters (mussels). One of the best restaurants to enjoy them is De Oesterput (The Oyster Pit). However, almost every restaurant on the cobbled streets of Bruges, Belgium, offers them fresh.
Fourth: Getting Around
No Ubers, no private taxis, no trains, no trams. The best way to explore the city is on foot.
Walking through the tiny, cobbled streets of Bruges, treating your olfactory senses to the heavy mix of beer and chocolate, taking a boat ride through the ancient canals of the city, watching poison ivy gobble up brick buildings – that’s what completes the Bruges experience.
If you get too tired though, there’s always an open-air restaurant by the street – less than 300 meters away, no matter where in the city you are – waiting to serve you freshly brewed Bruges beer.
WANDER EAT REPEAT TIP: Visit Bruges in February first week, which is when the Bruges Beer Festival takes place. You’ll get to experience beer in all colours and tastes. Just make sure to pack enough jackets!