Last September, Derik and I took a spontaneous road trip to Brugge, Belgium. He had a hankering for a good Belgium beer, and I wanted to escape to a different country for an overnight trip. Knowing nothing of Belgium, we asked around (thanks Instagram Fam.) and the general consensus was to travel up to Brugge. It. Did. Not. Disappoint.
The drive was a manageable 4hours 30 minutes, and we had zero issues with construction stalls, navigation errors, and finding our hotel. The tricky part was finding parking in September as most of the central parking lots were already full. We ended up parking at the enormous underground parking garage right next to the train station, and walked the 1.2 miles to our hotel (seriously an amazing walk on such a beautiful day).
I have honestly never seen so many restaurants that offered outdoor seating in a city before, but it fit Brugge perfectly. Coffee shops, pubs, burger joints, seafood cafes, chocolatiers … you name it, I’m sure you could find it there. The hustle and bustle of the weekend was in full force, but even with the throngs of people out enjoying the day, the charm and beauty of Brugge was not to be overtaken. I literally had to force myself not to take a single picture on our walk to the hotel and just enjoy (something I’ve been working on this year).
Where we stayed:
Our trip was booked very last minute, and I initially turned to Airbnb to check out overnight rentals. It turned out there wasn’t much left on Airbnb, and that’s when I went to check out what Booking.com has to offer. Honestly, it’s hit or miss with Airbnb — some days you get insane deals here in Europe, and others hotels are way cheaper. For our spontaneous weekend trip, Booking.com seemed to be the way to go.
We wanted a room near the city centre and I didn’t want to spend much over 100 euro. Hotel Marcel pulled up in my search results, and I couldn’t say no to a place that had free breakfast, a bar, adorable rooms, and excellent reviews (8.8 rating btw). The hotel has a very modern/updated design to a very old building, and I instantly fell in love. The location was beyond perfect (literally a block from the market square), and I would 100% stay again.
Our tiny little room had everything we needed (sink, shower, wifi, tv, etc), and the staff even provided ear plugs just in case the street noise got to be a little loud. We weren’t bothered by it, and during the night just turned our fan on and it blocked all outside noise.
Standard Double Room: € 115 per night.
What we ate:
As you know by now, Derik and I make it a point to try as much of the local cuisine as possible. During our visit to Brugge, we were also pretty serious about filling our bellies with as much Belgian beer as we could, and with only 24-hours, we knew we had quite the task at hand. The receptionist at our hotel lobby was extremely helpful as far as where the best places were to eat and where to stay away from (ehem all restaurants at the market square — way overpriced). We originally wanted to go somewhere immediately for lunch, but opted to hit up a brewery since most closed relatively early at 6pm — there was always time for food later!
I’ll be honest and say our first meal (and only meal) we ate on Saturday was around 10pm at a really cool cafe that served loaded Belgian fries. Whoops! I blame the beer. I did not bring my camera out so late at night, and that’s why you won’t be seeing any pictures. Anyway, the fries were legitimately the best I’ve ever had, so if you do venture out in Brugge and want a great late-night snack, be sure to check out The Potato Bar.
The next morning our hotel provided the most delicious fresh bread, meat and cheese for breakfast. They gave every table their own bread bag full of croissants, rolls, and a loaf as well as packaged cheese and salami. You could eat it there or take it with you which I found really awesome! We decided to pack ours up and snack on it while we did some sight-seeing around the city.
We had to leave Brugge late in the afternoon on Sunday, and wanted to make sure we did really good for our meal before we left. We had been researching some of the best of the best foods to try while in Brugge, and I decided to go with the Moules-frites (North Sea mussels in white wine sauce, served with fries) and Derik went with the Flemish Stew (Beef stew with a beer base). I will say the local delicacies are a bit pricy (€ 20-28 dollars a plate) but we wanted to splurge on something good before we headed home.
What is a trip to Belgium without chocolate? I was overwhelmed with all the different chocolatiers in Brugge, and wanted to make sure I bought some of the best to bring home. We had the cutest little chocolate house by our hotel called Chocolatier Dumon, and after researching the shop, I discovered it won an award for “Best of Belgium Chocolaterie” in 2016, and knew it was probably the way to go. I was not disappointed; never in my life have I ever had such melty, fresh, delicious chocolates! I bought the 500g box and still have a few pieces left.
I know what you’re thinking, “What about Belgian waffles?” Honestly, we were so stuffed from all the snacks, beer, and food we had ZERO room for waffles. The drive over to Belgium isn’t bad at all, so we knew we would be back. I promise the next time we go I’ll make sure I grab a couple! 24 hours isn’t enough to try #allthefoods no matter how much we wanted to.
What we did:
Being on a budget, Derik and I decided to do things a bit DIY and opted out of any tours or pre-arranged trips. We also arrived at a very weird time in the afternoon on Saturday anyway, so most of the tours offered through the breweries and canals were already finished for the day. I don’t feel like we missed out at all, yet if we decide to go back, we will still have a lot to see and do!
If you’re in Brugge, or anywhere in Belgium for that matter: did you even go if you didn’t buy at least one flight of beer? We decided to try Bourgogne des Flandres and thoroughly enjoyed not only the beer, but also the views! An absolutely gorgeous location and beautiful architecture.
The Beer Wall:
Located in the 15th century mayor’s house, the 2be Beer Wall and Bar is a fun place to visit, especially on a rainy day. The Beer Wall itself is pretty impressive: over 1,500 Belgium beers on permanent display.
After grabbing a beer at the bar (I went with a ginger beer and it was absolutely delicious), we went outside to enjoy the gorgeous canal views. We had to wait a few minutes for people to leave a small stand-up table so we could drink our beers and socialize, but it was well worth the wait.
Lots and lots of walking:
It was so beautiful outside the entire time we were in Brugge, we basically took a photo tour by foot. There are so many gorgeous little side streets, hidden scenic treasures, and pretty alleys, we had to take it all in. Bonus — there was hardly a single soul outside Sunday morning! And I’m not talking early like 7am, we were out walking around 10am!
I’m sure Brugge would be gorgeous during any season, and if you get a chance to visit, I would highly recommend it! I’m sure we will be headed back that way ourselves sometime in the next year, so if you’ve visited and have your own ‘must-do’ list, please share!