Last Updated on October 25, 2022 by Goya
After a brief but full-on afternoon in Brussels and a good night’s rest, we take a train first thing in the morning for a Bruges day trip. This little pocket of heaven has always been a tourist magnet for its historic centre untouched by the passage of time (a UNESCO World Heritage site), its chocolate-scented cobbled streets and all-around romantic vibe, but it appears to have seen even more of a surge in popularity thanks to the movie In Bruges.
Our train journey is nice and easy and takes us to Bruges in just over an hour.
As we walk from the station to the centre of Bruges, we stumble upon another beguinage (Begijnhuis)… (First one we saw since the one in Amsterdam).
After a quick search, we learn it dates back to the 13th century and is considered as one of the best-preserved.
The entry is €1 only, so we wander in to take a look.
From the beguinage, we continue our walk until we find Art Gallery Koetshuis, a charming gallery with beautiful bronze sculptures:
There is plenty to see in Bruges. So we treat ourselves to a Musea Brugge combi-ticket to visit the Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk), Sint-Janshospitaal and the Belfry of Bruges.
Our first stop is the medieval St John’s Hospital (Sint-Janshospitaal); one of the oldest hospital buildings in Europe. We wander around the medieval wards, marvelling at the extensive (and at times, odd (see below)) collection of art, medical instruments and hospital records. We also pay a visit to the hospital’s historic pharmacy, which is extremely well-preserved and transports you immediately to the 17th/18th century:
Next up is the Church of Our Lady, which houses Michelangelo’s world-famous Madonna and Child.
NOTEWORTHYThis sculpture has quite an interesting story. It was smuggled not once but twice, and once ended up in a Nazi repository for stolen art. Want to know how it made its way back home? Then, you might want to check out The Monuments Men directed by George Clooney.
For lunch, we treat ourselves to mussels (moules) at the quirky Arthie’s and try local beauties like Bourgogne des Flandres:
Then to some sweets from La Belgique Gourmande:
Fuelled by our meal and beers, we climb up the Belfry of Bruges and enjoy the views of the city:
Before we quickly proceed to stuff our faces with more chocolates and waffles:
… And enjoying the city from below, with a boat trip (8 euros) on the famous canals of “the Venice of the North”:
Once back on land, we make sure to visit the Tintin Shop, and then the more ominous Basilica of the Holy Blood. The latter being best known for housing a phial rumoured to contain a cloth with the blood of Jesus Christ.
One slightly disappointing bit of our trip was the Museum-Gallery Xpo: Salvador Dalí. The exhibition space is definitely very Dalí and gives you a chance to have an intimate look at some of his lesser-known works and sketches. However, the lack of structure and the information given (if not for the 2 euro audio guide) means the whole thing can become quite lacklustre for someone who is not as familiar with Dalí’s work and style – And lacklustre isn’t really a word you would normally associate with Dalí.
Overall, considering the 10 € entry fee (or 8 € for students), and the name of the place, you can’t help but expect a little more of a museum… and a little less of a small gallery.
FOR COMPARISON:You can join a guided tour at Dalí’s Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain for roughly the same price and spend a whole day immersing yourself in Dalí’s magic!
Before we head back to Brussels, we make one last stop: De Bottelier.
The food here is rich and delicious and the atmosphere utterly quirky and welcoming. With the rain now starting to pitter-patter on the window, this place feels like a restaurant equivalent of a fuzzy, warm comfort blanket. And there is no better way to end a lovely day than with a meal in a place like this!
If you would like to follow in our footsteps:
Hope you enjoyed joining us for a little Bruges day trip. Planning to spend more time in Bruges and/or want to see more museums/sites in a day? Then, you might want to check the opening times and different combination tickets available on this website.
Oh, and when you’re ready, don’t forget to come to join us in Rome!
Lots of love,