I was sold the minute I saw the photos of the picturesque canals draped in vines with swans passing through. Known as the "Venice of the North" plenty of visitors come to Bruges to be enchanted by a place that seems to be stuck in time. I did the same thing, but found so much more to it.
The cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and everything else that is reminiscent of a 14th century village is often the representation of Bruges. Declared as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, its Gothic architecture and medieval historic settlement serves as one of the most accurate representations of Europe during the medieval era. Today, its streets are filled with vendors selling chocolate, plenty of beers to try, and visitors looking to be charmed by its grandeur and history.
Admittedly, I thought I had just came for the postcards. It was when I started to do a bit research on the food scene that I realized how much more Bruges has to offer. Arriving at the Hotel de Orangerie, I overheard a conversation about someone going to a high-end restaurant for dinner. Before I arrived, I had decided that Bruges was like most tourist destinations, where food is slim pickings, and I'd have to resort to moules-frites and fries topped with mayonnaise. I couldn't have been more off.
Taking a look at the Michelin-Guide for the region, there are 11 1-Michelin star restaurants, 2 2-Michelin star restaurants, and 2 3-Michelin star restaurants. That makes the region of Bruges one of the largest ratios of Michelin Stars per capita in the world. It's safe to say it is truly a destination for the gourmand. I couldn't believe it. Out of all places, Bruges was a destination for cuisine! Not only the high-end restaurants, but charming well-priced menus serving local cuisine in great spaces.
With all of that said, take a look at my guide to Bruges, a city much more than the "Venice of the North."
Where to Stay in Bruges:
- The Hotel de Orangerie is a charming hotel located right next to the main canal. An old 15th-century convent has been renovated to individually designed rooms, all with their own personality. Breakfast is served downstairs in a stunning room, and the location could not be more perfect.
Where to Eat in Bruges:
- Bistro Refter: A yummy bistro with Flemish-inspired menu.
- Cambrinus: An old-world brewery and bar serving crisp drinks with hundreds of beers to choose from.
- Den Gouden Harynck: A 1-star Michelin restaurant in the heart of Bruges — a very memorable menu with local ingredients.
- Zeno: Bold flavors come to life on these plateful dishes with local ingredients.
- Sanseveria: This may have been my favorite spot, a local bagel shop in a cute space that serves creative takes on bagel sandwiches.
- Pidgeon House: If you are looking for cozy cuisine and to try the local pidgeon, this place is it.
- Rock-Fort: Well priced lunch spot with elevated cuisine.
- Bruut: A tasting menu that changes frequently, serving seasonal ingredients.
- Bistro sint Anna: A lovely space and approachable Belgian food.
- Cafeun Espressobar: The perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee!
- Vero Caffee: Pastries and coffee to go.
What to Do in Bruges:
- Rent a bike
- Walk the canals
- Take a short boat ride along the canal
- Explore Flemish art at the Groeningemuseum
- See the Church of Our Lady, St. Salvator's Cathedral, or Basilica of the Holy Blood
- Walk to the top of the Belfry
- Walk through the Beguinage (Abbey)