In Bruges (Land of Chocolate, Churches, and Canals)

Or, as I like to call it, the tiny town of chocolate, churches, and canals. (Also Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, but that might just be in the movie.)

Hi, all! It’s Julia again. Now as much as I love Bruges and as quaint and wonderful as it is, I understand that posting a travel guide for it on the heels of the recent tragedies in Belgium might seem a bit odd. Obviously safety is anyone’s number one priority, but I also think it’s important to continue to support these kinds of places. So many of these places that have been affected by terrorism are also consequently affected by decreases in tourism, a primary source of economic fuel for them. I’ll also say, having been in Paris and Belgium around the times of both attacks, that immediately afterward the security was considerably amped up – these places are doing their best to make everyone, inhabitants and visitors alike, feel safe and welcome.

Okay, now that that little disclaimer is out of the way, let’s stroll through Bruges, shall we?

I hope I’m not getting predictable here, but the first thing I suggest you do upon arriving in Bruges’ central market square square (aptly called Markt), is to locate the carriages lined up and hop on. Maybe I’m biased with my love of horses, but I honestly can’t think of a better way to map out a new city and get the feel for it. Bruges is a very small and walkable town but it’s also very easy to get lost in its side streets. Having your carriage guide take you through the major locations is a great start to your visit. It’s also just plain fun bumping along on the cobble streets!

Be sure to ask your carriage driver which chocolate shop in town is their favorite!

Okay and the very next thing you do after your carriage tour is locate a chocolate shop. That won’t be hard at all, since there’s one probably every other storefront. But I personally recommend The Chocolate Line. It’s pretty famous and pretty amazing. We happened to visit around Easter time so you can bet it was even more delicious than usual. You can buy prepackaged bags or pick out your own selection from their classic offerings. I went for their enormous chocolate-covered marshmallows and was not disappointed.

If you’re looking for a different kind of chocolate experience, maybe the hot chocolate kind, head over to The Old Chocolate House which is possibly Bruges’ most celebrated tea-house. It was actually too crowded for us to get a chance to try it out, but I take that as a good sign!

Hopefully you’ve sweetened up enough for some more walking. It’s time to visit one of Bruges’ main sites, the Church of Our Lady, which is not only a magnificent church but happens to house one of the few sculptures by Michelangelo outside of Italy!

Just as you can’t escape the many chocolate shops in Bruges, neither can you avoid glimpsing the many waterways that run through the town. You can take boat rides throughout Bruges or just stroll around the Beguinage, a monastery dating back to around 1244.

And that is my mini-guide to Bruges! Again, this is one of the most charming European towns you could ever hope to come across. It’s full of history, inspiring architecture, and so much chocolate you’ll never want to leave!

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