1. It feels like a fairy-tale
Bruges truly feels like a page out of a Disney story. With cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and swirling canals, it is a city that has held true to its history and is very romantic. The architecture is stunning and many buildings remain from hundreds of years ago. The city is also very walkable and it's easy to see the main highlights over a weekend. But despite being fairly small, be warned that it is very easy to get lost. We decided to embrace it as part of our trip.
Bruges is often referred to as the Venice of the North, and it's for a reason. The winding canals are what made the city for me. Canal boat rides are not to be missed as they are a fun way to explore and also learn a few historical facts. It's popular among tourists, so it's best to do early in the day.
Bruges has many chocolate shops, and it's honestly hard to go wrong with any of them. We popped into several and were always pleased. They all have a high standard and are plentiful around the city. However, my absolute favorite was the highly rated Chocolatier Dumon. I got their sampler box, which contains the best selection and each one was better than the last. It's true melt-in-your-mouth perfection and was definitely a highlight of the trip. And if Belgian waffles are your sweet of choice, I highly recommend Chez Albert.
I'm not a huge beer drinker, but I absolutely love Belgian beer. Most restaurants and bars have extensive beer menus with local options. My favorite? Pauwel Kwak. Served in a tall, funnel-like cup, it's fun to drink and has a distinct crisp taste. 2be is a good place to try different beers as they have a nice selection and are located on a particularly picturesque part of the canal with outdoor seating.
There really isn't much chaos in Bruges. Yes, there are many tourists that visit — but outside of the town square, it's pretty peaceful. Bikes are a popular mode of transportation, along with walking. There are gorgeous parks like Minnewaterpark, which was our favorite. Restaurants close on the early side, and there aren't many late-night bars or clubs. I honestly had the best sleep in months. Much appreciated for this Manhattanite!
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