Day Trip: Bruges, Belgium

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If you are planning a trip to Brussels, there is no question that you need to carve out a day to make your way North to the quaint city of Bruges. Most recognized as the “Venice of the North”, this canal-based city features the most picturesque buildings, tons of charming little shops to grab a cup of tea or a waffle, and local vendors selling everything from world-famous chocolates to lace.

Getting to Bruges from Brussels is super easy. From our hotel, the Hotel Amigo, in Grand Place, you take a quick walk to Bruxelles-Central and hop on any one of the number of trains to Bruges. Tickets cost roughly €7-€15, and the ride is only a little over an hour long. If you’re looking to book tickets in advance, you can always check out the time tables and do so here.

Once you’re at the Bruges station, it is only another 15-20 minute walk (depending if you stop for photos) to the historic city center. Plan to make plenty of stops along the way to spots like the 13th century Belfort, Groeningemuseum for those of you who are art buffs, and St. Salvator’s Cathedral. In between landmarks, there are countless bridges, historic facades and courtyards to wander into.

For you foodies, a few of my favorite spots are: Le Mystique, Hertog Jan, and Belgian Pigeon House. If you’re looking for chocolate, I recommend checking out: The Chocolate Line (I don’t care how touristy it is – it’s amazing!), BbyB, and Dumon. Have a must see spot in Bruges? Leave me a comment for my next trip back ;).

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The European Capital

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 4.21.45 PMOne of the first European cities I visited was Brussels in Belgium. In my opinion, if you’re planning a trip around Europe, or if you’re looking for a long term stay in a European city, this is a great city to consider. Brussels constantly has foreigners moving in and out because the European Union is located in the city. What does that mean to you? The city is super easy to get around, most people speak some English, and there’s all kinds of offerings when it comes to cuisine, shopping, and tours. It’s clear that diversity is working in your favor.

Below I’ve listed a few of my tips if you are planning on, or thinking about visitng Brussels. If you have any other specific questions, leave them in the comments below!

GET A EURAIL PASS. One great thing about Brussels is that it’s centrally located, making it easy to head to other European cities by train. London, Paris, Maastricht, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt are all pretty close, giving you tons of opportunities for day or weekend trips. When I was there, I stayed for an extended period of time, so having that option was great. I bougth a Eurail Global Pass for the period of time that I was in Europe, which allows you to access up to 24 European countries by train. If you don’t have as much time as I did, you can grab the Eurail Select Pass, where you can explore up to 4 bordering countires.

PICNIC IN CINQUANTENAIRE. Embrace the European lifestyle and grab a fresh baguette with cheese (and maybe some locally brewed beer), and head over to Parc du Cinquantenaire for lunch with a view. The Cinquantenaire Art Museum is in part of the building surrounding the urban park, making it a perfect segway after a relaxed lunch. if you’re looking for a good place to grab a snack nearby, I recommend checking out Le Clan de Belges, Volle Gas, or L’Ultimate Atome, where you can get a delicious milkshake or crepe.

DRINK BEER. Brussels itself is a pretty quiet city, so if you’re looking for a wild, crazy time, where you can pop bottles of champagne all over innocent bystanders, this might not be quite your cup of tea. But, that’s not to say that there isn’t nightlife! If you do go out, skip the vodka sodas, and take part in one of Belgium’s pride and joy, beer. There are so many great options to choose from, but my absolute favorite (and where I spent a lot of my time in Brussels) is Delirium. With the option to taste more than 2,000 beers, good bartenders,and live music, you can’t go wrong. There’s also an awesome absinthe bar right across the lane. Some of my other favorites include Restobieres, A l’Imaige Nostre-Dame (a local favorite in Old Town), A La Mort Subite, and Poechenellekelder. If you aren’t a beer drinker (you pansy), stop by Madame Moustache for a good time and some creative cocktails.

TAKE PUBLIC TRANSIT. Brussels is a great city to walk around, but if you need to get somewhere in hurry (especially if it isn’t in the center of the city), hop on the metro or the trams (STIB-MIVB). You can board and buy a ticket for 2 euros for the above ground trains, but it’s better to buy a week-long pass at one of the metro stations. The metro only runs from 6am- Midnight, so taxis are probably necessary on nights that you are out later, and the process is pretty straight forward. Also, no need to tip your taxi driver, just make sure to carry cash.

CONSIDER VISITING THE ATOMIUM. Yep, that crazy looking sculpture is actually pretty cool. Inside is a museum and exhibition center, but I don’t think it’s necessarily worth going inside. You have to wait in line just to buy a ticket, and then another line to go up the elevator, and you don’t even get to go all the way to the top! Aside from all of that, if you do have the time, seeing this iconic Belgian monument is worth the trip outside the city center.

I could go on and on about Brussels, but I think this is enough to help you start planning your trip. If you’ve been before and think I’m missing something, let me know in the comments below!


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