Winter escapes don’t have to be all about racking up the air miles in search of some sun. Instead, why not head somewhere just a short flight away? Bruges is a great city in all seasons, but winter offers a particular cosiness that’s hard to resist. Enjoy the city of gingerbread houses, winding alleys and canals, whilst munching down on chocolate and enjoying a Belgian beer. Here’s what we recommend for your visit to the historic merchant city with a nostalgic side.
See the headline attractions
The Market Square (“Markt”) of Bruges is in the centre of the city and marks many visitors first stop in the region. The ironic Belfry tower dominates the square. The building, built originally in 1240, previously housed the old treasury and municipal archives, but it now most well-known for its show-stopping views. A UNESCO World Heritage site, there’s an unparalleled panorama of the city waiting for you 366 steps later. That’s not all: whilst you are at the square, the art-minded shouldn’t miss out on the Salvador Dali exhibit at the Museum – Gallery XPO Salvador Dali, whilst the Provincial Court, the former post office, is a neo-gothic marvel that perfectly encapsulates the architectural vibe of the city.
The gothic Burg Square should be your next port of call, housing the famous Basilica of the Holy Blood (“Heilig-Bloedbasiliek”), which is famous both it’s a mix of Roman and Gothic architectural styles, as well as the crystal vial it houses inside. The vial contains a single drop of Christ’s blood from 1149 when he came from the Holy Land. Every May, the vial is carried across the city in the Procession of the Holy Blood – if you need any other excuse to visit the beautiful city that is.
Bruges has a reputation as a city for lovers, and whoever made that up certainly wasn’t lying. For the ultimate holiday atmosphere, we highly recommend a walk around the city’s Christmas Market, also located on the city’s Markt square, which opens on November 25th and lasts until after New Year’s Eve on the 2nd January. Go ice-skating on the rink for a small extra fee, or just wander around and enjoy the delights on offer, from glühwein to hot sizzling sausages and Belgian frites. If the crowds are too much, the smaller but equally charming Christmas Market on the lively Simon Stevin Square is a great option.
Then there’s the famous Lake of Love in the south of the city. Officially called the Minnewater Park, it’s famous for the hundreds of swans that have made the lake their home. When you get here, take a wintry walk over the famous Lover’s Bridge. The park is named after the famous princess Minna, whose doomed romance with a warrior inspired the bridge’s aww-inducing nickname. Top tip: if you kiss your loved one on the bridge, it is said your love will be eternal!
The canals of Bruges are well-known for their culinary delights. Where do we start? With chocolate, of course! For some education, we would recommend getting started with the Choco-Story Chocolate Museum, which takes you on a journey from the Mayans to the modern-day. Hand-made chocolates are available to try as your peruse the exhibit and visitors with children can even try the chocolate search game, which is a great way to explore the museum. For those chocoholics that need more, make The Chocolate Line your next port of call, one of the few chocolate shops and cafes that makes its treats handmade on the premises. Their chocolatier (or ‘shock-la-tier” as he is sometimes known) Dominique Persoone is well-known for his crazy styles, which has included flavours as madcap as wasabi, coca-cola and a Cuban cigar.
Extend your trip
Fancy exploring more of Belgium? Sixt can help you with that. All you need to do is take a look at our different car rental stations in Belgium and get in touch. Enjoy your winter break!