If you’re looking to get into the Christmas spirit, consider a trip to Bruges. Today our guest contributor, Adriana, tells us why winter is her favourite time to visit this gem in Flanders.
I don’t need an excuse to visit Bruges, any time of the year. It’s one of my favourite cities to visit in Belgium. With its winding canals, cobblestone streets, and traditional Belgian architecture, it’s hard to deny Bruges is one of the world’s top destinations.
I have been to Bruges many times, during all seasons. However, winter is, by far, my preferred time to visit this exquisite city. The main reason – the Christmas season.
Every year, starting mid-November, Bruges becomes a winter wonderland. Christmas decorations and lights adorn the city center making it even more beautiful; a nearly impossible feat in an already stunning city.
A great place to begin your holiday visit to Bruges is the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival, which takes place right at the Central Station. Every year there is a new theme. This year is the Disney movie, Frozen.
There are a few sculptures unrelated to the theme, including my favorite, depicting the city of Bruges.
The temperature inside is kept at -6C, so dress warm. At the end of the tour, your kids can enjoy the huge ice slide. Adults can warm up at the ice bar with a shot of hard liquor, hot coffee, or gluehwine – a traditional Christmas, hot wine based, drink.
From the Central Station to the center of Bruges is about a fifteen-minute walk. Once you reach Simon Stevinplein Street, the first part of the Bruges’ Christmas market unravels in front of you.
The Christmas market is fairly big and divided in two parts. Half takes place on Simon Stevinplein Street, not far from the Grote Markt, and the other half is in the Grote Markt itself. From one section to the other, takes less than five minutes walking.
Many Christmas Market vendors display their homemade trinkets, winter clothes and Christmas decorations. But the market doesn’t only display Christmas ornaments. You can also find great local cheeses, hams and sausages, and chocolate, wrapped in beautifully decorated boxes.
Chocolate stores, including the famous Chocolate Line, are flanking the market, offering delicious treats. If you want a taste and do not want to break the bank, try the chocolate covered marshmallows from Depla Chocolaterie. It’s a homemade, fluffy marshmallow sitting on a crunchy biscuit, covered by a thin layer of milk chocolate. At 1 euro each, it’s a bargain.
In the Grote Markt, you can visit the second part of the market, on either side of a beautifully decorated ice-skating rink. The price for renting the skates is low and the fun is guaranteed.
The entire Grote Markt looks like a fairy tale. The buildings are covered in lights, everything seems to sparkles.
Food and hot drinks are also sold here, at very cheap prices, perfect for travelers on a budget. Do try the “Tartiflette”, a simple but delicious dish made with potatoes, lardon (ham), Reblochon cheese, and onions. The smell of delicious melted cheese will definitely draw you close.
The Belfry is open until 6pm and, if you don’t mind climbing the 366 steps in the 83m tall (and very narrow) tower, you’ll be rewarded with exceptional views of Bruges and the Christmas Market.
If you feel you need a break, after the busy Christmas Market, walk to the Burg Square, just off the Grote Markt, to the left of the Belfry. It’s beautiful this time of year, decorated with lights and a large natural Christmas tree in the middle. On the short walk, you’ll pass by a few good restaurants, like Breydel De Coninc (the mussel and lobster restaurant with the best reputation in Bruges), traditional lace stores, and chocolate shops.
Writing this post made me miss Bruges, so I’m looking forward to the next time I see this gorgeous city during the best time of the year.
Looking for even more festive ideas? Don’t miss our Christmas Markets in Belgium and Europe page – complete with a Christmas Market schedule.
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