Belgium Travel Guide : Everything You Can’t Miss in Bruges + Brussels
Waffles. Chocolate. Beer. Fries. Arguably, some of the BEST foods ever invented are Belgian. If you’re at all a foodie + want to visit somewhere a little bit off the beaten path in Europe, but still easy to get to, Belgium is a must!! We both visited Belgium earlier this year, but separately. Lauren stopped over in Bruges for a short 36 hours in between Amsterdam + Paris. Kelda spent a whole week exploring Belgium, splitting her time between Brussels + Bruges. We both found Belgium to be charming, picturesque + filled with the yummiest food! It is definitely becoming a more popular destination, so if you (or a friend!) are planning to visit, here are some of our recommendations for the perfect trip!
where to stay
Hotel Mozart - If you're looking for a hotel that is fun, beautiful + unique with a boutique feel, this is the hotel for you! The entire hotel is beautiful yellow, red + orange tiles, with winding staircases + cute terraces. One night we stayed up enjoying a bottle of wine on the terrace + it was dreamy.
Definitely not a luxury hotel with plentiful amenities, so if you’re looking for a different vibe or price point, we would recommend booking anywhere near La Grand-Place. It's close to train stations, as well as all the tourist destinations, so walking is a breeze! Use our code to book an Airbnb in the area + get $40 off!
NH Brugge - Bruges is the cutest, most quaint town. No matter what hotel you pick, you’ll be in a central location + can easily walk to all of the main attractions. This hotel had the biggest rooms of any European hotel we’ve stayed in + all of the basic hotel amenities. Plus it was an amazing value at just $100 a night!
what to do
Grand Place - This is Brussel's main square + is absolutely stunning! The architecture is incredible + we spent forever just admiring the buildings. The Grand Place is home to Town Hall + the King's House, home of the Museum of the City of Brussels.
Manneken Pis - Perhaps one of the weirdest tourist attractions we've ever visited! It's a small statue of a boy peeing into a fountain. The statue was tiny compared to what we had expected from our pre-trip research. Residents occasionally dress up the little boy + the statue has actually been stolen multiple times! They even have a museum, GardeRobe MannekenPis, dedicated to the statue + all of its costumes.
Galeries Royale Saint Hubert - This is an indoor/outdoor shopping center that also has great cafes. It's a nice way to spend your afternoon window shopping!
Royale Palace of Brussels - The official palace of the King & Queen of Belgium!
Street Art - Brussels was home to TinTin's creator, Herge. One of Kelda’s favorite parts of Brussels was seeing all of the TinTin inspired street art around every corner!
Belfry of Bruges - Everything in Bruges is literally almost 1000 years old + most of the buildings have remained untouched + free from modern developments/architecture. The Belfry is a giant clocktower at the center of the town. It’s definitely worth climbing to the top to get a great panoramic view of Bruges. Plus the climb will help you burn off all of the Belgian chocolate!
Basilica of the Holy Blood - Almost every city in Europe has stunning churches + cathedrals that are worth visiting, even if you aren’t religious or Catholic. Just the design + artwork alone are breathtaking. This church, in particular, houses the only known vial of Christ’s blood. You can visit the vial + receive a blessing from a priest during your visit. Definitely not for everyone, but thought it was worth sharing, as neither of us have ever heard anything like it.
Canals - Just like Amsterdam + Venice, canals weave through the entire town of Bruges. Taking a boat tour through the canals is the perfect way to take in the city + is super affordable too. Many tours are under $10! A canal tour would be the perfect way to kick off your day in Bruges!
where to eat + drink
Cafe Charbon - The charcuterie board here was so good I went back again the next day for another. There's outdoor seating if it's a nice day, but if not, the inside is so cute!
Delirium Cafe - Delirium is world famous, right across from Jeanneke Pis, & huge! It is such a cool bar with different seating options, like little carriages, and single booths tucked into closets. Delirium has the world record for most beers, with over 3,000 beers available!
De Vlaamsche Pot - If you follow Living Europe or any other major Europe travel account, this restaurant is all over it. It’s located down the cutest alleyway with string lights strung all the way down the street. The food was so good + tastes like a home-cooked meal. You can really taste that everything was made with love.
That’s Toast - This breakfast spot had every kind of toast you could imagine. From the obvious avocado toast to the more luxurious salmon with creme fraiche. Service was pretty quick, leaving us plenty of time to explore, + the price was well worth it for the quality!
De Garre - This bar was literally straight out of Harry Potter. Even the street looked exactly like Diagon Alley. Great place to stop for a break while shopping or for a drink after dinner. The beer in Belgium is definitely stronger though, so don’t be surprised if you’re feeling your drinks more than your standard American beer. Helps with traveling on a budget though!!
tips & tricks
We each felt that on our trips we were able to see everything we needed to in both Brussels + Bruges. 36 hours in Bruges is the perfect amount of time + 2 days, 3 max, is perfect for Brussels.
The train from Brussels to Bruges is really quick + it's also super easy to get to many other major European cities, such as Paris or Amsterdam, from both cities. Kelda went to Paris just for the day from Brussels on the train!
If you are short on time + can only stop in one Belgian city, Brussels is the way to go. Almost all of the trains to Bruges stop in Brussels for a transfer anyway, so it would save you time to just do Brussels vs. continuing on to Bruges.
If you’re looking for a break from city life though, Bruges would be the best escape! The cutest, most tranquil town that feels gothic + European with a much slower pace of life.
If you do take the train to Bruges, be aware that the train station might not be very close to your hotel. Even if it looks like your accommodation is close by on a map, all of the streets are cobblestone + dragging your suitcase the 30 minute walk from the train station to town gets old quickly. Based on experience, we’d recommend taking a short + inexpensive cab ride.
If you’re planning a trip to Belgium, please feel free to send us any questions we didn’t answer with this guide! And if you know a friend traveling to Belgium or planning a Europe trip soon, we’d LOVE if you sent them over this guide!! We both had the best time in Belgium. A totally different experience from any of our other European adventures + can't wait to go back for more frites + chocolate soon!