Well known for its idyllic canals and impressive historical center, Bruges is one of the most popular Belgian tourist destinations. But obviously, there’s more to Bruges than chocolates, lace and churches. It’s also a city thriving with young entrepreneurs of all sorts, all offering a different perspective on the Venice of the North. Whom better than our own team to guide us through the city in style?
Let’s be honest here. If you’re on a diet, you might want to avoid Bruges. Next to the many Michelin rated restaurants in the city, there’s also a wide range of establishments offering quality food of all sorts. Don’t get stuck in a tourist trap and read on.
Nomad is one of our go-to spots for breakfast or lunch with the team as it simply is a great place with fresh, catered food, located right on ‘t Zand, with a large terrace to boot. On to De Bonte B, a refined restaurant that works with seasonal menus, all in a contemporary setting. Recommended! For a unique mix of a classic brasserie setting but food with a definite Asian influence, try Het Visioen, a former bar right by the water, a little outside the city center.
If you’re craving street food, we’ve got a few perfect and relatively new options: Sanseveria is bagel salon inspired by the young owners’ visits to Brooklyn, while Paula Mostaert is a hot dog spot popular with the locals, where we’d recommend the True Blue with blue cheese and dried onions.
In a little alley between two busy shopping streets, you’ll find Kottee Kaffee, a cosy coffee & breakfast spot, ideal for a little break while reading a magazine or book. Or you could hit Vero Caffe, another great address for coffee & cakes, run by a young local.
For a touch of England, try The Gulliver Tree right in the center of town; a family-run business in the best sense of the word, with coffee, tea, cakes and more.
This is where it gets dangerous. Let’s not forget that Bruges is the place where local brewery Halve Maan constructed a beer pipeline beneath the cobbled streets to their out-of- town bottling plant : )
We’ll start with another local phenomenon: De Garre. In a tiny alley close to the Belfry, this well-hidden gem offers a wide range of Belgian beers and their very own Triple De Garre, which locals describe as “epic”. On the weekends, Het Verdriet Van België (named after the famous Hugo Claus novel) is the place to be for relaxed rock’n’roll vibes and drinks. In for a cocktail? Head to Groot Vlaenderen, specialists at just that, the classy interior is a sight to behold.
Not one for beer? Try Blend, a winebar and store in one. Not only do they have a huge offer in Italian wines, the owners also have two vineyards in Tuscany, so you know they know. Wijnbar Est is another noteworthy tip. Wine and tapas in a very cozy and intimate atmosphere. Pass by on a Lazy Sunday and you might get to hear some live jazz too.
Here’s a small selection of local businesses worth a stop, but there’s more of course. Rombaux is Bruges’ oldest music store, it opened its doors during World War I (!). They offer instruments, music, repair services and the occasional event. For fans of interior design and furniture, we’ve got two hot tips: Serendipity (run by an interior architect) and Gouts Et Couleurs (a concept store that also has jewelry and watches).
We’ll obviously also recommend a stop at our Bellerose Bruges store which can be found at the Zilverpand. Once you’ve said hi to Caroline and her team there, feel free to visit Boetiek Ruth, a dynamic, well curated women’s boutique in a sublime setting.
A crossroads where cinema, food, drinks and local creatives meet? That’s De Republiek ! Good vibes all over in this unique, multi-functional hub. Incredibly large terrace too, perfect for a chill summer evening. For the finest contemporary art and incredible vintage furniture, pass by Galerie Thomas Serruys. Even if you’re not planning on spending, you can always get inspired there.
As mentioned in the introduction, a boat trip on Bruges’ canals can be fun, as well as a visit to the Burg, het Begijnhof and the Groeninghemuseum (to see classic paintings from the 15th century by the Flemish Primitives). Plus, a stroll around de Vismarkt is never wrong either, where fresh fish is sold every day.
To wrap things up, our favorite place to stay is without a doubt Kind of OJ, a superb bed & breakfast for fans of authentic luxury, unique design and art. Enjoy Bruges!
Pictures : Louis Vielle
Words : Bjorn Dossche