Our second stop on our family road trip was in Bruges, Belgium, and for me it was the best part of the trip. While being in Paris was exciting, it was also overwhelming. Arriving in Bruges was a dramatic change of pace.
We decided on Bruges over Brussels because Mom had been to Brussels in college and said it would be just another big city. After visiting Bruges, I can definitely say its a highly underrated destination. It was compact, making it much more walkable than a big city, and the only real parking area was at the train station at the edge of town, so there were very few cars on the streets.
The weather (as usual) was not ideal, the typical cloudy and cold, but we had a nice afternoon exploring. We started at a restaurant with a heated outdoor patio on the town square for a traditional Belgian lunch—beer, beef stew and the best fries I’ve ever had. My only complaint was that the food was very expensive, probably more expensive than the restaurants we ate at in Paris and not what you would expect in a smaller town. Plus our portion of beef stew was hardly anything. I’ve gotten used to smaller portions in Europe, but this was a little extreme (see picture below).
The square was the cutest place in town because every single building surrounding it had its own unique architecture, from the gingerbread-house-looking restaurants to the 13th century bell tower, and there were horse-drawn carriages taking people for rides. There were a lot of tourists around, especially many Americans surprisingly, but it never felt too packed.
Bruges sits on a system of canals, so after lunch we went for a boat tour. It was a perfect 30 minutes of getting to see old churches and cute houses along the water.
We spent the rest of our afternoon and evening souvenir shopping and drinking proper Belgian beer on the square. And obviously we had to try a hot waffle smothered in dark chocolate. I’m not even a big waffle fan and yet I’m still to this day thinking about when I can go back and get another one.
We stayed overnight in Bruges and then in the morning were off to the Netherlands. We didn’t really need more than that afternoon as there wasn’t a ton to do, but I’m certainly not complaining about a calming stop between two big city visits.