A town which smells faintly of chocolate. What’s not to love?!
Bruges is all the things I had heard it would be: Pretty, historic, interesting.
Rambling cobbled streets are lined with medieval masterpieces of architecture and the canals, which snake through the town, give it an almost fairytale feel.
Added to that, Bruges is famed for its beer, its art and promises a day you won’t forget.
But how do you enjoy a day in Bruges with children in tow? How do you make this gem of a day trip interesting to them too?
Well first of all, Bruges is small enough to fit everything in in one day; it’s very walkable and everything is within an easy stroll. And it’s enchanting enough to make even a wander along the streets an interesting journey.
My family and I spent the day here during a recent cruise with P&O, and Bruges was one of our stop off points.
So here are my top tips for what to do when in Bruges for a day with children in tow:
1. Head to the Market Square
This is the heart of Bruges where you will find your fill of medieval buildings which loom above you.
The square is pedestrian only, but you have to keep on your guard for the mopeds, bicycles and horses and carts which come whizzing through like scurrying ants on their way to somewhere important.
You will also find lots of restaurants offering Belgium delights such as moules et frites (mussels and fries), local beer and waffles.
But if you wander off the main drag you will find the prices reduce significantly – if you want to experience the full-on tourist bit by sitting in the square, you will pay the price!
Also when travelling with kids, mussels make for great comedy photos . . . (see below).
2. Take a boat ride
These boats which navigate the canals are excellent value for money.
They’re relatively cheap (about 7.60 Euros for an adult, 3.40 for a child) and your ‘captain’ and guide will share lots of interesting information, facts and history as you snake around the water seeing a whole other side of the town that you could miss on foot.
3. Ride a horse-drawn carriage
The sound of horses hooves clip clopping on the cobbled streets is very hypnotic, and you can climb onboard for an alternative tour of the town.
You can find them in the Market Square and the ride takes around half an hour and cost about 39 euro per carriage (you can fit up to five 5 people in one carriage).
4. Buy the chocolate. All the chocolate.
It’s everywhere. Shops upon shops of the stuff. From the Belgium shells we all know and love to chocolate slabs, fancy filled chocolates – even chocolate boobies much to my children’s delight.
For yes, chocolate is big business here in Bruges and you will find all manner of sweet treats to buy and take home (if you can make it last that long that is!) I can highly recommend the giant chocolate crispy wheels (around 150 Euros).
5. Eat freshly-made waffles
We found the street vendors were actually rather better than the restaurants. PLUS you get to wander around the cobbled streets with a larger than life tray of sweet treats, scooping it up with a plastic spoon. The kids thought this was a highlight!
They’re around 5 Euros each but my goodness me they are worth the price! And no you won’t want to share it.
6. Climb the Belfry
There are 366 (one for each day of the year) steps to the top of the Belfry Tower and once you’re at the top there are gorgeous views over Bruges. It costs about 8 Euros for an adult and 6 for children. Just make sure you leave some time after eating that waffle . . .
Also, don’t do what I did and FORGET to take your camera. Actually I forgot the camera battery but was really lucky to have spent the day there with another family, and the mum had just bought herself a new camera and didn’t really know her way around it so offered it to me to snap away with. THANK GOODNESS!
So thank you Fiona, you are a star and I am indebted to you!
The most famous dog in Bruges (according to our boat tour guide). He is always sat there on his first floor balcony, on his cushion, fast asleep, ignoring the tourists who snap away at him all day long!