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I’ve had lots of people ask me what our favorite part of our 6 week Europe vacation was.  It’s a hard question, all the countries were amazing in their own way, but I would say Bruges in Belgium won my heart.  It’s a close call with Italy though… it was amazing there too, but out of the countries and cities we visited Bruges left such a lasting impression on me.

I already knew when it came time to blog about our Bruges experience it would need to be split up into 2 blog posts because of the amazing experience.  I first wrote What To Eat And Drink In Bruges, so if you haven’t read that be sure too.  We ate so many amazing things!

The entire country of Belgium has 3 official languages, Dutch, French and German.  The language spoken most in Bruges is Flemish, which is very close to Dutch. Which brings me to the spelling and pronunciation of Bruges.  You will see the city spelled a few different ways too.  Bruges is the French spelling, but it’s spelled Brugges in Dutch.

It’s pretty funny how it’s pronounced so many different ways. There are so many different ways of pronunciation that I had a local explain it to me, but it’s still confusing.  The French way of pronouncing it is BROO-ZH, as in rhymes with rouge.

It seems the Flemish and Dutch pronunciation is the most difficult for me to grasp, the accents vary more, some being pronounced with a hard or soft G.  So I go with the French pronunciation – it makes the most sense to my brain.  Everyone seemed to know where I was talking about with the French pronunciation.

How would I describe Bruges?  Absolutely perfect, it’s like stepping into a charming fairytale world.   From the cobblestone streets to the delightful bridges and canals it was perfect.  Bruges is referred to the Venice of the north and it’s easy to see why walking along the romantic canals and bridges, it’s almost intoxicating.

Except for an afternoon city bus tour and a short boat ride we spent all of our time walking on foot, Bruges is a very easy town to walk.   We stayed at the ever so charming Hotel Lucca, which you can see below.  The owners were incredibly helpful and kind, and every morning we were greeted to the perfect complimentary breakfast.  I can’t recommend this place enough and it was a short walk to the Belfry tower.

Bruges is also known as the city of bells.   You can hear the sounds of the bells playing all around you, which makes this medieval town even more enchanting.  We slept with our windows open and I remember waking up to the sound of the bells playing Ava Maria, it was one of those moments you hope to remember forever.

One thing Bruges does not have a shortage of is beer, beer enthusiasts will love doing to the Bruges Beer Experience.  If you think you know everything about beer think again.  Here you can learn about beer with fun interactive exhibits and bonus, at the end of the tour you’ll find yourself in the tasting room – with stunning views of the city.

I had to take this photo, it was just too funny, a man lovingly cradling his pregnant beer belly.  Reminds me of the Demi Moore ’91 Vanity Fair cover.

Taking a boat ride on the canal is a must, here our captain told us so much interesting information about the city, and you get gorgeous views that can only be seen by boat.  Maybe you’ll get lucky and see some swans swimming beside you too.  The boat rides only go in certain popular parts of the canal.  I like this because you can still walk other areas along the canal and it’s peaceful and quiet.

I love how the city has a lot of outdoor modern art, it adds a fun quirkiness, and the blue whale was certainly the craziest!  I love the contrast of old and modern though, it’s fun.

Another thing we had a blast doing was shopping the flea markets along the river.  You could easily spend hours browsing everything, wondering where they came from, and their story.  I found old family black and white photos, war memorabilia, china, and lots of gorgeous brass.  If I would have had an empty suitcase I could of packed it full of cool stuff.

Holland is known for its windmills, but you can find a few right here in Bruges just walking distance from the city center.  The City Tour Bus went right by this one, I highly recommend the bus tour by the way.  It’s about a 50 minute tour and you can see the highlights of the city.

Do you know what to shop for when your in Bruges?  Lace of course!  Belgium is known for a variety of things, beer, waffles, and chocolate – but don’t forget to check out some lace shops.  You want to look for handmade lace, which is pricier than other lace, but it has gorgeous detail.  Maybe you’ll even see a live demonstration of lace being made like we did.  Those looking for a great Christmas shop check out the Kathe Wohlfahrt shop.

Bruges was so dreamy I desperately want to visit again, and I’d love to explore more little towns in Belgium.  If you ever get the chance to visit Bruges do it.  You won’t regret it!