A Long Weekend in Bruges

A Long Weekend in Bruges

About a week ago my Mum and I went on a trip to Bruges – which is arguably the most adorable city in Belgium – to soak up some culture before Christmas. We went by Eurostar which made things super quick and a lot easier than all the paph that goes along with going by plane (easier than getting to Durham to!) so for a weekend it was the perfect getaway. The first noticeable thing when you arrive is that Bruges is basically a toy town as every road is cobbled and every house looks like it’s made out of gingerbread. Whilst this makes it a very pretty city, it does also make it slightly weird underfoot, so just don’t wear heels and make sure your suitcases’ wheels can withstand a bit of battering!

Being a fairly touristy town there is a whole range of hotels, hostels and apartments out there for the picking. We stayed at the Hotel Aragon which was a really really lovely place! Would 100% recommend as it was super comfy, really close to the centre and had a full buffet breakfast thrown in to the mix. As with many European hubs there were so many things to do in Bruges – museums, boat rides and chocolate shops to name a few, but as this is a food blog I’ll focus mainly on the best places to and not to eat over there!

Places to Eat

Waffles Waffles Waffles

One of the great things about touring round Europe is the cuisines. There’s nothing quite like eating food in it’s homeland, and so in Belgium I was keen to seek out the three things I associate most with Belgium: chocolate, beer and waffles! And it wasn’t very hard to find any of those three, I mean everywhere sold waffles – from a simple plain ones with sugar, to waffles on sticks and full out waffle restaurants. However the price varied so much so if you want to get the best out of your money listen up.

In the centre of town things tended to be super pricey, ranging up to about €4.50 for a simple plain waffle! Whereas if you walk towards the edge of the city (which’ll only take about 10-15 minutes as it’s a very small city) you can pick up a delicious waffle with banana and Nutella (or any other toppings you want) for a much more reasonable €2.50. I tried ones of all prices, in all places and generally the quality was pretty consistent (I mean they all tasted incredible!) so if you’re on a budget have a look outside the city centre for the best buys!

The Olive Street Food

The one down side with Belgian cuisine is that it’s very carbohydrate heavy. After a couple of days of chocolate, chips, waffles and more chips I found myself craving something light with salad! Another thing you’ll find in Bruges is that the streets are very windy and so navigating your way around the town is way more complicated than you’d think. I generally think of myself as having a fairly good sense of direction and I got lost several times. Therefore when it comes to finding places to eat we generally found trying to go somewhere you saw earlier completely useless and in the end just wandered around the streets until we found somewhere interesting.

One such places was this amazing Greek takeaway shop called The Olive Street Food. They did a really good range of veggie and meat based wraps and salads to take away, all at a relatively decent price considering how close the place was to the city centre. So if you’re looking for a takeaway I’d strongly recommend this place! I went for a halloumi and aubergine salad wrap that came in a pita bread thing with chips and oh boy was it good.

Ellis Gourmet Burger

On the note of vegetarian food, Bruges isn’t the vegan or even veggie capital of the world so if you’re looking for that kind of food you’re gonna have to search a bit. One place we found that had really good veggie options was Ellis Gourmet Burger in the smaller of the two market squares. They had a whole section of the menu just for veggie burgers including a delicious carrot burger and a vegan beetroot burger! So if you want somewhere for people of all dietary requirements give this one a go.


Being famous for it’s chocolate it was no surprise that on this trip I had some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. None of the wishy washy cocoa powder in water business, this was proper chocolate chips and milk. The best place I found for this was a cute chocolate shop called Olivier’s down one of the side streets.

Here they had a wide range of chocolates and treats on show as well as a whole range of hot chocolate flavours including caramel, cappucino, hazelnut, honey and spicy. I ended up going for the cookie flavour one and man was it good. Especially after a long day of walking around the sites, a warming cup of this is just what’s needed!


Now. You can’t go to somewhere like Bruges and not come across a chocolate shop overflowing with mountains of treats. I’m not even exaggerating, every chocolate shop had bucket loads of chocolates pilled up in the windows and everywhere the smell of melted chocolate is pumped out into the streets to pull you in.

There were so many chocolate shops there that it would be impossible to try them all in 4 days (although I did my best!). They also vary so much in variety that it depends on what you’re looking for as to where you should go. If you’re looking for cheap and cheerful there are several just off the main square that sell chocolates pick-and-mix style, which was great as you could choose exactly what and how much you wanted. They were a little more rough and ready, with not quite as much finish to them but they still tasted great!

On the other hand there were beautiful modern places like this one above, where each chocolate was carefully finished and decorated. Here they had slightly more interesting flavours, like yuzu and tonka bean, however they were a little more pricey so you might not be able to get as much for your money. What I did find though is that most shops had tasters of some sort, so let yourself be pulled in where your nose takes you and you might very well end up eating a lot on the way!

Places to Avoid

I’m not normally a very critical person; I tend to see good and bad (or pros and cons if you will) in most things. However there were a couple of places we went in Bruges that were frankly rip offs, so I thought it only right to warn you off them if you find yourself over there.

Haagen Dazs

This was a little dessert restaurant on the main square, with a cafe type set up below and a restaurant above. We were looking for somewhere to have a quick dessert after dinner one evening and so, enticed by the delicious looking menu, we decided to head in. However, once a waiter had finally come over to us to take our order, as we tried to order we were told that the things in the menu we were asking for weren’t actually available. Various elements shown in photos and descriptions weren’t actually included and some of the things that were included they didn’t even have.

In the end we decided what the hell and ordered anyway as it was late and we had sugar cravings. Whilst what they served was tasty (chocolate fondant and mango sorbet for me and some kind of waffle thing for my Mum), we paid €9 and €12 respectively and so were understandably disgruntled when tiny morsels of a similar size to that of a Michelin star restaurant arrived.  Had they been Cordon Bleu maybe we wouldn’t have minded, but given that they weren’t anything to write home about I’d recommend skipping this place and just going to one of the many good cafes or waffle shops around!

Christmas Market

Whilst it might feel like a must-do to eat at the beautiful Christmas market, if you’re there when it’s on, I’d personally recommend giving it a miss. There’s lots of beautiful gifts and toys and it’s really cute so by all means wander round, but I just wouldn’t recommend it for food. For the quantity and quality of what was being served the food was pretty pricey, and could have been found at lots of other places over town. Especially as it was very busy and cold at night in the market, you’d be better off finding somewhere you can sit in the warm to have a good meal rather than being squished standing up, trying to balance everything in your hands as you eat.

Some extra things to visit

As I said before, Bruges isn’t only about the food. There were also lots of museums, shops, churches and pretty sites to see! Even just wandering around the city was a lovely thing to do as literally every building was photo worthy. For some of the more touristy things, like the choco story museum, I’d recommend going early or late as the streets tended to get busier in the middle of the day when people were brought in on river cruises or day trips.

Salvador Dali Museum

Maybe it’s fairly natural that as an art student one of my favourite things about this trip was the Dali exhibition – but it was really really cool! I’ve always thought of Dali as more of a weird painter, and to be honest I’m not that big of a fan of his paintings, but this exhibition was full of his sketches, sculptures, illustrations and prints, all displayed in a beautiful maze of mirrors and lavishly coloured wall paper.

As with most places and attractions in the city it cost €10 to get in and €8 if you’re a student, so make sure you take a student card if you go! This one was also perfectly positioned in the centre of the city, so it’s really close to things like the history museum, ice skating, horse cart rides and the Christmas market, meaning that it’s the perfect place to pop into.

Choco Story

If you’re a chocoholic like me then you’ll want to head down to the chocolate museum. Here they had the full story of chocolate, from the history of the bean, to the production side of things and the speciality of Belgian chocolate. The experience then ended with an exhibition of some chocolate sculptures and watching a demo of how chocolates are made.

In order to fully get your money’s worth out of this you do have to engage with the material – ie read the info on the boards – otherwise you’d get around it super fast. There are some places to taste chocolate on your way round which is a great bonus, but given the number of kids running around screaming and pulling their parent’s arms I’m guessing there isn’t that much for young kids to do, so it might not be the best place for a family trip. I personally found it really interesting though (much more than the chip museum which was…. interesting… in a different way) so it’s worth a look!

Other things we did included an audio guided tour in the Bruges Historium, the historical tour of the city (which you can do yourself for free by using a map!) and a boat ride down the canals which was all well worth doing! Everything costed about €8-10, so if you’re on a budget you might have to pick and choose what you do. However, even if you don’t go to the museums or get involved in the activities on offer (like the horse and cart rides or the ice skating which we didn’t get round to doing) you can have a really good time on a budget by spending your time wandering around the stunning city, soaking up the atmosphere and getting as many free chocolate samples as possible!

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a very happy Christmas!

Emma x


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