The Best of Bruges
Bruges is a charming city filled with canals, swans, and chocolate. My friends and I arrived via train. The train station is a good 20 minute walk to the Market Square. Needing some sustenance, and anxious to try Belgium's famous "frites," I fueled up before the walk.
Besides indulging a few times in these twice-fried fries, here are the best parts of Bruges to me:
Parks & Canals
The city is just visually attractive! Boat tours are available, but I just enjoyed the city on foot. Near the train station, the park Minnewater, you'll find numerous photo opportunities.
Chocolate & Waffles
There's just something about the way the Belgian's do chocolate and waffles. As for finding waffles, they're sold in several shops so I don't have a specific recommendation. And for chocolate...I'm sure you won't find bad chocolate, but the Rick Steves recommended Dumon was a fun experience.
Church of Our Lady
As a fan of Michelangelo, I knew I had to stop in and see his Madonna and Child. This is said to be his only work to leave Italy during his lifetime. To enter and see the Madonna is free, however there is a fee if you'd like to see the other art in the apse.
The city is full of bikers, so much so that there are one-way biking streets. Watch for the signs or get chastised by locals!
I didn't learn how to ride a bike until I was 12...I was just scared and nervous. Perhaps that's why I'm not a great biker these days, and this biking adventure will live on in my friends' memories for ages. We decided to follow Rick Steves recommendation to get out of the city and bike to nearby Damme. It's a few leisurely miles along a canal once you cross the canal.
This windmill is right outside the city of Damme and we pulled our bikes over to take some photos, when the man running the windmill told us it was the free day to tour the interior. It was actually very interesting, as I had never been inside one or really knew how it worked.
This square is surrounding by great old buildings and is an excellent place to soak in the atmosphere of the old city and people watch.
Some people do Bruges as a day trip from a cruise ship or The Netherlands. While that's definitely feasible, I enjoyed spending the night in Bruges and enjoying the charm of the city once the hoards of daytrippers had left.