Back in December we visited Bruges with all three kids, hoping for a magical festive weekend visiting the Christmas market, sipping on glühwein (or hot chocolate for the kids) and squeezing in a bit of nice food and a Belgian beer or two. Unfortunately, the kids were just not on top form and our weekend was a bit of a disaster – but hey, family travel isn’t always straightforward!
But it did not stop me from falling in love with Bruges; for the pretty buildings, the intriguing alleyways, the inviting chocolate shops and the sheer number of cosy bars and restaurants. We vowed that we would have to return one day soon, without the kids, to truly enjoy everything that Bruges has to offer.
And thanks to Mr DaisLikeThese, and a fab birthday present to me, that was made a reality! With the kids off to spend the weekend with their cousins, and the dog with a sitter, we have recently returned from an amazing 24 hours in beautiful Bruges.
If, like us, you only have 24 hours in Bruges and you are either not fussed by ticking off the typical tourist activities, or perhaps you have already done them, then check out these great ways to eat, sleep and play your way through Bruges.
Lunch with a view
Restaurant Duc de Bourgogne
We ate lunch at the historical Restaurant Duc de Bourgogne, which has a prime position overlooking the canal. We arrived dead on 12pm for opening and were seated at the best table in the room, with a curved window offering panoramic views. We chose from the set menu and enjoyed a meal of carpaccio and fish soup to start, followed by beautifully cooked lamb, and then chocolate mousse to finish. Our coffee was served with a mini cake stand with chocolates, biscuits and marshmallows, which was a lovely touch.
This restaurant was on the pricey side, but you pay for the location and the quality of the food. It was certainly perfect for us, as a couple, but I am not sure I would take the kids until they are old enough to appreciate it a bit more.
Dinner for two
Restaurant Den Dyver
We took advantage of being child free by booking a table at the Den Dyver restaurant, where we had read that they matched the beers you drink with the beer used to make the sauces of your meal. We were disappointed to find that the restaurant was actually under new management and they no longer did the beer matching. However, our disappointment was very short-lived, as we were treated to a superb dinner. From the bread, olives, nuts and a dainty but full of flavour amuse bouche before we’d even ordered our food, we knew we were in for a treat!
I started with the very in-season (and being served in restaurants all across Bruges) white asparagus with smoked salmon and egg, Mr DaisLikeThese had the pan-fried gambas, and we shared. Both dishes were amazing! We then both had the Belgian fillet steak, which was cooked perfectly to our medium-rare requests and was paired with spring green vegetables and potatoes. I opted for a mushroom sauce and Mr DaisLikeThese a peppercorn sauce, and they were simply delicious. We were far too full to be able to manage desert, which was a shame as I was tempted by quite a few things!
Le Grand Cafe Belfort
On Sunday we headed out late morning in search of brunch. We wandered through Bruges to a cafe called the Blackbird, which we had read about and looked amazing. Disappointingly (but unsurprisingly!) it was full when we arrived – everyone else had obviously read the same reviews as us! So we continued our walk until we came across Le Grande Cafe Belfort. We actually entered via the terrace at the back, and were shown through to the main terrace which overlooked Market Place and the iconic Belfort tower. We asked if they served breakfast and rather than being shown a menu, we were told “yes, two breakfasts coming up” – so we just had to wait to see what we were given! As well as some much-needed coffee and fresh orange juice we were served fried eggs, lardons, beans and slices of gorgeous bread straight from the bakery. It was delicious, and worth the walk.
The Flanders Hotel Bruges
Back in December we really struggled to find accommodation in the centre of Bruges, with everything being booked up. We ended up in an apartment just outside of town, and despite it being a super apartment, it was a real pain to have to get a taxi home at the end of the day. So for this visit we were sure to find a hotel in town, within walking distance of all of the main attractions.
We were really happy with our choice of the Flanders Hotel, which despite being on one of Bruges’ pretty and narrow cobbled streets, it was deceptively large and offered secure parking, a trendy bar and even a swimming pool.
As parents on a very rare night off duty, sleep and comfort is obviously high on our list of priorities, and so we were delighted to find that our room was clean, modern and airy, with a massive bed, sliding doors with juliette balcony and a TV with lots of UK channels. The staff throughout the hotel was kind and helpful, and even left a bottle of wine out for us on arrival which was a lovely touch.
On a child free trip, the next best thing to getting some much-needed sleep is being able to let our hair down, because let’s face it, we don’t very often get the opportunity to!
Despite this being my birthday trip, and wine being more my thing, Mr DaisLikeThese seemed to have planned an awful lot of beer related activity! He even had it all mapped out!
But I was happy to bar hop too, I mean it’s not very often that I get to do that these days so I took advantage! We visited some really cosy little bars, hidden down pretty alleyways, with beer menus which were more like novels! I enjoyed some fabulous fruit beers and even a beer champagne!
Cafe Red Rose
This cosy little bar was tucked down a cobbled side street and was full of locals and tourists happily chatting away when we arrived. With the extensive beer menu and the smell of tasty food wafting from the kitchen, I honestly could have hauled up in here all evening!
Bistro Zwart Huis
Up a set of stone steps, you are taken into a spacious and high-ceilinged bar, restaurant and music venue all rolled into one. We sat up at the bar and with more of a selection of drinks, rather than just beer, we sat for a while listening to the music and checking out all of the interesting art and items dotted all around. This bar was actually used to film a scene in the cult hit film ‘In Bruges’ (which is a must-see before visiting the town!)
‘t Brugs Beertje
Again, tucked on a little cobbled back street is this little bar, which was packed full of a young crowd of friends and couples. The beer menu was thicker than some books I’ve read and I looked around wondering where on earth they kept all the bottles stored as it was so tiny! I had a banana beer, which was very interesting if not a bit sweet.
It wasn’t all eating and drinking, honestly! We also did a lot of walking – something which we can’t really get away with too much when we’re with the kids. I loved strolling the streets and bridges of Bruges and taking in all the pretty sights, there is something to spot on every corner.
I think we well and truly made the most of our child free 24 Hours in Bruges, it was a real treat. I would love to return with the kids one day, when they are all feeling 100%, and I am sure they will love it as much as we do.
Have you been to Bruges with or without kids before? I’d love to hear about your favourite bits!