Brugge is a true gem highly explored by many who travel through Belgium. We stayed in Brugge for one night 2 years ago during our Europe Christmas travels. We absolutely loved the magical town of Brugge. We took our first horse and carriage ride, did a canal tour, wandered through cobbled streets, ate exquisite fine chocolate, visited the medieval torture museum and drained our glasses of beer under fairytale lights in a quaint pub.
Our question to ourselves was – were there more things for us to see and do in Brugge? Was it worth revisiting? Was there a less touristy side to it? What more could we learn about this area?
Well this is how we discovered Brugge a second time together, and once again our thoughts were that Brugge is a true treasure worth exploring more than once in your lifetime!
When arriving in Brugge we parked in the main car park beside the station. It cost 3-50 euros for the day, which is extremely cheap parking for such a popular tourist town!!!
We decided to take a walk around the outside of the town. We walked through Minnewater Park, a very mossy green lush park set on a lake with old tiny mounted cobbled waterway bridges with connecting pathways which lead us to the popular swan park and the horse drinking fountain.
Here the horse coaches stop to allow the horses to have a drink and tourists can admire the white feathered beauties bathing in and on the banks of the canal.
We remembered stopping here at night when we were star struck from our first ever romantic horse and carriage ride 2 years ago, but it looked more visible in the daylight.
A quaint space which takes you way back in time with its pretty canal bridge, cobbled streets, historical buildings, horse and carriage and romantic white swans! No wonder this place is popular…. a fairytale land.
Determined to explore a different path we arrived at the De Halve Maan beer brewery and joined an hour long educational tour through this iconic site – the only working brewery in Brugge.
This is an extremely close nit family run brewery that was established in 1856 making it 162 years in the making. This is why they are able to produce double fermented beer at an alcohol level of 11 percent!!!! That makes for one big happy family. This family brewery used to sit in a location with about 30 other small breweries but over time it’s innovative ideas and ability to take risks has made it the only working brewing left Brugge. The small unique breweries were unable to complete with the big giants of brewing and closed their doors.
It is now lead by its 6 generation youthful son who has been innovative enough to expand the brewery by constructing a tube that escorts the beer out of town to a new bottling house. History goes both ways as they were also one of the first breweries to use horse and carriage to deliver beer to people’s front doors.
We got to see all the historical beer making vats, and cooling chambers still intact. Today over 4 million dollars has been poured into new expensive high tech equipment in the hope the brewery may expand and be there for the coming generation to learn from.
The brewery houses not only makes great beer but it has a stunning view from the top of the old building, but to enjoy this first you have to climb a few very steep ladders and duck your head.
Best of all was at the end of the tour when you hand your ticket in at the bar you receive a glass of unfiltered straight from the keg brewed on site official De Halve Maan beer. They don’t bottle this special edition!
We did see on a map that they do export Halve Maan beer to Australia even though they are really just a middle size brewery.
We checked out a few quaint churches and surrounding canals and made our way to Jilles Burgers as 10 kilometres of walking, drinking beer and sightseeing can make you ever so hungry.
Now this was a burger cafe that had been on our radar to try in Belgium. I think the pictures tells the story! The signage, “Best Burgers in Town”, was definitely a true statement but also a delicious delight was the apple and cabbage slaw that accompanies your burger, crisp, fresh and life giving is how I would describe the slaw as it cleans your palette!!!! The chicken was also marinated which made it just melt. The burgers were dressed in lots of salad and of course best of all was their chunky potato chips!!!
We took a big side detour walk out of Brugge as we were eager to see the less touristy side of Brugge, and these are the delights we found on our long walk.
Canal banks bursting with beautiful spring flowers,
bunnies feasting on spring grasses,
windmill symbolising the past,
the old Gent Gate,
canal bridges that open to let boats through and beautiful long canal boats that people live in.
It was worth the effort to return to Brugge. Can’t believe we thought we saw it all the first time!!!