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Day Trip from Brussels to Bruges, Belgium

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Those visiting Brussels, Belgium should not leave the country without taking a day trip to its neighboring city Bruges, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Sometimes referred to as “the Venice of the North,” this quaint medieval town, with its cobblestone streets and original architecture, has a series of canals running through its city center.

Bruges is approximately 60 miles northwest of Brussels and is an easy hour-long drive on the auto route, or a 50-minute train ride away. The auto route is easy to navigate, especially with a smart phone or other navigation system, but remember you will have to contend with parking. Consider Hilton Brussels City for your stay in Brussels.

The museums and historical sites in Bruges are really worth a visit. Here are some of the interesting things that are easy to do and see with kids in Bruges, Belgium:

Take a Canal Tour or a Carriage Ride

Our kids loved taking a break from walking to take a boat ride! The canal boat tours take less than one hour and offer picturesque views of the city while showing you the lay of the land. Another fun way to tour the city is via horse drawn carriage. Our kids appreciate selecting the horse they want to drive them, even though it can’t always be their choice.

Folklore Museum (Museum voor Volkskunde)

Our kids enjoyed walking through the series of small buildings to catch a glimpse of everyday life in the 18th-19th century Belgium. My girls’ favorite scene was the replica of the old school house. There is also an old shoe maker’s shop, a pharmacy, and an inviting (and operational) café called The Black Cat where museum visitors can enjoy a drink and light snack.

Gentpoort (Gate of Ghent)

One of the city’s four remaining medieval gates, this one houses a small museum and is located near the Folklore Museum and some picturesque windmills. Just a 15-minute walk from the Grote Markt (city center), Gentpoort showcases very well-preserved medieval architecture. Kids interested in that time period can see firsthand how the city defended itself against potential invaders.

Palace of the Liberty of Bruges (Palais Provincial de Bruges)

This beautiful 18th century building is bound to elicit oooo’s and ahh’s from everyone, especially upon viewing the ornate fireplace. There is not much to tour, so it’s a quick, impressive visit which is perfect for short attention spans.

Basilica of the Holy Blood (La Basilique du Saint-Sang)

You might miss this small chapel if you weren’t looking for it. Not only is this unassuming church awe-inspiring for its age (construction began in 1139), its elaborate interior is stunning. In addition, the church purports to possess a relic of Jesus Christ’s blood which is on view at set times that are posted at the entrance door. This is also an easy place to tour quickly if traveling with impatient children.

Marché de Noel (Christmas Market)

One of the most magical times to visit Bruges is in the winter when the Marché de Noel (Christmas Market) is set up in the town center. As with most Christmas Markets located throughout Europe, the one in Bruges lasts from mid-November until shortly after the New Year and offers fantastic festival food, rides, ice-skating, and shopping.

Money-saving tip: I wasn’t aware of it at the time of our visit, but there are two- and three-day Bruges City passes available for 38 and 43 Euro at time of writing, respectively.  They offer admission into everything listed above, as well as some of the temporary Christmas exhibits (like the ice sculpture exhibit) during that time of year.  If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing whenever you plan to visit, you might consider purchasing one to save money and time waiting in queues, since the city pass allows you to move to the front of most lines.

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Erin is a native Floridian who has resided in Atlanta since 1995. Her husband Mike and she have two funny, smart, active girls and two cats.

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