Three days in Belgium isn’t much; however, we hit several stops throughout the weekend, to include Dinant, Brussels (overnight), Ghent and Bruges (two overnights).
Dinant was the first stop on our drive from Western Germany. I wanted to visit Dinant for one specific reason — this view!
After snapping this shot, we crossed over the bridge to take the cable car up to the Citadel. This provided fantastic views!
The cable car ticket includes entrance to the Citadel. Unfortunately, you are limited only to the courtyard area unless you are on a guided tour (which take approximately an hour). We did not have time to do a tour since we were on a tight schedule to make it to Brussels with enough time to enjoy the city for the majority of the afternoon.
We enjoyed the view from the top and headed back down to enjoy a quick lunch before getting back on the road.
We arrived in Brussels right on time to check in at the Renaissance Hotel Brussels by Marriott. What a lovely hotel — spacious rooms, friendly staff and great amenities. The location was not bad either; only €7 for an Uber to Grand-Place.
We stumbled upon an open-air jazz concert at the Grand-Place, exactly the type of thing we love! Hence, this is where we spent the bulk of our time in Brussels rather than seeing as many sights as possible.
Of course, we did make a quick stop at the Mannekin-Pis.
We enjoyed a great dinner at La Esquina Mexicana restaurant (one of the best burritos I’ve had while living in Europe!) and hung out at the concert for a while enjoying Belgian beers in the hot sun — it stayed near 90° F until around 9 p.m.
We ended our night at the Delirium Cafe. It’s impressive how huge this place is — it just keeps going, room after room for three floors. It was a little bit dingy and stinky but we found peacefulness on the top floor and enjoyed a few drinks before heading back to the hotel for the night.
We got an early start the next day and enjoyed breakfast at our hotel before hitting the road for Ghent. I fell in love with this city a few years prior and was excited to return with Ben.
Upon arrival, we found out there was a huge culinary festival going on! One area was dedicated to food trucks featuring all kinds of specialities (Mexican, Vietnamese, Italian, German, etc.) and another area featured some of the best Belgian chefs showcasing their specialties. Visit the Gent Smaakt website for more information, and go enjoy some food if your travel dates align with it!
A jazz concert and a culinary fest — we were lucking out! It took away from our touristy sightseeing activities — had the festival not been going on, we would’ve taken a canal tour and visited the Castle of the Counts (both great activities!) — but we enjoyed the festival a lot and had a good time.
Before leaving Ghent, we squeezed in a trip to the top of the Belfry and enjoyed spectacular views. I definitely recommend doing this; there is an elevator so it really doesn’t take much time or effort — plus, it’s only €2,70 if you’re under 26!
We walked along the canals and around the Castle of the Counts, then departed for Bruges.
All in all, we only spent about four hours in Ghent. We would have loved to spend the night and hang out at the food festival for a bit longer! We knew we had good things waiting for us in Bruges, though.
Bruges (Day 1)
We arrived in Bruges around 4 p.m. and went directly to our B&B to check in. We stayed at the lovely B&B Speelmansrei. It’s in the perfect location and has very nice owners who recommended places to eat, things to see, the best photo opportunities and more. Highly recommended.
After checking in, we headed out on a walk along one of the canals (our host drew a route on the map for us), paused for photos along the way and eventually stopped for a drink and a snack at the Uilenspiegel Restaurant. Lovely place to sit overlooking the water, but quite overpriced for mediocre service and food. We continued onward and took in the many beautiful sights that Bruges has to offer. What a romantic, picturesque city!
De Gouden Kroes
We ate dinner at De Gouden Kroes restaurant — amazing fresh seafood. We sat on their rooftop terrace, which is small but nice in good weather. Be prepared to pay a pretty penny at this restaurant, but the service and food are excellent!
After dinner, we enjoyed the gorgeous golden hour lighting and hung out at a little bar for drinks.
Bruges (Day 2)
The Belfry of Bruges
We began our second day in Bruges with a lovely breakfast at our B&B, then headed to the Belfry Tower.
I suggest hitting this spot when it opens at 9:30 a.m. to avoid a long line during peak season. We arrived around 11 a.m. and stood in line (in the hot sun) for over an hour. Due to safety reasons, only a certain number of people are permitted inside the Belfry at a time. So, as one leaves, one enters, and so on. It was worth the wait, though!
The 366 stairs to the top are narrow, steep and a bit slippery, so keep that in mind when it comes to shoe choice. It does require a bit of physical effort — excellent exercise to balance out those Belgian waffles! We got to the top and enjoyed the views and the impressive collection of 46 bells.
De Halve Maan Brewery
After the Belfry, we walked to De Halve Maan Brewery for the 1 p.m. lunch reservation we booked online the day before.
Ben was interested in doing a brewery tour, but unfortunately the website said there was no availability. However, when we arrived we were pleased to find out there were available spaces on the tours. They stop selling tickets online the day before and reserve the remainder for same-day purchases at the location — so don’t get discouraged if you are unable to book online.
We ate lunch and joined the 2 p.m. tour. If you are like me and have a short attention span for this type of thing, you’ll be pleased to hear that the tour is only 45 minutes long and moves quickly. Once it finishes, you are rewarded with a nice, cold Brugse Zot Blonde.
It’s worth the €9 tour price, although it is a bit hot in there on a sunny day! The tour also takes you to the rooftop of the brewery, which has lovely views.
2be Beer Wall
After the brewery tour, we went in and out of some gift shops and beer shops, then took a boat tour of the canals.
Eventually, we made our way over to the 2be Beer Wall. This was somewhere we wanted to visit the day before, but were surprised to find out closes at 7 p.m. — more of a day/afternoon drinking spot.
The 2be Beer Wall is a little bar/tasting room with a patio offering a beautiful view of the canal. There are many beers available, so samplers are the best way to go. We got one light sampler and one dark sampler (four tasters each) and found a nice spot to kick back and relax for about an hour.
‘t Zwart Huis
That night, we ate dinner at ‘t Zwart Huis — highly recommend this place! It is a hidden gem. The ambiance is classy and romantic, the food is perfection, and the prices are very reasonable compared to other restaurants in Bruges. Our garlic escargot starter was amazing, and our entrees (kangaroo steak for Ben, scallop and shrimp tagliatelle for me) were divine.
We were really happy to find this place; it was the perfect ending to our trip.
We hit the road around 10 a.m. the following day for our five-hour drive home.
We stopped at the Cora in Messancy, which was right along the way, and loaded our cart with Belgian beers and other goodies. Successful trip!