Belgium Reinvented: Finding Romance In Bruges

Historical, picturesque, and perfectly formed, Bruges might just be the ultimate Valentine’s Day destination. Jam-packed with cultural delights, foodie delicacies, and dreamy views, the Belgian town has been drawing in tourists from all over the world for years now, and yet it’s not lost any of its initial charm. Whether you’re heading to the town with the holiday in mind or you’re simply looking for a little respite, Bruges is a place that has it all, offering you plenty of comfort and European charm.

When it comes to romantic setups, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that quite matches up to the charming Groenerei Canal. Once a bustling seaport, Bruges is renowned for its systems of canals and waterways, and while they might not be in function today, they certainly make for lovely strolling spots. The central Groenerei, or “green canal,” is arguably amongst the best in Bruges, offering views of some of the town’s most impressive 17th century mansions. Head to the Horse Bridge for the best view and watch the sun go down with your loved one beside you. It’s nothing short of bliss.

If you’re looking to get away from the crowds (and crowds there certainly are in Bruges during the winter months), you’d do well to check out Sint Anna, a virtually undisturbed district in the city’s northern area. Home to some of the city’s most spectacular medieval churches and builds, Sint Anna focuses on Bruges’ fascinating history, putting local culture front and centre. Come for the Jerusalem church, stay for the De Karmeliet restaurant.

Architecture more your thing? Make a beeline for the Burg, the city’s central gothic hub. Once the administrative centre of the city, the nearby Stadhuis historically functioned as Bruges’ town hall, housing plenty of official business. These days, it’s a lot more picturesque, maintaining its incredible fourteenth century design. While the place might be packed to the rafters with culture lovers, it’s worth battling the crowds for the beauty of the square alone. You and your other half aren’t likely to forget the site in a hurry.

When the city lights go down, where are you and your loved one going to pass the night away? Luckily for you, Bruges has a bar for any occasion, offering you any kind of evening you want. Looking to spend the night like a local? There’s no other option than De Republiek. Attached to a cinema, the bar pulls in a culture-loving crowd, and always has a cosy atmosphere. While you’re free to go down the wine route, beer is always best in Belgium, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Want something a little more upbeat? The bar hosts its own DJ set every weekend and transforms into the ultimate local party spot.

A town as charming and unique as Bruges calls for an equally boutique living space, so try going off the beaten track when it comes to your hotel. While there are plenty of sleeping spots in the city, few are as stylish as the Maison Amodio. Owned by two locals, the boutique hotel houses three luxury rooms, each styled after a city the owners (a couple themselves!) have fallen in love with. Get lost in Paris, Biarritz, or Knokke, and have the best night’s sleep of your life. Rooms are limited and tend to book up quickly, so be sure to make a reservation before it’s too late!

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.