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36 Hours ‘In Bruges’

Getting There

I arrived at Dublin airport during the wee hours of Friday morning, armed with just hand luggage, to meet ITTN/ Travel Times’ Ita Hendrick and take the 6.50am Ryanair flight to Brussels Charleroi Airport. A mere 1 hour, 20 minute hop, with a 2 hour train journey at the other side, to the beautiful, medieval city, Bruges.

Bruges truly is the city of a thousand photo opportunities with a warren of winding streets and Hansel and Gretel style architecture. Markt Square is home to the 12th-century belfry which starred in crime caper, ‘In Bruges’.

Accommodation and Food

We checked into our gorgeous hotel the Aragon Hotel Brugge – Official Website – 4* Hotel Bruges ,which is located in the old centre, just a stone’s throw away from the Square. It has a lovely fresh feel as all the rooms were renovated in 2024. We were lucky to get warm , sunny weather, so Ita’s reservation in Oda – Rooftop Bar in Bruges (odarooftopbar.be) , Bruges’ cool, new rooftop bar was even more perfect a spot than we had hoped.

We sampled the signature cocktail,- The Oda ( a very sweet mix of gin, tequila, raspberry, orgeat, and passion frui) and shared a burrata pizza and mini burgers.

Walking Tour

The sun kept shining on Saturday morning, so after a continental breakfast in the Aragon Hotel, we opted for a 2.5 hour free walking tour with a company called Legends Tours .The tour began in Markt Square and we made our way through the walkable city, admiring looming buildings; some of which date back to the 9th century, spires, canals (of which there are 42) and bridges.

Highlights of the tour included St. Johns Infirmary– one of Europe’s oldest hospitals, where scenes from the classic Audrey Hepburn film, ‘The Nun Story’ are filmed. The Half Moon Brewery is one of the oldest active breweries in the city where visitors can learn about the brewing process and sample their beers but most incredibly, the brewery has a unique beer pipeline that runs underground, connecting to its bottling plant outside the city centre for over 3km! This pipeline, known as the “beer pipeline” or “beer pipe,” was installed to transport the beer from the brewery to the bottling plant without the need for trucks to navigate the narrow streets.

After stopping for a quick refreshment (champagne is priced the same as prosecco in many bars in Bruges, so why not?!), we joined a long but fast-moving queue for a canal tour.

Canal Tour

Priced at €15 per person, the canal tour was a steal. A joyous meander on the water, this option offers a perspective of Bruges, allowing you to admire its beauty from a different angle, taking in the lush greenery and stunning architecture.

Belgium is renowned for it’s beer, fries and chocolate. I love the former and Ita the latter, so frankly we were in heaven. The beer glasses are relatively small but the 600 varieties of beer makes up for it. There are more Michelin restaurants per capita than in France, however we skipped the Michelin Star experience in favour of an authentic Bruges restaurant, Restaurant – Verdi Brugge | Restaurant & B&B another find of Ita’s. It’s both a b&b and restaurant and is cosy and brimming with warm Flemish hospitality. We enjoyed rib-eye steaks with those mouth-watering Belgian frites.

We both felt that one more day in Bruges would have been optimum. There are museums we would loved to have seen and some terrific shopping opportunities, alas we were booked on the Ryan Air out of Charleroi Airport and had to make our way. One issue to note: the shuttle bus to match our flight time was full, so if you are booking a train or bus to Bruges from Charleroi, it may be a good idea to book a return. Ita and I made it to the airport on time, taking a train and a rather hairy taxi journey but that’s a story for another time!

Emer Roche
Emer Roche
Emer has over 10 years experience working for Irish magazines, supplements, websites and creative agencies. She’s written features for U Magazine, Image Magazine and theheyday.ie, across a range of subjects such as women’s interest, travel, culture, news and interviews. She also has a portfolio of commercial writing for creative agencies, such as RTE.ie and Originate Creative. Emer is a Dublin native with part of her heart in Ardmore, County Waterford. She lives in Dublin 7 with her husband, two kids, dog and cat.

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