Where to stay:
· Bed & Breakfast Setola: We poured over places to stay in Bruges, and found B&Bs to be the best value with the best locations. We settled on Setola andwith only three roomsenjoyed excellent warm breakfasts and warm hospitality from Lut and her husband, Bruno. The rooms are on the top floor of their building in the middle of the historical quarter, and you'll find all the exposed wood beams and quiet you'd want from a medieval city. Plus, for 70 Euro a night for two including breakfast, access to a small nicer-than-IKEA kitchen and all the coffee and tea you want, we'd recommend it to anyone and everyone. bedandbreakfast-bruges.com. Sint-Walburgstraat 12.
· Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce: This is definitely the upscale option, since rooms here go for around $280 a night, but you'll be staying in a recognizable historic landmark building as well as the hotel featured in the movie In Bruges. It's got its own little courtyard just outside the entrance, your room will most likely look straight down to one of the town's canals, and you'll be swathed in luxury. The only problem you'll have here is remembering how to spell the hotel's name. relaisbourgondischcruyce.be. Wollestraat 41-47.
Where to eat:
· Bierbrasserie Cambrinus: The second we walked by its historical facade, warm-lit interior and menu boasting Belgian specialties, we knew we'd have to have dinner here. That said, it's not a restaurant that takes advantage of tourists; the menu is in many languages, but the prices are low and the food is scrumptious and plentiful. We recommend the eels on toast for an appetizer, and the hare with potato croquettes and homed applesauce for an entree. And any beer is good. cambrinus.eu. Philipstockstraat 19.
· Assiette Blanche: Just like what we did with the hotel listings above, this second item is the more expensive. Assiette Blanche is for a special occasion, or if you're looking to experience some of the culinary awesomeness that this part of Belgium is known for offeringlike shrimp croquettes with foie gras mousse. They offer a 3-course dinner menu for around 35 Euros, so a good value for a fancy place. It's actually just down the street from Cambrinus, so if one doesn't look good, you aren't walking far for the other. assietteblanche.be. Philipstockstraat 23-25.
Where to drink:
· Cafe Vlissinghe: You won't find any older bars in Bruges; the Cafe Vlissinghe dates back to 1515, and it's neatly tucked down a dark alley (a safe one). The interior is a historian's dream, looking like it's been only slightly updated since the 1500s, and there's even a courtyard for the warmer months for playing boules. Their specialty is the "Tripel" ales, the strongest pale ales made in the area. cafevlissinghe.be. Blekersstraat 2.
· Bean Around the World: This is the coffeehouse that stalked us on Twitter, and we were so curious about what kind of Bruges coffeeshop would be hip to Twitter, that we had to check it out. Good thing too, because the place is excellent; centrally located in a historical building, cozy, and with free WiFi, newspapers and reasonable drink prices. it's actually run by an American who moved to Bruges after falling in love with the town, and ended up making a family (and this shop) here. Facebook page. Genthof 5.
What to do:
· Take a walk to see the windmills: Alright, alrightthe traditional idea of a town in Benelux is true; there are windmills and canals and pretty old building all around the town's perimeter. There's actually four old windmills, and you can walk up the little hills to them for a better view of the town and watch them turn to grind flour if the wind is high. They are marked on pretty much any map of Bruges, so they aren't hard to find at all.
· Have a belgian waffle: The waffles that you'll find in Brussels are overpriced and over-topped with candy compared to the inexpensive, tasty ones of Bruges. You can get one for around 1.50 Euro at many little spots along the main streets, and topping choices include fresh whipped cream, chocolate sauce/nutella or fresh fruitnot all three at once to overpower the waffle's flavor. Just don't have them for breakfast; they are strictly dessert treats.
· Get breakfast from the town square's morning market: If you wake up before 10am, then you've got a great chance of catching the market that sets up in the morning in Burg Square. There's everything from fresh produce to fish to a portable butcher shop; we say find the pastries, some hot beverages, and enjoy underneath the shadow of the Belfry tower.
Got any more tips for Bruges, or Belgium in general? Leave your wisdom in the comments below!
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