If you are looking for a weekend getaway and Belgium is on your list of countries to visit. This blog will serve you just right.
Recently, I did a weekend trip to Belgium including the cities of Brussels and Bruges. There are a lot of ways to reach Brussels, capital city of Belgium. You can use trains or flights (Advisable to book tad bit in advance to avoid the availability and high pricing issues) and the coach service from major cities across Europe and UK. Coach should be an ideal choice if you are looking to travel on a budget. (Always preferred)
I started my trip from London, used a coach for London to Brussels on Friday night which was about 7-8 hours of bus ride, not a lot of time if you can sleep in a bus. A piece of advice, start your trip Friday evening so that you can start roaming around from Saturday morning.
So here is what you can follow if you are headed for this weekend trip.
Reach Saturday morning to Brussels and find your hostel/hotel to keep your stuff and freshen up for the city. Make sure you choose a place near the centre of the city that ways you have to rely less on the city transport and also coz walking around the city is always exciting and more fun.
After you are ready for your city visit, start with the Grand Place (Grote Markt), this is the central square of Brussels, it’s enclosed between many of the famous buildings of Brussels, special one is the 15th century Town Hall and is an ideal place to start. The Grand place square is accessible by a lot of alleys by walk and the best entrance is via Rue des Harengs. You can have some good food in the adjacent cafes and restaurants in this area. There is a lot of things happening usually in the square so you would be able to catch some of the local events or markets in this place.
While at the Grand-Place don’t forget to visit the Gothic Hôtel de Ville. It dates back to 1402 and is the seat of civic government. It is an attractive building with arched windows, towers and adorned with sculptures including St Michael slaying a she-devil. If you are feeling energetic, climb the 96 metre high Brabantine Gothic tower and enjoy the amazing views over the city.
After the grand palace square, if you are a fan of museums, make sure you check out the City Museum – Maison du Roi. Just in front of the Town Hall. Here the history of Brussels is told over three floors from the Middle Ages to date.
After spending some good quality time here in the Grand place and the City Museum, walk towards The Royal Palace of Brussels. This is the King’s administrative residence and main workplace, where he works daily with his staff. A tradition has been established since 1965 to open the Brussels Palace to the public every summer after the National Holiday of 21 July until September. So if you are visiting in these dates you might want to have a look inside.
After the Royal Palace, walk towards Rue Charles Buls to view the cheeky, chubby-cheeked Manneken-Pis – ‘Pissing Boy’ is a major character in the folklore of Brussels. He is probably Brussels’ most photographed statue, yet it is only 60cm high. He is usually stark-naked but sometimes he gets dressed. He has an impressive wardrobe of 600 outfits displayed in the Maison du Roi.
In the evening, you can take a train ride from the Manneken-Pis towards the Atomium and Heysel Park. Your destination station for Atomium would be Heysel. Heysel park, located in the west of Brussels, is dedicated to recreation and leisure. One of the highlights of the park is the Atomium. This is a glistening 102 metre (335 ft) high model of an atom made out of chrome and steel designed by André Waterkeyn.
After visit to Atomium, you should check out some of the pubs, cafes and restaurants in the Grote Markt area for dinner and drinks (Because it is a Saturday Night J). And call it a night after that as you still have one more city to go.
For some more places in Brussels: Don’t miss these 10 places in Brussels !
Next morning, try and wake up a bit on time (I know that’s a task but still..). You can take a light breakfast and Coffee in your hostel/hotel or near the Brussels Centre station. Because that’s the station you have to catch a one hour train to Bruges city. Preferably take a two way ticket because you have to catch back your train, flight or coach to your city from Brussels again.
Bruges, is a city straight from fairy tales. This medieval town is picturesque, full of canals, small alleys and beautiful buildings. Not a very big city in itself and home to only 20,000 people, it is famous amongst young lovers for a stroll because of the beautiful canals. The first point for Bruges is the Belfort, also called Belfry this is an 83m gigantic clock tower. Today the tower holds the 47 bells designed in 1741 by George Duméry and regularly chimes the hours and important events. You can go up the tower (366- steps I must add) to see the panoramic view of Bruges.
From here take a short walk towards the Burg Square. This is the main square of Bruges and has many beautiful and famous buildings. Beginning with Heilig Bloed Basiliek (Basilica of the Holy Blood) named after the holy relic that found its way here in the middle Ages. After Burg, the other main square of Bruges is ‘The Markt’, also called as the heart of Bruges, here you will find a lot of cafes, eateries and also shops for Belgian chocolates !
After spending good time and lunch the final thing to do on your weekend trip would be a relaxing canal ride in Bruges. Because it would be incomplete without this. You can find the Canal tours near the Belfort.
After the Canal tour if you have time you should try some of the Belgian beers (I did !) in one of the pubs in Markt area. After which you should catch the train back to Brussels well in time to catch the final train/flight or coach home.
Happy Travelling!! Please share how you find these places 🙂