A Winter Fairyland: Bruges

Bruges is often referred to as the Venice of the North and once there, it’s easy to see why. Not only was this a historically busy seaport, but also the many canals, lined by beautiful tall narrow buildings with impressive architectural touches, windmills, city gates, and large town squares give the travel photographer plenty of opportunities to capture great shots. In the winter it is especially scenic with all the Christmas lights, a real winter fairyland.

It is also a wonderfully fun place. The restaurant café tables were great even when we visited on a cold, rainy weekend in November 2021. Under well-planned awnings and heat lamps, with lap blankets available, we ate outside very comfortably all weekend.

Cafe fronts on the main square in Bruges, a winter fairyland reflected in the cobblestones wet with rain
Market Square

Our inspiration for visiting Bruges is the 2008 dark comedy film “In Bruges” starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes. “It’s a Winter Fairy Land.” IYKYK. Of course other draws were the wonderful photography opportunities and the reputation for delicious beer, chocolate, and waffles.

Bruges at night with Christmas lights reflecting in the canal
Fairyland Canals

Rain and cold in November and December give the city a wintery view of reflections of the Christmas lights on the cobblestones and canals. This is wonderful for taking photos, just remember to bring your weather gear for yourself and your camera. The picturesqueness of Bruges is astonishing. The stillness of the canal water reflects all the lights. Every home, street, alley, and market square is lit up, decorated for Christmas.

Canal tours are available and we saw boats full or people, in pouring down rain, umbrellas up. There are some motorbikes, horse & carriages, and cars, but mostly the city is very pedestrian- and bike-friendly. It is a very tourist-friendly city, we heard a variety of languages: English, Flemish, German, Spanish, and French.

Christmas tree in the main town square, all lit up at night in this winter fairyland.
Christmas Tree in square

Tours in Bruges

Wall of beer bottles at the Beer Museum in Bruges
Beer Museum

We ate excellent food in Bruges. Our highlight meal was the “Belgium Tasting.” This included 3 Leffe beers: Blond, Ruby, and Brown; 4 dishes of meats in stew sauce: veal, meatballs, chicken, and beef; 1 pot of mussels; and 1 basket of homemade bread. Leffe is a Belgian Abbey beer and has been around since 1240! We especially loved the Ruby Leffe, mussels, and bread.

Special mentions must also go to the treats at the Christmas Market. We enjoyed waffles with choice of toppings: chocolate, Nutella, whipped cream; and of course the double-fried French fries.


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