Bruges City Breaks by Rail
Chocolate, lace, beer and plenty of romantic charm, Bruges has everything you will love about Belgium tied up in one neat little package, making it the perfect destination for a quick getaway.
If it is art you are looking for, Bruges delivers, offering a delightfully diverse selection. Visit the Groeningemuseum for art dating from the 14th to 20th centuries, including masterpieces by Jan Van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch and René Magritte. Memling in Sint-Jan houses works by the Flemish Primitives master, and Our Lady of the Potteries has a collection of outstanding silverwork. If the intricate — and ancient — art of lace-making is more your style, try the Kantcentrum where you can watch lace-makers at work.
If your taste for art runs along a bit different lines, visit Choco-Story to explore the fine art of chocolate making (samples included), and the Brouwerij de Halve Maan where you will gain some fascinating insights into historical brewing techniques (yes, there is an art to brewing, too), as well as modern advances. Then admire a view of the city and the results of that brewers’ art at the end of the tour.
While Bruges offers a wealth of cultural attractions, many of its charms lie in its picturesque squares, old almshouses and lazy canals. Take a canal cruise for a different perspective on the bridges, architecture and hidden gardens that make this such an enchanting city. Visit the Koeleweimolen or Sit-Janshuismolen, two windmills open to the public that house small museums. Soak up some of the tranquility of the Beginjnhof and tour the Beginjnhuisje museum to get an idea of what life was like in these whitewashed cottages. And take time to simply enjoy the rhythms of the city at a sidewalk cafe or outdoor market.
If you have a little extra time, make the easy trip by train De Haan, then transfer to Knokke-Heist on the coast. Here you will find glamorous shops, a butterfly garden and the nearby nature preserve where you might spot storks and owls, among other wildlife. If you have a car, Ypres and the surrounding area offer a wealth of WWI museums, battlefields and cemeteries. Ghent, with charm to rival Bruges’, is just a 45-minute train ride away and offers such attractions as Gravensteen Castle and the Design Museum with its displays of furnishings dating from the Renaissance to modern day.