With its network of canals, maze of cobbled streets and fairytale buildings, it’s no surprise that Bruges is frequently cited as one of the world’s most romantic cities. From secret spots to chocolate experiences, your clients will certainly fall in love with the “Venice of the North,” thanks to these insider tips.
Once one of Europe’s most influential trade centers and ruled by the Dukes of Burgundy from 1384 to 1482, Bruges’ mercantile wealth was transferred into its splendid Flemish architecture. Immaculately well-preserved and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, it attracts millions of visitors every year, usually on day trips.
However, the city’s romantic appeal heightens when the crowds diminish and the lights dim, making a night’s stay simply magical for couples. Your clients will have a supremely romantic stay by including these romantic places, activities, restaurants and hotels into their itinerary.
See Bruges on Foot
Bruges and its breathtaking vistas can be experienced in a variety of different ways. A hand-in-hand stroll allows couples to savor the city’s romantic ambiance and find its best romantic nooks. Couples who begin in Markt, Bruges’ beautiful main square, can escape the crowds by heading to the adjacent Burg Square, where they can admire Bruges’ Gothic-style City Hall and other ornate buildings from one of the benches in its park.
To the left of City Hall, a walk through the magical covered lane (Blinde-Ezelstraat) leads them to the city’s Fish Market, left of which is Huidenvettersplein, a hidden square with a cafe and artists. Around the corner is Rozenhoedkaai, or Rosary Quay, where lovebirds can take in a stunning panorama of Bruges, the ideal spot for a couple’s selfie.
Afterward, suggest clients walk along Dijver street canal, cross the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse park, where an entrance leads to the Bonifaciusbrug (also known as Boniface Bridge), a tiny stone bridge overlooking ancient homes and a narrow canal. It will lead to a charming garden with benches and the backdrop of Our Lady of Bruges Church.
Crossing over Mariabrug bridge, clients can amble toward Minnewaterpark, the prettiest of Bruges’ parks. Its meandering pathways will lead to “Lover’s Lake,” at the end of which is the “Lover’s Bridge.” Dominated by a Medieval tower — and with spectacular views over the lake — it’s the perfect place to steal a kiss. The park is also lovely for picnics. Or, if clients prefer a more traditional cafe, Kasteel Minnewater has lakeside seating.
Other Romantic Activities and Attractions
As Bruges is a city of canals, a wonderful way to experience its magic is by boat. A number of companies run 30-minute group tours that depart from landings on Rozenhoedkaai or Nieuwstraat. Private boat tours can be arranged through Bravo Discovery.
Horse-and-carriage rides are another romantic way to see the city. Carriages can be found in Markt Square or, with advance booking, clients can be picked up at their hotel or another specific location.
For clients overnighting in Bruges — or those with more than one day to explore — the less trodden Sint Anna district, located to the northeast of the city’s center, contains some romantic gems. Its smaller brick-lined streets can take visitors to the Adornes Domein. The private estate of an influential local family, it has a museum, a romantic garden, a cozy Scottish lounge and Jerusalem’s Church. At the edge of the district, travelers can view the remains of Bruges’ ramparts, as well as several historic windmills. Perched on small knolls, they offer sweeping views over the city.
Lastly, chocolate lovers can discover Belgium’s famous chocolate by taking a class with Belgian Chocolate Workshop, which offers daily group classes and private classes on request.
Where to Stay, Eat and Drink
For a regally romantic stay in Bruges, book clients at Hotel Dukes’ Palace. Set within a verdant garden, the property was once the residence of Burgundian aristocrats. The five-star hotel has 110 rooms and suites that marry the historic (marble fireplaces and crown molding) with elegant, modern furnishings. The property also has a chic restaurant that serves contemporary cuisine, a tapas bar with the best Belgian beers on tap, and a tranquil terrace cafe.
Idyllically set on the picturesque Rozenhoedkaai, the Duc de Bourgogne is another option, and one steeped in history. A tavern since 1648, its 11 individually decorated rooms have gorgeous views over the canals and rooftops of Bruges. Its restaurant is the perfect venue for a canal-side meal of traditional Belgian dishes with modern flare.
Couples will feel like the personal guests of a Bruges’ noble at the Pand Hotel. A former 18th-century carriage house nestled on a side street off the Rozenhoedkaai, the friendly boutique hotel boasts 26 refined rooms and suites, a cozy fireplace lounge and a decadent Champagne breakfast.
Classic elegance and modern gastronomy come together at Le Mystique. Crystal chandeliers and sensual red tones create the ideal romantic setting to sample the creative tasting menu of talented young chef Raoul De Koning.
Dine amidst the foodies of Bruges at the one-Michelin starred Zet’Joe, situated at the beginning of the Sint Anna district. Chef Geert van Hecke uses only the best seasonal ingredients to concoct his palate-tantalizing dishes.
Finally, start or cap off a romantic evening in Bruges at Groot Vlaenderen. The seductive cocktail bar has large panels of floral wallpaper, low lighting and intimate seating where couples can sip excellent craft cocktails.