Romantic city breaks in Bruges

Romantic city breaks in Bruges

With its soaring spires, cobbled lanes and beautiful bridges, Bruges is perfect for a romantic city break or minimoon

Frozen in time, the medieval city of Bruges is a confection of alluring architecture, fairytale spires and a relaxed atmosphere. Its intimate scale means it's easily explored on foot - you and your loved one can fill your days with shopping, sightseeing, beer drinking and chocolate scoffing, or doing very little. Bruges is a great place for just sitting on a bench and watching the world go by, soaking up the romance of your surroundings.

Get on your feet

You can spend hours - nay, days - ambling through the streets of this bewitching waterborne city, with your partner at your side. Stroll by the quaint quayside and ancient bridges of the tree-lined Groenerei (green canal) for some of the prettiest views in Bruges. The Meebrug and Peerdenbrug bridges are both stunning, as are the many crooked abodes that precariously teeter over the meandering waterway. Don't miss a walk through the city centre's two main squares either: the Markt, an airy plaza flanked by gabled buildings, and the Burg, fringed by the city's most famous buildings.

Tickle your tastebuds

No visit to any Belgian city is complete without two things: chocolate and beer.

Head north of the Markt and you'll stumble across Choco-Story: The Chocolate Museum. Here you can delve into the history of this sweet treat, take part in praline- or truffle-making workshops and, most importantly, eat chocolate by the bucket load. The museum also produces a 'Choco-Road' map, highlighting the locations of Bruges' best chocolatiers.

Next stop: De Halve Maan (The Half Moon) for a pint of Strong Henry. This family brewery has been in action since 1856 and is the last of its kind in the city. It even has its own museum and tavern - for just €7.50p/p (£5.95) you can get a tour of the brewery and witness traditional beer-making methods in action. De Halve Maan also has panoramic views across the city, making it a great spot for couples to unwind with a crisp glass of beer.

Admire the medieval beauty

Bruges is an authentic gem, bursting with centuries-old traditions and artistic ingenuity: there's plenty for you and your spouse to marvel at in the city centre. Look out for the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady), an imposing medieval behemoth - its brickwork tower second in size only to St Martin's Church in Landshut, Germany. It's home to one of the world's most celebrated artifacts too: the white marble sculpture of the Madonna and Child, created by Michelangelo in the early 1500s.

Medieval beauty is in abundance at the Memling Museum - an annex of St-Janshospitaal and home to six paintings by 15th-century artist Hans Memling. Or head for The Burg, the city's historic heart. It contains an impressive collection of decorated public buildings, not to mention a stunning sculpture of a dancing couple poised for a kiss, known simply as 'The Lovers'. For a bird's-eye view of the medieval sprawl, head for the Belfort - a former clocktower in the Markt. You'll have to climb 366 narrow, steep steps for the panorama, but it's completely worth it to watch the criss-crossing streetscape below.

Take a romantic tour

Not everything has to be explored on foot. You can trundle across the cobbles in a horse-drawn carriage - a fitting, romantic way to explore such an old-world city - or see the sights from water level in a canal boat. Both will take you past the heavenly Minnewater Park, home to the 'Lake of Lovers'. From the park's bridge you'll receive an idyllic view across Bruges. Tours get particularly busy in the summer months, but in autumn and winter the crowds ease. Be armed with a brolly though.

Where to stay? The luxurious Pand Hotel is sumptuously romantic, with double rooms from around €550 (£436) for two nights. Alternatively try this beautiful apartment, just 10 minutes from the city centre. Sleeps four from £104p/n.

Getting there? Catch the Eurostar from London to Bruges; returns start from £79p/p. Alternatively you can fly London Southend to Antwerp-Deurne (85km from Bruges) from £70p/p with Flybe.

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Image: Dreamstime

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