Why a Cycling Holiday Is the Perfect Way to Experience Bruges
This was my first time in Bruges and, given everything I have heard and read, expectations were high - and I wasn't disappointed! I have never met anyone who has not been charmed by Bruges’ pretty canals, picturesque cobbled lanes, medieval architecture and buzzing market squares. It's a wonderful base for a short-break holiday and not just because of the great restaurants, traditional waffle stands and award-winning beer!
Having never visited the city before, I was keen to stay centrally, so I opted for the premium 4* hotel which was within easy walking distance from the train station, local sights of the town centre, shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.
The bedrooms and public areas were tastefully furnished and attractive, our room was spacious and comfortable and towels were changed daily. Bikes are stored in a locked area at the side of the hotel and the in-house facilities include a mini-gym if you feel that a day’s cycling isn’t enough!
Breakfast was a particular highlight; varied and plentiful, just what you need to set yourself up for a day of fresh air and cycling. The hotel restaurant also offered a changing daily menu for evening meals, which looked appealing and well-priced.
Our bikes were waiting for us at the hotel; helpfully they had been adjusted to our heights and tagged with our names. Although I am still a firm believer in padded shorts, the bike saddle was reassuringly comfortable and the 7 gears just right for the cycle terrain.
Cycle Routes and Notes
If gentle cycling on traffic-free paths is your thing, you'll feel thoroughly spoiled in Belgium - I know I did.
After a tentative start, we quickly became accustomed to the route network. Similar to my experience in Holland, cycling is a way of life in Belgium and their system of clearly numbered, well-paved cycle paths, used in conjunction with your route notes, means you can enjoy the cycling and soak up the scenery along the way, rather than spend the ride with your nose in a map!
We covered enough mileage to make us feel proud, but not so much that we couldn't enjoy our surroundings and the all-important picnic, coffee and photo stops along the way and still make it back to Bruges for a well-earned late afternoon beer!
We enjoyed a variety of scenery; polder lands and farmland, long canal side stretches, pretty villages and seaside towns. There are 4 optional routes to choose from across the 3 inclusive cycling days - early arrivals keen to get cycling can even cover the extra route on arrival day if you let us know in advance so the bikes can be delivered in time.
Food and Drink
What can I say? Belgium is renowned for its great cuisine and world-class beers, and for good reason! Although still traditional in style, Bruges is a cosmopolitan city and even the pickiest eater would be hard pushed to not be satisfied by what’s on offer. We wanted authentic Belgian cuisine and we weren’t disappointed; Flemish beef stew, frites and mayonnaise, chocolate and cream-laden waffles, award-winning mussels and, of course, the famous beers!
If the choice is confusing (some bars serve over 100 beers) a good tip is to ask the barman, we did this and each recommendation proved to be an absolute winner.
Prices vary. Eating out in the city centre is never going to be the cheapest option, but we still felt we had good value given the excellent quality and satisfying portions. It is worth noting that not all restaurants take credit/debit cards, so it’s good to check in advance or ensure you have cash.
When in Bruges...
Our daily rides took us out of Bruges, but late afternoon and evening gave us plenty of time to stroll around the main market square, pretty side streets and enjoy the views from canal-side bars and cafes.
A canal cruise was a fun and relaxing way to familiarise ourselves with the city and beautiful architecture. Our captain was tri-lingual and entertained us with stories of the history of the city, old and modern, in English, Flemish and French, all within 30 minutes!
How to Get There?
Bruges is just an hour by train from Brussels, a major destination for international flights (the airport links by train with Brussels Central and Brussels Midi in around 20 minutes).
However, on this occasion we opted for the Eurostar from Ebbsfleet. After a comfortable and hassle-free journey we were in Brussels Midi/Zuid in just under 2 hours, from where we boarded a 1- hour onward train ride to Bruges.
When booking Eurostar, I would recommend buying the 'Any Belgian Station ticket', the cost is only around £5.00 more each way compared to a ticket to Brussels and enables you to travel anywhere in Belgium on all domestic services (excluding the high-speed Thalys and ICE trains). Not only does this save you time on arrival at Brussels where there is no need to purchase onward tickets, but you also have the flexibility to take a spontaneous day off to visit other places or extend your holiday – Ghent is a real gem and just 30 minutes by train from Bruges.
If you would like to know more about this holiday, please visit the Escape to Bruges tour page.
Alternatively, make an enquiry online or speak to one of our team by telephone: +44 (0)1273 224066