24 Hour Challenge: Bruges

Travel Edits | 24 Hour Challenge: Bruges

Here’s how to spend 24 hours wisely should you ever wake to find yourself in the city of diamonds, chocolate and fairytale architecture: Bruges.

Travel Edits | 24 Hour Challenge: Bruges

Go Window Shopping

With its cobbled streets, horse-drawn carriages and beautiful gothic buildings, Bruges is a city brimming with storybook good looks and charm. But then there’s the chocolate. If ever there was the chance to break out your inner Hansel and Gretel it’s in Bruges. Start with a stroll down Mariastraat. From pralines to truffles (and even chocolate stilettos), it seems every window on this street is out to seduce you with its sweet treats. Before you go gnawing on the door-frames and cute little chimneys though, summon up all your willpower and wander a little further to Simon Stevinplein. Taking pride of place on this pretty square you’ll find The Chocolate Line, the chocolate shop owned by master chocolatier Dominique Persoone. It’s one of only three chocolate shops to feature in the Michelin Guide, so it’s definitely worth the pilgrimage.

Travel Edits | 24 Hour Challenge: Bruges

Once inside, you enter an old-fashioned apothecary, complete with medicine jars filled with chocolate pills of varying strengths. There are chocolate lipsticks adorning the counter as well as packaging exclaiming “Chocolate is Rock n Roll”. It’s all part of Persoone’s ‘Shock-o-latier’ branding. He is known as the bad boy of the chocolate world who most famously concocted a chocolate powder to be inhaled by The Rolling Stones, drug-like through a “chocolate shooter”, a type of catapult that sends finely ground chocolate straight through the nostrils. Browse the weird and wonderful creations – in a city of 50 or so chocolatiers, The Chocolate Line definitely stands out from the crowd.

The Chocolate Line
Simon Stevinplein 19

Lunch at De Florentijnen

Travel Edits | 24 Hour Challenge: Bruges

Appetite still intact, head to lunch in the elegant, trendy surroundings of De Florentijnen. The restaurant is located on a quiet street close to the bustling, flower-filled Markt square and takes its name from the building which was once home to Florentine merchants during medieval times. During lunch, I was treated to a veritable banquet that included a trio of amuse bouche, a main course of sea bass, Malines asparagus, cheese gnocchi and mousseline potato. Dessert was a carefully crafted selection of miniature favourites including passion fruit parfait, creme brulee, and an almond pastry basket filled with strawberries. Amazing.

De Florentijnen
Acadamiestraat 1

Climb the Belfort of Bruges

The Belfort of Bruges has been the city’s centre-piece since 1240. Towering 83 metres in height, the belfry has fulfilled various functions over the years including announcing the time, fire alarms, work hours, and a number of social, political, and religious events. Most recently, it played a starring role in the 2008 film In Bruges. If like me you want to experience a sense of achievement (and feel less guilty about all that chocolate), climb the 366 steps to the top of the tower. From here you’ll be rewarded with the most stunning panoramic views over the city.

Travel Edits | 24 Hour Challenge: Bruges

Visit the Diamond Museum

Not only is Bruges a wonderland of chocolate, it’s also dripping in diamonds – every girl’s dream, no?!

Travel Edits | 24 Hour Challenge: Bruges

The Diamond Museum offers self-guided tours illustrating the history of Bruge’s diamond heritage. From stories of medieval merchants to modern-day jewellery exhibitions, the 45-minute tour reveals how Bruges became the oldest diamond centre in Europe. Fans of all things shiny won’t want to miss out on the daily diamond polishing show at midday and 15:15. The only drawback is you don’t get to take home a souvenir sparkler.

The Diamond Museum,
Katelijnestraat 43,

Dinner at Kurt’s Pan

Travel Edits | 24 Hour Challenge: Bruges

Tucked away on the corner of St. Jakobstraat, everything about Kurt’s Pan is cosy and welcoming. With space for just 20 guests, you’re made to feel like you’ve been invited to dine in a friend’s home rather than at the restaurant of multi-award winning chef Kurt Van Daele. Ingredients are locally sourced and dishes are simple but full of flavour – my favourite kind.

Restaurant Kurt’s Pan St. Jakobsstraat 58 8000 Bruges

Sweet dreams…

Bruges by night takes on an extra magical quality. Whether it’s the soft glow of the street lanterns reflected on the cobblestones or the sight of the canal boats bathed in moonlight, an evening stroll lets you experience the city in a whole new ambiance. What better way to round off a day in this fairytale city… Of course, these are just my suggestions, for further information about Bruges, go to www.visitflanders.co.uk and discover lots more friendly advice.


  1. 30th May 2014 / 7:41 pm

    Bruges has been on my list because of the canals and, as you say, fairytale architecture. But now all this talk about chocolate… I need to get there sooner rather than later!

    • 1st June 2014 / 6:26 pm

      It definitely has that unexpected wow factor, if you get the chance, do go 🙂

  2. 1st June 2014 / 2:33 pm

    These are definitely the kind of places I’d enjoy checking out. I missed Bruges when I traveled for work between Amsterdam and Paris.

    • 1st June 2014 / 6:28 pm

      As I discovered, you can cover quite a lot within even a quick trip. Maybe next time you travel to Europe?

    • 1st June 2014 / 9:23 pm

      Opps! It cut me off early. I really must get there soon. Thanks for the tips. It’s so beautiful!

  3. 1st June 2014 / 9:29 pm

    It is beautiful Erin, one to try when you come back to Europe next!

  4. 4th June 2014 / 2:59 am

    I experienced the tower when I visited, but now I have some great ideas for the next time I visit Bruges. I definitely like the Chocolate line tip.

  5. Jean Pierre de Keersmaeker
    4th June 2014 / 4:04 am

    And do not forget breakfast at Carpe Diem (Wijngaardstraat) and in the evening a stroll to the romantic ‘Love Lake’ (Minnewater). For those who want more food related stuff there is the Chocolate Museum, the Frietmuseum (‘French’ fries). For those who can afford is De Karmeliet, one of the best 3 star restaurants in the world. Fot those interested in culture, there is a lot in Bruges. Go to the Hospital Museum with the unique collection of Memling’s paintings. The church of Our Lady withe the famous sculpture of Michelangelo Buanarroti and the Groeninge Museum with other exciting paintings (Gerard David, van Eyck..etc).

  6. 5th June 2014 / 1:18 pm

    Thanks you so much for these tips Jean Pierre – I only wish I had longer than 24 hours to spend in Bruges. It makes for an excuse to go back though!

  7. 25th October 2014 / 2:38 pm

    Oooh, I love Bruges and don’t even live that far from Bruges, but it’s been so long ago since I’ve visited!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *