An Insider’s Guide to Bruges

If you haven’t already realized from my previous post on Bruges, it’s a stunning city. 

And, after spending the majority of the morning seeing it for ourselves, we decided to hire a little help for the afternoon.

bruges, belgium photography

With camera and lenses in hand, we went on a photography tour, where Andy, an almost-local took us through the city and past his favourite spots and hidden gems.

Making sure that we saw the beauty of Bruges, in all of its angles.

bruges, belgium photography

He pointed out some of his favourite statues, where we played with light and different perspectives.

bruges, belgium photography

bruges, belgium photography

bruges, belgium photographybruges, belgium photography

Testing our skills in the reflections,

bruges photography tour

and playing with symmetry.

bruges photography tour

bruges photography tour

bruges photography tour

Then we were directed to pops of colour, from yellow, red, and green,

unique buildings in brugge

bruges photography tour

coming together to give Bruges that bit of magic.

photography tour of bruges

bruges photography tour

bruges belgium photography

bruges belgium photography

We walked down lesser known roads, trotting on the cobblestones, and admiring the quiet outside the centre square.

bruges belgium photography

IMG_4015.JPG

bruges belgium photography

bruges belgium photography

And spotted a few of the trinkets that an untrained eye might otherwise miss.

hidden details in brugge

hidden details in brugge

hidden details in brugge

The tour was approximately two to two and a half hours, and by the end my photography skills had not only improved, but my head was full of little Bruges facts.

hidden details in brugge

hidden details in brugge

We said our goodbyes at the windmills along the river, and were left with the freedom to test our newfound creativity.

windmills in bruges

windmills in bruges

windmills in bruges

windmills in bruges

windmills in bruges

Starving by the end of it, we did a bit of research on the best restaurants in town. Eager to head away from the tourist traps, yet still willing to splurge, we discovered a French restaurant on the outskirts of the city centre, which was actually headed by a michelin star chef.

Bistro Refter, was hidden on a side street, with an unassuming exterior.

refter bruges

But inside, the meals were something to talk about.

refter bruges

Starting, with the starters.

I went for the ravioli on special – a modern deconstructed version with the most tender slow braised ox, rolled pasta shell, and foamed parm.

refter bruges review

refter bruges review

Blended with tender carrots and potatoes, and a comforting tomato based sauce. Hearty and flavourful, it was probably one of the best pastas I’ve had in my entire life.

Cole picked the selection of four appetizers – including a salmon salad, prawns, and a bowl of pea soup.

bistro refter bruges review

Each debating over whose selection was better, it’s safe to say that we both definitely enjoyed our selections.

For entrees, we embodied all that is French cuisine, choosing the steak frites and duck breast.

bistro refter bruges review

bistro refter bruges review

The meats were cooked to perfection – tender and warm & each arriving with a side portion of mixed greens and frites.

good french restaurant in bruges

We chatted into the evening, enjoying the intimate bistro setting and the evening sun that poked through the patio’s pergola. Waiters were busy serving water and wine, while guests smiled with each bite and enjoyed each other’s company.

Combined with the excellent food, it was more than the perfect place to dine for the night.

Of course, after taking a little bit of time to digest, we decided to treat ourselves and go for dessert.

With the creme brulee for him,

bistro refter bruges review

creme brulee

And the dame blanche for me.

dame blanche

bistro refter bruges review

And, a cup of tea & espresso to cap it all off.

bistro refter bruges review

I would highly recommend a visit – it’s about a 15 minute walk from the city centre and absolutely, 100% worth it.

Later on, we checked into our hotel for the night – a beautiful garden view room at Dukes’ Palace. Right across the street from the Prinsenhof, we didn’t have far to carry our luggage.

hotel dukes palace bruge

hotel dukes palace bruges

hotel dukes palace bruges

hotel dukes palace bruges

hotel dukes palace bruges

Spoiled, just like the night before, we were treated to a luxurious room, soaking tub, chocolates, and beautiful view of the city. All set in what I’ll reiterate was one of the best locations in the city.

hotel dukes palace bruges review

bruges, belgium

hotel dukes palace bruges

A little pricier than the Prinsenhof, the Duke does have a variety of room sizes, a cozy bar and outdoor courtyard, as well as a spa if you need a little pampering.

Plus, they really take the whole Belgian Chocolate thing to the next level – laying out slabs at brunch which you can carve at your own leisure.

hotel dukes palace bruges

brunch at hotel dukes palace

The next morning we had a few hours to spare, so we completed our weekend in Bruges with a quick jaunt up the Belfry.

bruges belfry

belfry bruges belgium

belfry bruges

bruges belgium belfry

In order to enjoy some of the best views in the city.

view from bruges belgium

view from bruges belgium

view from bruges belgium

view from bruges belgium

view from bruges belgium

view from bruges belgium

view from bruges belgium belfry

And after all those stairs up and down, we relaxed with a stop into De Halve Maan brewery for a tour and a taste of the local brew (the Brugse Zot).

bruges brewery

de halve maan bruges

views from bruges brewery

Don’t miss out on Andy’s photo tour – Book it here.

Then, make a reservation at Refter.

And, you’re feeling like royalty, book yourself into the palace.

Share your thoughts below.