My 2014 Christmas Market adventures concluded in the medieval city of Bruges during my cruise with Cunard line. The city in Belgian is nicknamed “Venice of the North” because of its beautiful canals.
Below are some handy tips for getting to Bruges solo from the port of Zeebrugge and what you can see, do and eat in one afternoon.
Zeebrugge lies around 10 miles north of Bruges so walking into the city isn’t feasible. Your cruise line will often organise various tours to the city with transportation. The tours can be pricey but they’ll usually guarantee to get you back to the ship in time.
If you’d like to see the city by yourself on a shoestring, there are few other options available…
Most cruise ships will offer a free shuttle to Blankenberge, around ten minutes by coach west of Zeebrugge. Here you’ll be dropped off by a Church next to the train station and across the road from the bus terminals.
During my visit the train was once an hour both ways. The train is simple to catch, takes only minutes and costs a few euros.
The 33 bus currently leaves 22 minutes past the hour. It takes around forty minutes but is an enjoyable ride through Belgium (and also costs just a few euros for a return ticket).
My afternoon in Bruges wasn’t quite the bright and chilly or white and snowy day I had dreamed up, the weather was mild, grey and drizzly. No dark clouds were going to overshadow my experience, after all this place is chocolate heaven!
The moody weather actually seemed to emphasise the amazing gothic architecture of Bruges…
Christmas is a wonderful time of year to visit as it’s the best excuse to indulge in chocolate, beer, Belgian triple cooked fries and waffles.
I’d recommend a freshly toasted waffle from Chez Albert on Breidelstraat with warm Belgian chocolate and whipped cream.
Near here is also Kerstbrugge, a fantastic Christmas shop selling carved ornaments and intricate decorations.
In the centre of Bruges is Grote Markt with an ice rink and Christmas Market. The stalls offered all the usual festive goodies like mulled wine, ornaments and knitted clothing.
To escape an afternoon shower I ventured in to De Carré, a contemporary, yet cosy restaurant that overlooked the market square for a cappuccino.
My chocolate gifts for Christmas came from The Old Chocolate House on Mariastraat. It’s a superb little find that sells the most scrumptious truffles, pralines and the like.
I was attracted to this store on my previous visit because it promises the ‘best hot chocolate‘ and it certainly was one of the best I’ve tried to date.
You can also explore more markets along Simon Stevinplein or take a canal cruise nearby from Wollestraat.
Thinking of taking a cruise at Christmas? Click here to view my Cunard Queen Elizabeth cruise and more.