One week of visiting some sweet spots in Belgium: From its culture in Brugge to its nature on the cost.
- + 4
Europe4 days / July 2019
Highs & Lows
The historical and charming town of Brugge was breathtaking
Take some snacks and enough water when bicycling to the cost.
Windmills to welcome you in Brugge
Rolling the last couple of meters towards our destination of the day, we were welcomed by the windmills. From the small hills they're standing on, they guide the way toward the center of Brugge and already give a hint of what charming atmosphere this town holds. After passing the old gate at Brugge's entrance, we arrived at our hostel and were all set to discover what this city has to offer.
Boat trip through the water channels
Personally, I think nothing can give you a better feeling for Brugge's ambiance than a boat trip through its water channels. Enjoying the old buildings all around you and getting some interesting information from the guide was an incredible experience to start the day. Not to forget all the cobble bridges you're passing.
Having a sip in the beer museum
Another highlight at the end of our stay was visiting the beer museum. Although it is not hard to guess what to find here, the interactive audio guide with lots of information and the incredibly huge variety of beer is worth mentioning. From learning about the history of brewing in Belgium to trying the smells of the herbs and of course tasting as many beers as you can imagine, this museum provides whatever you are looking for - that is, if you get yourself a beer from time to time.
Various birds and beautiful landscape at the Zwin park
The landscape on the coast, even before arriving at the park, was absolutely amazing! With some fresh sea air and a wide view over the sand hills and the water reaching onshore, this visit was worth the effort of the longest stage of the week.
Entering the park, you can pick up a map to guide you through the multiple trails. With many loop ways in different sizes crossing each other, one can easily decide on the duration of the experience.
Various birds fly above the compound and indwell the woods, fulfilling land and air with their cantos. While we were walking through this countryside, it, unfortunately, started to rain. There are some cabins provided every couple of meters, each providing different activities to learn more about specific kinds of birds. You can listen to their voices, wonder at some really rare breeds, or use the provided telescopes to have a closer look at the birds wading and fishing in the water. Although walking the paths is a more lively experience, the cabins are an interesting alternative.
I want to mention that we underestimated the distance a bit and were therefore short on snacks and water. The food at the park is quite expensive, so, depending on how far and how fast you travel, make sure to be well-prepared.
The bird park did, however, made up for this little downside of the trip.
View the whole city from the belfry in Gent
During the afternoon of our first day in Gent, we climbed up way too many stairs to the top of the belfry. From the top, you get an incredible view over the whole city, especially you can see some incredible castles and historic buildings at once. Furthermore, the carillon will be right next to you, playing its melody. Meanwhile, one can marvel at the detailed and old machinery creating the tones.
After making the way down, you can enjoy some Belgium waffles or another delicious pastry of your choice. You should, however, be careful not to walk into a tourist trap.
Awesome graffiti art at the harbor
Even though we came to see the harbor, we had no idea what was awaiting us. While we paid most of our attention to the boats, ships, and the harbor's architecture at the beginning of our walk, we soon realized that there is much more to see: The walls of the surrounding buildings display a huge diversity of graffiti art. Including visual illusions, photorealistic paintings, and creative and imaginary artwork, the area of the harbor is a must-visit in Gent.
Q & A
What would you have changed?
Spending more time in Brugge would have been really nice! The city has much more to offer than what you can see on two days.
Anything go wrong during the trip?
Only underestimating the time needed to get to the coast. But since we don't bicycle on a regular basis, this might not be a problem for you.
How was the food?
We did have some one-night stops in some small villages not mentioned in the destinations. There is an absolutely amazing - accordingly more expensive than usually - restaurant near Maldegem called Artisan.
What tips would you give a friend?
The Dutch language is somehow pretty fun. Try learning a couple of words, even if it's just a few.
Depending on where you stay, bring some mosquito repellant - just in case. At one riding center we slept, they were annoying, and they were a lot.
We mainly stayed at youth hostels in Brugge and Gent and riding stables for the in between stops. Worked pretty well.