In looking for something to do in Belgium, I didn’t want to duplicate a previous trip. In that trip, I just stayed in central Brussels and did the Historical Walking Tour with Chocolate and Waffle Tastings – which was incredible.
But, why do the same thing when you can do something different?
So, after a little bit of tour comparison, I selected the Bruges and Ghent – Belgium’s Fairytale Cities – from Brussels tour via Viator.
Meeting at Brussels City Tours
I will be honest. Getting to Brussels City Tours is trash.
Ubers and taxis in Brussels are extremely flaky. Plus – you cannot depend on Ubers picking you up.
In the span of an hour, I had two Ubers cancel on me and one Uber make me cancel on them due to pulling over and not moving. When I finally got an Uber to pick me up from The Hoxton, Brussels – another woman jumped in my Uber with her luggage and attempted to say she was me. Within seconds, I stopped the Uber from leaving, proclaimed I was Kimberly and kicked her out.
She tried it – promptly found out….
I’m still amused by the audacity of the moment – as she was white and I am very much black. As I got in, I looked at her and mentally projected “Congratulations, you played yourself. Now you’re back on the curb with your suitcase, cause you tried it.”
Now, the directions and address that Brussels City Tours gives in how to locate their location is actually very – “figure it out yourself.” I expressed to my Uber driver the importance of me meeting my tour group. And he was an incredible driver in getting me there. When his directions had us end in a square that was NOT where the directions describe it – he parked, got out of his car and sped walked me to the right address.
My only suggestion is to use the Vans store at Rue du Marché aux Herbes 52 as your location address. It makes absolutely NO SENSE. But, the way to locate the actual building, using Google Maps vs Apple Maps is bizarre. But after last minute panicking (because I did NOT want to miss the bus), I arrived.
The check in process is pretty straightforward. You go inside the Brussels City Tours location, give your name at check in and are given a wristband. Then, there is a short walk – about 10 minutes – up to where the bus is actually parked. The bus itself was a decent sized 50+ tour bus. With David as our guide, we were given an overview of our day.
Our first stop was Ghent. David briskly walked us around SO MANY PLACES. The points highlighted in the tour itinerary are:
- BELFRY AND CLOTH HALL (Belfort en Lakenhalle): The 91-metre-tall belfry of Ghent is one of three medieval towers that overlook the old city centre of Ghent, Belgium, the other two belonging to Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas’ Church.
- GRASLEI AND KORENLEI: A quay in the historic city center of Ghent, Belgium, located on the right bank of the Leie river. St. Bavo’s Cathedral (Sint-Baafskathedraal) (Pass By)
- THE SAINT BAVO CATHEDRAL: an 89-meter-tall Gothic cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. It is the seat of the diocese of Ghent, is named for Saint Bavo of Ghent, and contains the well-known Ghent Altarpiece.
- GRAVENSTEEN: The current castle dates to 1180 and was the residence of the Counts of Flanders until 1353. It was subsequently re-purposed as a court, prison, mint, and even as a cotton factory.
- SAINT NICHOLAS CHURCH: St. Nicholas’ Church is one of the oldest and most prominent landmarks in Ghent, Belgium. Begun in the early 13th century as a replacement for an earlier Romanesque church.
I walked, snapped photos and truly enjoyed being immeshed in such a historically and culturally rich city. After some personal time at St. Bravos Cathedral, I ate lunch at Seli’s Noodlebar. Before long, our free time was complete and it was time to return to the bus.
Personally, I was enthralled with Bruges. Immediately upon disembarking the bus at the car park, all I could think of was “wow – this is beautiful”!
The points highlighted in the tour itinerary are:
- BASILICA OF THE HOLY BLOOD: The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a Roman Catholic basilica in Bruges, Belgium. The church houses a venerated relic of the Holy Blood allegedly collected by Joseph of Arimathea and brought from the Holy Land by Thierry of Alsace.
- ONZE-LIEVE-VROUWEKERK: The Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium, dates mainly from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. Its tower, at 115.6 metres in height, remains the tallest structure in the city and the second tallest brickwork tower in the world.
- STADHUIS: The Bruges City Hall is one of the oldest city halls in the entire Netherlands region. It is located in Burg Square, the area of the former fortified castle in the centre of Bruges.
- MINNEWATER LAKE: The famous area is called the “Lake of Love” and” Lovers bridge” . It’s a romantic place to be with someone you love! An amazing location within the confines of the city.
- 6 BURG SQUARE: The Burg Square is the political center of Bruges. It is a lovely place where architecture lovers can enjoy the amazing mix of beautiful buildings.
- THE PRINCELY BEGUINAGE TEN WIJNGAARDE: The Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaerde is the only preserved beguinage in the Belgian city of Bruges. There are no more Beguines living there, but since 1927 it functions as a convent for Benedictines, founded by canon Hoornaert.
- HISTORIC CENTRE OF BRUGGE & CANAL TOUR
David masterfully guided the group through meandering pathways and walkways. He pointed out his favorite spot for Belgium waffles, Otto Waffle Atelier, and his favorite chocolate shop – The Chocolate Line.
Walking the streets of Bruges felt like so many things at once. It felt powerful, historic and beautiful. It was profound to walk on the same cobblestones of city dwellers millennia before.
The canal ride with Boottochten Stael (Bruges Boat Tour) was magnificent. I loved the boat ride through the canals, viewing the historic points in the city and learning about the history of the city through the recorded taped tour.
Overall, even with the wackiness of the morning’s travel, I would highly suggest this tour. Seeing Bruges and Ghent was deeply fulfilling and visually beautiful.
I will always remember my meditation in St. Bravos Cathedral in Ghent and the canal tour in Bruges. It was lovely to get out of Belgium, see the countryside and truly enjoy the history of Belgium.
Brussels City Tours
Rue du Marché Aux Herbes 61
Bruxelles, Belgium 1000