If you like to bike: “Hidden Gems in Bruges – Discover Bruges by bike 1“
When you visit Bruges in the summer, and you want to stretch your legs after walking all the small streets, a picnic in one of the parks is an excellent alternative.
If you didn’t bring a picnic with you, you will find bakeries in almost every street, and drinks, fruits and other stuff you fancy can be found in the small supermarkets or vegetable and fruit stores across town.
A third all time favourite for a picnic is the Minnewaterpark, next to the Minnewater, also known as the lake of love. Next to the lake is a beautiful park that is also connected to the Bargeplein, where many tourists disembark from the bus. The park used to be part of castle gardens what explains the somewhat formal design. You can walk from the Bargeplein (bus stop) over an arched modern red bridge, through the park to the Lake of love and the beguinage. At one side of the park still stands a tower that used to be a munition depot. In summer the park also serves as grounds for music festivals like “Feest in ’t Park” and Cactus festival ( wonderful small scale music festival, one of the many in Belgium). (end of June and the first weekend of July )
If you come from the train station, it is possible to buy stuff at the train station where you have a Panos (bread, sandwiches, breadrolls), coffee and thee at ATM (and soon to come: Starbucks), and outside on the square in front of the station, is a small supermarket Carrefour Express. Another possibility is the Katelijne straat that runs from the Bargeplein to the centre of the town. Here you find in the beginning of the street close to the bridge a small organic supermarket and bakery shop, where you can buy bread, fruit and vegetables, drinks, …. Also further in the street, if you come from the centre, you find some bakery shops and take away shops, or you can picnic on a box of famous Belgian chocolates! ( a real treat, but maybe not such a good idea when the weather is warm).
The beguinage is a very special place. The covent garden has a quiet inner court, with around it the whitewashed small houses where nuns still live today. Sometimes you can spot them crossing the garden in their black en white robes and caps. Around Easter time the courtyard is filled with blooming yellow narcissus. An idyllic sight, and prone to an overload of photographs. The entrance is free, and is open every day from 10.00-17.00, and on Sunday from 14.30-17.00. The swans on the lake and the canal just outside the beguinage are a famous sight on postcards. In winter when the lake and or canals freeze completely, the swans are taken into captivity and brought to a shelter where they can be fed until the water surface opens again. From the beguinage it is a five minute walk to the Our Lady Cathedral where a small statue by Michelangelo attracts many tourists. Just in front of the church entrance is the entrance to the 800 year-old Saint John hospital (Sint Jans hospitaal), where an exhibition on Memling (Flemish primitive painter) is really worth the visit. (open Tuesday to Sunday, 09.30-17.00)
Just one note: there are many trashcans located in the park, so please do not leave anything behind and keep our green areas clean!