Bruges at Dawn & Dusk – A tranquil beauty – Belgium & Netherlands, Part 2

This post is a continuation of a series documenting our family’s travels to a small part of the countries of Belgium & Netherlands in April 2023. We were based in the beautiful town of Bruges in the first part of our trip and were staying in the centre of the Old town in a beautiful boutique hotel – Due de Bourgogne.  We spent our first day in Bruges walking around the beautiful Old town. ( First Taste of Bruges – Belgium & Netherlands family trip, Part 1 ) Bruges is definitely a hot favourite with tourists visiting this region and with good reason. There are always huge crowds in the Old town in the middle of the day making Bruges seem more like a medieval theme park than an actual town. Most of the tourists are day trippers who come from Brussels and beyond for a few hours in the beautiful Old town of Bruges. We luckily were based in Bruges for a good 4 nights. I knew that the only way to really enjoy the beauty of Bruges without jostling through crowds was to get out and about early in the morning & after dark when all the day trippers have left for their home base & use the rest of the day to day trip to other cities like Ghent & Antwerp. I have all the energy in the world when I’m on vacation and even if I have severe rhinitis like I did on this trip. Every day I was up at 6 am and I enjoyed my morning walks in the biting cold of the Belgian spring mornings. Even after  long day of day tripping to another city I went out post 9pm when the lights came on and made the already pretty town even prettier. Sure enough the only people I met on these walks were the city cleaners in the morning and fellow photographers at night. I even managed to get the better half to accompany me on one morning and convinced the family on our last night there to bear the cold for a walk around lit up Bruges. The main advantage of staying right in the centre of Old town is you walk out of the hotel and are right in the middle  of all the beauty. This advantage is even more early morning and late nights as the public transport is very infrequent at these times of the day and there is no fear of being stranded. The weather was incredibly fickle and I got photos with all sorts of skies in the background. The first morning I ventured out was a grey and overcast morning (that miraculously turned to blue skies and sunshine in a few hours – more on that in my next post!). So I went with an umbrella in my backpack hoping I wouldn’t need it. Dark clouds always make photos seem more gloomy but atmospheric. I took photos at places that people who read my previous post will find familiar but without the accompanying crowds or without the need to point the camera upwards to avoid having the crowd in the photo. Vismarkt and the bridge to the City hall square still had lights on because of the gloomy weather. YOG_6673

Vismarkt on the left from the bridge leading to the City hall square


What I now call the Belgian “Bridge of Sighs” without a soul in sight

The city hall too had its lights on and the square seemed totally different from the crowded square we visited the previous day. The difference was even more stark as I went through the  Briedelstraat towards Grote Market and almost failed to recognise it due to the lack of crowds. It seemed much wider today. YOG_6676 YOG_6690

The City Hall / Stadhuis Bruges at dawn on an overcast morning


The beautiful facade of the Stadhuis showing people of all occupations as sculptures rather than those of Royalty


The Bridelstraat looks wider without the crowds

The Grote Market seemed to be humongous and much more peaceful without the raucous mid day crowds and vendors gone. The only company I had here was an elderly Japanese photographer. We both had the photographer’s etiquette to move out of each other’s frames leaving the whole square empty. The bell tower continued it’s chiming every 15minutes as if giving us a private concert. It made the effort even more worthwhile. YOG_6677

Grote Markt at dawn wears a deserted look


The bell tower continues it’s chiming every 15 minutes


De Coninck & Breydel search for the crowds from their perch


The bells ring for DeConinck, Breydel & me on a cold spring morning at Grote Markt


Grote Markt square from the far end with no tourist in sight


The Bell tower waits for the crowds to appear


The skies start getting colourful as the sun starts to rise

With my fill of the Grote Markt I doubled back to the Rosary Quay stopping to take a quick photo of the restaurant lined Huidenvettersplein without the usual lunch/ dinner crowds. YOG_6694

Huidenvettersplein with the yet to open restaurants at dawn

Rosary Quay had the most number of photographers on any given morning with tripods all set up to take the famous Bruges canal photo. That morning I decided not to join them and take a quick photo of our hotel (the white building ) before moving on. YOG_6698

Rosary Quay from another angle

I then moved on towards the Church of our Lady stopping for a photo on the Nepomucenus bridge.  While on the bridge it’s difficult to resist the temptation to take photos of the tranquil canals on either end made even more still by the lack of canal tour boats. YOG_6699

Nepomucenus stands all lonely on his bridge


Rosary Quay from Nepomucenus bridge


The still waters make for a great reflection of the Church spire

I went towards the Church of our lady and through the small tree lined patch on Djiver which made for a good photo in stark contrast to the rest of Bruges. YOG_6703

The Nepomucenus bridge from the end of Djiver


The small tree lined avenue on Djiver next to the canal

Next on my walks was the courtyard leading to the Bonaficius bridge which was one of the most photogenic parts of Bruges and I would return here almost every morning. YOG_7637

The Garden with the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse statues leading to Bonaficius bridge


From the Bonaficius bridge

I had decided to have a no museum approach on this trip as it was of no interest to the parents. So the closest I got to Flemish art museum was seeing the courtyard of the Gruuthuse museum , a former Palace with the spire of the Church of our lady as a backdrop. YOG_6706

The Gruuthuse museum courtyard


The spire of the Church of our lady from the Gruuthuse museum


Typical Flemish architecture of the Gruuthuse museum building

I then walked out of the courtyard and towards the Church (I would visit the interiors – more on that in a later post). By now the locals were starting to go to their work on their bicycles and I had to be careful not to be run down by a speeding bicycle ( People who have been to Belgium & Amsterdam know that I am not kidding!) YOG_6721

The tallest structure in Bruges – The spire of the Church of our lady


The quiet courtyard in front of the Church with a statue of the poet Guido Gezelle

I then moved towards the Sint Salvator Cathedral but stopped and ducked into a pretty little courtyard that was of a small boutique hotel. It just reinforced the fact that every corner in Bruges is photo worthy. YOG_6719

The pretty courtyard of Boutique hotel de Castillion

The Cathedral street is very narrow and not very photogenic, I would visit the Cathedral interiors    later (All interiors in a post later!). So I turned back and returned to my hotel ready for the day’s activities. This was my schedule early mornings in Bruges and I thoroughly enjoyed it. YOG_6720

The street leading form the Church to the Cathedral


Another tree lined street in Bruges

I would repeat the same walk on a much clearer day with the better half and my tripod in tow and get some great photos of us with an empty city as background. Only I couldn’t get photos of the Grote Markt as there was a local farmers market that day which was being set up when we went. We didn’t get the photos but we got delicious strawberries, plums, muskmelons as compensation! YOG_7110 YOG_7103

At City Hall square on a clear morning


At Rosary Quay – tripod photo


Another angle of Rosary Quay


The better half poses on the Bonaficus bridge


At the foot of the Bonaficus bridge


In the pretty courtyard behind the Church of Our Lady

I even managed to drag Anna out on one morning and got him to pose for a few photos albeit reluctantly!
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Taking Anna on one of my morning walks in Bruges

Then there were the night walks around Bruges Centrum. The long days of late April meant that the lights came into full effect only past 9 pm. By that time most of the people were back in their warm hotel rooms. The only people out and about were the people who were out having a drink or two in one of the numerous breweries around town or the photographers. I was out and about fully protected against the cold weather every night and I have to say it was the most fun I had in Bruges. Lit up Bruges is a sight to behold and if you ever visit Bruges you should make it a point to get out after the lights have come on lighting up the exteriors of most landmarks. It gives the already beautiful town an added filter of colour making the structures look even more impressive. I even dragged out my parents on our last night in Bruges to experience this pretty town all lit up. The landmarks are all the same so I am just going to let the photos do all the talking and not repeat the descriptions. YOG_7054 YOG_7075

The view from Blonde Ezelburg Bridge on either side

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Various night photos of the Town Hall / Stadhuis square

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Even the souvenir shop windows are open and lit up at night


The Basilica of the Holy Blood on City Hall Square

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The Bell tower of Bruges all lit up

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Even De Coninck and Breydel look more majestic lit up

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The Grote Markt / Great Market square from either ends – A beautifully lit up place at night


The Historium and Provincial Court on Grote Markt


The street leading away from Grote Markt

The Rosary Quay at night was such a beautiful sight at night that I would take photos of it from all angles every day and still return for more on the next. YOG_7078YOG_7085 YOG_7092 YOG_7081-DeNoiseAI-standard

Some photos of the Rosary Quay all lit up at night – The most beautiful sight in all of Bruges

Another place I found particularly attractive at night was the canal leading upto the Church of our lady brightly lit up. YOG_7086YOG_7089

The Church of our Lady spire lit up makes for a pretty sight

I would return every night from my walks and finish with a photo of the empty but lit up Huidenvettersplein square and our home for 4 nights the Duc de Bourgogne. YOG_7077

Empty cafes post 10 pm at the lit up Huidenvettersplein


My parents pose outside our Hotel Duc de Bourgogne

This post is different from my usual chronologically ordered travelogue but I wanted to show the beauty of Bruges at it’s best, without the crowds. Also this has been a photo heavy post with some repetitive photos as I couldn’t decide which was the better photo! ( Please let me know if you have an opinion!) We would do a lot of sightseeing in Bruges including visits to the windmills at the edge of town, visits to the Town Hall and the various beautiful churches of Bruges. But that is the topic for future posts some other time, some other day. Till then, Bye.


  1. What an absolutely stunning city. I couldn’t believe these were the same places as the previous post. Outstanding night photographs.

    Liked by 1 person

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