Our first foray into vanlife in Europe was just a hop, ferry and a drive from England to Belgium. We had arranged to meet our friends in Bruges over the weekend and they took the Eurostar over the day we arrived.
It turns out that Bruges was the perfect start to life in our campervan and showed us just how easy it is to explore with both a rolling home and a dog.
Firstly, it’s less than a 2 hour drive from Calais to Bruges, making it totally possible for a long weekend from the UK. Then, we were able to find designated campervan parking in Bruges, right by the station. With only a 15 minute walk into town, along the river and through the picturesque outer neighbourhoods of Bruges, it couldn’t have been more conveniently located.
The Bruges camping spot was just off the main road but still very quiet. It looked over the canal and a few moored barges. Hookup, water and disposal were all included for €19 per night. This is certainly steeper than we’ve seen since but the location made it totally worth it. Plus, the 4g signal in the area was good which is a major plus for us working in the van. With a canal side path for walking Jimi it was perfect for us and we ended up staying for two nights.
The only thing we never found were toilets!
Bruges itself blew us away.
I usually do a lot of research before I arrive in a place but with all the other road trip planning, I hadn’t gone beyond parking in Bruges. And, sometimes it really is so nice to arrive with so few expectations.
We didn’t have much of an agenda, and having the dog in tow meant we were happy to simply stroll around and not do too much sightseeing. After just a few kilometres it was clear that Bruges is a seriously dog friendly city. There were people with their pups everywhere! And from the start, the first bar we walked in to was happy to have Jimi inside. We had great beers in the atmospheric Le Trappiste and later, when the sun made an appearance, we sat outside at one of the many restaurants lining the Markt Square. We saw dogs popping in and out of restaurants all over the city!
We only had one night camping in Bruges while our friends were there so we ventured out to eat together, sans Jimi, to get a taste for Belgium. We chose Passage because of the great reviews online and it didn’t disappoint. It’s actually a hip hostel cum restaurant but felt totally old school with it’s vintage decor and mood lighting. We tried the stew, the epic grilled meat and shrimp croquettes, alongside Belgium’s favourite side of frites and mayonnaise. It was all fantastic (and great value for money), as were the Belgium beers we drank.
Our experience with vanlife in Belgium was very short-lived, but it made us very excited for more and we even made sure to take a little slice of Bruges with us… in the form of those delicious, strong Belgium beers!