Brugge, Belgium | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Brugge, Belgium

(*cruise tour)

Brugge, Belgium

Bruges (Dutch: Brugge) is a picturesque city in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium. Once Europe's richest city, now both cosmopolitan and bourgeois in its compact size, it is one of the best-preserved pre-motorized cities in Europe and offers the kind of charms rarely available other than in Europe.

The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares, including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge. The historic city center is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is oval and about 430 hectares in size. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 616 km2 (238 sq mi).

Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam and Stockholm, it is sometimes referred to as The Venice of the North. Bruges had a significant... Read more

Brugge, Belgium

Destination:

Bruges (Dutch: Brugge) is a picturesque city in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium. Once Europe's richest city, now both cosmopolitan and bourgeois in its compact size, it is one of the best-preserved pre-motorized cities in Europe and offers the kind of charms rarely available other than in Europe.

The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares, including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge. The historic city center is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is oval and about 430 hectares in size. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 616 km2 (238 sq mi).

Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam and Stockholm, it is sometimes referred to as The Venice of the North. Bruges had a significant economic importance thanks to its port and was once one of the world's chief commercial cities. Bruges is well known as the seat of the College of Europe, an elite university institute for European studies regarded as "the EU's very own Oxbridge.

Climate

Even by Belgian standards,

Bruges

has a poor reputation for its weather. Compared to other western European cities like London and Paris, the weather in Bruges is colder and damper. Even in July and August, average daily maximum temperatures struggle to exceed 21°C (70°F) and rainfall averages 203 mm (8 in) a month. In autumn, temperatures drop off quite rapidly and winter months are damp and chilly.

The summer visitor should always be prepared for rain in Bruges, and that warm and sunny weather is not constant during that season. The daily and monthly temperature variations are quite small - average highs and average lows don't exceed a range of 9°C (or 16°F).

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Brugge, Belgium: Port Information


Cruise ships dock at the port of Zeebrugge or Antwerp.

The port of Zeebrugge is 15 km (9,3 miles) away from the city of Brugge.
When passengers leave the liner, they have to take a shuttle bus to the port exit (free). Walking in the port area is prohibited.
The trip on a train will be only 15 min. You can gent to the train station on a tram (the stop is close to the port). Also, there are buses and taxis available.

It is one hour 45 minutes' drive from Antwerp to Brugge.

Get around Brugge, Belgium


The historical center is not so big and thus quite walkable (be sure to wear comfortable shoes). The only mode of public transport inside the city is the bus. They are operated by the Flemish public transport company De Lijn. They frequent nearly all major points of interest plus the train station. Taxis in the marketplace and station are available. Bicycles are easy to rent and make getting around the city very speedy, although the cobblestoned paths can make rides a little bumpy and uncomfortable.

Cycling in Bruges is the perfect way to discover the historical center. Bruges citizens make fanatical use of their bikes. Up to 60% of all incoming traffic in the city center are cyclists. Bruges can be described as a city where cycling is familiarized and where the local government puts a lot of effort to improve cycling in this city. According to Bruges Major cycling is the main point of attention in all parts of the infrastructure, city plans, permits, etc. In 2012 Bruges received a nomination for ¨Belgium cycle city of the year¨. Also, for 15 years Bruges has been the starting point for the Tour of Flanders.

When you’re planning to visit Bruges, you can easily hop on a bike and start to discover the city. There are various bike rental companies spread over the city, and some of them also offer the opportunity to do a guided bike tour. A local guide will take you across Bruges highlights within a few hours. Two good bike tour companies are Baja Bikes and Quasimundo.

What to see in Brugge, Belgium


Bruges has been known as a "dead city" for many years. The sanding of the harbor and the difficulties to dig canals in the sand caused heavy economical burdens on the city between the Middle Ages and the 20th century. The population managed to survive but did not grow as there was no new industrial activity during that period. As a result, once over the encircling canal and inside the city walls, Bruges closes in around you with street after street of charming historic houses and a canal always nearby. The newly cleaned houses and the small canals should however not confuse you; they are truly centuries old. And if you can get away from the chocolate-shops, you can visit some more quiet areas such as St. Anna, and imagine what life in the late Middle Ages must have been like. UNESCO has listed the historic center of Bruges as a world heritage site.

The Brugge City Card provides free admission to most of the major attractions and can be picked up at any of the hostels around town. The reduced rate cannot be used in conjunction with a student rate (both student and city card rates are identical) and hence is most useful for older travelers.

Several Youth Hostels (Bauhaus), and probably the train station and tourist information offer a useful map with some very interesting, 'non-tourist' places to see during the day and some unique places to visit at night. It provides a good way of getting an authentic feel for the town while avoiding the tourist hotspots and allows you to find some hidden gems.
Some highlights:

  • Groeninge Museum

    , Dijver 12. Daily 09:30-17:00. Known as 'The city museum of Fine Arts,' it houses a collection of artworks that span several centuries (14th-20th), focusing mainly on works by painters who lived and worked in Bruges. 
  • Basilica of the Holy Blood 

    (Heilige Bloed Basiliek), Burg 10. Apr-Sep 09:30-11:50 & 14:00-17:50, Oct-Mar 10:00-11:50 & 14:00-15:50. A beautiful church on the Burg square. It houses a relic - a vial of blood that is said to be that of Jesus - and was built in the Gothic style. Try and get there early so you can view the chapel when it is quiet and not filled with tourists. And don't forget to visit the chapel underneath, in heavy Romanesque style - a contrast to the lovely light Gothic above. 
  • Brewery De Halve Maan, Walplein 26, ☎ +32 50 332-697. Apr-Oct M-Sa 11:00-16:00, Su 11:00-17:00. This brewery is the only remaining city brewery that's still brewing beer inside the city walls. It's also a beer museum and offers a tour of the beer-making process. A history of the brewery is provided, as well as an overview of the city from its tower. The tour lasts for 45min and is a good way to get a feel for Belgian beer making. The tours start at the exact turn of the hour, be at least fifteen minutes early as there is a maximum amount of people that can join. The entrance price includes one drink of Brugse Zot or Straffe Hendrik and is served after the tour at the outside terrace or indoor bar. 
  • 2-be Beer Wall and Bar, Wollestraat 53. On the court of a former major's house, "all Belgian beers" are exposed permanently. At the back of the wall, it's also possible to drink a lot of those beers.
  • Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk, Mariastraat. A fascinating church with architecture from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. In the east end of the church are very fine tombs of Charles the Bold and his daughter Mary of Burgundy - in contrasting Gothic and Renaissance styles, despite their superficial similarity. The church also houses one of the few Michelangelo sculptures outside of Italy, the "Madonna with a child." 
  • Simbolik - Open Studio and Expo of Nathalie Beelprez, Katelijnestraat 139, ☎ +32 495 307056. Th-Sa 10:00-18:00, other days by appointment. A house, an open studio where thoughts and ideas are born, a place where Beelprez can mix these thoughts and feelings in a symbolic language of forms, her soul, her calligraphy, her world, her language. While she works in her studio, her expo is open to anyone who wants to let time go, read forms and see letters. An open immersion in texts and forms that excite your senses. Selection of handmade letter work, wall objects, light objects, painted on canvas, letters in ceramics, writing on walls, also work on demand. Also, every first Sunday of the month at 15:00 is Poëziene: a place where poets, musicians or performers bring their work to Simbolik. 
  • Jerusalem church. In a quiet area of the city, a highly unusual church with octagonal tower built by the Adornes brothers, merchants of Italian extraction. It includes a fine black Tournai marble tomb, late Gothic stained glass, and a tiny and rather spooky chapel containing an effigy of the dead Christ. The entrance fee also covers the Lace Museum in the former Adornes mansion, where you can see local women and girls learning this traditional craft.
  • The Beguinage (Begijnhof). In history, many women couldn't find a man, as men were more likely to die in accidents or war. Those women could "marry God" and become a beguine. The beguinage, also known as the convent, offered protection for those single ladies. It lies between the center of the city and the station, with white painted small houses and fine plane trees, is a quiet place to walk - groups are discouraged.
  • The Hospital of St John. Tu-Su 09:30-17:00. Sint-Janshospitaal contains a museum of six paintings by Hans Memling, within the early medieval hospital buildings.
  • Choco-Story Museum, Wijnzakstraat 2 (Sint-Jansplein), ☎ +32 50 612237. 10:00-17:00. This museum is a must-see for chocolate enthusiasts as it describes chocolate's transition from cocoa into chocolate. Its tasty, low-cost exhibits make it well worth the time (and Belcolade's gently overt marketing). Be sure to stay for the chocolate making exhibition to get some excellent samplers.
  • Diamond Museum, Katelijnestraat 43, ☎ +32 50 336326. 10:30-17:30. Diamond museum has a large range of exhibits ranging from mining all the way to polishing and all the history in between. Every day at 12:15 there is a live polishing demonstration.
  • The Friet Museum, Vlamingstraat (opposite Academiestraat). Check out the world's only frites (fries or chips) museum which tells the story of the humble potato from South America and how it has evolved into a fry. Don't forget to try the tastiest fries cooked by the guy who cooked for the Belgian Royal Family.

Bruges is visited by a huge number of tourists, and it sometimes becomes quite annoying, especially around the Markt and Burg squares. The important thing to remember, however, is that very few tourists venture far away from the main shopping area, so if you want some peace, you should simply explore the many small cobbled streets away from the main squares.

  • Lucifernum (resin's lucifernum), twijnstraat 6-8 (city center). Su 18:00-21:00. An amazing (private) art gallery with a Gothic cemetery in a subtropical garden located in the old Freemasons temple (1756-1882). 1,000m² of art and mystery in Bruges' old city center.

City gates

  • Kruispoort (Cross Gate), Langestraat. Part of the second city ramparts of 1297. The current gate dates back to the beginning of the 15th century.
  • Smedenpoort (Blacksmith's Gate), Smedenstraat. The first gate was built in 1297-1299 but got rebuilt in 1376-1378. After that, there were several changes to the building. The gate is completely surrounded by water. A renovation in 2009 made the gate look shining again.
  • Ezelpoort (Donkey Gate), Ezelstraat. Just like the Smedenpoort this gate is completely surrounded by water. Nowadays the gate is only used by pedestrians and cyclists. The gate previously also was called the Oostendsche Poort (Ostend Gate) since the road through the gate lead to Ostend.
  • Gentpoort (Ghent Gate), Gentpoortstraat. One of the four remaining city gates of the second city ramparts of 1297. In the gate building currently is housed a museum.

What to do in Brugge, Belgium


  • Grote Markt and Belfry Climb, Grote Markt (the big square). Tu-Su 09:30-17:00. Climb the 366 steps to the top of the 83m high tower. Excellent views of the city, Grote Markt and hear the bells ring up close.
  • Tour boats. It's essential to take a ride on one of the tour boats around the canals - the multilingual guides provide a potted history of the city in just a few minutes - it's the best introduction to Bruges. A boat tour will show you places which are otherwise unreachable, as not every canal runs next to a street. Advisable to get there at opening time to avoid the crowds. 
  • Horse-drawn carts, Grote Markt. Carriages can be hired for a romantic 30min trip around the old city of Bruges. Carts can carry up to 5 passengers. 
  • Cycle, Burg Square. There are many rental shops near the main square, shop around for the best prices. You can also rent right at the train station and get to the city center quickly; remember to return them by 19:30. Cycle 5km to Damme, a picturesque village on the river with a windmill and excellent pancakes, and optionally follow on to the coast (another 15km).
  • Snow and Ice sculpture festival, Station Bruges. Every year from the end of Nov to Jan you can visit the Snow and Ice sculpture festival on the station-square of Bruges. The festival is built by an international team of 40 professional artists from no less than 300t of crystal clear ice and 400,000kg of fresh snow in a cooled hall where the temperature remains a constant -6°C. Don't forget to wear warm clothing!
  • Running. If you are a runner, try running the 7km circle around the old center. Walk along the canal and see all of the medieval gates that used to control the traffic in and out of Bruges. Simply stunning!
  • Bruges Ballooning, Markt, ☎ +32 47 597 2887. am & pm. Daily hot air balloon flights over the historic center and its surroundings. The best way to enjoy the romance of Bruges, and its stunning views, from a few hundred meters up in a balloon basket.
  • Compare the real Bruges to the one depicted in the movie In Bruges.
  • Concertgebouw Brugge, 't Zand 34. One of Bruges' culture temples with a world-class program in classical music and contemporary dance. The season usually runs from mid-September to June, but it also becomes a hub for the early music festival each August.

What to eat and drink in Brugge, Belgium


Eat

Restaurants are not always cheap or wonderful, although mussels and frites or fricadellen, frites with mayonnaise are outstanding here. Stay away from the central market place ("Grote Markt") and Burg Square when eating. Tourists are easy victims here. One tactic used by tourist traps is to present items (e.g., bread) as if they were free with your meal, then charge you exorbitantly for them.
You will, however, find great food if you wander off the beaten track. Find a street with more locals than tourists and ask somebody. The locals will be glad to help.

  • Books & Brunch, Garenmarkt 30, ☎ +32 50 70 90 79. Tu-F 8:30-18:00, Sa 09:00-18:00. An ideal combo of a second-hand book store and a brunch/dessert-eatery (but you can have a cup of coffee or a tea too).
  • Brasserie Forestière, Academiestraat 11. Nice and calm restaurant, good food, not too expensive. Good menu for vegetarians. A meal of the day (soup, main dish, dessert or coffee/tea) 
  • De Drie Zintuigen, Westmeers 29, ☎ +32 50 34 09 94. Off the beaten track but not far from all the bars, this lovely restaurant does more than moules et frites.
  • L'estaminet, Park 5, e-mail: cafelestaminet@telenet.be. Good food, nice terrace, cool bartender. Try the renowned spaghetti or the delicious croque monsieur.
  • La Romagna, Braambergstraat 8. Excellent family-run Italian restaurant and pizzeria. Inexpensive. Good menu for vegetarians.
  • In't Nieuw Museum, Hooistraat 42, ☎ +32 50331280. Belgian grill restaurant, well off the tourist track. Excellent steaks, reasonable prices.
  • De Bottelier, Ezelstraat (close to Sint-Jacobsstraat). A favorite restaurant of many of Bruges' residents. Very reasonable prices and excellent food. Closed Sunday and Monday nights.
  • Marieke van Brugghe, Mariastraat 17, ☎ +32 50 34 33 60, e-mail: marieke@pandora.be. A small but good restaurant that attracts the locals. 
  • Tom's Diner, West Gistelhof 23. Fantastic upmarket take on satisfying, home-cooked food. Prices are reasonable, as well.
  • Kok au Vin, Ezelstraat 19/21. Memorable Kok au Vin (both the entrée AND the restaurant); the prices are reasonable for the high quality. Family owned and run. Reservations recommended.
  • Restaurant Aneth. With only 7 tables, small and cozy, with a personal touch.
  • Brasserie Medard, Sint-Amandsstraat 18. Huge deal for low budget just near the center. Two options on the menu: vegetarian, non-vegetarian - both at the same price. Unbeatable. Very cheap beer too. Most tables order the spaghetti. Tourists aren't welcome until they sit - be sure to sit down and impose your presence to be served. Be warned that if you wait to be seated, you are likely to be sent away for no reason. Bring your musical instruments.
  • De Karmeliet, Langestraat 19, ☎ +32 50 33 82 59. High-quality restaurant with 3 Michelin stars
  • t' Gulden Vlies, Mallebergplaats 17, ☎ +32 5033 4709. 7 PM-3 AM. An excellent night restaurant. Small romantic restaurant east of the Burg with excellent food and reasonable prices. 
  • Cambrinus, Philipstockstraat 19 (near the market place), ☎ +32 5033 2328. 11:00-23:00 daily. This is a very popular place, and for a reason. They have some of the best selection of Belgian beers, more than 440 in total. Some beers have odd names like Satan, Lucifer, Nostradamus, or the Brunette. It's primarily a restaurant though, as all their hearty food are prepared with a special kind of beer. It's delicious.
  • Le Pain Quotidien, 21 Philipstockstraat. A sandwich chain founded in Brussels but now found in the US, France and some other countries. Most of the food is organic, and the sandwiches (in particular the Tartine Bouef Basilic) are delicious. Somewhat expensive.
  • Maximiliaan van Oostenrijk, Wijngaardplein 16-17, ☎ +32 50 33 47 23. Midrange restaurant offering plenty to eat including oysters and meat cooked several ways plus, of course, frites. There is not much for vegetarians.
  • Grand Cafe Passage, Dweersstraat 26, ☎ +32 5034 0232. Attached to the Passage hotel/hostel (see below) is the atmospheric Grand Café, serving traditional Belgian cuisine and beers. Prices are slightly lower than the tourist traps and well worth it. Try the beef stew (very tender) or the ribs.
  • Trattoria Trium, Academiestraat 27, ☎ +32 50333060. This is a great spot to have a nice dish of pasta or pizza and is fully Italian. They also sell olive oil, pasta sauces, and other authentic products. The decor has a warm home feeling. Try out their antipasto and the excellent house wine. 
  • Bittersweet, St Amandstraat 27 (close to the Grote Markt and Belfry), ☎ +32 50 34 87 69. Tu-Sa 09:00-18:30. 'Cosy and Delicious' just like it says. Great for breakfast and indulgent afternoon teas. Reasonable prices, better quality, and friendlier service than the tourist traps on the Markt, it's well worth the short walk down this quaint side street. Also serves the best coffee in the city!
  • Den Gouden Harynck, Groeninge 25, ☎ +32 50337637. Gastronomic restaurant which offers three-course meals at very reasonable prices.
  • Laurenzino, Noordzandstraat 1, ☎ +32 50 333-213. Su-Th 11:00-20:00, F 11:00-22:00, Sa 10:00-22:00. This is a good place to try out freshly baked Belgian waffles. They have them with chocolate, caramel, whipped cream or anything you want on top of it. They also have traditionally prepared ice cream available. It's easy to find, as you can smell the flavor of the waffles around the shop. 
  • Chocolaterie Spegelaere, Ezelstraat 92, ☎ +32 50336052. Bruges '"Best Kept Secret, a place for chocolate-lovers.
  • The 57, Wollestraat 29a, ☎ +32 50336242. 11:30 - 22:00. The 57 is a romantic restaurant in Bruges.
  • Curiosa, Vlamingstraat 22 (just off the main square), ☎ +32 50 34 23 34. A good place for lunch as well as a beer.

Drink

  • De Garre, 1, De Garre (When walking from De Markt to De Burg via the Breydelstraat, find a small door between two shops on your right side to enter De Garre street. The pub itself is the only door inside that street.), ☎ +32 50 34 10 29. Hidden in a backyard, this pub offers a nice atmosphere and about 100 different kinds of beer, including home-brewed ones. The house beer is called 'Triple de Garre' and is 11% strong, a good way to start the night. The pub is very often full, but there's a limit of two drinks per person, which means that new places become available pretty quickly.
  • 't Brugs Beertje, Kemelstraat. This excellent pub (recommended in the CAMRA guide to the Benelux region) has hundreds of different beers and an authentic beer-cafe atmosphere. The majority of the clientele are tourists. The front bar is crowded; what looks like the door through to the restrooms opens on another bar area. In 2005 it was closed for most of July - this might be an annual occurrence.
  • Curiosa (just off the main square). A good place for lunch as well as a beer.
  • Herberg Vlissinghe (Cafe Vlissinghe), Blekerstrat 2 (on the way to the Jerusalem church), ☎ +32 50 34 37 37. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. One of the less touristy bars, with a nice selection of draught and bottled beers. It's probably the oldest pub in Bruges dating from 1515.
  • The area north of the performing arts center has various cafes, most with sufficient beer selections, such as Café Leffe.
  • The Druid's Cellar, St Amandsstraat 11/b, ☎ +32 50614144. A very nice cozy place to drink a beer and listen to some good music. The bar is located underground and gives the impression of a cellar. Usually plays rock music. The bar has a wide selection of drinks, from simple beer to 16-year-old Bushmills whiskey.
  • Bean around the World, Genthof 5, ☎ +32 50703572. American coffee house in the center of Bruges - offers free American newspapers and Wi-Fi to its customers
  • Délisa 'Délices & Saveurs', Jan van Eyckplein 7, ☎ +32 50 34 09 89. Just a short walk from the Markt, this place undoubtably has some of the best coffee in Bruges. With a genuine espresso machine, the Conti, and a passion for good quality, the owner Sabine, is great for a chat and a good coffee.
  • De Bierbistro, Oude Burg 14 (1 min from market), ☎ +32 470296006. Beautiful cellar from the 15th century. Nice place to have a drink or eat homemade dishes made with beer. The prices are very reasonable, and the location is excellent if you want to experience some history of Bruges.

Shopping in Brugge, Belgium


Chocolate shops are plentiful, and the standard is always high. A fairly cheap option is Stef's on Breidelstraat (between Markt and Burg). If you are willing to spend a little more, Chocolatier Van Oost on Wollestraat is a must for high-quality artisanal chocolate. Next to that is Het Chocoladehuisje where they sell chocolate breasts (large and small, used to be patented). Word on the street is that you can get anything covered in chocolate and molded. There is a particular vast amount of chocolate shops at the Kathelijnestraat. Another good option is The Chocolate Line. For the true gourmet, inform if the chocolate is artisan (hand-made) or industrial. This also explains differences in price.
For those who do not wish to buy chocolate in the chocolate shops, the local supermarkets also sell a good variety of mass-produced chocolate at fairly low prices. For the frugal, you can buy 100-200g gourmet bars of chocolate. Good brands to buy are Côte-d'Or and Jacques; both are Belgian. If you don't want anything more than a sampling of the most famous Belgian beers, supermarkets (not night shops!) are probably your best choice. They even have gift packs with glasses. There are also many boutique-style beer shops that sell high-quality gift packs of Belgian beer.
There are plenty of arts and crafts shops too, with some excellent local artists. The lacework is risky: if everything sold was produced locally, the entire town would be working in the lace industry! There is a school for lace though, where you can still get "the real thing."
Most European tourists come for the weekend, so shops are open Tuesday through Sunday, but many shops and museums are closed on Mondays. Be sure to plan.

  • Dumon, Simon Stevinplein 11. Excellent, very high-end chocolate creations. They also make chocolate drinks.
  • Het Chocoladehuisje, Wollestraat 15, ☎ +32 50 34 02 50. Artisan chocolates. Place where you can buy the original chocolate breasts. Has a nice piece in their window on special occasions.
  • The Chocolate Line, Simon Stevinplein 19, ☎ +32 50 34 10 90. Almost always has original and funny chocolate-art in their window. Buy a (locally) famous chocolatier, Dominique Persoone.

Safety in Brugge, Belgium


This place is very safe. You will find that people are usually very helpful. But you should, of course, beware of petty crime (pickpockets in tourist places).

Language spoken in Brugge, Belgium


Dutch, French, and German are the official languages. English is widely spoken.

LOCAL TIME

11:27 pm
October 20, 2019
Europe/Brussels

CURRENT WEATHER

11.91 °C / 53.438 °F
light rain
Mon

13.59 °C/56 °F
heavy intensity rain
Tue

12.78 °C/55 °F
broken clouds
Wed

15.21 °C/59 °F
broken clouds
Thu

13.34 °C/56 °F
light rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

EUR

1 USD = 0 EUR
1 GBP = 0 EUR
1 AUD = 0 EUR
1 CAD = 0 EUR

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We are walking around  Bruges and taking pictures of everything. I do not know why there are so many holes. You can get to Burg Square through this arch. This is a building of The Old Civil Registry. This is the Town Hall located nearby. We came to the square called Grote...

We arrived in the city of  Bruges  to this bridge. On the right, you can see our guide with a closed white umbrella. There is such a wonderful lawn near the bridge. Acacia is blossoming! We went all together to  the city of Bruges . We crossed the bridge to the other...
Do you remember the movie 'In Bruges"? Today we'll climb a local bell tower, where the movie was filmed, pass through quiet streets and visit countless chocolate shops. Then, we'll dine on the Atlantic coast... The drive was a little less than three hours. We parked near the square with a...