Bruges is probably the most atmospheric of all Christmas markets. It practically oozes seasonal cheer and that warm, fuzzy, Christmassy feeling that takes you straight back to being a child, waking up to an overflowing stocking at the end of your bed.
From the intoxicating scent of warm, fresh waffles to the twinkling fairy lights reflected in the canal, Bruges is hard to beat for a fairy-tale Christmas break. And that's before you've even hopped aboard a horse-drawn carriage for a snow-dusted tour of the cobbles.
So, if you fancy being transported to Christmas heaven, catch the Eurostar from St Pancras Int'l and, in 3 hrs 30 mins, with a quick change in Brussels, you’ll be in the next best thing to Santa’s grotto. This year the market runs from November 24 until January 2, 2018.
You'll find the main market in Grote Markt, with its pretty, wooden chalets surrounding a glittering ice rink, where skaters swish and stumble in the shadow of the 83m-high belfry. If you can face the 366 steps to the bells at the top, you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the chocolate box city below.
There's another market in smaller, tree-lined Simon Stevinplein, but with no shortage of cheery chocolatiers and cosy cafés en route, the short walk might take longer than you'd expect…
If you've over-indulged, a brisk walk in nearby Minnewater will help blow away the cobwebs and work up an appetite for the next course: a plate of warm, crisp kroketten made with shrimp or gorgeously oozing cheese. Perfect for a quick pit-stop before the serious business of shopping begins.