Few cities have such an enchanting entrance as Bruges. If you arrive at the main train station, Minnewater will be one of the first places you encounter. The name Minnewater translates into “lake of love,” appropriate for this romantic stretch of water. Fairy tale-style turreted houses and weeping willows help define this as one of Bruges' most idyllic spots. Parts of the defenses of the city can still be seen, including the Watchtower that looms over the park.
The lake and adjoining canals in and around Minnewaterpark were once vital transportation corridors during the city's golden age in the medieval period. Everything from textiles and spices, to sugar and wine filled the cargo holds of commercial boats transporting goods via the waterways. Barges often moored along the banks here. Today the water is free of ships, which have been replaced by the ever-present ducks and swans. The latter are in fact considered emblems of Bruges. One legend says that in 1488 the city was cursed with swans for all eternity. These days the lovely white birds are more loved than loathed.
If the sun is out, buy local produce and have a picnic on Minnewater's banks. This is also a popular spot for summer concerts; check listings and book your tickets ahead of your visit. Explore Minnewater when the climate is colder as well. With the water iced over and the trees dusted in snow, it's a truly bewitching sight. Take some memorable photographs for the front of your Christmas card.
Minnewater is a short walk from Station Brugge, the main train station. Alternatively you can walk from the center of town in about 20 minutes. From Grote Markt, follow Wollestraat to the canal and then walk southwest along the canal all the way to the lake. After relaxing for a while, get back to the city center in style by hiring a horse-drawn carriage and driver from the north end of the park.