Travel Guide to Bruges, Belgium
Celebrated for its medieval structures, vibrant squares, canals, cobbled streets, rich history, interesting culture and friendly locals, Bruges known as the Venice of the North, is the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium. Just an hour away from the capital city of Brussels by train, this lovely Flemish city deserves to be on the top of your Europe bucket list.
A Brief History about Bruges that will fascinate you even more
The quaint and picturesque city has been through a lot of ups and downs as far as the overall economy and history is concerned. The history of Bruges can be traced back to the 9th century when the city was founded by the Vikings. The city was quite sought after in the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries, mainly due to the businesses and trade carried out by the wealthy merchants and elites. During the nineteenth century, the city’s fortune changed and it had almost lost its significance in the overall scheme of things. The medieval buildings were, however, spared and the rich culture and history of Bruges was again being appreciated towards the twentieth century and became an international tourist destination. Bruges gradually became home to the region’s elite class again who eventually came to be known as the ‘Flemish Primitives’.
Interesting facts why Bruges is a must-include in your Euro-itinerary
Before you plan to embark upon your trip to this fun and quirky medieval Flemish capital, there are some interesting facts about Bruges that will induce you to include Bruges in your much-awaited Euro-tour.
Bruges, being home to some of the best Belgian beers that you can possibly think of including Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik, is a must-visit place for all beer lovers. You will find numerous breweries and unique cellar cafes in Bruges, among which De Halve Maan is one of the best known breweries which serves a wide array of Belgian beer. The main reason why Bruges lures legions of culture and architecture buffs is that the city abounds with more number of castles than any other country in the world making it one of the most postcard-perfect stop of your Europe itinerary.
Besides the exciting attractions, the city hosts some of the most thrilling festivals including Bruges beer festival and Bruges Chocolate Festival which brings masses of beer and chocolate fans to the city. Bruges Beer Festival, the most popular event which takes places in the month of February every year, hosts almost seventy five breweries serving three hundred different beers. Also, the electrifying nightlife of the city is one of the most prominent reasons why you will never get worn-out even after a tiring day of exploration. You will see the city coming alive just after the sun sets.
Fun-filled things to do in Bruges
A boat tour down the canals
The city of canals is replete with many waterways crisscrossing the city and a boat tour is one of the most popular things to do while in town.
French fries with mayo fur lunch
Get to see some friendly competition at the main square where you will see two stands serving French fries with dollops of mayo and ketchup. It is fun and interesting to see if it was the French or the Belgians who actually invented this basic snack.
The Belgians have always been associated with producing some of the finest chocolates in the world. There are plenty of chocolate shops where you will get to taste and purchase a delectable assortment of truffles, pralines, white chocolate, dark chocolate, cream liquor fillings and much more.
Belgian waffles are world famous and not many people know that these waffles are bigger and fluffier as compared to the ones found in North America. You can always choose your choice of favorite toppings such as chatilly cream, icing sugar and strawberries.
Explore Bruges in a horse-drawn carriage
If you want to have a small rendezvous’ with Bruges in a good old romantic way, then heading to the central square would be a great idea. Once you reach the square, you can opt for a horse-drawn carriage ride around town.
Drop by the Bauhaus Hostel for a fun night out
The Bauhaus Hostel is one of the most buzzing hostels in Bruges and makes for an interesting place where young backpackers meet up over beer. There is usually something fun going on at the hostel. So even if you are not staying here, you can simply pay a visit and enjoy some live music, karaoke night and if you get lucky, there might be a live DJ belting out some great numbers.
Top attractions in Bruges
Belfry & Halle
Belfry & Halle is the most prominent landmark in Bruges located on the south side of the Markt or the main square. Established in early thirteenth century it used to serve as the main market place with one of the finest bell towers in Belgium.
Basilica of the Holy Blood, Markt
Basilica of the Holy Blood, Markt, is a bustling main square enveloped by elegant buildings from different eras. The eastern side is earmarked by the Neo-Gothic Provinciaal Hof building. If you want to appreciate the fine architecture that is reflected in all these structures in Bruges, then simply join a group of visitors and locals at some of the prominent cafés. This way you will be able to appreciate the magical aura around you.
The Groeninge Museum
The Groeninge Museum by the Dijver Canal houses Bruges’ finest collection of art. The museum boasts of old Flemish paintings in addition to a gallery of modern art and a stunning collection of some gorgeous views of old Bruges.
The Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk) is the tallest structure in Belgium. The church consists of a world of art works including the coveted sculpture by Michelangelo, Virgin and Child.
Town Hall (Stadhuis) and Sint-Salvatorskathedraal
Town Hall (Stadhuis) and Sint-Salvatorskathedraal are other major attractions that you must definitely visit and explore as long as you are in Bruges. Its Gothic hall along with the late 19th-centurt murals and polychrome vault is the absolute masterpiece.
Best Time to Visit Bruges
Summer in Bruges is the season when the weather gets pleasant and the trees are deep green in color. You will witness a great influx of tourists during this peak season. If you want to see Bruges at your own pace while saving money on accommodation, spring and fall seasons make for the perfect shoulder seasons. Post-Christmas, it gets pretty cold and almost the entire crowd returns home.
Where to stay while in Bruges
Staying in Bruges for a fun-filled vacation is best experienced when you stay at a hostel which is affordable, fully-equipped with a nicely set-up kitchen and welcomes visitors with warmth and love. Hostel Lybeer is the perfect choice in this regard where prices start at 16 Euros per head for one night. Besides, there are an array of low and medium budget hotels, bed and breakfasts and hostels for all kinds of visitors throughout all the prime locations of the city.
How to reach Bruges
It is very easy and convenient to reach Bruges as the number of direct flights to Brussels Airport is many. Some of the main airlines that connect Brussels with the rest of the world include Brussels Airlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Swiss International Air Lines, and United Airlines among others. You can reach Bruges easily by first taking a flight to Brussels and then taking a train to Bruges. There are direct trains connecting Brussels Airport and Bruges city every hour. For c9ommuting within the city you can purchase your tickets from the various kiosks at the bus station just outside the Bruges railway station. Walking around the city is also the best way to getting around as you will be able to soak in the true essence of the city.
So plan your next vacation to Bruges and I can vouch for the simple fact that you will hold your memories of this romantic city very close to your heart for a lifetime.