Bruges is the historic capital of West Flanders, Flanders being one of the three regions of Belgium.
Bruges is one of Belgium’s chief tourist attractions, being called `the Venice of the North.. This splendid medieval city is one of Belgium’s crown jewels. In no other European city the feel and the look of medieval times are so present as here in this city close to the North Sea.
Bruges is the capital of the Belgian province of West-Flanders. A lot of people take day-trips from Brussels to Bruges, but there is to much to see here to fill only 1 day. Bruges is always beautiful, in the summertime as well as in the wintertime. Lucky visitors will never forget the city after they have seen it on a snowy December or January day. Bruges is unique, in the sense that here the town authorities have done the utmost to preserve the medieval-looking image of the city. Of course, not every stone in Bruges has come to us straight from the Middle-Ages. The 19th century neo-gothic style is more present than one should think. Because of these 19th century renovations, some critics have put Bruges down as a ‘fake’ medieval city. Nevertheless, the combination of old, not so old and new fascinates everyone who first sets foot in Bruges. Once visited, you’ll be back again. The city is clean, safe and smart.
Along with its amazing architecture, Bruges offers wonderful canal cruises enabling you and your family to see all the sights as it crosses the middle of the city. Maybe take a horse carriage ride for around 30 Euro’s. With all its pedestrian, cobbled streets, Bruges is a wonderful city to visit on foot. You will be able to go down the small roads, hiding away some wonderful shops selling traditional souvenirs as well as gastronomic shops which will offer you the wonders of Belgium chocolate and beers!
Bruges is most definitely a city not to miss if visiting Belgium! Join the locals and ride a bike!
Belfort Bell tower
The real city centre of Bruges is formed by the impressive Market Place and the adjacent Castle. The fine facades give the atmospheric square an improbable air of class. The most impressive building is the Belfort bell-tower with its carillon. The tower offers a splendid view over the city and the environment. In the middle of the square stands the statue of the heroes of the Golden Spurs Jan Breydel and Pieter De Kinnock.
Sight seeing tour buses give panoramic view of the city. Last around 50 minutes.
Canal Boat trips – A genuine adventure, visit this unique town with its age-old houses and picturesque bridges by guided boat trip.
Groeningen Museum, – Although small, this museum has a worldwide reputation for its superb collection of paintings.
Straffe Hendrik Brewery,
The Markt -Town center/square/plaza
How to get there
There are 3 international airports in Belgium: Zaventem Airport-Brussels, Deurne Airport-Antwerp, Ostend Airport-Ostend.
Zaventem Airport is about 1 hr and 30 mins from Bruges by train.
The modern Antwerp (Deurne) Airport is ideal for international scheduled flights. There are frequent regular connections with London, Rotterdam, Manchester, Jersey and Milan.
Ryan Air has recently begun a near direct flight from England to Bruges. The flight lands in Ostend Airport and can include the 20 mins bus ride to Bruges. This might be the least expensive way to fly to Bruges and it’s definitely the fastest.
Getting to Bruges by car from the UK is really easy. If you live in the south of Britain you can choose Eurotunnel from Folkestone or P&O ferries or SeaCat from Dover. They all go to Calais and from there it’s just an hour and a half to Bruges.
From the north take the Ferries overnight sailing from Hull to Zeebrugge, only 30 minutes from Bruges, Or there’s the option of the overnight Newcastle to Amsterdam ferry service, it’s only three hours by road to Bruges.
During the past few years traffic pressure in the historic inner city has been gradually reduced so as to preserve its unique heritage for locals and visitors alike. Traffic is funneled into five main one way arteries starting and exiting on the ring road. As soon as you can find a car park space and use it.
Arriving by car, you will be able to use one of the five underground car parks in the inner city or one of the parking lots alongside the ring road from where you will quickly reach downtown, walking or using one of the frequently operated bus lines. Cycling, too, is a most enjoyable way to get around in Bruges: cyclists are allowed to ride in both directions in more than 50 one way streets. Bicycles rule in Bruges, so leave your car and rent a bike. Feel the power of two wheels.
Bruge, situated on the important railway network London-Brussels-Cologne is attainable by direct trains from the main Belgian cities and from various European capitals.
Traveling by train to Bruges is the best way to see the beautiful Belgian countryside
Belgium is a densely populated country due to this it has an extensive public bus system. Check beforehand bus routes to avoid confusion, bus drivers are usually quite helpful as are other passengers so do not be afraid to ask someone for some help.
There are 2 different kinds of tickets.
De lijnkaart (linecard): a ticket used for trips outside the city.
De stadskaart (citycard): a ticket used for trips only inside the city
The silence of the veil – April – Arabian Festival.
People can experience and enjoy the warmth and wealth of the Arabian and Maghrebian culture .On different locations in the city there will be concerts, theatre, expositions,
Bruges Festival Musica Antiqua – Jul/Aug (annual)
Bruges Canal side Festival – Aug – Bruges’s beautiful waterways undergo complete transformation, as the city stages a series of impressive historic performances and pageants along its illuminated canal side for the annual Reiefeest. A staggering 600 musicians, singers and dancers turn out in elaborate costumes to perform scenes that recapture the spirit and the atmosphere of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance Era and The Baroque Age.
Procession of Holy Blood – This annual event takes place in May and is divided into four parts: The Old Testament, The New Testament, Historical Section, and veneration of the Holy Blood.
There are also many festivals in October, November and Christmas markets in December.
Eating Dining Shopping
All international food is served in Bruge, the speciality’s are the mussels with french fries, followed by a glass of cool Belgium beer (beers too numerous to mention).
As well as its famous Christmas Market, Bruges hosts varied markets in the Square,
The cobbled streets are full of various shops for you to shop from all around the Market
square and the old town streets. If you are a chocoholic, don’t forget to buy your Belgium chocolate!!
Bruge (Brugge) was founded in the 9th century by the Vikings. The name Bruges is probably derived from the old-Scandinavian word ‘Brygga’, which means ‘harbor, or mooring place’. Because of the
proximity of the North Sea, the settlement very quickly became an important international harbor. A sea-arm, called the Zwin, connected Bruges with the North Sea. The young settlement acquired city rights as early as the 12th century. At that time a first protective wall was built around Bruges. Soon, however, the Zwin started to silt up. This would have caused major problems for the city, were it not that Bruges adapted itself to this situation by creating outports in Damme and in Sluis. Moreover, transport of goods over land became more and more usual. In the 14th century Bruges became the starting point of a commercial transport road to the Rhineland (over Brussels and Leuven, cities in Brabant which also started to flourish because of this trade).
Already in the 13th century Bruges was an important international trading center. Traders from all over the world came to the city to sell their products to each other and to buy Flemish cloth. In the early 14th century Bruges was the scene of political unrest between the citizens and the count of Flanders. Because of this unrest the French king tried to annex the county of Flanders, but the population managed to kick out the French garrison on May the 18th 1302. Later the Flemish army beat the French army in the ‘Battle of the Golden Spurs’ on July the 11th in the Flemish city of Kortrijk.
In the 14th century Bruges turned also into an international financial and trading center. It became the warehouse of the North-European Hansa cities. Several countries had their own representation in Bruges: the Italians, the Germans, the Scottish, the Spanish made the city into a true European center where different languages could be heard and where the most exotic products could be found.
The decline of Bruges’ wealth started in the 15th century: the unstoppable silting up of the Zwin, the competition with the bigger harbor of Antwerp and the crisis in the cloth industry resulted in less commercial activity. The crisis, however, was not immediately noticeable. Bruges continued to construct splendid late-gothic buildings and churches, and the Flemish painting school started to flourish as never before.
By the end of the 16th century the former glory was only a memory. New textile industries were introduced in the 19th century, but to no avail. In the middle of the 1800’s Bruge was the poorest city in Belgium. The 20th century, however, brought new life. The city was discovered by the international tourism and the medieval heritage turned out to be a new source of wealth for the ‘Venice of the North’.
If you only visit one city in Belgium, then don’t miss this one! It’s wonderful.
Useful telephone numbers
Emergency Number (police) tel. 101, firefighters/ambulance, tel. 100.
Airport Information (Brussels airport) 0900 70000
Train station 🙁 Belgium National railways) in the UK Tel: 0870 751 5000
Tourist Office: +32 (0) 50 448 686
Holiday rents online:
National Transport Line; 070/22-02-00
24 hour medical service; (hospital) tel. 050/45-21-11.