Bruges, a small medieval city northwest of Belgium, is often called the ‘Venice of the North’. With its picturesque canals, stunning architecture, and rich history, it’s no surprise that Bruges is a popular tourist destination. This article will tell you the secrets that make Bruges an inviting and fascinating place.
In February (2023) the city of Bruges invited Travel Buddies Lifestyle on a press tour to explore this captivating city for two days and to experience first-hand why this city is mesmerising. The architecture and aesthetics aside, the city exuberates an ‘eccentric’ ambiance, unlike any other European city I recently visited. With its many restaurants, cafés, waffle houses, and chocolate and beer bars, what is there not to like?
The history of Bruges
Bruges was once one of Europe’s most important trading centres, and its wealth is still evident in the city’s stunning architecture. The city was at its height in the 14th and 15th centuries, when it was a hub of international trade and a centre of the textile industry. However, by the 16th century, Bruges had begun its decline, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that tourists and artists rediscovered the city.
Today, Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting visitors worldwide to admire its well-preserved medieval architecture, bridges, and canals.
Where are the most Instagrammable spots in Bruges?
The Rozenhoedkaai is the best place in Bruges to take stunning photos. I was immediately captivated by the unprecedented beauty of this place. From here you get a wonderful view of the picturesque houses, the canals with the passing boats and the surrounding bridges. The spot can get very crowded, so make sure you get there early or late afternoon for the best lighting. We suggest downloading the app PhotoPills to inform you when it is sunset, sunrise, twilight, golden hour, supermoon, etc. This application will enable you to shoot legendary photos.
Church of Our Lady in Bruges
The Church of Our Lady from the 13th century is a spectacular place to visit. It is one of Belgium’s most important Gothic churches and an architectural masterpiece. Inside the church is Michelangelo’s sculpture of the Madonna and Child. The sculpture is one of the few works by Michelangelo that can be found outside Italy. There are many other works of art in the church and some burial vaults. The entrance fee is 7 euros and is well worth it.
One of Bruges’ most famous sights is the Belfry, an 83-metre-high tower that dominates the city skyline. Visitors can climb the tower via 366 steps to get a bird’s eye view of the city. Forty-seven bells are located in the bell tower, regularly made to play by hand. Adults pay 14 euros, young people aged 6 to 12 pay 12 euros, and children under six are free.
What is the best activity to do in Bruges?
A boat trip through Bruges
A boat trip on the canals of Bruges is an absolute must. It’s a great way to see the city from a different viewpoint. The boatman shares interesting stories about the city’s buildings and history. The trip takes about half an hour and can be joined from five landing stages. Tickets for the boat tour are available directly at the landing stages. The prices are very reasonable. Adults pay 12 euros, and children from 4 to 11 years only pay 7 euros.
Where is the most beautiful bridge in Bruges?
The Boniface Bridge
The Bonifatius Bridge is a picturesque, historic bridge that spans the Groenerei Canal. It is one of the oldest bridges in the city and dates back to the 12th century. When you walk across this bridge, it transports you back to the Middle Ages. This bridge is the best viewpoint for the Church of Our Lady and the Gruuthusemuseum. Pro tip: Try getting here early morning or later in the evening to enjoy the specular location without the crowds.
Which are the best museums to visit in Bruges?
If you want to know more about the history of Bruges, be sure to visit the Gruuthuse Museum. The museum is housed in a 15th-century mansion, showcasing the city’s rich history, including its role in the textile industry and medieval architecture.
What are the most famous foods in Bruges?
Bruges is also known for its hearty Flemish cuisine and savoury dishes. My favourite was the carbonade flamande (a beef stew made with beer), although I know Bernie would have loved the mussels cooked with unions and celery (moules-frites), a classic Belgian with fries (frites).
The city has a selection of cafés that sell exquisite chocolate and mouthwatering waffles. I had the best waffles at Otto Waffle Atelier.
It is no secret that Belgium is famous for its beer, and Bruges is no exception. There are numerous cosy pubs and bars where you can sample the local beers. Moreover, if you are interested in learning about the art of beer brewing, I suggest you take a guided tour of the “De Halve Maan” brewery.
Where to eat
- Bistro Christophe €€€
Centrally located but away from tourism, Bistro Christophe offers Belgian and French cuisine of a high standard. The ambience is very pleasant, the service very courteous and the food simply fantastic.
✉️ Garenmarkt 34, Bruges
📞 +32 50 34 48 92
- Den Heerd €€€
Just 200 metres from Bistro Christophe is Den Heerd. Here, too, Belgian and Central European cuisine is on offer. The décor is elegant and there is a nice quiet atmosphere. The service was very friendly and the food excellent.
✉️Nieuwe Gentweg 76-78 at Hotel Montanus, Bruges
📞+32 50 35 44 00
Where to stay in Bruges?
I stayed at the historic Hotel Jan Brito. A four-star hotel in the heart of the city, which is the ideal base for exploring all the famous sights on foot. It is a beautifully renovated manor house dating back to the 16th century. The main building exudes historical grandeur that continues onto many stylishly renovated rooms. Interestingly, for generations, the house was owned by noble families.
The Jan Brito offers rooms for every budget, from standard to luxury rooms, where you feel like a nobleman in times gone by. Unsurprisingly, the hotel received several historical awards in Belgium.