Are you looking for something different this vacation? Then, Bruges is your destination. It is a perfect spot in Belgium to unwind and relax without feeling bored or annoyed. Bruges has what it takes to make all the visitors happy and excited, from history to attractions and hotels.
Bruges was given city status in the 12th century, but the Zwin soon began to silt up. Bruges built outports in Damme and Sluis to adapt, while land transportation grew in popularity.
International traders continued to swarm the city to sell their commodities and purchase the highly regarded Flemish fabric made in several locations, notably the adjacent Ghent. Bruges became the storage of the Hanseatic cities of northern Europe in the fourteenth century. Bruges became a genuinely European hub with representatives from numerous nations, including Italy, Germany, and Spain.
When Antwerp’s more significant harbour began to dominate and the cloth industry started to collapse in the 15th century, Bruges’ riches began to diminish. However, with the construction of magnificent late-gothic structures and churches and the creation of outstanding works by the Flemish painting school, which included Anthony Van Dyck and Hans Memling, art and architecture continued to flourish.
Bruges lost its position of great strength by the end of the 16th century, and by the middle of the 1800s, it was the poorest city in Belgium. However, the 20th century gave the city new life as it became a popular tourist attraction. The city’s mediaeval past provided a new source of income for the “Venice of the North.” Zeebrugge’s new harbour, on the Flemish Coast, 10 miles from the city, sparked new growth and industry in the area.
When to Visit the City
When the weather is excellent and the trees are green, June to August is the ideal season to visit Bruges. However, the climate is consistently described as calm and damp. There are fewer tourists and better weather during the spring and fall shoulder seasons.
Although it gets colder, the city provides some holiday activities in the winter, including its well-known Christmas markets. The likelihood of rain is highest in the fall and winter, so prepare an umbrella.
Top Attractions for the Best Experience
Do you want to know more about the history of Bruges? Here are some of the top-rated attractions, including museums to explore:
Rozenhoedkaai, or Quay of the Rosary, is a lovely location where the Dijver and Groenerei canals converge and is thought to be one of the most photographed locations in Bruges. Enjoy the picturesque canals, stunning historic structures, and attractive bars, restaurants, and hotels while you recline in comfort. Visitors advise going to Rozenhoedkaai in the evening and mention that it’s a fantastic place to board a boat for a canal trip.
Rozenhoedkaai is adjacent to numerous local attractions, including Choco-Story and the Groeningemuseum, and is situated in the historic city centre of Bruges. Tickets are required for canal boat cruises, but 24/7 access is complimentary.
Historic Centre of Brugge
The Brugge Historical Centre has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. According to previous visitors, the historic centre is one of the first locations you should visit in Bruges. One of the outstanding examples of a mediaeval European village that remains today is this one.
Spend some time exploring the canals and cobblestone walks that lead to the Gothic and neo-Gothic structures that make up this historic city. This region was formerly a thriving commercial centre and the centre of the Flemish Primitive art movement. Recent visitors suggest that you stay for two to three hours. They also suggested taking a boat ride through the canals and relaxing while sipping beer and eating waffles.
Gruuthuse Museum Bruges
Visit this museum for more than just paintings; it exhibits historical artefacts from tapestries and furniture to coins and musical instruments, covering more than 500 years of Bruges’s history. Highlights include a 1472-built mediaeval chapel and a guillotine from the 18th-century exhibit.
Recent visitors claim that the museum provides an intriguing history of Bruges and a helpful primer on what makes the city so unique. You should set aside time to explore the chapel and take in the ceilings, say previous visitors.
Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady, one of the main buildings that make up Bruges’ skyline, is home to Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child sculpture as well as other pieces of art. It also has the world’s second-highest brick tower, nearly 400 feet tall.
Numerous tombs and graves from the 13th century are also housed in the Gothic building. The church’s artwork and architecture have reportedly impressed previous visitors, but they have cautioned that some scaffolding may still be present due to ongoing restorations. You can tour the church without a fee, but you’ll need to fork out 6 euros to see the artwork. The church may be in the city’s historic section less than half a mile south of the Market.
It turns out that Bruges has its own leaning tower, albeit one with a less extreme tilt than the one in Pisa, Italy. One of the earliest instances of mediaeval urban and public architecture is the Belfry, a structure on the UNESCO World Heritage List that dates to the 13th century.
Visitors are welcome to ascend the 366 stairs to the top for sweeping views of Bruges, 272 feet tall. The tower features stunning views and a carillon with more than 40 bells. On Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 A.M. to noon, bells are rung.
Recent visitors remarked that ascending to the top is essential for the view; some even cited visiting the Belfry as their favourite activity in the city. However, many cautioned that the wait to climb the tower during busy afternoons could be up to an hour. Reviewers claim that going early in the day can result in shorter lines. The entrance fee to the Belfry is 12 euros for adults and 10 euros for children aged 6 to 25. Children under five and holders of a Musea Brugge Card are admitted free.
The local lore holds that you must cross the lake’s bridge with your sweetheart to secure eternal love. Thus, nature lovers may want to visit this scenic area south of central Bruges. The rectangular lake, “Lake of Love,” has many benches to take in the scenery and relax. Recent visitors praised the park for being peaceful and beautiful in the fall. According to reviews, there are also swans to add to the romantic mood. Visitors have free access to the lake every day.
Visit this historic residence of holy laywomen, or beguines, who chose a celibate life, established their private communities known as beguinages and stepped back in time to the 1200s. There are 13 such settlements in the Belgian province of Flanders, and this area is one of them. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, a few single local ladies and nuns from the Order of St. Benedict live here.
Visitors can experience life in the 13th century by taking a tour of the Beguine family home, which is now a museum. The park is free to explore, but admission to the home museum costs 2 euros, varying from free to 2 euros.
For artwork from some of the best Renaissance and Flemish painters, including the Flemish primitives, during six centuries, art lovers should visit the Groeninge museum. Rogier van der Weyden, Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, and Pieter Bruegel, the Elder are the artists whose work is contained in this museum. Recent visitors praised the museum’s layout and thought it worthwhile visiting.
Many critics noted that they needed to set aside an hour or two to fully appreciate the paintings on the show because of their compact but dense size. They also advise visiting the museum’s garden. The Church of Our Lady is not far from the Groeninge Museum, situated in the city’s heart. Adults, 26 and older, must pay 12 euros for a ticket, while adults, 25 and younger, must pay 10 euros.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
It is thought that a cloth stained with the blood of Jesus Christ brought back from the Holy Land in the 1100s is kept in this 12th-century Romanesque basilica. It also has numerous paintings, sculptures, and relics from St. Basil the Great.
A relic of what is thought to be the blood of Jesus Christ is paraded through the streets of Bruges every May as part of the Procession of the Holy Blood, a ceremony that dates back to the 1300s. Over 30,000 onlookers watch this ceremony. East of the Belfry is where you’ll find the basilica, which costs nothing to visit. However, admission to the treasury museum costs 2.50 euros.
Bruges is renowned for its top-notch restaurants. You will fall head over heels in love with the food there. Let’s check the following top-rated restaurants:
The Park Restaurant in Bruges is where you want to go for a memorable evening for two. Delicious food and the ideal wine combination are offered in this cosy and exclusive restaurant housed in a mansion. Highly recommended dishes include scallops and steaks with their handmade french fries. Whatever you decide, the high calibre of the food and the first-rate service will not let you down. This classy and attractive restaurant is the ideal way to experience Belgian cuisine.
Opening the door to Pomperlut is like stepping inside a fairytale from the 17th century, complete with wooden mushrooms, antique chandeliers, and a massive fireplace. Reservations are strongly advised at this historic farmhouse, which seats just 20 people and has owner-only management. The atmosphere, service, and food are all of the highest quality. Visitors can have a fascinating, fantastic experience.
‘T Zwart Huis
The best blues and jazz cafe in Bruges, T Zwart Huis, is situated in the city centre and hosts talented artists from all over the world to perform a few times each month. ‘T Zwart Huis, constructed in 1482 in a late gothic design, is another distinctive historical structure. You can savour food, drinks, and traditional Belgian beers while taking in the music and ambience of the venue.
The Olive Tree
Visitors will love Greek cuisine after dining at Bruges’ The Olive Tree, a warm and cosy restaurant. You’ll be persuaded if you try the delicious aubergines with sesame and honey or the pillow-soft chicken. The restaurant’s atmosphere is cosy and welcoming, with exceptional service. Greek ouzo is another option to pair with your meals. The Olive Tree is the spot for Mediterranean sunlight and the most excellent cuisine from the area in the heart of Bruges.
De Stove is located on a pedestrian street only 50 metres from Market Square. The most extraordinary fresh fish is served at this cosy eatery, which the same owners have run for over 20 years. Tasty fish options include sea bass, codfish, monkfish, and grey shrimp. Along with a large assortment of wines and spirits, they also offer delectable baked pastries like biscuits.
The ingredients utilised are all from the area. The restaurant is relatively small, so it almost feels like you are eating in a dining room.
‘ T Brugs Beertje
Since 1983, ‘T Brugs Beertje (Bruges’ Little Bear) has supplied over 300 different types of beer, five of them on tap, making it the go-to location for beer enthusiasts visiting the city. Traditional beers, seasonal beers, and occasionally even one-time-only, unique brews are also available. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful. You can purchase cheese platters and other food while sipping your beer.
‘T Brugs Beertje is a beer-tasting house, not just a regular tavern. The inside is decorated with beer-related items, creating a welcoming and cosy feeling. ‘T Brugs Beertje is highly recommended if you want to meet folks from all over the world and try some beer.
Regarding accommodation, most hotels in Bruges offer amenities that meet the needs of all the guests. You can have a comfortable stay within your budget. The following hotels are the best-reviewed in Bruges:
Boutiquehotel ‘t Fraeyhuis
The Bruges boutiquehotel ‘t Fraeyhuis offers lodging for adults only, along with a restaurant, a bar, and a garden. This resort offers visitors a terrace in addition to room service. For an extra cost, private parking and WiFi access are available.
The hotel offers daily à la carte and gluten-free breakfast selections. Boutiquehotel ‘t Fraeyhuis is close to the Minnewater, Beguinage, and Diamond Museum, three popular attractions. Ostend-Bruges International Airport, 33 km away, is the nearest airport.
Grand Hotel Casselbergh Brugge
Grand Hotel Casselbergh offers both traditional and contemporary amenities in Bruges. It is 270 metres from the Grote Markt. Free WiFi is available throughout the 4-star hotel, and the 16th-century cellars house a wellness centre.
The air-conditioned rooms of Grand Hotel Casselbergh Brugge come equipped with a flat-screen cable TV, a minibar, and tea and coffee-making supplies. While some of the rooms are in the contemporary wing, others are in the older section of the structure.
The Beguinage and De Halve Maan Brewery are each 15 minutes from Casselbergh. A 20-minute stroll will bring you to Bruges Railway Station. The hammam, sauna, and Turkish bath are part of the wellness centre. Additionally, a fitness centre and various soothing massage therapies are offered.
An extensive buffet of scrambled eggs, bacon, and pastries is available in the elegant breakfast area. There is a bar as well, complete with antiques like a fireplace.
Boutique Hotel Sablon
This distinctive hotel enhances your stay in this historic town with classic elegance and is located in the centre of Bruges, halfway between Market Square and the Zand neighbourhood. The Hotel Sablon, which underwent a comprehensive renovation in April 2019, enjoys a unique location on one of Bruges’ most popular retail alleys. There is a fee for the breakfast buffet. Utilise the WiFi connection without charge.
The hotel is charming thanks to its blend of traditional hospitality and contemporary hotel amenities. Independent reports claim that this is the area of Bruges that visitors like the most.
B&B La Maison Bruges
Near the Graaf Visart Park in Bruges, La Maison Bruges provides comfortable lodging. Bruges’s main centre is just one kilometre away. On-site, bicycles can be rented. The property has a separate parking lot and a place to store your bags. Numerous bicycle and walking paths depart from the lodging. Renting a bike is an option.
A bus stop connected to the city centre or the central train station is located in front of La Maison Bruges. La Maison Bruges is located 1 km from Market Square and 1.1 kilometres from the Belfry of Bruges. Oostende, which is 30 kilometres from the property, has the closest airport. Brussels Airport is 110 km away, and Antwerp International Airport is 86 km away; both airports are conveniently accessible by train.
Hof Ter Beuke
The Bruges hotel Hof Ter Beuke features a restaurant, a shared lounge, a bar, a garden, and a terrace with views of the garden. The bed & breakfast offers complimentary private parking and WiFi. The hotel offers a continental breakfast to its visitors. At Hof Ter Beuke, you may rent bicycles, and there are cycling trails. Hof Ter Beuke is located 3.8 kilometres from the Basilica of the Holy Blood, 4.3 kilometres from Minnewater, and 35 kilometres from the closest airport, Ostend – Bruges International Airport.
Mansion9Bruges is a lodging option in Bruges that is 1.2 kilometres from Market Square and 1.2 kilometres from the Belfry of Bruges. It also provides free WiFi, air conditioning, a bar, and a shared lounge. The bed and breakfast provide a continental or à la carte breakfast. Famous landmarks close to Mansion9Bruges include the Beguinage, the Basilica of the Holy Blood, and the Bruges Concert Hall. The nearest airport is Ostend-Bruges International Airport, which is 25 kilometres away from the hotel.
If you are planning a trip to Belgium, you should add Bruges to your bucket list. Unlike many other cities, this one offers much tranquillity and serenity. The city is rich in history; each of its streets tells a unique, interesting story that you will enjoy.
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