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Bruges

Bruges is one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world thanks to the fact that it didn’t become a popular tourist destination until the late nineteenth century. It was founded during the eleventh century surrounding a fortress established during the ninth century.

Bruges, canal
Bruges at sunset

Until the fifteenth century Bruges (Brugges in Dutch) was one of the wealthiest cities in the continent. Like Venice, the town is canal-based, transforming it into one of the most important commercial centres in the North of Europe.

At the end of the fifteenth century the Zwin channel that had been responsible for the city’s good fortune began to stilt and the city fell into decline.

At the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, Bruges was completely deteriorated and poor-stricken. Nevertheless, it was completely restored and quickly became one of the most fashionable tourist destinations.

Currently, over 7.8 million people visit the city’s cobbled streets every year, making it into the country’s most visited town, even more than in Brussels. Bruges is the capital of the province of West Flanders and was declared a World Heritage Site of UNESCO in 2000.

Things to see and do in Bruges

Although Bruges is a small city and it is difficult for visitors to miss its top attractions, this is a list of the monuments you must visit:

Bruges
The Belfry of Bruges and canal

  • The Markt: Known as the Market Square in English, is the heart of Bruges where a market is set up every Saturday.
  • Belfry of Bruges: Known in Dutch as the Belfort. It is a medieval bell tower in the centre of the city that stands 272 feet (83 m) tall. It also offers the best views of the Bruges if you decide to climb its 365 steps.
  • Burg Square: This is the second most important square in the city and is nearly as beautiful as The Markt.
  • Stadhuis: Is Bruges’ Town Hall and is one of the city’s landmarks. Its façade was built at the end of the fourteenth century.
  • Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk: Church of Our Lady is the most renowned temple in Bruges and its spire standing 400 ft (122 m) tall is the highest in Belgium.

If you’d like to visit a few museums while you’re in Bruges, we recommend Gruuthusemuseum, a medieval mansion, which makes people travel back in time. Another good museum is the Groeningemuseum, Bruges’ most important art museum.

If you have enough time, we suggest taking a canal boat tour.

How much time to spend in Bruges

Bruges is a remarkable town but quite small, so you will only need from half a day to a whole day to explore this medieval masterpiece. We recommend spending the night in Brussels instead of Bruges, since the hotel prices are more expensive.

How to get to Bruges

Although you can take a bus or rent a car, the best option is to either take the train or book a guided tour of the city:

  • Guided tour: We highly recommend this option. For just 32 € you will get transport included, an English-speaking guide and four hours to visit the city by yourself. If you would like to book an organized tour to Bruges, click here. If you would like to visit Bruges and Ghent in the same day, we also offer this guided tour.
  • Train: Fastest and easiest option for those who prefer to see Bruges by themselves. The price of a ticket from any of the train stations in Brussels to Bruges costs 14,30 € and it takes approximately one hour.

Guided Tour in English

If you haven’t booked the tour from Brussels but would like to get a guided tour of the city in English, we offer a 2.5-hour tour for 15 € per person.

Location

95 kilometres northeast from Brussels

Places nearby

Things to do and see in Ghent (38.8 km)

Map

Bruges, location map

Hotels nearby