Located in northwest Belgium, Brugge is the capital of the West Flanders province. However, Brugge has significance to the entire world. Thanks to its port, Brugge is a big economic hub.
Brugge is one of the most popular destinations for tourists thanks to its old world charm. The city has canals and enough chocolate shops to keep any chocoholic happy. The city has a large number of tourist attractions and it is the ideal destination for a weekend break as it is within easy reach of most places in Europe.
Top Things to do and see in Brugge
For the very best that Brugge has to offer, head to the Brugge's city centre. It was built in the Middle Ages, but it still looks very much the same today. The area is so beautiful and so unique that it's a favourite amongst locals. In fact, 1/5 of Brugge's residents live in the historic centre. In addition to old houses, the area is full of churches, a belfry, palaces, and - of course - plenty of Belgian waffles! The centre is also home to a variety of shops such as jewellery shops, chocolatiers and unique boutiques. It is the ideal place to pick up a souvenir or two to take home.
If you want a true medieval experience, climb to the top of Brugge's belfry. The building used to be a market, but today, it's the perfect place to get a panoramic view of the city. Visitors will need to climb 366 steps to get to the top but the views are worth it. The Belfry is located in the Market Square.
That is not the only place to see Brugge from the air. There are plenty of hot air balloon rides that you can take at both sunrise and sunset. For about an hour, you can float over the entire city, looking down on castles and fields. Hot air ballooning is a surprisingly popular pastime in Belgium and the views that can be enjoyed are not just of the city but are also of the surrounding areas and - on a clear day - the North Sea.
After you work up a good thirst, take a trip to the De Halve Maan Brewery. Home to the famous Brugge Zot beer, you can tour the brewery, then sit at the top of the building and enjoy free samples!
Canal boat rides are another essential part of a trip to Brugge. Parts of the city resemble Venice, with many intersecting canals, and there are canal boat tours, which are the ideal way to get a good view of some of Brugge's main attractions. The tours have a number of different starting points throughout the city and run for most of the year, with the exception of the winter months.
There are a number of neighbourhoods in Brugge worth visiting. Minnewater is a mainly residential area and Astrid Park is a good place to relax. Close to Astrid Park, travellers can explore the 'Picnic Triangle' where there are plenty of grocery shops, bakeries, and delicatessens for supplies. Close by is the Begijnhof district which is home to an order of nuns which dates back to the 13th century and where visitors can enjoy the tranquillity.
Alternatively, travellers can head to the Burg area, which is home to the city's town hall. There is plenty here to keep the tourist busy as there are numerous museums and restaurants as well as chocolatiers and jewellery shops.
St. Anna is another district that is worth a visit. It is home to the “Kantcentrum," which is the centre of lace making, and there are several churches which date back a few centuries. The streets around the area are old-fashioned and tranquil.
If there is one thing that Brugge is not short of, it is restaurants. From small coffee houses that serve snacks to the larger restaurants of all cuisines, there is something for everyone in the city. The city centre is the best place to begin, and as Belgium has a strong café culture, this is a good starting point. Snacks such as Belgian waffles or even just a Croque-Monsieur can be enjoyed along with a beer or a cup of coffee.
Brugge also has restaurants that feature cuisines from all over the world, but it would be a shame not to try traditional Belgian cuisine. Mussels are a popular dish and there are a number of restaurants in the city specialising in seafood.
Visitors may also find a number of street vendors that sell things like waffles or chips. These are often good value for money and are ideal for those who do not want to slow down for too long while they are exploring the city.
Arts and Entertainment
Brugge is filled with a variety of museums, making the city the ideal stopping point for those who are interested in the culture of the area and the country. The Groeninge Museum, for example, features art works from more than six centuries. The Bruggemuseum is a name which is given to a collection of museums throughout the city and which includes the town hall, the Belfry and the Museum of Folklore.
Alternatively, an evening out can be enjoyed at the Bruges Royal City Theatre. This theatre is very popular and often stages modern dance shows or concerts. The building dates to the mid-19th century and a great deal of work has been done to preserve it.
Every May there is a chocolate festival in the city, which celebrates the world famous Belgian chocolate. There is a variety of activities on offer to suit every member of the family, including the “Chocolate Walk" and body painting. There is also the opportunity to sample the produce.
Parks and The Great Outdoors
For those who love to get back to nature, there are several delightful parks and gardens in and around Brugge to enjoy. For those who just want to stroll, then the old city walls are an excellent place to start, and can add a touch of history for those wanting to explore the city. Koningin Astridpark, which is also known as De botanieken hof (botanical garden), can be found at the centre of the city and has a wide range of flowers and plant life to enjoy.
The Minnewaterpark holds regular open-air concerts in the summer but is a great place to visit all year round. The Baron Ruzettepark is a small park that is ideal for families. Those who are walking from the train station into the centre of the city will find Konig Albertpark a lovely scenic way to do so. A yearly sculpture exhibition takes place in Stadspark Sebrechts, which is a park near Oude Zak, close to the city centre.
Hotels in Brugge are scattered all over the city. However, if you are looking for a room with the best view, get as close to the historic centre as possible. There are hotels that are ideal for those travelling with family and have all the facilities needed for a relaxing stay. From family-run hotels to international chains, there is something to suit all needs, and deals are available for both weekend breaks and longer stays. The city is popular with honeymooning couples, and there are plenty of hotels with a romantic atmosphere. Finding accommodation in the city should not be a problem as there are plenty of hotels to choose from, and travellers should find it easy to stay close to all the city's major attractions.