A fairy-tale medieval town and one of most charming European destinations, Bruges is set on the northwest side of Belgium. Often named the “Venice of the North”, the city has been an international metropolis for centuries thanks to its port and connections through its canals to the North Sea.
With Flemish historical buildings, brick-Gothic houses, medieval canals, little streets and paved squares, Bruges has been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage City.
What to see in the center
The center of this town offers numerous interesting spots, starting from Arentshof square and Bonifacius Bridge from the early 20th century. This area is what to expect from Bruges: a combination of history and romance. Surrounded by tall green trees and boats passing by, visitors can have a great view of the Church of Our Lady and the Gruuthuse palace. The Church of Our Lady from the 13th century, displays Michelangelo’s opera Madonna and Child.
Another magical corner is the Quay of the Rosary (Rozenhoedkaai), where the Groenerei and Dijver canals meet. Very close to Tanners Square, a cozy and intimate square with cafes and art galleries, and the Fish Market, Rozenhoedkaai is characterized by buildings and shops with unique facades and by wooden bridges. Vismarkt (Fish Market) a covered colonnade from 1821 created for selling fresh fish, today is still the place where to buy or try seafood delights.
The most romantic area of Bruges is Groenerei, the green canal. Along the canal there are historic buildings surrounded by trees, vines and colorful flowers.
What to see on the edge of Bruges
Outside of the city center, in the north side, take a walk at Brugse Vesten, the green rings where to see four remaining windmills and several medieval town gates.
Just south of the city ring road visit the Xpo Center Bruges, an art museum set in the historical St. John’s Hospital. With high-quality cultural and scientific shows, this museum has a permanent exhibition of Picasso with over 300 original graphic works created between 1930 and 1970.
In the south side, not far away from Minnewater Park, travelers can visit the Begijnhof (Beguinage), a group of gothic style white houses founded in 1245. Once home of Beguinage, a movement of single or widowed women living in simplicity and poverty, today is a convent of nuns of the Order of St. Benedict.
And after a day riding or walking around Bruges, Minnewater Park is the perfect place to relax with families or loved ones. Don’t miss the Lake Of Love, in the center of the park, surrounded by trees and where to see a lot of swans, the symbol of the city.
With gastronomic bistros and restaurants, Bruges is a culinary destination and offers traditional and exotic food. The city is also famous for chocolate shops and for the Chocolate Museum, where to learn about the history of cocoa and chocolate.
Bruges is a small town, easy to visit and to walk around but to have a full overview of this romantic gem, available are different tour options: boat trips, horse-drawn carriage excursions or minibus tours.
Photo credit: © Toerisme Brugge, Jan D’Hondt