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Cosmopolitan and bourgeois, Bruges is one of the best preserved pre-motorised cities in Europe and offers the kind of charms rarely available elsewhere. Part of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium, Bruges is a postcard perfect stop on any tour of Europe.


If you are planning a bus-tour: be aware buses and camping vehicles are not allowed intra muros. There is a perfect parking place for them on the south side of the city with a newly designed gangway bringing you directly into the heart of the town. It is in general a bad idea to venture inside with a car, as parking is limited and findng your way difficult. Nice city mini-buses cruise the town with high frequency.


Once over the circling canal and inside the city walls, Bruges closes in around you with street after street of charming historic houses and a canal always nearby. In recent years, the city has turned so much towards tourism the locals sometimes complain they are living in disney-land. The newly cleaned houses should however not confuse you; they are truly centuries old. And if you can get away from the chocolate-shops, you can visit some more quiet areas s.a. St. Anna, and imagine what life in the late middle ages must have been like.


Have beer in the Grand Place, climb the clock tower, go to Minnewater Park or Van Dyck Plein, nothing is vey far away in Bruges; it's a remarkably compact city.

  • Tour boats -- It's essential to take a ride on one of the tour boats around the canals - the multilingual guides provide a potted history of the city in just a few minutes - at only a few Euros, it's the best introduction to Bruges. A boat tour will show you places which are otherwise unreachable, as not every canal runs next to a street.
  • Walks and rides -- everywhere, although there are plenty of horse-drawn tourist buggies and bicycles for hire in the cobbled streets as well. The horse carriage tours are nice but expensive.

If you are a runner, try running the 7km circle around the old center. Walk along the canal and see all of the medieval gates that used to control the traffic in and out of Bruges. Simply stunning!


Restaurants are not always cheap or wonderful; sad to say that Belgian cuisine is a long way behind French in terms of variety, although mussels and frites or fricadellen, frites with mayonnaise are outstanding here. Stay away from the central market place ("Grote Markt") when eating. Tourists are easy victims here. You will find great food if you wonder off the beaten track. Find a street with more locals than japanese and ask somebody. The locals will be glad to help.

Some places

  • Brasserie Forestière, Academiestraat: Nice and calm restautant, good food, not too expensive. Meal of the day (soup, main dish, dessert or coffee/tea) costs € 11.
  • L'estaminet, at the Astrid Park: good food, nice terrace, cool bartender. Try the renown spaghetti for 7 euros or the delicious croque monsieur.


Some places

  • De Garre, 1, De Garre: Hidden in a backyard, this pub offers a nice atmosphere and about 100 different kinds of beer, including home-brewed ones.


Chocolate shops abound and the standard is always high, so too are the boutique-style beer shops. Plenty of arts and crafts too, with some excellent local artists. The lacework is risky: if everything sold was produced locally, the entire town would be working in the lace industry! There is a school for lace though, where you can still get "the real thing".

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