Bruges is a bona fide jewel. The provincial capital of West Flanders in Belgium is one of the most pictorial towns in Europe, with a history that dates back to Julius Caesar. The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and with 20,000 inhabitants, still operates much as it did hundreds of years ago. A “Venice of the North”, with a network of canals and a busy commercial port, Bruges is awash with medieval architecture, most of it still wonderfully intact.
Although the total city population barely tops 115,000, Bruges is a hive of inordinate commotion, with a slew of festivals and cultural events throughout the year.
- St Saviour’s Cathedral – Brugge’s oldest parish church is full of history and exquisite artworks.
- Hof van Watervliet – This restored 16th-century house on Oude Burg has a beautiful landscaped garden.
- Carthusian Nun’s Monestery – A former monastery on Kartuizerinnenstraat that was built in 1767.
- Jan Breydel & Pieter De Coninck Statue – This statue in the market depicts the two men who fought to protect Brugge against the French occupying forces in 1302.
- City Hall – This stunning gothic building houses many artefacts telling the story of Brugge’s history.
Brugge Art & Culture
- Groeninge Museum – This art museum on Dijver has many Belgian paintings on show spanning several centuries.
- Gruuthuse Museum – This former palace, also on Dijver, is now a museum.
- Gezelle Museum – Explore the home (on Rolweg) and literary works of Flemish writer Guido Gezelle.
- Onthaalkerk O.L.V. – This church on Mariastraat is home to the famous ‘Madonna and Child’ by Michelangelo.
- Brugge Music Festival – This annual celebration of music takes place every July or August.
- Zuidzandstraat – One of Brugge’s main shopping streets.
- Fish Market – Fresh fish is on sale in the mornings at this market on Blinde Ezelstraat.
- Zilverpand – Brugge’s shopping centre can be found between Noordzandstraat and Zuidzandstraat.
- Flea Market – Every weekend on Dijver, different bargains can be found.
- Confiserie Zuccero – You cannot visit Belgium without trying some proper Belgian chocolate. This popular shop on Mariastraat will satisfy even the sweetest tooth.
Gay & Lesbian Brugge
- Canal Deluxe B&B – You can find this gay-friendly bed and breakfast on Moerstraat. It’s in a great location right in the centre and is very affordable.
- Baron’s Bar – This is a friendly gay bar at the Baron Ruzettelaan hotel.
- Bistro Hollywood – This gay restaurant and bar on ‘t Zand serves delicious food.
- Soulbar Parrazar – A gay-friendly bar on Torhoutse Steenweg that has great music and great cocktails.
- Hotel Prinsenhof – This luxury four-star hotel on Ontvangersstr welcomes gay and lesbian couples.
- Koningin Astridpark – Brugge’s beautiful botanical gardens on Minderbroederstraat.
- Minnewaterpark – This large park hosts regular open-air concerts.
- Stadspark Sebrechts – Another of Brugge’s many parks hosts an annual outdoor sculpture display that is definitely worth seeing.
- Beguinage – A tranquil, tree-covered haven in the centre of Brugges within the buildings of a nun’s monastery.
- Graaf Visartpark – There is a playground, so it is a great place to take children.
- See the two Belgian football teams Club Brugge KV and Cercle Brugge KSV play at the Jan Breydel Stadium.
- Cycle round the sights with a bicycle from Eric Popelier Bike Rental on Mariastraat.
- Play the popular 18-hole Brugse Vaart golf course.
- Zone out and tone up with daily yoga classes at the Light Body Institute on Saint-Jean.
- Put on your walking boots and hike one of the many self-guided trails running out of Brugge.
The historic quarters of Sint-Jozef and Sint-Pieters comprise the most obvious attraction in Bruges. The ancient heart of the city is one of the best examples of medieval preservation in Europe.
The Church of Our Lady is a superlative example of medieval brick-work architecture that survives today, despite incursions by France and Nazi Germany in the past. The cathedral contains a sculpture by Michelangelo of the Madonna and Child.
Was built between the 12th and 15th century, Sint-Salvador is now the city cathedral of Bruges. While the edifice has undergone several renovations over time, it still features a remarkable collection of Belgian art.
The medieval bell tower is the principal icon of the old city. For a superlative view, 366 narrow steps take you to the top. Longfellow wrote about the fabulous Gothic spire in his poem, “The Belfry of Bruges&rdquo.
For the best collection of Flemish Primitive art, with works by Jan van Eyck, Adrien Isenbrandt and more, the Groeningemuseum is a must-visit. The museum collection also contains fine examples from Renaissance and Baroque masters, in addition to Neo-Classical and Realist works.
De Halve Maan is the last family brewery left in Bruges. With a history of beer production that dates back five hundred years, a tour of the facility is both educational and provides a wonderful opportunity to sample superior local suds.
A lively little cultural hub, Bruges has a number of great concert halls that put on regular classical and contemporary performances.
Notable festivals include Red Rock Rally, a free outdoor rock concert held on May 1.
Every March the Cinema Novo Festival shines the spotlight on films from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
For the best in local talent, check out Bruges Triple Days, a free festival held in the central market every July.
The Face of Lace celebrates the fabric Bruges is famous for, with events, workshops and exhibits that endure from November to March.
Jazz Bruges and the Bruges Festival of World Music take the city by storm in October and November, respectively.
Bruges has a seasonal climate with moderate precipitation. Temperatures rarely dip below 0°C in winter.
- Winter (November to February) 3-10°C
- Spring (March to May) 5-15°C
- Summer (June to August) 13-21°C
- Fall (September to October) 10-18°C
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