Bruges in Flanders is one of northern Belgium’s most popular destinations. The historic city centre its cobbled streets ideal for ambling gently alongis awash with fine examples of medieval architecture much of it still intact earning it the distinction of being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An extensive canal system throughout sees it often referred to as “the Venice of the North” and the name Bruges is thought to derive from the Old Dutch for bridge. A canal boat tour is one of the must-do activities here as is a climb to the top of the 12th century belfry if you have the necessary stamina.
Areas & Neighbourhoods in Bruges
The Markt - The pedestrianised market square lies in the heart of Bruges and makes an excellent meeting place. Wednesday mornings see a traditional Flemish market in full swing but the Markt is a hive of activity throughout the week with many shops cafes and restaurants amongst the historic buildings. There’s a Salvador Dali museum for art enthusiasts and the Historium taking you back in time to see Bruges over the centuries. Overlooking it all the imposing belfry standing 272 feet high.
The Burg - The city’s second main square found to the east of the Markt was named after the fortress that once stood here which was built in the 9th century by the impressively named Baldwin Iron Arm. Some of the most important historic buildings in Bruges are found around the Burg including the Basilica of the Holy Blood and the Stadhuis. The Burg was the seat of religious and political power in Flanders for centuries and the architecture here amply reflects that.
St. Annarei - One of the most charming of all the canals running through Bruges St. Annarei is lined with beautiful old townhouses. There’s a very tranquil atmosphere even during busy season when the canal is filled with tourist boats. When heading eastwards look out for views of the 18th century Sint Janshuis windmill.
Minnewater - In a city that is itself picture-perfect Minnewater is a stand-out. Situated in the southern part of Bruges Minnewater is also known as the ‘Lake of Love.’ It’s said that if you and your partner walk across the bridge you’ll find eternal happiness. Naturally this is a must-visit for romantic couples but anyone stopping by can’t fail to be captured by the beauty of the area with its landscaped gardens and well-preserved historic buildings.
Things to See in Bruges
Do you have what it takes to climb the narrow steep stairs of the belfry? If so the views over the city are spectacular particularly of the Church of Our Lady which is one of the tallest brickwork towers in the world. A city sightseeing tour by air-conditioned coach is an excellent way to get your bearings and see all the main sights while if you’d like to know what life was like in Bruges centuries ago the Historium located on the Markt has a virtual reality tour that can show you.
Things to Do in Bruges
Join a battlefield tour to learn about the impact of the Great War on Bruges and the surrounding region or take a sublime canal boat tour to see the city from the water. Many visitors like to explore the chocolate shops and factories dotted around while families with kids will love the Chip Museum. If you have any appetite left after all that you’ll find delicious moules and other Belgian cuisine in the restaurants around the Markt.