Bruges has the distinction of being Europe's best-preserved medieval city and Belgium's most popular tourist destination, a veritable 13th-century 'open air museum'. It is a small town with lots of character and charm, with cobbled streets and a maze of waterways inviting exploration by foot, horse-drawn carriage or canal boat. For a spectacular view over the red tiled roofs the more energetic can climb the 366 stairs of the central bell tower (belfort). The winding streets are lined with gorgeous buildings and churches and among them are a collection of museums housing some of the country's finest art, notably the Stadhuis and the Groeninge Museum. A must-see for visitors to Europe, the entire historic centre has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bruges is also known also as the 'Venice of the North' and as such attracts many romantics to its intimate streets and canals; the graceful ambience of its ancient buildings provides the perfect backdrop for a special weekend away.
Bruges incredibly well-preserved medieval architecture makes it one of the most exciting tourist attractions in Europe. Besides architecture, sites to see include several museums. First is the Groeninge Museum, with six centuries of paintings from different styles, including works by Jan van Eyck, a Flemish Primitive painter. The Memling museum is also not to be missed, with the wooden Shrine of St. Ursula. Also, the only work of art by Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime, can be seen in the Church of our Lady. The Chapel of the Holy Blood also displays an ampul reputed to contain the blood of Christ.
Of course a visit to Bruges wouldn’t be complete without a canal or carriage ride, sampling the chocolates and waffles, shopping for craft work including Bruges famous lace, visiting art galleries, climbing the belfry or trying several of the more than 350 available Belgian beers.
The historical center is not so big and thus quite walkable. The only mode of public transport inside city is bus. Buses are operated by the Flemish public transport company De Lijn. Taxis on the market place and station cost about 10. Bicycles are easy to rent and make getting around the city very speedy, although the cobblestoned paths can make the rides a little bumpy and uncomfortable.
A large number of carriers offer direct flights to Brussels. Belgium's main airport has its' own railway station Bruges can easily be reached through the airports of Brussels, Charleroi (Brussels South) and Lille. , so getting to Bruges by train is by far the easiest way.
Traveling to Brugge on Belgium's excellent rail system is a natural choice. Trains to and from Brussels leave every 30 minutes during the day, and if you are traveling on the Eurostar that same day, there is no cost.
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 finding your way difficul
Bruges has a poor reputation for its weather. the weather in Bruges is colder and more damp. Even in July, average daily maximum temperatures struggle to exceed 21c (70F) and rainfall averages 8 inches a month. [After October, temperatures drop off quite rapidly and winter months are damp and chilly
Best place to Visit
Groeninge Museum ---- Known as 'The city museum of Fine Arts', it houses a collection of artworks that span several centuries (14th-20th), focusing mainly on works by painters who lived and worked in Bruges.
Basilica of the Holy Blood ------ A beautiful church on the Burg square. It houses a relic - a vial of blood that is said to be that of Jesus - and was built in the Gothic style.
Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk, Mariastraat ---- A fascinating church with architecture from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. In the east end of the church are very fine tombs of Charles the Bold and his daughter Mary of Burgundy - in contrasting Gothic and Renaissance styles, despite their superficial similarity. The church also houses one of the few Michelangelo sculptures outside of Italy, the "Madonna with child".
Jerusalem church, ----- In a quiet area of the city, a highly unusual church with octagonal tower built by the Adornes brothers, merchants of Italian extraction. It includes a fine black tournai marble tomb, late Gothic stained glass, and a tiny and rather spooky chapel containing an effigy of the dead Christ.
Diamanthuis Museum ---- Diamond museum has a large range of exhibits ranging from mining all the way to polishing and all the history in between. Everyday at 12:15 there is a live polishing demonstration
The Friet Museum ------ Check out the world's only frites (chips) museum which tells the story of the humble potato from South America and how it has evolved into a chip.
Food & Drink
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") and the Burg Square (e.g. the Tom Pouce Restaurant) when eating. Tourists are easy victims here. One tactic used by tourist traps is to present items (e.g. bread) as if they were free with your meal, then charge you exorbitantly for them.