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Bruges

- © Martin MOLCAN / 123RF
Bruges
Bruges

Discover the Venice of the North, the city of lovers par excellence.

Bruges in short

In a nutshell

Belgium has much more to offer than meets the eye. Indeed, this small country in Northern Europe hides many surprises. One of the country's must-sees is the charming city of Bruges. Located in Flanders, the Venice of the North is the romantic city par excellence. If you're dreaming of a romantic getaway, this is the ideal city. Let yourself be seduced by the enchantment of its distinctive Gothic architecture and its maze of alleys housing 1001 shops, each more attractive than the last. Here, the smell of a good Liège or Brussels waffle wafts through the streets and will not leave your taste buds insensible, this delicacy peppered with sugar, chocolate or strawberry will make you want to come back. You can also indulge in a delicious Belgian beer in one of the city's many iconic establishments. Breweries are an institution in Belgium, where you can sample typical dishes such as carbonades, frites, stoemp, vol-au-vent, waterzooi and other specialities. You won't want to miss the Chips. In fact, like everywhere else in Belgium, you can easily enjoy a good cone of chips, the national emblem and pride, on the go and for not too much money.

Brujas main square

- © Marina Datsenko / Shutterstock

But above all, Bruges is the Venice of the North. And if this sleepy little medieval town is so popular, it's partly thanks to its canals. The canals are the real arteries of Bruges and can be admired on a cruise, snuggled up in one of the city's boats, where you can admire the city's magnificent façades. It's time for a well-deserved break as you wander the streets of the city. The town's reputation is well established. As you meander along the water's edge, you'll discover some splendid Gothic architecture. You'll plunge into another time, accompanied by majestic signs drifting quietly along the water in this spectacular setting. You can also visit the Beguinage, a must-see during your stay. These white houses are the remains of a movement of nuns that began in the 12th century and spread throughout Belgium and Holland.

Bruges canals and bridges

- © Olena Znak / Shutterstock

The city of lovers, Bruges, with its rich history and cultural heritage, is also open to families wishing to travel with children of all ages. The city centre is mainly pedestrianised, which means that young children can travel in complete safety. Bruges also has a huge number of museums, and you're sure to be able to interest or introduce your little ones to the history of the city and the country. From classic museums like the Groeninge, where you can learn all about the Flemish Primitive movement, to more unusual ones like the Museum of French Fries, Chocolate, Beer and Torture (not really advisable with young children, though), there are no fewer than fifteen museums open every day of the year to teach you more about the secrets of Belgium's heritage.

Bruges, Belgium.

- © Yasonya / Shutterstock

Whether you're visiting as a family or a romantic getaway, this city offers a wealth of possibilities. You can devote 1 or 2 days to it if you're visiting Belgium for 1 week. But if you want to soak up a little more of the Flemish way of life, why not extend your stay and take the opportunity to explore the surrounding area. After all, Bruges is located almost immediately next to the North Sea. This is the perfect opportunity to saddle up, hire a bike (an institution in Flanders) and set off to explore a coastal town. Take a breath of sea air in Knokke, a seaside resort where it's good to linger whatever the season.

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The must-sees

All the must-sees

How to get there?

If you're coming from Paris, you can opt to take the train to Brussels and then take the train to Bruges. Belgium has excellent public transport links. In Bruges, you don't need a car. Bike hire is widespread in Flanders if you want to get away from it all. However, if you're coming from further afield, flying is still the quickest solution. The flight from Nice to Brussels takes around 1h30.

Where to stay?

As a romantic destination, lovers are sure to find a hotel where they can relax and unwind for a weekend. In Bruges, the most beautiful establishments look out over the canals and cobbled streets. From the most luxurious palaces to English cottage-style B&Bs, let yourself be seduced by the most romantic accommodation in Bruges.

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In the city known as the Venice of the North, the hotels look out over the canals and cobbled streets of unparalleled romanticism. Lovers and gourmets are the first to visit Bruges....

Practical information

Languages

Bruges is a small town in the Flemish region of northern Belgium. Dutch is spoken here. But don't worry, most Dutch speakers have a very good level of English and French, especially in establishments that cater for tourists. What's more, if you visit other Belgian cities, you'll surely be surprised at the cultural and everyday differences between the Flemish-speaking north of the country and the French-speaking south.

Culture

Although the city of Brussels is in the Flemish region, the vast majority of the population is French-speaking. So you'll find some glaring differences with Bruges. Flemish culture is relatively different, hence the political problems that can be observed in the country. For example, the Belgians in Bruges and Brussels don't even have access to the same television channels. Flanders also has a much stronger cycling culture. In Bruges, you'll easily find bike hire agencies, which is no mean feat in Brussels. Also, most Dutch-speakers speak English very well, which is not really the case with French-speakers (except in tourist establishments in Brussels). The musical culture is also very different, with very few French speakers knowing the Flemish singers of the moment, and vice versa.

The best time to visit Belgium

The best time to visit Belgium is in spring. Bruges will welcome you in full bloom, and you can take advantage of the opportunity to go for a bike ride along the canals as far as Damme. Daffodils, windmills, canals - it's almost like being in the Netherlands at this time of year. However, bear in mind that the Belgian climate is changeable. In spring, it's often freezing in the morning, sunny at midday and rainy in the evening. Summer is also a fine season, but due to its proximity to the Belgian coast, the city is likely to be more crowded than usual. And if the cold doesn't scare you, why not opt for the winter season to enjoy the Christmas market. The city is decked out in lights, and Bruges' Grand-Place is absolutely magnificent and magical.

Money

You'll find Bancontact or Mister Cash machines all over the city (especially on the Makrt). They allow you to withdraw cash using Visa or Mastercard.

Transport

Belgium has a good rail network (SNCB) and from Brussels you can take a direct train to Bruges. There are 2 to 3 trains an hour to Bruges from Brussels and vice versa. Allow 1 hour for the journey. Bruges station is about 15 minutes' walk from the city centre. Flanders also has a well-developed bus network (De Lijn).

Bike hire

Due to regular thefts, bike hire companies are becoming increasingly reluctant to let their bikes sleep outside. If you want to hire a bike and keep it for your entire stay, negotiate with your hotel to be able to store it safely overnight. In fact, more and more hotels now offer bike hire. To hire a bike during your stay in Bruges: here

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

Bruges is a small town on a human scale that's great for walking around. The best advice for getting the most out of the city is to lose yourself in its maze of cobbled streets, which are reminiscent of a medieval fairytale.

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