Bruges (Dutch: Brugge) is a picturesque city in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium. Once Europe's richest city, now both cosmopolitan and bourgeois in its compact size. It is mainly known for its exceptionally well-preserved historical centre (especially by Belgian standards), which draws over 400,000 tourists annually.
In the 2nd century AD there was a Gallo-Roman settlement, but the city got its foundations in the 9th century when the Vikings landed. The name Brugge indeed likely comes from the Old Norse "bryggja", translating to harbor or jetty, and was first mentioned between 850 and 875. During the following centuries there were strong connections to the north, and Bruges became one of the trading points of the Hanseatic League. Interestingly, the historical Hanseatic harbour of Bergen is also known as Bryggen.
Bruges became the capital of Flanders in 1089, and an 1134 storm created the tidal canal Zwin, improving the connection to the sea. As such the city developed into the economic capital of northwestern Europe in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, and this was the golden age of the city. This age saw the construction of many of the city's impressive old buildings, and its second city wall. The world's first stock exchange was formed, the Waterhalle was a lively trading place, and the city of 46,000 inhabitants was a home to painters, architects and other artists and the Duke of Burgundy set up one of his courts here.
The death of Mary of Burgundy in 1482 marked the beginning of the end of the golden days. The royal family soon left, nearby Antwerp became a more important trading point, silting eventually made the Zwin unusable, and the Spanish rule from 1592 to 1713 during which several wars were fought in the region all made the city one of the poorest, rather than richest cities in the region. The city changed hands between the Austrians, French and Dutch before becoming part of the independent Belgium in 1830.
The Industrial Revolution didn't bring much industry to Bruges. Ironically, the poverty that characterized Bruges in the 19th century is one reason the town's historic architecture is so well-preserved: there was usually simply no budget to modify the town on a large scale. However, in the 1890s two events revived interest in the city; on the cultural side the novel Bruges-la-Morte by Georges Rodenbach and on the economic side the construction of the Port of Zeebrugge, one of Western Europe's most important freight ports today. A canal from Zeebrugge to Bruges, the 12-km-long Boudewijnkanaal, was finished in 1905. Also, the 1902 art exhibition of Flemish Primitives (Early Netherlandish painting) helped re-establish Bruges as a cultural center.
However, of much greater significance in shaping the town's highly touristic character, is of course the historical architecture found in virtually the entire historic city centre. Although many monuments and other buildings in the town centre have medieval origins, referring to Bruges as a 'medieval' town is inaccurate, considering most of the architecture in the historic centre dates to the 17th century and later, with many buildings (such as the old Town Hall at Burg square) having undergone serious neogothic-style renovations, chiefly under the influence of the architect Louis Delacenserie (1838-1909). Surviving both world wars mostly intact, the old town was listed as a World Heritage Site in 2000 and two years later it held the title as the European Cultural Capital.
Even by Belgian standards, Bruges has a poor reputation for its weather. Compared to other western European cities like London and Paris, the weather in Bruges is colder and damper. Even in July and August, average daily maximum temperatures struggle to exceed 21°C (70°F) and rainfall averages 203 mm (8 in) a month. In autumn, temperatures drop off quite rapidly and winter months are damp and chilly.
The summer visitor should always be prepared for rain in Bruges, as warm and sunny weather is not constant during that season. The daily and monthly temperature variations are quite small; average highs and average lows don't exceed a range of 9°C (or 16°F).
Bruges shares its airport with Ostend (OST IATA). The Ostend-Bruges International Airport has a long runway and a seaside location providing for a picturesque approach, but its passenger traffic is pretty much limited to seasonal flights to holiday destinations. It is also a major hub for cargo airlines, so planespotters may find it of interest.
More viable as a point of entry is the Brussels National Airport (BRU IATA), Belgium's largest, as well as Charleroi (CRL IATA Brussels South) and Lille (LIL IATA), so getting to Bruges by train is by far the easiest way. Only one change at one of the three main stations is needed and the entire connection takes about 1½ hr.
Travelling to Bruges on Belgium's excellent rail system is a natural choice. Trains to and from Brussels leave every 30min to 1 Brugge station during the day. The journey from Brussel-Zuid (Dutch) or Bruxelles-Midi (French) to Bruges takes about an hour. You can also travel from Brussels-Central or Brussels-North on the same line, and trains travelling to Bruges are travelling in the direction of any coastal station except De Panne (so any train to Ostend / Oostende, Knokke or Blankenberge is fine). If you're travelling on the Eurostar that same day, this cost may be included in your ticket if it shows "Any Belgian Station". Otherwise, buy a ticket when you get to the station. Luggage lockers are available 06:00-22:00. For more information on schedules, prices, and services visit the website of the NMBS/SNCB. Note that there are first and second class seats. To identify them, look for a number next to a "no smoking" sign somewhere in the wagon. For groups of travellers under 25, a 10-ride card might be the cheapest, that offers 10 pre-paid rides between any Belgian train stations.
Be aware that trains are often full to and from Bruges, especially during rush hours, so if you or your travel companions have any problems with mobility you could be standing the whole trip or at best sitting in the entry area of the carriage. There isn't really any solution to this during the tourist season when Bruges is wall to wall people.
From Lille (France)
From the train station of Lille Flanders, there are hourly trains to Bruges. Though crossing the boundary might result in non-available reductions (s.a. the 10-ride card).
From the railway station, all hotels are easily reachable on foot, it can also be done with a backpack. However, if you have a suitcase consider taking a taxi because the cobbled streets make the use of wheeled suitcases or carry-on bags very difficult. Also be sure to wear comfortable shoes, because of the cobblestones.
Buses and camping vehicles are not allowed within the city centre. 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 difficult. There are multi-storey car parks a five-minute walk from the city centre. Nice city mini-buses cruise the town with high frequency, and in any case, the historical centre must be traversed on foot, by bicycle, by horse-drawn carriage or by boat to enjoy it.
DFDS Seaways operates ferries from Dover to Dunkirk every 2 hr. From Dunkirk, Bruges is 75 km away. This can only be done by driving as they do not take foot passengers. A DFDS ferry to Holland from Newcastle sails daily. From its port in IJmuiden, Amsterdam you can reach Bruges is less than 3 hr by car.
The ferry from Kingston upon Hull to Zeebrugge was axed in 2021.
By cruise ship
Virtually all dock at the major harbour of Zeebrugge. In addition to ship's tours, most offer shuttles to Blankenberge, a nearby town offering economical, hourly train service to Bruges, which is 20 minutes or so away.
The historical centre is not so big and thus quite walkable (be sure to wear comfortable shoes). The only mode of public transport inside the city is bus. They are operated by the Flemish public transport company De Lijn. They frequent nearly all major points of interest plus the train station. 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 rides a little bumpy and uncomfortable.
Bruges was known as a "dead city" for centuries. The sanding of the harbour and the difficulties of digging canals in the sand caused heavy economic burdens on the city between the Middle Ages and the 20th century. The population managed to survive but did not grow as there was no new industrial activity during that period.
As a result, once over the encircling canal and inside the city walls, Bruges closes in around you with street after street of charming historic houses and a canal always nearby. The newly cleaned houses and the small canals 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 such as St. Anna, and imagine what life in the late Middle Ages must have been like. The historic center of Bruges and its belfry are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Several youth hostels, and probably the train station and tourist information offer a useful map with some very interesting, 'non-tourist' places to see during the day and some unique places to visit at night. It provides a good way of getting an authentic feel for the town whilst avoiding the tourist hotspots and allows you to find some hidden gems.
- 1 Grote Markt. The market square is the heart of the old town. It covers an area of 1 ha, and on its southern edge is the city belfry (Halletoren/Belfort), which is one of the city's best known landmarks. There are nice views from the tower (see Do below)
- 2 Groeninge Museum, Dijver 12. Daily 09:30-17:00. 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. €8 / €6 (audioguide and ticket to Arents House and Forum+ included in the entrance).
- 3 Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek), Burg 13. Daily 09:30—12:30 & 14:00—17:30. 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. Try and get there early so you can view the chapel when it is quiet and not filled with tourists. And don't forget to visit the chapel underneath, in heavy Romanesque style - a contrast to the lovely light Gothic above. Free. Museum/Treasure Room: €2.50.
- 4 Brewery De Halve Maan, Walplein 26, ☏ . Apr-Oct: M-Sa 11:00-16:00, Su 11:00-17:00. This brewery is the only remaining that's still brewing beer inside the city walls. It's also a beer museum and offers a tour of the beer making process. A history of the brewery is provided, as well as an overview of the city from its tower. The tour lasts for 45min and is a good way to get a feel for Belgian beer making. The tours start at the exact turn of the hour, be at least fifteen minutes early as there is a maximum number of people that can join. The entrance price includes one drink of Brugse Zot or Straffe Hendrik and is served after the tour at the outside terrace or indoor bar. €12 including 1 beer (€11 if booked online).
- 5 2-be Beer Wall and Bar, Wollestraat 53. On the court of a former major's house, "all Belgian beers" are exposed permanently. At the back of the wall, it's also possible to drink a lot of those beers.
- 6 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". To see the "Madonna with Child" an entrance fee of €5 for 18-26, €6 for 26-64, €5 for over 65, and under 17 is free. Free.
- 7 Simbolik - Open Studio and Expo of Nathalie Beelprez, Katelijnestraat 139, ☏ . Th-Sa 10:00-18:00, other days by appointment. A house, an open studio where thoughts and ideas are born, a place where Beelprez can mix these thoughts and feelings in a symbolic language of forms, her soul, her calligraphy, her world, her language. While she works in her studio, her expo is open for anyone who wants to let time go, read forms and see letters. An open immersion in texts and forms that excite your senses. Selection of handmade letterwork, wall objects, light objects, painted on canvas, letters in ceramics, writing on walls, also work on demand. Also, every first Sunday of the month at 15:00 is Poëziene: a place where poets, musicians or performers bring their own work to Simbolik. Free entrance.
- 8 Jerusalem church. M-Sa 10:00 - 17:00. 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. The entrance fee also covers the Lace Museum in the former Adornes mansion, where you can see local women and girls learning this traditional craft. Adult €8.
- 9 The Beguinage (Begijnhof). In the history, many women couldn't find a man, as men were more likely to die in accidents or in a war. Those women could "marry God" and become a beguine. The beguinage, also known as the convent, offered protection for those single ladies. It lies between the centre of the city and the station, with white painted small houses and fine plane trees, is a quiet place to walk - groups are discouraged.
- 10 The Hospital of St John, Mariastraat 38. Tu-Su 09:30-17:00. Sint-Janshospitaal contains a museum of six paintings by Hans Memling, within the early medieval hospital buildings. €8.
- 11 Choco-Story Museum, Wijnzakstraat 2 (Sint-Jansplein), ☏ . 10:00-17:00. This museum is a must-see for chocolate enthusiasts as it describes chocolate's transition from cocoa into chocolate. Its low-cost tasty exhibits make it well worth the time (and Belcolade's gently overt marketing). Be sure to stay for the chocolate making exhibition to get some excellent samplers. Recommend buying tickets online ahead of time. On a Sunday in October 2022 they didn't have room for walk ins, you needed to buy tickets a few hours ahead of time. €11.
- 12 Diamond Museum (Diamantmuseum), Katelijnestraat 43, ☏ . 10:30-17:30. 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. Adult €6, groups €4.50, student €3.
Bruges is visited by a huge number of tourists and it sometimes becomes quite annoying, especially around the Markt and Burg squares. Very few tourists venture far away from the main shopping area, so if you want some peace and quiet you should explore the many small cobbled streets away from the main squares.
- 13 Lucifernum (Retsin's lucifernum), Twijnstraat 6-8 (city centre). Su 18:00-21:00. An amazing (private) art gallery with a Gothic cemetery in a subtropical garden located in the old Freemasons temple (1756-1882). 1,000 m² of art and mystery in Bruges' old city centre. €6.
- 14 Kruispoort (Cross Gate), Langestraat. Part of the second city ramparts of 1297. The current gate dates back to the beginning of the 15th century.
- 15 Smedenpoort (Blacksmith's Gate), Smedenstraat. The first gate was built in 1297-1299 but was rebuilt in 1376-1378. After that there were several changes to the building. The gate is completely surrounded by water. A renovation in 2009 made the gate look shining again.
- 16 Ezelpoort (Donkey Gate), Ezelstraat. Just like the Smedenpoort, this gate is completely surrounded by water. Nowadays the gate is only used by pedestrians and cyclists. The gate previously also was called the Oostendsche Poort (Ostend Gate) since the road through the gate lead to Ostend.
- 17 Gentpoort (Ghent Gate), Gentpoortstraat. One of the four remaining city gates of the second city ramparts of 1297. In the gate building is housed a museum.
- Grote Markt and Belfry Climb, Grote Markt (the big square). Tu-Su 09:30-17:00. Climb the 366 steps to the top of the 83-m-high tower. Excellent views of the city, Grote Markt and hear the bells ring up close. €12 for adults 26-64; discounts for children, youth and seniors.
- Canal Tour. To see Bruges from another perspective, 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. Advisable to get there at opening time to avoid the crowds. Cannot be reserved online and all boat tours cost the same. €12 plus almost obligatory tip to the driver/guide.
- Horse drawn carts, Grote Markt. Carriages can be hired for a romantic 30-minute trip around the old city of Bruges. Carts can carry up to 5 passengers. €50.
- 1 Ambassadors of Bruges (Free) Walking Tours, Markt (in front of the Belfry Tower, look for the yellow umbrellas), ☏ , email@example.com. English: 11:00, 13:30 - Spanish: 11:00, 14:00. Passionate local storytellers offer tours in the medieval city center. No old-fashioned detail tour, but engaging stories to bring history to life. Even though it's free, you should reserve a spot online. Pay-what-you-want.
- 2 Bruges Ballooning, Markt, ☏ . Morning and afternoon. Daily hot air balloon flights over the historic centre and its surroundings. The best way to enjoy the romance of Bruges, and its stunning views, from a few hundred metres up in a balloon basket. €170.
- Cycle, Burg Square. There are many rental shops near the main square, shop around for the best prices. You can also rent right at the train station and get to the city centre quickly; remember to return them by 19:30. Cycle 5 km to Damme, a picturesque village on the river with a windmill and excellent pancakes, and optionally follow on to the coast (another 15 km). €8 for 4 hr at most places, €12 for the day.
- Running. If you are a runner, try running the 7-km circle around the old centre. Walk along the canal and see all of the medieval gates that used to control the traffic in and out of Bruges. Simply stunning!
- Compare the real Bruges to the one depicted in the movie In Bruges.
- Football at 3 Jan Breydel stadium. The city has two teams playing soccer in First Division A, the Belgian top tier: Club Brugge KV and Cercle Brugge KSV. They share the Jan Breydel stadium, capacity 29,000, in Sint-Andries district 2 km west of the centre.
Chocolate shops are plentiful and the standard is always high. Word on the street is, that you can get anything covered in chocolate and moulded. A few chocolate shops also let you have a seat an order a homemade chocolate milk or other drink. There is a particularly vast number of chocolate shops at the Katelijnestraat.
- 1 Stef's, Breidelstraat 18 (between Markt and Burg). A fairly cheap option.
- 2 Chocolatier Van Oost, Wollestraat 11. If you are willing to spend a little more, Chocolatier Van Oost on Wollestraat is a must for high-quality artisanal chocolate.
- 3 Dumon, Eiermarkt 6, ☏ . Excellent, very high-end chocolate creations. They also make chocolate drinks.
- 4 Het Chocoladehuisje, Wollestraat 15, ☏ . Artisan chocolates. Place where you can buy the original chocolate breasts. Has a nice piece in their window on special occasions.
- 5 The Chocolate Line, Simon Stevinplein 19, ☏ . Almost always has original and funny chocolate-art in their window. Run by a (locally) famous chocolatier, Dominique Persoone. Fame comes with a price: The Chocolate Line is quite expensive compared to the many other chocolate stores in Bruges.
For those who do not wish to buy chocolate in the chocolate shops, the local supermarkets also sell a good variety of mass-produced chocolate at fairly low prices. For the frugal, you can buy 100-200 g gourmet bars of chocolate for about €1 each. Good brands to buy are Côte-d'Or and Jacques, both are Belgian.
If you don't want anything more than a sampling of the most famous Belgian beers, supermarkets (not night shops!) are probably your best choice. They even have gift packs with glasses. There are also many boutique-style beer shops that sell high-quality gift packs of Belgian beer, as well as beer-focused cafés (such as 't Brugs Beertje which has over 300 different types of beer to offer).
There are plenty of arts and crafts shops 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".
Most European tourists come for the weekend, so shops are open Tuesday through Sunday, but many shops and museums are closed on Mondays. Be sure to plan ahead.
- 6 Rombaux, Mallebergplaats 13, ☏ . A record, guitar and piano store, run by a friendly family in a landmark building, incredible atmosphere with a huge collection of jazz, classical but also modern records. They further have a guitar and piano instrument department and a good collection of sheet music.
If you are looking for a great place to eat in Bruges, avoid all of the restaurants in the central market square ("Grote Markt"). No matter how pleasant the view from there may look, they will offer you low-quality, overpriced food, served to you by waiters who are as rude and as slow as they are underpaid. One tactic used by such tourist trap restaurants at the central market is to present items (e.g. bread) as if they were free with your meal, then charge you for them. Even water may be charged at an exorbitant €6 or more for a small bottle. Another scheme to bilk the traveller is to quote absurdly-high prices (such as €7 for a single serving of fries), then claim to be offering "a 10% discount for locals".
You will, however, find great food if you wander off the beaten track. The historical centre of Bruges does have many pleasant and cozy restaurants with affordable and high-quality food to offer if you know the right addresses! Find a street with more locals than tourists and ask somebody about a good place to eat at. The locals will be glad to help (English proficiency in Dutch-speaking Belgium is generally quite good).
- 1 Books & Brunch, Garenmarkt 30, ☏ . Tu-F 08:30-18:00, Sa 09:00-18:00. An ideal combo of second hand book store and a brunch/dessert-eatery (but you can just have a cup of coffee or a tea too).
- 2 The Olive Street Food, Wollestraat 12, ☏ . W-M 12:00-20:30. An authentic Greek takeaway place just a minute of walking away from the Belfry/Grote Markt. They offer food that is not only well-seasoned and extraordinarily savoury, but also very affordable, especially compared to other places to eat at in the Bruges' historical centre. €6.5 for a medium-sized wrap, €11 for a larger box of food (Sept 2021).
- 3 Brasserie Medard, Sint-Amandsstraat 18, ☏ . Huge deal for low budget just near the centre: a mountain of (tasty) spaghetti with tomato sauce, cheese, and mushrooms for €3. Two options on the menu: vegetarian, non-vegetarian - both at the same price. Double its size for just €2 extra. Very cheap beer too (kriek at €1.50) (all prices as of July 2010). Most tables order the spaghetti. Tourists aren't welcome until they sit: be sure to sit down and impose your presence to be served. If you wait to be seated, you are likely to be sent away for no reason.
- 4 Le Pain Quotidien, Simon Stevinplein 15, ☏ . A sandwich chain founded in Brussels but now found in the US, France and a number of other countries. Most of the food is organic, and the sandwiches (in particular the Tartine Bouef Basilic) are delicious. Somewhat expensive.
- 5 The Potato Bar, Sint-Amandsstraat 31, ☏ . One of the better fries shops (frietkoten/frituren) Bruges has to offer. Both classic fries with mayonnaise as well as burgers and fries with a variety of toppings available. Vegetarian options. €3-4.5 for fries with toppings, €8-11 for a burger (Sept 2021).
- 6 Cropains, Geldmuntstraat 21. Not much indoor seating, but delicious "croque monsieurs" (grilled sandwiches) and wraps, with vegetarian options. €6-€8 for a grilled sandwich or wrap.
- 7 Brasserie Forestière, Academiestraat 11. Nice and calm restaurant, good food, not too expensive. Good menu for vegetarians. Meal of the day (soup, main dish, dessert or coffee/tea) costs €14 (May 2019) although this is the cheapest menu it has little choice.
- 8 L'Estaminet, Park 5, firstname.lastname@example.org. Good food, nice terrace, cool bartender. Try the renowned spaghetti for €8 or the delicious croque monsieur.
- 9 De Bottelier, Sint-Jakobsstraat 63. A favourite restaurant of many of Bruges' residents. Very reasonable prices and excellent food. Closed Sunday and Monday nights.
- 10 Tom's Diner, West Gistelhof 23. Fantastic upmarket take on satisfying, home cooked food. Prices are reasonable, as well.
- 11 Petite Aneth, Maria van Bourgondiëlaan 1, ☏ . With only 7 tables, small and cosy, with a personal touch.
- 12 Cambrinus, Philipstockstraat 19 (near the market place), ☏ . 11:00-23:00 daily. This is a very popular place, and for a reason. They have some of the best selection of Belgian beers, more than 440 in total. Some beers have really odd names like Satan, Lucifer, Nostradamus, or the Brunette. It's primarily a restaurant though, as all their hearty food are prepared with a special kind of beer. It's really delicious. Mains go for €17-19, but they also have the €26 prix fixe "Menu van de Brouwer", which features several Trappist beers. Make a reservation in advance, as else they might not have any seats available. €25-30.
- 13 Grand Cafe Passage, Dweersstraat 26, ☏ . Attached to the Passage hotel/hostel (see below) is the atmospheric Grand Café, serving traditional Belgian cuisine and beers. Prices are slightly lower than the tourist traps and well worth it. Try the beef stew (very tender) or the ribs.
- 14 Trattoria Trium, Academiestraat 27, ☏ . This is a great spot to have a nice dish of pasta or pizza and is fully Italian. They also sell olive oil, pasta sauces and other authentic products. The decor has a warm home feeling. Try out their antipasto and the excellent house wine. €15-20.
- 15 Curiosa, Vlamingstraat 22 (just off the main square), ☏ . A good place for a lunch and a beer.
- 16 Maximiliaan van Oostenrijk, Wijngaardplein 16, ☏ . Midrange restaurant offering plenty to eat including oysters and meat cooked several ways plus, of course, frites. There is not much for vegetarians.
- 17 In 't Nieuw Museum, Hooistraat 42, ☏ . Belgian grill restaurant, well off the tourist track. Excellent steaks, reasonable prices.
- 18 Kok au Vin, Ezelstraat 19/21, ☏ . Memorable Kok au Vin (both the appetiser and the restaurant); the prices are reasonable for the high quality. Family owned and run. Reservations recommended.
- 19 Den Gouden Harynck, Groeninge 25, ☏ . Gastronomic restaurant which offers three course meals.
- 1 De Garre, 1, De Garre (When walking from De Markt to De Burg via the Breydelstraat, find a small door between two shops on your right side to enter De Garre street. The pub itself is the only door inside that street.), ☏ . Hidden in a backyard, this pub offers a nice atmosphere and about 100 kinds of beer, including home-brewed ones. The house beer is called 'Triple de Garre' and is 11% strong, a good way to start the night. The pub is very often full, but there's a limit of two drinks per person, which means that new places become available pretty quickly.
- 2 't Brugs Beertje, Kemelstraat, ☏ . This excellent pub (recommended in the CAMRA guide to the Benelux region) has hundreds of different beers and an authentic beer-cafe atmosphere. Clientele is majority tourists. The front bar is crowded; what looks like the door through to the restrooms opens on another bar area. In 2005 it was closed for most of July - this might be an annual occurrence.
- 3 Café Vlissinghe, Blekersstraat 2 (on the way to the Jerusalem church), ☏ . closed Mondays and Tuesdays. One of the less touristy bars, with a nice selection of draught and bottled beers. It's probably the oldest pub in Bruges dating from 1515.
- The area just north of the performing arts centre has various cafes, most with sufficient beer selections, such as Café Leffe.
- 4 The Druid's Cellar, Sint-Amandsstraat 11/b, ☏ . A very nice cosy place to drink a beer and listen to some good music. The bar is located underground and actually gives the impression of a cellar. Usually plays rock music. The bar has a wide selection of drinks, from simple beer to 16-year-old Bushmills whisky.
During the summer Bruges is a very popular tourist destination; reservations are probably preferable.
During the winter (Nov-Mar) a number of hotels offer a midweek promotion: 3 nights for the price of 2, if you arrive on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday.
- 1 Camping Memling, Veltemweg 109, ☏ . The only camping-site in Bruges, 3.2 km from the Markt.
- 2 Lybeer Travellers' Hostel, Korte Vuldersstraat 31, ☏ . In the city centre. Has a mixture of private rooms and dorms. Good common area and bar. Pub crawls and beer tasting are available.
- 3 Passage, Dweerstraat 26, ☏ , email@example.com. Very clean and quiet, centrally located Hotel/Hostel with a restaurant-bar downstairs. The name "Passage" comes from the little alley-way right next to the building which you have to pass through in order to reach the reception. Prices for the hostel are around €14 and breakfast costs an extra €5.
- 4 Snuffel Backpacker Hostel, Ezelstraat 47-49, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 10:00. Friendly, a straight line from the central Markt and cheap. Breakfast is included and cheap internet available, with free Wi-Fi. And the bunk beds have ladders. Live music on regular basis, in the bar with the cheapest beers in town where tourists and locals get together! €15.
- 5 St Christopher’s @ The Bauhaus Hostel, 133-137 Langestraat (Métro: Crimée), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Part of the St. Christopher's Inn hostel chain. Beds include locker, privacy curtain, reading lights and individual power-points. €16.
- 6 Atlas Guesthouse, Zevenbergenlaan 1, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Located between the forest and the historic city of Bruges, this cottage offers spacious accommodation with modern facilities including free Wi-Fi. Atlas Guesthouse has bicycles available to rent and a large terrace with a barbecue. Flat-screen cable TV with a DVD player is provided in the living room which includes a large sofa. The cottage features a kitchen with a hob and an oven. Atlas Guesthouse also has a washing machine and a bathroom with a bath/shower combination. For stays longer than 4 days guests benefit from a 15% discount on the price. From €85 per night for a double room.
- 7 Aquarius Guestroom, Witte-Beerstraat 31, ☏ .
- 8 Hotel Acacia, Korte Zilverstraat 3A-5, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Ideal location behind the Market Square and Belfry (car free area) situated between the two main shopping streets of Bruges. Free wifi, a cosy lounge and terrace. Must see the parrot Coco who greets the guests every day! From €98 per night for a double room.
- 9 Asinello B&B, Ezelstraat 59a, ☏ . Check-out: 11:00. Lovely bed & breakfast with 3 private rooms, each with their own bathroom. A hammam is also onsite. This is a great option for a romantic weekend. €100-150.
- 10 De Notelaar, Schaakstraat 17, ☏ . Bed and breakfast outside of the city centre.
- 11 Eleven B&B, Elf-Julistraat 37, ☏ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 10:00. They can host up to 11 people, ideal for families, ask to cook you their lobster meal. €70-140.
- 12 Hotel De Tuilerieën, Dijver 7, ☏ . Famous hotel.
- 13 Hotel de Goezeput, Goezeputstraat 29, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Modern and comfortable rooms in a traditional building. Relatively close to the station. €60 for a single.
- 14 Hotel 't Keizershof, Oostmeers 126, ☏ , email@example.com. On a quiet street near the station, has rooms starting at €50 and is not far from the centre. Basic breakfast is available.
- 15 Hotel Salvators, St.-Salvatorskerkhof 17, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Quirky art hotel in the centre, next to St Salvators Church. This traditional Bruges townhouse has been thoughtfully renovated, with each of the rooms decorated in its own style. Some of the rooms have en-suite jacuzzi, and some sleep up to 5 people. The hotel offers internet access and cycle hire for guests. From €70 per night for a double room.
- 16 Hotel Asiris, Lange Raamstraat 9, ☏ . A restored patrician residence in the shadow of the 15th century St-Gillis church, with 13 rooms, €75 for a double room. You can also reserve a parking place for €15 / night.
- 17 Hotel 't Voermanshuys, Oude Burg 14, ☏ . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:30. Clean, spacious rooms in the centre. Very friendly staff and includes a substantial breakfast. €60 for a double with shared toilet/shower.
- 18 Hotel Prinsenhof, Ontvangersstraat 9, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. This elegant and friendly four star hotel is perfectly situated near the Grand Place & historic town centre of Bruges, with secure private parking. From €189.
- 19 Hotel Bliss, 't Zand 21. Check-in: 15.00, check-out: 11.00. Small hotel with 19 rooms, situated in centre. It is easily reached via the E40 (exit8) and you will find the hotel right opposite the main exit of the underground car-park.
- 20 Hotel Floris Karos (address=), Hoefijzerlaan 37, ☏ . 3 star hotel a few minutes away from market square. €71.
- 21 NH Hotel Brugge, Boeveriestraat 2, ☏ . Good food and comfortable beds near to parking on the inner ring road, the concert hall and main bus station, in an attractive and completely modernised old building. The staff are obliging and helpful and food is excellent at all meals. Salads, main courses and desserts were all a delight, with the desserts scoring particularly high for attractive presentation. If there was a weak spot, it was the quality of the orange juice at breakfast. Rooms are spacious, perhaps 50m² or more and the beds have crisp white sheets, duvets and comfortable mattresses. Wireless internet in the rooms needs an Orange subscription but this is modestly priced compared to many hotels. However, some rooms did not seem to have good Wi-Fi reception.
- 22 Hotel Monsieur Maurice, Leeuwstraat 8 (next to Leeuwebrug), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Within the oldest ramparts of the medieval city, in the heart of the city, but in the middle of a green area. dbl €125 (Breakfast and taxes included).
- 23 Hotel Ter Reien, Langestraat 1 (Located on the Groenerei canal, just east of the town centre.), ☏ .
- 24 Ibis Brugge Centrum, Katelijnestraat 65, ☏ , H1047@ACCOR.COM. This chain hotel is conveniently located and comfortable.
- 25 Boniface Hotel, Groeninge 4, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. The charm of a private home and the comfort of a deluxe hotel.
- 26 Hotel The Pand, Pandreitje 16, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Located in an 18th-century building.
- 27 Canalside House, Groeninge 16, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Built in the 17th century as a gracious townhouse, it now provides the guests two luxurious suites with unrivalled panoramic view of the canal and the imposing church of Our Lady's. €191.
- Novotel Brugge. The Novotel forms a complex with the Ibis, cleverly hidden within the very heart of the old town of Brugge, and offering the usual Novotel family-friendly facilities, including even a small outdoor pool.
- 28 Crowne Plaza Brugge, Burg 10, ☏ , email@example.com. A regular Crowne Plaza with some top-level rooms under sloping wooden roofs. Room rates from €120.
As of June 2022, Bruges has 4G from Base / Telenet and Orange, and 5G from Proximus / Scarlet.
The most popular day trips from Bruges:
- Damme is a small town near Bruges. A seasonal riverboat goes there on a cruise of 35 minutes each way. It's a very scenic trip, the landscapes are picturesque, and the village of Damme even more so. You can also go there by bike (special route). Local bus service to Damme is very limited and a trip from the Bruges railway station takes 24 minutes.
- Sluis is a charming small historic city just across the Netherlands border, where the Damse Vaart (Damme Canal) terminates. Very popular among Belgians to go shopping on Sundays, as the shops are all open there then. A direct bus (line 42) connects Bruges to Sluis, or you could go there by bicycle on the bike path along the Damse Vaart (17 km).
- Ypres (Ieper) is an important site of Great War battles, cemeteries, monuments and traditions such as the Last Post (every evening). Very popular among old veterans and young boys interested in wars. Sadly the public-transport connection between Ypres and Bruges isn't great, a train ride takes 1 hr 30 min, and a combination of train and bus still takes at least 1 hr. So trips to Ypres are only advisable when you have a car available.
- Ostend (Oostende) is the monumental beach resort, called queen of the coastal cities resort. King Leopold II (1865-1909) built before his attention turned to inner-city Brussels to build his new capital. The quintessential cosmopolitan 19th-century beach resort, full of endearing villas that have been classified as official monuments. Less than 15 minutes by train. Close by, about 10 min by tram towards Raversijde, you can find the Atlantic Wall, two kilometres of trenches and galleries dating from both World Wars.
- De Haan is a beach resort with many fanciful buildings in the belle époque style. Residential streets are lined by many quaint houses. De Haan is an easy side-trip from Bruges by train to Ostend and then by the coastal tram (Kusttram) to the station De Haan aan Zee.
- Ghent, Brussels and Antwerp are great tourist destinations in their own right, and very easy to reach by train (30 minutes to Ghent, 1 hr to Brussels and Antwerp).