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Bruges (Brugge)

Travel and Tourist Information

Bruges canal scene at night

ABOVE: Bruges (Brugge), Belgium at night.

Bruges, or "Brugge" to the Flemish-speaking locals, is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Northern Europe. This description of the city, published more than 80 years ago in Muirhead's Guide to Belgium and the Western Front, is still valid today:

"The beauty of its buildings gives Bruges a high place among those European towns that have preserved their medieval aspect, and it is renowned for the wealth of its art treasures, which include several masterpieces of Flemish painting.

"More than fifty bridges (from which the name of the town is derived) span the various canals; and rows of gabled houses, mirrored in calm water, afford many charming perspectives.

"Some of the picturesque buildings prove, on closer approach, to be modern antiques in a style of somewhat facile quaintness; but enough of the older mansions remain to carry the traveler back in imagination to the age of the Counts of Flanders and the Bergundian dukes."

Quaintness and popularity go hand in hand, as you'll discover if you join the other tourists who flock to Bruges during the summer season.

Still, crowds are the price you pay for not vacationing in Wichita. And look at it this way: While you're muttering about the ubiquitous backpackers with their iPods and Let's Go! paperbacks, the retired academics with their Blue Guides, and the platoons of group tourists with their American Express nametags or Rick Steves guidebooks, they're probably wishing you'd gone to Blackpool or Disney World.


Practical information

Bruges - Brugge, Belgium - market square

ABOVE: A horse and carriage in Brugge's market square.

Visit Bruges
The city's official tourism site has succinct information in English.

Best Things to See and Do in Bruges, Belgium
Nancy D. Brown, a travel writer from California, wrote this one-page article (with video) for her What a Trip blog.

Tips on traveling in Belgium

If you plan to drive in Belgium, read our articles on driving in Europe and car rentals: when to rent, when to lease.


Museums and sightseeing

Bruges - Brugge, Belgium: Belfry tower

ABOVE: The Belfry was constructed in the 13th Century.

Museums

Groeninge Museum
The city museum of fine arts is filled with works by Flemish masters, and this page supplies a readable introduction to the collection.

Brugse Vrije (Liberty of Bruges)
Explore the headquarters of the administrators who governed the area surrounding Bruges in earlier times.

Sightseeing

The Carillon
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote this poem and The Belfry of Bruges in 1845.

Boat tours

Bruges, Brugge - Belgium

ABOVE: Canal scene, Bruges.

Bootex.be canal boat tours
After you've explored the town on foot, see where you've been from a boat.


Where to stay

Bruges - Brugge, Belgium - gabled houses

ABOVE: Bruges is filled with gabled houses, many of which have been turned into hotels.

Hotels

Booking.com: Hotels in Bruges our partner
Europe's No. 1 secure reservations service has dozens of properties in central Bruges, with more on the outskirts. Descriptions include photos, ratings, and reviews by paying guests.

Vacation rentals

Airbnb: Bruges our partner
If you're traveling with your family, staying more than a day or two, or simply want to live like a local, a holiday rental can be a convenient alternative to a hotel. Airbnb lists scores of apartments, private rooms, "tiny houses," and other accommodations in Brugge.


Shopping

Bruges is well-supplied with tourist shops for every taste, including many chocolate shops. There's no need to list them here; the town is compact enough that you'll find plenty of shopping opportunities on your own.

However, we will mention one business that's unique and deserves a plug:

Slabbinck
If you're an archbishop in the market for new vestments or a clergyman in search of a chalice, this surplice store is meant for you. Other visitors with a taste for ecclesiastical needlework are also welcome at the atelier, whose clients have included Pope John Paul II
.


Events

Bruges - Brugge, Belgium - Holy Blood Procession

ABOVE: Holy Blood Procession in May.

Procession of the Holy Blood
Every May, some 1,500 Bruges citizens (many in medieval costume) take part in this mile-long religious procession that dates back to the year 1150.

Cactus Musikcentrum
Check the calendar for rock concerts and festivals in or around Bruges.