There is a sense of a heavenly charm that you witness as the horse-carts move in their rhythm on the cobbled streets. With Christmas bells floating in the air, the Chocolate in your hand could not taste any better. Welcome to Bruges that is also known as Brugges, which made my Christmas even more special.
|Decorated Christmas Tree|
|Exquisite lighting of the main square|
When I was in Bruges, the air of festivity resonated with the church bells in the festive mood. While Bruges is definitely a place worth visiting across all seasons. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit during fall. The festive mood, traditionally decorated Christmas markets
WHY BRUGES MUST DEFINITELY FIGURE ON YOUR EUROPE ITINERARY:
- Bruges is Unique: Flanders as a region in Belgium has a unique culture, and Bruges belonging to its sub-region, Flemish seems to have been hidden somewhere from the tyrants in the history (and tourists recently). The number of tourists certainly don’t do the justice with the potential of Bruges charm.
- Bruges is Medieval: For all its modern infrastructure, Bruges takes pride in retaining its medieval charm and trust me it has done astonishingly well. Be it the romantic horse carts taking you across the city, the architecture or the beautiful and immaculately neat cobbled streets, you are sure going to feel transformed.
- Locals in Bruges are friendly, welcoming: The locals in Bruges are really warm and welcoming towards tourists. People for sure, would go out of their way to help you. In fact, most Brugians thank tourists for helping their economy and their city be on the tourist map of the world. There are no concerns for hostile stares for encroaching in the locals’ private space.
- Bruges is NOT similar to Venice: Often people would refer Bruges as the Venice of the North. Or in some way or the other bring a comparison. From my trip to Venice and this time to Bruges, trust me the cities are very different from each other. While there are beautiful canals and water bodies in both the places, in all other senses they are different. (Another post to follow on the subject extensively.)
- English is widely spoken: Unlike some of the other Belgian cities, there is a wider acceptance to English. Its proximity to UK and the substantial flows of the tourists would make you feel at ease.
- Compactness of places of interest: Most of the places to be seen in Bruges are concentrated in the Old city. The locals call the part of the city that is within the walls ! This makes an ideal case to decide and prioritize the places that you want to see without much of stress on the commutation time.
|Surreal beauty of the monuments|
|Luminous monuments with few tourists|
‘Lake of Love’ makes the ideal early morning start on the next day. Several playful ducks and the old world bridges make the setting more than ideal for your wonderful day. One of the bridges on the canal would take you to the Old city. As you pass by several beautifully kept old houses, you can would reach Beguinage.
|Early start to our trip|
|Across the canal in the early morning|
|Take that !|
|Lake of Love – Aptly so !|
|Playful ducks in the Lake of Love|
|Playful ducks in the Lake of Love|
Once you reach, ‘Church of the Our Lady’ through Memling Museum building, you have the choice to visiting either/all of the three museums viz. Groeninge, Brangwyn or Gruuthuse or reach the core of the Old city attractions, wherein the City Hall, Basilica of the Holy Blood and Old Recorders House are pretty close by. These places call for adequate time you spend in Bruges. Pretty closeby is the Guildhouse of the tanners which is also quite interesting.
|Where Horses Drink !|
|And Horses Feed !|
|Bruges is Beautiful !|
|Ducks – Adding romanticism|
Meanwhile retour from your trip to the statue of the Simon Stevin and visit the famous attraction Belfry.
|Bruges – The best kept secret of Europe|
In addition, there are 2 main shopping streets that houses several chocolate shops and a supermarket. You may visit on your way back from the train station. Interestingly, the small streets called ‘Meersen’ are worth visiting. Away from the tourists, they can really surprise you with their earthenness.
|Somewhere near the Museum|
|Earthen charm of Bruges|
|Bruges is definitely different from Venice|
|City Hall of Bruges|
|City Hall of Bruges !|
|View from the City Hall|
Apart from these attractions, there are few other side visits also possible.
- Please stay overnight at Bruges. Its morning charm is simply too good to be missed.
- Bruges can be easily reached from Brussels. You may check the belgian railways for the connections and their frequency.
- While in Bruges, the following side/day trips can be considered from Ghent, Ostend, Antwerp Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Lille (France).
- As the connections among the Belgian cities is very good, even Brussels can be covered as a day trip. However, a day to Brussels would be injustice to things on offer there.
- Cycling within the city is often overrated. The cobbled streets on offer are not ideal for the bicycles.
- You simply should not miss the Belgian chocolates !
- Watch out for the horse carts, there are many of them on the road. Stay careful.
- A day trip during spring could be a ride to Zeebrugge beach on bicycle. It is good for Surfing.
- Accommodation, in general in the Old city is expensive. In fact I found Airbnb within the old city was also expensive. There are some Hotels and other properties across the canal, and yet quite close to the old city. These are cheaper are quite effective. PS: I stayed in a Hostel and found it quite easy to commute to the old city on feet.
- Shopping: Lace works was supposedly a popular artform. You find them everywhere are very highly priced.
- Public Transport: The old city is compact so there is no need for the Public transport as such. Most of the attractions are friendly for differently abled as is the case in most European cities.
- Food: Expensive at restaurants. But there are several options which are inexpensive and quite good. These includes the famous French fries (which are authentic Belgian!) and waffles. Some good vegan options are De Plaats and Reliva.
- Belgian railways: http://www.belgianrail.be/en/
- A nice travel Guide : http://bruges.use-it.travel/
|Near Bruges Train Station|