Brugge (or Bruges) is a city full of canals, beer, fries, and of course the delicious waffles. It is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country. It is described as “Venice of the North” and if you catch a boat and cruise the city via the canals, you will surely understand why. The canals are a part of the city nearly as old as Brugge themselves. They were built in the 12th century in order to help carry merchandise across the city and cross through the entirety of the city center. They allow visitors to see the attractions from a different angles, as well as to view some that would otherwise remain inaccessible.
I went on an extended day trip with ITT at the end of March and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. One day was the perfect amount to see the highlights of Brugge, but two days would have been ideal. I felt a bit rushed toward the end of the day and I wish I had one more day to go in more of the attractions.
The bus drops everyone off at the train station. From there, I headed toward the city center by crossing over Barge Bridge. This modern bridge will catch your eyes with its bright red color and unique shape.
This takes you to the Lake of Love, which is surrounded by a park and has a terrace facing the lake for the perfect view.
Near the lake is Beguinage. This complex was a home to Beguines, women of a Christian spiritual movement of the 13th century. These women decided to devote their lives to Christ, live in poverty, and take care of the sick and poor. It is the only preserved beguinage in Brugge. Since 1927, it serves as a convent of Benedictine nuns.
After taking a stroll through the gardens, I made my way to Saint Salvator’s Cathedral. Along the way, I passed De Halve Man Brewery, the only family brewery left in Brugge. After seeing the inside of Saint Salvator (free admission), I walked toward the Church of Our Lady. On the way, I stopped in a shopping square to have breakfast. I quickly realized that Brugge was quite expensive.
When I reached the Church of Our Lady, I was amazed at its colossal height. The church tower stands at 115 meters and is the second biggest brick tower in the world and also the biggest building in the the city of Brugge. The church possess a marble sculpture of the Madonna and Child by Michaelangelo, various paintings and wooden carvings, and even tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. You can visit the main part of the church for free, but if you wish to see the museum and artworks, you will need to purchase a ticket. Make sure to go around the back of the church to get a different perspective.
Down the street from the church along the canal is where the city’s market is, which is supposedly there most days. Opposite the market is Groeninge Museum, if you are interested in an art museum. I walked through the market and noticed a brewery on the other side of the canal called Bourgonge des Frandres. It was time a great time to stop and have a drink on the outside patio as I watched the boats pass by.
Next, I walked around the Quai of the Rosary, which a starting point of many boat trips. This place offers one of the most spectacular views in all of Brugge. I loved the atmosphere of this area.
My next stop was the astounding City Hall, which is located in Burg Square on the grounds of a former castle. It was built in 1376, making it one of the oldest city halls in Belgium. This is where the ruling over the country took place for some 600 years. Nowadays, it houses a city museum.
Not far from City Hall is Market Square, the very center of the historical heart of the city. The square is lined with wonderful sights, like the Bell tower and the Provincial Court. There are various restaurants, pubs, and stores around the square.
Easily recognizable by its multiple decorative spires, Provincial Court is one of the most beautiful examples of the Gothic Revival style in Brugge, both on the outside and inside. Originally a government meeting hall, it stopped serving its previous purpose in 1999 and turned into a purely ceremonial building.
Behind Market Square, I indulged in French Fries at a restaurant called Best Frit. Due to the name, I though I had to try it. You can choose from a selection of sauces. I chose a spicy one, which was quite tasty. As I ate my fries, I strolled toward St. James’s Church and then along the canals to the Friet Museum.
St. James’s Church is a splendid Early Gothic church, founded in 1240. The interior is decorated with 16th to 18th century paintings. The Friet Museum is devoted to the history of potatoes and the production of Belgian fries. I chose not to explore the museum due to time limitations.
The next museum along the route was Chico-Story – The Chocolate Museum. Throughout the museum, you will learn how chocolate is made and at the end, visitors can watch chocolate being made and have free samples after the demonstration.
The last two churches worth seeing quickly are St. Walburga Church and St. Anne’s Church. To end my route around the city, I walked the Groenerei Promenade, passing the Palace of the Liberty of Bruges.
I took a quick stroll through Koningin Astrid Park on the way to Gent Gate to end the trip. It is one of the four gates that served as an entry point to the city in the Middle Ages.
This concluded my day trip to Brugge. As you can see, I was able to see quite a bit in a short amount of time. I didn’t even have a proper lunch or dinner because I was so full on beer, waffles, and French Fries. I would love to go back and go in some of the places that I didn’t have time for.