The Bruges Effect – Travel Guide to Bruges, Belgium
So as you can imagine it’s full of historical and medieval influences. It’s actually one of the most preserved, most popular and most visited medieval cities in Europe, receiving an outstanding amount of tourism every year.
Updated and renovated quite a few times throughout hundreds of years, yet it’s so perfectly well coordinated and preserved. In fact the clash of architectural styles created a unique and charming effect, where the Gothic, the Neo-Classical, the Renaissance, Baroque and medieval Romanesque styles blend in together in one single square. Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and more recently, the launch of the movie “In Bruges” in 2008 which highlighted its beautiful architecture also gave it an even bigger boost, especially with younger travelers.
Like many other ancient cities in Europe (with an extra unique spark), Bruges is a history lesson in itself which will leave you a richer person for sure. Being a big history buff, I must say I had a fantastic time here and would recommend it to anyone looking for a cultural experience, whether they’re young or old.
In terms of cost the city itself being a touristic highlight, isn’t exactly cheap and options are limited since it’s a small city, but you can still manage to find good deals on food, beer and chocolate if you steer clear of the restaurants on the main square. On the other hand, you’ll be saving quite a bit on taxis and public transportation since most of the city is within walking distance.
Things to do
Take a walk around the main square (The Grote Markt) which is dotted with bars and restaurants, and examine closely the surrounding buildings, because like everything else in Bruges, each of them has a story to tell. The square is also the site of a local produce open market on Wednesdays which is worth checking out.
If you’ve got a few Euros you’re looking to get rid of and you feel you wanna look at the city from a different angle, then hop on one of the small boats docked near the bridges for a beautiful short boat tour through the city’s canals.
Head to the top of the Belfry tower (located on the main square) by tightly navigating its narrow staircase and climbing the 366 steps to reach the only proper panoramic view of the city.
For an architectural/religious experience (yes it’s possible to have both simultaneously), head to the Burg (the city’s other main square) where you’ll quickly see that each building has its own architectural style, and where you’ll find the impressive Gothic style town hall building standing next to the Church of the Holy blood which is believed to contain a relic of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Recommended things to do
The Legends of Bruges free walking tours: A fun 2 hour tour of the city guided by young locals, which takes you around the main sites of the city center while listening to some entertaining stories.
The Torture Museum in Stone: If you’re looking to take a small break from the jolly/romantic atmosphere of the city and you’re in the mood for a little bit of a darker experience, then this small yet dense, authentic and educational museum is for you.
Recommended places to stay
St. Christopher at the Bauhaus (or The Bauhaus): a lovely little budget hotel/hostel, with a quirky rustic Art-Deco interior, friendly staff, affordable food, and over 40 different kinds of Belgian beers with nightly beer tasting.
Can you think of anything else to see or do in Bruges that we’ve missed that’s worth mentioning? Feel free to add it in the comments below! 🙂