Bruges, the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium, is, without doubt, one of the most picturesque destinations in Europe, dubbed as the Venice of the North due to its water canal streets. With its charming squares, characteristic narrow streets and quaint old houses, it offers everyone a taste of the medieval ages through architecture, history and culture. Check out our Top 7 Things To Do In Bruges.
Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady was built over two centuries (13th-15th) and houses a substantial collection of artworks including the famous Madonna and Child by Michelangelo. Its tower, at just over 122 meters (400 ft) in height, is the tallest structure in the city and the second tallest brickwork tower in the world.
Markt & Burg Squares
Markt is the main square in Bruges and its commercial heart since the Middle Ages as this was the place that the market was held. It is bordered by a wealth of stunning and ornate medieval buildings. From the Markt, a short street filled with chocolate shops leads you to the Burg, one of Europe’s finest medieval squares.
Belfry is a 83 meter (269 ft) tall clock tower located in the Markt square. The Belfry, also known as “Brugge Belfort”, dates back to medieval times and inside are 47 bells, some of which you get to see on the climb up the 366 steps to the top. From the top, you can see most of Bruges.
Minnewater (Lake of Love)
In the south part of Bruges, surrounded by trees and the adjacent Minnewaterpark, you’ll find a small rectangular lake called ‘Minnewater’ or Lake of Love. The lake is actually a reservoir and is joined to the canal system. The park is a nice and quiet area to relax, sitting on a bench and watching the lake.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
Tucked away in the corner of the Burg Square, Basilica of the Holy Blood is one of the continent’s strangest and most beautiful religious places. It is in this chapel that the treasure of the Basilica rests: a vial containing what is purported to be a drop of the blood of Christ. It was brought here after the second Crusade in 1150 and has remained here ever since.
Canal Boat Tour
Very touristy, but one of the best ways to see this historic city is by boat. Canals no longer used for transportation, but they offer a wonderful water-eye view of the old buildings and bridges crisscross the town itself. Float around the expansive network of canals, the water flows into places and past landmarks that can’t be accessed from the street.
Beguinage is a small commune consisting of modest homes and a church that was founded in 1245 by Margaret of Constantinople, and today is the home of Benedictine nuns, young women or widows who wanted to dedicate themselves to charitable work.
Just So You Know…
- Bruges is known for its liberal values. It recognized the institution of same-sex marriage since 2003 and it is also legal to possess up to five grams of cannabis.
- The historic center of the city (430 hectares in size) is a UNESCO listed world heritage site.
- Of the 475 castles found in Flanders, 50 of them are found in and around Bruges.
- Visit De Halve Maan, a family-run brewery with guided tours and a museum showcasing old brewing techniques.
- Bruges has 50 chocolate shops, but the brightest and best is The Chocolate Line. Here chocolates are handcrafted by Dominique Persoone and his team.
- Go shopping at Vismarkt, the flea market of Bruges.
Get Some Culture:
- Diamond Museum – Learn all the history and processes that a diamond goes through.
- Groeningemuseum – Houses a comprehensive survey of six centuries of Flemish and Belgian painting.
- Frietsmuseum – Belgium invented the chips (French Fries) and here you can learn all about it.
- Choco-Story – All about the history of chocolate.
Grab A Bite:
- De Belegde Boterham – Great restaurant that serves only lunch.