You’ve probably seen the film ‘In Bruges’ with Colin Farrell’s infamous escapes as a hit-man in the historic city. While Bruges may not be as action-packed in real life, it’s still definitely worth a visit. The city boasts canals, medieval architecture and excellent beer.
One of the best ways to begin your visit to Bruges is by taking a walking tour around the city. There are several tours available, including free ones, but it is customary to give your guide a tip if you have enjoyed the tour. A guided tour can be a great way to get your bearings, learn a few interesting facts, and discover some sights you might want to re-visit later in your trip.
As you’re walking around notice the stepped roofs on some of the buildings. These were traditionally used so that the chimney sweeps had easy access to the chimney. The roof steps eventually became a sign of wealth – the more steps your roof had, the better off you were!
If you are a history buff then Bruges has several must-see attractions. The Basillica of the Holy Blood dates back to the 12th century and houses what was said to be a fragment of cloth stained with the blood of Christ. Entry into the Basillica is free but you can also enter the museum for an extra €1. Another sight which is worth seeing is the Church of Our Lady. The church is the highest structure in Bruges and is home to a white marble sculpture carved by the famous Michelangelo. You can visit the church with a donation of a couple of Euros. You might also want to try the Memling Museum and St John’s Hospital. The hospital is one of the oldest in Europe. At €8 it’s a little more expensive than other attractions but you might want to consider investing in a Bruges City Card which will give you entry to all of the museums in Bruges for a one-off price.
Once you’ve worn yourself out with sightseeing you might want to relax in one of Bruges’ beautiful parks. Koningin Astrid Park is a good one to choose, with its bright blue bandstand and picturesque lake, it’s the perfect place to unwind. Alternatively, you could opt for a boat ride. They cost around €6 for a half an hour trip, but it’s a relaxing way to see Bruges.
For a bit of souvenir shopping, head to the market square. On a Wednesday you’ll find a traditional market where you can buy local produce and handmade items. While you’re there, climb the Belfry tower. Its 366 steps (which are particularly narrow!) but the views are worth the climb.
While it’s tempting to religiously consult the guide book when visiting somewhere like Bruges, really one of the best ways to see it is to simply get lost in the cobbled streets.