Bruges is a cheap, half hour train ride from Ghent, or about an hour ride from Brussels. Outside of Brussels, Bruges is the City tourist flock to. Known as the “Venice of the North,” there is no doubt the small town of Bruges is beautiful. To me, Bruges was more touristy than I would have liked and if I had to pick between the city of Ghent and Bruges, I would pick Ghent hands down. Not only is Ghent less touristy, but in my opinion, it has more to offer and is more beautiful than Bruges.
To anyone who has seen the Colin Farrell movie, “In Bruges” please don’t let this deter you from visiting this city or country. I let it this dark, depressing, horribly negative movie mess with my image of what the feel of Bruges may be like and it ruined the idea of it for me. I chose not to visit Bruges, or even Belgium for my next planned trip. The feeling passed, and I’m glad I didn’t let it get the best of me. This movie is actually a great resource to see what the charming town of Bruges is actually like, aside from the depression story that has nothing to do with the town itself. If you’re up for it, I would actually suggest you watch this movie before going, for nothing else than to get an idea of what the town is like, (and Colin Farrell isn’t too bad to look at either.) If your not up for feeling like crap for a week after watching the film, stick to internet clips to see the real charm of this storybook town minus the negative perception.
Brugges is easily doable in a 1-2 day visit starting with a boat ride, bike ride, beer drinking and church seeing. When arriving in Bruges, the local bus is the cheapest and easiest way to get to the city center and you can hop right on it at the train station.
Bruges’ history stretches back to the 9th century when it was founded by the Vikings. Bruges is best known for their time as a trading port town and their heyday in the 14th century.
On our visit, we first hit the historic city center square which holds gorgeous dutch architecture and the famous Belfry. This medieval bell tower is the most famous sight in Bruges, and has been since it was erected in the 1300’s. It is 290 feet high and you can climb the 366 steps to the top to see sweeping views of the city. Although we did not take advantage of this, I have read it is worth the price.
The city center is chuck full of many restaurants where you can eat and drink to you’re hearts content.
As I mentioned above, the canals are the main highlight of this charming city. We took advantage of one of the cheap boat rides that takes you through them.
For those of you who are animal lovers like me, you’ll love to catch a photo of Bruges famous dog on your boat tour. His name is Fidel, he’s a golden Labrador, and he lives at the Côté Canal bed and breakfast. He is always sleeping comfortably in his window, you can’t miss him (unless he’s out for a walk!)