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11 must-see attractions in Bruges

One of the most picturesque and romantic cities in Europe, it offers plenty of options, activities and attractions. Bruges is an ideal destination in all seasons, as each one offers images of unique beauty. A few of the most important attractions are the towering Belfort, the wonderful corner of Rozenhoedkaai and the lush green Minnewaterpark. You should also not miss out on a real beer-tasting experience at De Halve Maan and, of course, a boat-ride in the city’s canals, accompanied by beautiful swans. Bruges offers a one-of-a-kind mellowness and provides lots of options to have a great time.

Discover the most important attractions in Bruges

Belfort

The bell tower with the octagonal turret has been standing in the city’s central square since the 13th century. The medieval building wins the visitors’ heart thanks to its view, height and imposing nature. Inside you can learn lots of things about its history, while in order to reach the top you will have to climb up 366(!) spiraling, narrow steps. From up there, at 80+ meters high, you have the chance to admire the panoramic view of this picturesque city. You should know that there is a large visitor rate, resulting in both space and time being limited. And in all of this you should add the wait, which during high tourist season can be up to one hour, as there is a maximum entrance limit of 70 people at a time. Either you visit it or not, it is only certain that you will admire it many times, listening to a few of its 47 melodies.

Suggested visit time: 1-2 hours
Open: Every day 09:30-18:00 Closed: May 5th, December 25th & January 1st
Cost: Adults aged 26+ 19€, persons aged 6-26 & 65+ 8€. Children 0-6 Free

 The know it all says: It was much taller, until a lightning destroyed its wooden top!

Historic Centre of Bruges

In the city of Bruges or Brugge time seems to have stopped somewhere in the Middle Ages. Its historic center is a big part of that era that has remained intact, despite the centuries passed. The quaint, cobblestone streets with the medieval buildings, the squares and the canals with the bridges create a unique atmosphere taken out of a fairytale. In the center you will find a lot of museums and historical buildings, churches, restaurants, beer bars and chocolate shops. Roam the alleys, take beautiful pictures, meet people and follow their quiet and romantic way of life. Surrender yourself to its magic and get to know this enchanting city to which there is no similar, not only in Belgium, but the entire northern Europe. Finally, it is worth mentioning that it is so quiet that after 10 in the evening even its central square is…bare!

Suggested visit time: 3-4 hours
Open: Always
Cost: Free

 The know it all says: It stretches over about 430 hectares(!) and belongs to UNESCO’s World Heritage!

Rozenhoedkaai

The view from the Rozenhoedkaai is not a result of a height of 100m, not even 5, but 0! Bruges’ most beautiful corner offers a mix of images of Belfort, boats, medieval buildings, the gorgeous canal, the famous (from the movie “In Bruges”) Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce hotel, the water reflections and the weeping willow that touches the water and draws everyone’s attention. The entanglement of the forenamed themes are tied in such harmony, offering a scene of rare beauty that will accompany you for life. Sit on the mantel, have some coffee or a beer at the corner shop and get lost in the magic of the scenery. And if this scene is enough to captivate you in the morning, imagine how it is going to look covered in lights at night. Suggested visit periods are spring, summer and early autumn. The best time, of course, is during the sunset.

Suggested visit time: 30-45 minutes
Open: Always
Cost: Free

 The know it all says: It got its name from the rosaries that were being sold there during the Middle Ages!

Historium Brugge

In the Historium Brugge you can feel, smell, taste, touch, hear and learn lots of facts about the city, through a “live” love story. It is an interactive space with lots of rooms with various themes. The continuous flow and the harmonious change of scenes, is what makes it so special and leaves no-one bored (not even the kids). In the end, you have the chance to get “examined” on the knowledge you have acquired, so keep your eyes and ears open! You can also enjoy the panoramic view of the Markt square from the building’s second floor. Combine the tour with some fun, drinking your beer and relaxing with the view of the square. It is recommended for everyone and especially to families with children, who are going to love the sets and events.

Suggested visit time: 1-1.5 hours
Open: Every day 10:00-18:00 Closed: January 1st
Cost: Adults 13.5€, Students/College students 10€, Children 3-12 years old 7.50€, Family ticket 37€, Combo ticket (Museum+Beer Bar) 20.5€

The know it all says: The space once housed the city’s only bathhouse!

Basilica of the Holy Blood

The Basilica is in the Burg central square and what makes it stand out is the contrast between the black exterior and the golden color of the statuettes that decorate its façade. It started out as a chapel of the ruler of Flanders and later it was upgraded to the city’s secondary Basilica, while it became well-known throughout the world for the story of the blood of Christ. Inside the Basilica you will see the blood from the sheet in which he was covered on the cross, which, as it is said, during its transportation from Constantinople (in 1300 AD), was liquefied. Historical facts aside, it is worth mentioning that its interior is small but quite beautiful and quiet, bringing about a sense of great devoutness. It is divided in two separate chapels, which are different in architecture and are connected through a staircase of historical significance. Entrance to the Basilica is free, though if you want to visit the museum you have to pay a small ticket price.

Suggested visit time: 1-1.5 hours
Open: Every day 09:00-12:30 & 13:30-17:00, Thursday: 09:00-12:30
Cost: Free for the Basilica, 2.5€ for the Museum

 The know it all says: he tradition of the procession of the Holy Blood started 8 centuries ago!

Boat ride in the canals

A boat cruise in the canals of the “little Venice of the North” is a must and it is an alternative and romantic way to get to know the city. With a boat of 25 people you have the chance to admire a lot of medieval buildings and sites, like Belfort, Begijnhof and the Church of Our Lady, from a different point of view. You also have the chance to pass below old bridges, among swans, photograph secret gardens and collect many wonderful images. The ride in the canals lasts about half an hour, with the guide being polite and with a great sense of humor and conducting the tour in four different languages. The best seats on cold days are in the center, while the ones on the sides are the most ideal for photo-taking. Make sure you are there in the morning hours, because if you are late you might have to wait for up to half an hour.

Suggested visit time: 30-35 minutes
Open: 10:00-17:00 March-October
Cost: Standard ticket around 8€

 The know it all says: Regardless of their number, only 20 boats are allowed to sail at the same time!

Burg and Markt Squares

Surrounded by medieval, historic and not, buildings, they are the most central and popular squares of the city. You will certainly cross them many times, as they are literally in the heart of Bruges. In Markt there is the monument of two Belgian heroes, Belfort and the Historium Brugge, while around it you will find lots of choices for food, beer and shopping. In Burg square, on the other hand, you will find the Basilica of the Holy Blood, the Town Hall, the Courthouse and various catering establishments. The squares have been, for centuries, a meeting place for hundreds of people, while every now and then they host various events. In spite of the bustling life, they also follow the city’s relaxed rhythms, without the hustle and anxiety that we come across in most squares of European cities. Finally, it is worth noting that, eventhough they get more beautiful at night, they get empty pretty early.

Suggested visit time: 1-1.5 hours
Open: Always
Cost: Freeι

 The know it all says: Inside the Courthouse (Burg square) there is the largest fireplace in Europe!

Minnewaterpark

Those of you in love and those not, rush to see the lake of love. It is the best way in which you can start knowing Bruges, as it is the first attraction that one meets while passing the Gentpoort gate. In the park the dozens of trees, the water, the colorful flowers and endless greenery follow your every step. Discover the eternal love, crossing hand-in-hand the lake’s bridge, sit in one of the benches, admire the tower and the gracious swans and walk along the pathways of the verdant park. Nothing can spoil the peacefulness of the moment except the horses’ clopping, as they ride with tourists around the Minnewaterpark. Finally, it is worth mentioning that every summer there are outdoor concerts and several other cultural and artistic events being held.

Suggested vist time: 1-1.5 hours
Open: Always
Cost: Free

 The know it all says: The city’s residents are obliged to protect the swans for all eternity! (According to legend, always.)

De Halve Maan

This is a unique experience that anyone visiting Bruges shouldn’t miss. A 45-minute tour inside the most well-known of the three beer factories that exist in the city today. The family business opened in 1856(!) and it already counts 6 generations. The tour takes place in groups of 20 people and it grants you access to a lot of spaces, even the containers where the brewing happens! Through an interactive walk you have the chance to smell the malt, taste and get to know the ingredients that a beer contains and learn the little secrets for the family recipe. Afterwards, from the building’s terrace you will admire the city, before concluding at the tastefully decorated space, where you will enjoy some Zot beer. The tour is conducted in 4 languages; Dutch, German, English and French. Choose the language you want and follow the knowledge of each guide. You should also check out these very helpful tips.

Suggested visit time: 1-2 hours
Open: Every day 11:00-16:00 with tours every hour
Cost: Adults 8€ with one beer/person, Children 4.5€

 The know it all says: A 3km-long underground pipe transfers from the factory to the bar 6,000 liters/hour, which can fill up to 18,000 bottles!

Koningin Astridpark

The next suggestion’s purpose is to offer even more moments of relaxation in the quiet city of Bruges. The park may not be as much of a tourist destination and busy as Minnewater, but in has its own charm. It is fairly big, neat and clean, while at some spots, vegetation is so thick that it will make you forget that you are in the city. The park is filled with “lively” fountains, a lake, statues and lots of trees. It also has a lot of benches for resting, a very safe playground for the children to have fun in and the famous from the movie kiosk, which is a magnet for many fans of photography. Walk through it during all seasons but especially in spring and autumn, in order to enjoy the colors and the peacefulness it offers. All of Bruges inside a park with safety, cleanliness, peacefulness, picturesqueness and…lots of water!

Suggested visit time: 1-2 hours
Open: Always
Cost: Free

 The know it all says: The actor Colin Farrell was sitting on one of the benches while filming “In Bruges”!

Church of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk)

The imposing church was built in the early 13th century and it is the scepter holder of the tallest building in the city, with its height being over 115m. Its interior is quite empty, while there are more than a few spots where the wear is obvious, “confessing” its age. (Lack of maintenance or demonstration of inveteracy?) In any way, the show-stopper is the incredibly beautiful, sculpted artwork of the Italian artist Michelangelo, “Mary with the Child Christ”. The statue has been removed two times* from the church and it is the artist’s sole piece that has left Italy. Today it is kept behind bulletproof glass at a large distance from the public, so for a decent photograph you should marshal your far zooms. Entrance to the towering church is free, while for the transept with the statue of Mary and the other various exhibits (tombs, paintings and several sculpted tombstones) you will have to pay a small ticket price.

Suggested visit time: 1-1.5 hours
Open: Every day 09:30-17:30 Closed: May 5th, December 25th, January 1st
Cost: General entrance Free, Transept with the statue of Mary 4€

 The know it all says: It is the second tallest brick-built tower in the world!
 


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