Bruges the fairytale town
Updated: Aug 10, 2019
Have you ever heard of Bruges or Brugge (in Dutch)? If not, you're surely missing a place on your travel list. Bruges is a picturesque small town in Belgium, distinguished by small cobblestones streets, horse carriages, historic market squares and dreamy canals. Some people admire its beauty so much that they call it a fairytale town.
When to go?
Ideally, go there in the summer to enjoy the sun. I went in early October and the weather was gloomy and rainy at times. Even though I still found the place pretty, I'm sure I would've enjoyed it more if the weather had been nicer.
How to get there?
Bruges is only one hour train away from Brussels. The trains between Brussels and Bruges are quite frequent, every half an hour. As I travelled on a Sat, I purchased a weekend ticket which was 50% discounted. Bruges train station is about 15" walk from city centre. On the way to city centre, you can stop at information centre to grab a map or ask any questions you have.
Should I stay in Bruges?
Bruges is small town so you can explore all main attractions in a day. I didn't stay over as it would've been too much of a hassle for me to drag my luggages from Brussels to Bruges and then back to Brussels. But if you could, I see no reason why you shouldn't spend a night or two in Bruges to fully experience the ambience of this medieval town.
What to do?
Here are my picks for you :
1. A walk in the historic town centre: take a walk around the town. Colourful houses, historical buildings, cobbled lanes and horse carriages will make you feel like you've been thrown back to the medieval times. All touristy attractions of Bruges are within walking distance of the town centre. Lies in the heart of the town the Grote Markt, a central plaza featuring historic buildings and restaurants. Just by the Markt is the Belfry of Bruges, a medieval bell tower soaring into the sky. Off the east side of the Markt is Burg square, the other main square, where you will find some finest buildings of Bruges'. Bruges' Town Hall, a 14th-century gold trimmed building, is on the southeast side of Burg. In a corner to the right of Town hall is the Basilica of the Holy Blood where it's believed that the relic of the Holy Blood is kept.
Church of our Lady, the tallest brick structure in the city (and the second tallest brickwork tower in the world according to wikipedia) is also not a long distance from the Markt. The church exhibits a collection of art treasures, the most famous of which is perhaps Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child. Opposite the west door of the church is the Sint-Jansspitaal, one of the oldest buildings in Bruges.
Walk down the Dijver Canal, you'll find the Dijver Mansions, an attractive ensemble of 15th-century buildings (see photo above). According to the tourist guide from tourist info centre, it's the most frequent photographed spot in Bruges. In general, individual attractions are not as impressive as many others in Europe. But the beauty of Bruges lies in the blend of the ambience and the scenery as a whole.
2. A tour on the canals: Bruges has a network of dreamy canals running through the town, contributing to the beauty of Bruges' scenery. Take a canal boat tour, which is about 30 mins long and costs around €8 per person. It's such a touristy thing to do, but while on the boat I felt like I was entering a different world, refreshing, romantic and peaceful.