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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brugge (Dutch)
A canal in Bruges
Municipal flag
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Location of Bruges in West Flanders
Location of Bruges in West Flanders
Bruges is located in Belgium
Location in Belgium
Sovereign state Belgium Belgium
Region  Flemish Region
Community Flanders Flemish Community
Province  West Flanders
Arrondissement Bruges
Coordinates 51°13′0″N 3°14′0″E / 51.216667°N 3.233333°E / 51.216667; 3.233333Coordinates: 51°13′0″N 3°14′0″E / 51.216667°N 3.233333°E / 51.216667; 3.233333
Area 138.40 km²
– Males
– Females
117,224 (2006-01-01)
847 inhab./km²
Age distribution
0–19 years
20–64 years
65+ years
Foreigners 3.52% (01/01/2007)
Unemployment rate 7.40% (1 January 2006)
Mean annual income €13,617/pers. (2003)
Mayor Patrick Moenaert (CD&V)
Governing parties CD&V, SP.A-Spirit, VLD
Postal codes 8000, 8200, 8310, 8380
Area codes 050

Bruges (Dutch: Brugge) is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country.

The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is egg-shaped and about 430 hectares in size. The area of the whole city amounts to more than 13,840 hectares, including 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge ("Seabruges" in literal translation). The city's total population is 117,073 (1 January 2008),[1] of which around 20,000 live in the historic centre. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 616 km² and has a total of 255,844 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008.[2]

Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, it is sometimes referred to as "The Venice of the North".

Bruges has a significant economic importance thanks to its port. At one time it was the "chief commercial city" of the world.[3] Bruges is also home to the College of Europe.




Very few traces of human activity date from the Pre-Roman Gaul era. The first fortifications were built after Julius Caesar's conquest of the Menapii in the first century BC, to protect the coastal area against pirates. The Franks took over the whole region from the Gallo-Romans around the 4th century and administered it as the Pagus Flandrensis. The Viking incursions of the ninth century prompted Baldwin I, Count of Flanders to reinforce the Roman fortifications; trade soon resumed with England and Scandinavia. It is at around this time that coins appeared for the first time bearing the name Bryggia. This name may stem from the Old Norse Bryggja, meaning "landing stage" or "port",[4] and may have the same origin as Norway’s Bryggen.

Golden Age (12th to 15th century)

The Markt ("Market square")
An old street in Bruges, with the Church of Our Lady tower in the background.

Bruges got its city charter on July 27, 1128 and built itself new walls and canals. Since about 1050, gradual silting had caused the city to lose its direct access to the sea. A storm in 1134, however, re-established this access, through the creation of a natural channel at the Zwin. The new sea arm stretched all the way to Damme, a city that became the commercial outpost for Bruges.

With the reawakening of town life in the twelfth century, a wool market, a woollens weaving industry, and the market for cloth all profited from the shelter of city walls, where surpluses could be safely accumulated under the patronage of the counts of Flanders. Bruges was already included in the circuit of the Flemish cloth fairs at the beginning of the 13th century. The city's entrepreneurs reached out to make economic colonies of England and Scotland's wool-producing districts. English contacts brought Normandy grain and Gascon wines. Hanseatic ships filled the harbor, which had to be expanded beyond Damme to Sluys to accommodate the new cog-ships. In 1277, the first merchant fleet from Genoa appeared in the port of Bruges, first of the merchant colony that made Bruges the main link to the trade of the Mediterranean. This development opened not only the trade in spices from the Levant, but also advanced commercial and financial techniques and a flood of capital that soon took over the banking of Bruges. The Bourse opened in 1309 and developed into the most sophisticated money market of the Low Countries in the 14th century. By the time Venetian galleys first appeared, in 1314, they were latecomers.[5]

Such wealth gave rise to social upheavals, which were for the most part harshly contained. In 1302, however, after the Bruges Matins (the nocturnal massacre of the French garrison in Bruges by the members of the local Flemish militia on 18 May 1302), the population joined forces with the Count of Flanders against the French, culminating in the victory at the Battle of the Golden Spurs, fought near Kortrijk on July 11. The statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, the leaders of the uprising, can still be seen on the Big Market square.

In the 15th century, Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, set up court in Bruges, as well as Brussels and Lille, attracting a number of artists, bankers, and other prominent personalities from all over Europe. The weavers and spinners of Bruges were thought to be the best in the world, and the population of Bruges grew to 200,000 inhabitants at this time.[6]

The new Flemish-school, oil-painting techniques gained world renown. The first book in English ever printed was published in Bruges by William Caxton. This is also the time when Edward IV and Richard III of England spent time in exile here.

16th century onwards

Bruges on the Ferraris map (around 1775)

Starting around 1500, the Zwin channel, which had given the city its prosperity, also started silting. The city soon fell behind Antwerp as the economic flagship of the Low Countries. During the 17th century, the lace industry took off, and various efforts to bring back the glorious past were made. During the 1650s, the city was the base for Charles II of England and his court in exile.[7] The maritime infrastructure was modernized, and new connections with the sea were built, but without much success. Bruges became impoverished and gradually disappeared from the picture, with its population dwindling from 200,000 to 50,000 by the end of the 1800s.[6]

The symbolist novelist George Rodenbach even made the sleepy city into a character in his novel Bruges-la-Morte, meaning "Bruges-the-dead", which was adapted into Erich Wolfgang Korngold's opera, Die tote Stadt (The Dead City). In the last half of the 19th century, Bruges became one of the world's first tourist destinations attracting wealthy British and French tourists. Only in the second half of the 20th century has the city started to reclaim some of its past glory. The port of Zeebrugge was built in 1907. The Germans used it for their U-boats in World War I. It was greatly expanded in the 1970s and early 1980s and has become one of Europe's most important and modern ports. International tourism has boomed, and new efforts have resulted in Bruges being designated 'European Capital of Culture' in 2002.


Satellite picture of Bruges.
Municipality of Bruges.

The municipality comprises:


Historic Centre of Bruges*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Northwestern view from the Belfry
State Party  Belgium
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv, vi
Reference 996
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2000  (24th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact. The historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.[8]

Many of its medieval buildings are notable, including the Church of Our Lady, whose brick spire reaches 122.3 m (401.25 ft), making it one of the world's highest brick towers/buildings. The sculpture Madonna and Child, which can be seen in the transept, is believed to be Michelangelo's only sculpture to have left Italy within his lifetime.

Bruges' most famous landmark is its 13th-century belfry, housing a municipal carillon comprising 48 bells.[9] The city still employs a full-time carillonneur, who gives free concerts on a regular basis.

Other famous buildings in Bruges include:

  • The Beguinage
  • The Basilica of the Holy Blood (Dutch: Heilig-Bloedbasiliek). The relic of the Holy Blood, which was brought to the city after the Second Crusade by Thierry of Alsace, is paraded every year through the streets of the city. More than 1,600 inhabitants take part in this mile-long religious procession, many dressed as medieval knights or crusaders.
  • The modern Concertgebouw ("Concert Building")
  • The Old St-John's Hospital
  • The Saint Salvator's Cathedral
  • The Groeningemuseum
  • The City Hall on the Burg square
  • The Provincial Court (Provinciaal Hof)
  • The preserved old city gateways: the Kruispoort, the Gentpoort, the Smedenpoort and the Ezelpoort. The Dampoort, the Katelijnepoort and the Boeveriepoort are gone.

Bruges also has a very fine collection of medieval and early modern art, including the world-famous collection of Flemish Primitives. Various masters, such as Hans Memling and Jan van Eyck, lived and worked in Bruges. In Sint-Michiels is the amusement park Boudewijn Seapark, which features a dolphinarium.

Culture and art

Theatres and concert halls

't Zand square with the Concertgebouw.
The Belfry - situated on the south side of the Markt.
City Hall.
Saint Salvator's Cathedral.
  • Aquariustheater
  • Biekorf
  • Concertgebouw ("Concert Building")
  • De Dijk
  • De Werf
  • Het Entrepot
  • Joseph Ryelandtzaal
  • Magdalenazaal
  • Sirkeltheater
  • Stadsschouwburg
  • Studio Hall
  • The English Theatre of Bruges


  • Cinema Lumière (alternative movies)
  • Cinema Liberty
  • Kinepolis Bruges


  • Music festivals
    • Airbag (accordion festival)
    • Ars Musica (contemporary music)
    • AssebRock
    • Bruges Metal Fest
    • Brugge Tripel Dagen
    • Brugges Festival (world music)
    • Burg Rock
    • Cactusfestival
    • Comma Rocks Festival
    • Dagen van de Bruggeling
    • Dudstock (last edition 2007, discontinued)
    • Hafabrugge (orchestra festival)
    • Internationale Fedekam Taptoe
    • Jazz Brugge (jazz festival)
    • Koorfestival (choir festival)
    • Festival van Vlaanderen - MAfestival (old music)
    • Music in Mind (atmospheric (rock) music)
    • On the Rocks
    • Red Rock Rally
    • September Jazz (jazz festival)
    • Sint-Gillis Blues- en Folkfestival
    • Sun'up Festival
    • Thoprock
    • Toekanfestival
    • Vijverpop
    • Vleugelrock
    • Walvisfestival
  • Cultural or food festivals
    • Aristidefeesten
    • BAB-bierfestival (beer festival)
    • Brugse Kantdagen ("Bruges' Lace Days")
    • Chapter 2 (juggling convention)
    • Choco-Laté (chocolate festival)
    • Cinema Novo (film festival)
    • Cirque Plus (circus festival)
    • European Youth Film Festival of Flanders
    • Ice Magic (snow and ice sculpture festival)
    • Jonge Snaken Festival
    • Midwinterfeest
    • NAFT (theatre festival)
    • Poirot in Bruges - Knack thrillerfestival
    • Razor Reel Fantastic Film Festival
    • Reiefeest (festival on the canals)
    • Uitgepakt! (gay culture festival)
  • Musical cultural festivals
    • Come On!
    • Coupurefeesten
    • December Dance (dance festival)
    • Feest In't Park
    • FEST
    • Klinkers
    • Polé Polé Beach (in Zeebrugge)
    • Sint-Michielse Feeste
    • Summer End Festival
    • Vama Veche festival


Municipal museums
  • Artistic works from the 15th to 21st century:
    • Groeningemuseum
    • Arents House (contains a Frank Brangwyn museum and a museum for ever-changing exhibitions of expressive art)
    • Forum+ (part of the Concertgebouw; has exhibitions of contemporary art)
  • The Bruggemuseum ("Bruges Museum") (general name for 11 different historical museums in the city):
    • Gruuthusemuseum
    • Welcome Church of Our Lady
    • Archaeological Museum
    • Gentpoort
    • Belfry
    • City Hall
    • Liberty of Bruges
    • Museum of Folklore
    • Guido Gezelle Museum
    • Koelewei (Cool Meadow) Mill
    • Sint-Janshuis (St. John’s House) Mill
  • Hospitalmuseums:
    • Old St John’s Hospital (Hans Memling)
    • Our Lady of the Potteries
Non-municipal museums
  • Beguine's House
  • Brewery museum
  • Hof Bladelin
  • Basilica of the Holy Blood
  • Choco-Story (chocolate museum)
  • Lumina Domestica (lamp museum)
  • Museum-Gallery Xpo: Salvador Dalí
  • Diamond Museum
  • English Convent
  • Frietmuseum (museum dedicated to Belgian Fries)
  • Jerusalem Church
  • Lace centre
  • St. George’s Archers Guild
  • Saint Salvator's Cathedral
  • St. Sebastian’s Archers’ Guild
  • St. Trudo Abbey
  • Public Observatory Beisbroek
  • Ter Doest Abbey (in Lissewege)



Bruges has motorway connections to all directions:

Driving within the 'egg', the historical centre enclosed by the main circle of canals in Bruges, is discouraged by traffic management schemes, including a network of one way streets. The system encourages the use of set routes leading to central car parks and direct exit routes. The car parks are convenient for the central commercial and tourist areas; they are inexpensive.


Bruges' main railway station is the focus of lines to the Belgian coast. It also provides at least hourly trains to all other major cities in Belgium, as well as to Lille, France. Further there are several regional and local trains.

The main station is also a stop for the Thalys train ParisBrusselsOstend.

Bus links to the centre are frequent, though the railway station is just a 10 minute walk from the main shopping streets and a 20 minute walk from the Market Square.

Plans for a north–south light rail connection through Bruges, from Zeebrugge to Lichtervelde, and a light rail connection between Bruges and Ostend are under construction.


The national Brussels Airport, one hour away by train or car, offers the best connectivity. The nearest airport is the Ostend-Bruges International Airport in Ostend (around 25 km from the city centre of Bruges), but it offers limited passenger transport and connections.

't Zand bus station.

Public city transport

Bruges has an extensive web of bus lines, operated by De Lijn, providing access to the city centre and the suburbs (city lines, Dutch: stadslijnen) and to many towns and villages in the region around the city (regional lines, Dutch: streeklijnen).

In support of the municipal traffic management (see "Road" above), free public transport is available for those who park their cars in the main railway station car park.


Although a few streets are restricted, no part of Bruges is car free.

Cars are required to yield to pedestrians and cyclists. Plans have long been under way to ban cars altogether from the historic center of Bruges or to restrict traffic much more than it currently is, but these plans have yet to come to fruition. In 2005, signs were changed for the convenience of cyclists, allowing two-way cycle traffic on more streets, however car traffic has not decreased. Recent cycle fatalities have increased pressure to close bridges and further calm inner Bruges, but laws have not yet passed. Due to heavily populated suburbs, bus traffic is high on the narrow streets. This makes cycling even trickier.

Nevertheless, in common with many cities in the region, there are thousands of cyclists in the city of Bruges.

The Elly Mærsk, here at Zeebrugge port, currently one of the world's largest container vessels.


The port of Bruges is Zeebrugge. It's the most modern and second biggest port of Belgium and one of the most important in Europe.


Jan Breydel Stadium.

Bruges is traditionally the starting town for the annual Ronde van Vlaanderen cycle race, held in April and one of the biggest sporting events in Belgium.

Bruges is also a football town, represented by two teams at the top level (Belgian First Division): Club Brugge K.V. and Cercle Brugge K.S.V., both playing in the Jan Breydel Stadium (30,000 seats). Although, Club Brugge has plans for a new stadium with about 45,000 seats.

In 2000 Bruges was one of the eight host cities for the UEFA European Football Championship.


The KHBO campus in Sint-Michiels.

Bruges is an important centre for education in West Flanders. Next to the several common primary and secondary schools, there are a few colleges, like the KHBO (Katholieke Hogeschool Brugge-Oostende) or the HOWEST (Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen). Furthermore, the city is home to the College of Europe, a prestigious institution of postgraduate studies in European Economics, Law and Politics.

Town twinning policy

On principle, Bruges has to date never entered into close collaboration with twin cities. Without denying the usefulness of this schemes for towns with fewer international contacts, the main reason is that Bruges would find it difficult to choose between cities and thinks that it has enough work already with its many international contacts. Also, it was thought in Bruges that twinning was too often an occasion for city authorities and representatives to travel on public expense.

This principle resulted, in the 1950s, in Bruges refusing a jumelage with Nice and other towns, signed by a Belgian ambassador without previous consultation. In the 1970s, a Belgian consul in Oldenburg made the mayor of Bruges sign a declaration of friendship which he tried to present, in vain, as a jumelage.

The twinning between some of the former communes, merged with Bruges in 1971, were discontinued.

This does not mean that Bruges would not be interested in cooperation with others, as well in the short term as in the long run, for particular projects. Here follow a few examples.

Belgium Bastogne, Luxembourg, Belgium 
After World War II and into the 1970s, Bruges, more specifically the Fire Brigade of Bruges, entertained friendly relations with Bastogne. Each year a free holiday was offered at the seaside in Zeebrugge, to children from the Nuts city.
Germany Arolsen, Hesse, Germany 
From the 1950s until the 1980s, Bruges was the patron of the Belgian First Regiment of Horse Guards, quartered in Arolsen.
Spain Salamanca, Castilla y León, Spain 
Both towns having been made European Capital of Culture in 2002, Bruges had some exchanges organized with Salamanca.
Belgium Mons, Hainaut, Belgium 
In 2007, cultural and artistic cooperation between Mons and Bruges was inaugurated.
Spain Burgos, Castilla y León, Spain 
On 29 January 2007, the mayors of Burgos and Bruges signed a declaration of intent about future cooperation on cultural, touristic and economic matters.

Noteworthy residents

The following people were born in Bruges:

In the 15th century, the city became the magnet for a number of prominent personalities:

In media

Brugse Zot.
The exterior of the Boudewijn Seapark dolphinarium in Bruges.


360° panorama of 't Zand.
The Markt.
View on the Groenerei (centre) and the Rozenhoedkaai (right).
View from the Rozenhoedkaai.
The Spiegelrei and the Langerei.
The Burg square.
Outside of the Beguinage, with the Minnewater Park in the background.
Inside of the Beguinage.

External links


  1. ^ Statistics Belgium; Population de droit par commune au 1 janvier 2008 (excel-file) Population of all municipalities in Belgium, as of 1 January 2008. Retrieved on 2008-10-19.
  2. ^ Statistics Belgium; De Belgische Stadsgewesten 2001 (pdf-file) Definitions of metropolitan areas in Belgium. The metropolitan area of Bruges is divided into three levels. First, the central agglomeration (agglomeratie), which in this case is Bruges municipality, with 117,073 inhabitants (2008-01-01). Adding the closest surroundings (banlieue) gives a total of 166,502. And, including the outer commuter zone (forensenwoonzone) the population is 255,844. Retrieved on 2008-10-19.
  3. ^ Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 158. 
  4. ^ Bruges - A brief historical background.
  5. ^ Braudel, Fernand, The Perspective of the World, in Vol.III Civilization and Capitalism, 1984
  6. ^ a b Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 160. 
  7. ^ David Plant (2007-09-10). "Charles, Prince of Wales, (later Charles II), 1630-85". Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  8. ^ Historic centre of Bruges becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  9. ^ Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Silver, Burdett. p. 161. 

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Relatively cosmopolitan and bourgeois given its compact size, Bruges (official name in Dutch: Brugge [1]) is one of the best preserved pre-motorised cities in Europe and offers the kind of charms rarely available elsewhere. Part of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium, Brugge is a postcard perfect stop on any tour of Europe.



The language of the region is Flemish (akin to Dutch), but Belgium's other official language, French, is also very widely spoken. English is common as well.


Even by Belgian standards, Bruges has a poor reputation for its weather. Compared to other western European cities like London and Paris, the weather in Bruges is colder and more damp. Even in July, average daily maximum temperatures struggle to exceed 21c (70F) and rainfall averages 8 inches a month. [2] After October, temperatures drop off quite rapidly and winter months are damp and chilly.

Get in

By plane

A large number of carriers offer direct flights to Brussels. Belgium's main airport has its own railway station. Bruges can easily be reached through the airports of Brussels, Charleroi (Brussels South) and Lille, so getting to Bruges by train is by far the easiest way. Only one change at one of the three main stations is needed and the entire connection takes about 1:20.

Brussels South (Charleroi) is primarily served by Ryanair. Getting to Bruges can either be done by train or by a special shuttle bus that makes the round trip Bruges - Brussels South 4 times a day.[3]

By train

Traveling to Brugge on Belgium's excellent rail system is a natural choice. Trains to and from Brussels leave every 30 minutes during the day, and if you are traveling on the Eurostar that same day, there is no cost. Otherwise, buy a ticket when you get to the station. Luggage lockers are available from 6AM to 9:30PM. For more information on schedules, prices, and services visit the website of the NMBS/SNCB [4].

By car

If you are planning a bus-tour: be aware buses and camping vehicles are not allowed intra muros. There is a perfect parking place for them on the south side of the city with a newly designed gangway bringing you directly into the heart of the town. It is in general a bad idea to venture inside with a car, as parking is limited and finding your way difficult. There are multistory car parks a five minute walk from the city centre. Nice city mini-buses cruise the town with high frequency, and in any case, the historical centre must be traversed on foot, by bicycle, by horse-drawn carriage or by boat to enjoy it.

By ferry

P&O Ferries operate a daily sailing every evening from Hull to Zeebrugge taking 12½ hours for the crossing. The fares also include the bus from the ferry terminal to Brugge railway station.

Norfolkline Ferries operates ferries from Dover to Dunkerque every 2 hours, from Dunkerque Brugge is only 75 km away, please consider this can only be done by driving as Norfolkline do not take foot passengers.

Norfolkline Ferries [5] sail 3 times a week from Rosyth, Scotland (near Edinburgh) and Zeebrugge (near Brugge). The journey takes around 19 hours.

Get around

The historical center is not so big and thus quite walkable. The only mode of public transport inside city is bus. Buses are operated by the Flemish public transport company De Lijn [6]. Taxis on the market place and station cost about €10. Bicycles are easy to rent and make getting around the city very speedy, although the cobblestoned paths can make the rides a little bumpy and uncomfortable.


Once over the circling canal and inside the city walls, Bruges closes in around you with street after street of charming historic houses and a canal always nearby. In recent years, the city has turned so much towards tourism the locals sometimes complain they are living in Disney-land. The newly cleaned houses should however not confuse you; they are truly centuries old. And if you can get away from the chocolate-shops, you can visit some more quiet areas s.a. St. Anna, and imagine what life in the late middle ages must have been like.

The Bruges Card [7] provides discounts to most of the major attractions, and can be picked up at any of the hostels around town. The reduced rate cannot be used in conjunction with a student rate (both student and Bruges card rates are identical) and hence is most useful for older travellers.

Several Youth Hostels (Bauhaus), and probably the train station and tourist information, offer a useful map with some very interesting, 'non-tourist' places to see during the day and some unique places to visit at night. It provides a good way of getting an authentic feel for the town whilst avoiding the tourist honey-pots and allows you to find some hidden gems.

Some highlights:

Convent garden
Convent garden
  • Groeninge Museum, Dijver 12, B-8000, [8]. 7 days 9:30AM-5PM. Known as 'The city museum of Fine Arts', it houses a collection of artworks that span several centuries (14th-20th), focusing mainly on works by painters who lived and worked in Bruges. €8 / €6 (audioguide and ticket Arents House and Forum+ included in the entrance). (51.2061,3.22639) edit
  • Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek), Burg 10, [9]. Apr-Sep 9:30AM-11:50AM & 2PM-5:50PM, Oct-Mar 10AM-11:50AM & 2PM-3:50PM. A beautiful church on the Burg square. It houses a relic - a vial of blood that is said to be that of Jesus - and was built in the Gothic style. Try and get there early so you can view the chapel when it is quiet and not filled with tourists. And don't forget to visit the chapel underneath, in heavy Romanesque style - a contrast to the lovely light Gothic above. Free.   edit
  • Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk, Mariastraat. A fascinating church with architecture from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. In the east end of the church are very fine tombs of Charles the Bold and his daughter Mary of Burgundy - in contrasting Gothic and Renaissance styles, despite their superficial similarity. The church also houses one of the few Michelangelo sculptures outside of Italy, the "Madonna with child". Free.  edit
  • Jerusalem church, [10]. In a quiet area of the city, a highly unusual church with octagonal tower built by the Adornes brothers, merchants of Italian extraction. It includes a fine black tournai marble tomb, late Gothic stained glass, and a tiny and rather spooky chapel containing an effigy of the dead Christ. The entrance fee also covers the Lace Museum in the former Adornes mansion, where you can see local women and girls learning this traditional craft.  edit
  • The Begijnhof. Also known as the convent, between the centre of the station and the city, with white painted small houses and fine plane trees, is a quiet place to walk - groups are discouraged.  edit
  • The Hospital of St John, [11]. 09:30 - 17:00, Closed Mondays. Sint-Janshospitaal contains a museum of six paintings by Hans Memling, within the early medieval hospital buildings. €6 with Bruges card / €8.  edit
  • Choco-Story Museum, Wijnzakstraat 2 (Sint-Jansplein), 050/61.22.37, [12]. 10AM-5PM. This museum is a must see for chocolate enthusiasts as it describes chocolate's transition from cocoa into chocolate. Its low cost tasty exhibits make it well worth the time (and Belcolade's gently overt marketing). Be sure to stay for the chocolate making exhibition to get some excellent samplers. €5 with Bruges card / €6. (51.2107,3.22625) edit
  • Diamanthuis Museum, Katelijnestraat 43, 050 33 63 26‎, [13]. 10:30AM-5:30PM. Diamond museum has a large range of exhibits ranging from mining all the way to polishing and all the history in between. Everyday at 12:15 there is a live polishing demonstration. Individuals €6, Groups €4.5, Students €3. (51.2027,3.22569) edit
  • The Friet Museum, Vlamingstraat (opposite Academiestraat), [14]. Check out the world's only frites (fries or chips) museum which tells the story of the humble potato from South America and how it has evolved into a fry. Don't forget to try the tastiest fries cooked by the guy who cooked for the Belgian Royal Family.  edit

Bruges is visited by a huge number of tourists and it sometimes becomes quite annoying, especially around the Markt and Burg squares. The important thing to remember, however, is that very few tourists venture far away from the main shopping area, so if you want some peace and quiet you should simply explore the many small cobbled streets away from the main squares.

View of the Grote Markt from top of Belfort
View of the Grote Markt from top of Belfort
  • Grote Markt and Belfry Climb, Grote Markt (the big square). 09:30 - 17:00, Closed Mondays. Climb the 366 steps to the top of the 83-metre high tower. Excellent views of the city, Grote Markt and hear the bells ring up close. €6 with Bruges card / €8.  edit
  • Tour boats. It's essential to take a ride on one of the tour boats around the canals - the multilingual guides provide a potted history of the city in just a few minutes - at only a few Euros, it's the best introduction to Bruges. A boat tour will show you places which are otherwise unreachable, as not every canal runs next to a street. €6.5.  edit
  • Horse drawn carts, Grote Markt. Carriages can be hired for a romantic 30 minute trip around the old city of Bruge. Carts can carry up to 5 passengers €34.  edit
  • Cycle. There are many rental shops near the main square, shop around for the best prices. You can also rent right at the train station and get to the city center quickly; remember to return them by 7:30p. Cycle 5km to Damme, a picturesque village on the river with a windmill and excellent pancackes, and optionally follow on to the coast (another 15km). €7 for an entire day.  edit
  • Snow and Ice sculpture festival, Station Bruges, [15]. Nov. 21 2008 - Jan. 25, 2009.. Every year from the end of November to January you can visit the Snow and Ice sculpture festival on the station-square of Bruges. The festival is built by an international team of 40 professional artists from no less than 300 tons of crystal clear ice and 400,000 kilos of fresh snow in a cooled hall where the temperature remains a constant -6°C. Don't forget to wear warm clothing!  edit
  • Running. If you are a runner, try running the 7km circle around the old center. Walk along the canal and see all of the medieval gates that used to control the traffic in and out of Bruges. Simply stunning!  edit
  • Compare the real Bruges to the one depicted in the movie "In Bruges".
  • Chocolate shops -- These are plentiful and the standard is always high, so too are the boutique-style beer shops. Plenty of arts and crafts too, with some excellent local artists. A fairly cheap option is Stef's on Breidelstraat (betweeen Markt and Burg). If you are willing to spend a little more, Chocolatier Van Oost on Wollestraat is a must for high-quality artisinal chocolate. Word on the street is, that you can get ANYTHING covered in chocolate and moulded.

The lacework is risky: if everything sold was produced locally, the entire town would be working in the lace industry! There is a school for lace though, where you can still get "the real thing".

  • Dumon -- Stephan Dumon Chocolatier[16] Excellent, very high end chocolate creations. They also make chocolate drinks. Three locations in Bruges. 11 Simon Stevinplein; 6 Eiermarkt; 6 Walstraat
  • Supermarket -- For those who do not wish to buy chocolate in the chocolate shops, the local supermarkets also sell a good variety of mass-produced chocolate at fairly low prices. For the frugal, you can buy 100-200 gram gourmet bars of chocolate for about €1 each. Good brands to buy are Côte-d'Or and Jacques, both are Belgian. If you don't want anything more than a sampling of the most famous Belgian beers, supermarkets (not night shops!) are probably your best choice. They even have gift packs with glasses.
  • Times -- Most European tourists come for the weekend, so shops are open Tuesday through Sunday, but many shops and museums are closed on Mondays. Be sure to plan ahead.
Square with restaurants
Square with restaurants

Restaurants are not always cheap or wonderful; sad to say that Belgian cuisine is a long way behind French in terms of variety, although mussels and frites or fricadellen, frites with mayonnaise are outstanding here. Stay away from the central market place ("Grote Markt") and the Burg Square (e.g. the Tom Pouce Restaurant) when eating. Tourists are easy victims here. One tactic used by tourist traps is to present items (e.g. bread) as if they were free with your meal, then charge you exorbitantly for them.

You will, however, find great food if you wander off the beaten track. Find a street with more locals than tourists and ask somebody. The locals will be glad to help.

A lot of places do not open until 1800hrs.

  • Brasserie Forestière, Academiestraat. Nice and calm restaurant, good food, not too expensive. Good menu for vegetarians. Meal of the day (soup, main dish, dessert or coffee/tea) costs € 11 although this is the cheapest menu it has little choice.  edit
  • L'estaminet, at the Astrid Park. Good food, nice terrace, cool bartender. Try the renowned spaghetti for €8 or the delicious croque monsieur.  edit
  • La Romagna, Braambergstraat 8. Excellent family-run Italian restaurant and pizzeria. Inexpensive. Good menu for vegetarians.  edit
  • In't Nieuw Museum, Hooistraat 42, 050331280, [17]. Belgian grill restaurant, well off the tourist track. Excellent steaks, reasonable prices.  edit
  • De Bottelier, Ezelstraat (close to Sint-Jacobsstraat). I live in Bruges and it has always been my favorite restaurant. Very reasonable prices and excellent food. Closed Sunday and Monday nights.  edit
  • Tom's Diner, West Gistelhof 23. Fantastic upscale take on satisfying, home cooked food. Prices are reasonable, as well.  edit
  • Kok au Vin, Ezelstraat 19/21. The Kok au Vin was memorable (both the entre AND the restaurant); the prices are reasonable for the high quality. Family owned and run. Reservations recommended.  edit
  • Restaurant Aneth, [18]. With only 7 tables, we like to keep it small and cosy, with a personal touch.  edit
  • Brasserie Medard, Sint-Amandsstraat 18. Huge deal for low budget: mountain of spaghetti with tomato sauce, cheese, mushrooms and meat for €3. Double it size adding just €2 extra. Unbeatable. Plus the owner looks a bit like Freddie Mercury  edit
  • De Karmelieten. This restaurant belongs to the world's top 50 best restaurants  edit
  • t' Gulden Flies, Mallebergplaats 17, 050-334709. 7PM-3AM. An excellent night restaurant. Small romantic restaurant east of the Burg with excellent food and reasonable prices. Menus from 16 €.  edit
  • Bierbrasserie Cambrinus, Philipstockstraat 19, 050/33 23 28, [19]. Popular place with hearty food and great beer. Try the dark house brew and their €26 prix fixe "Menu van de Brouwer", which features several Trappist beers. Sometimes they also have Westvleteren available.  edit
  • Le Pain Quotidien, 21 Philipstockstraat. A sort of fancy sandwich shop. Most of the food is organic, and the sandwiches (in particular the Tartine Bouef Basilic) are delicious. Somewhat expensive.  edit
  • Maximiliaan van Oosterijk. Midrange restaurant offering plenty to eat including oysters and meat cooked several ways, plus of course frites. There is not much for vegetarians.  edit
  • Grand Cafe Passage, Dweersstraaat 26, [20]. Attached to the Passage hotel/hostel (see below) is the atmospheric Grand Cafe, serving traditional Belgian cuisine and beers. Prices are slightly lower than the tourist traps and well worth it. Try the beef stew (very tender) or the ribs.  edit
  • De Drie Zintuigen, Westmeers 29, 050-34-09-94. Off the beaten track but not far from all the bars, this lovely restaurant does more than moules et frites. Prices are about €30 a head and the atmosphere is nice too.  edit
  • Brewery ‘De Halve Maan’, Walplein 26 8000 Brugge, Belgium, 050 33 26 97, [21]. Apr.-Oct. Mon-Fri, Sat 11-4PM and Sun. 11-5PM. Beer museum which offers a tour of the beer making process as well as tasting and a great view of the city from its tower. The tour lasts for 45 minutes and is a good way to get a feel for Belgian beer making. 5.50 Euro includes beer tasting. (51.2026,3.22416) edit
  • De Garre, 1, De Garre, 32 50 34 10 29‎. Hidden in a backyard, this pub offers a nice atmosphere and about 100 different kinds of beer, including home-brewed ones. The house beer is called 'Triple de Garre' and is 11% strong, a good way to start the night. (51.2085,3.22611) edit
  • 't Brugs Beertje, Kemelstraat. This excellent pub (recommended in the CAMRA guide to the Benelux region) has hundreds of different beers and an authentic beer-cafe atmosphere. Clientele is majority tourists. The front bar is crowded; what looks like the door through to the restrooms opens on another bar area. In 2005 it was closed for most of July - this might be an annual occurrence.  edit
  • Curiosa, (just off the main square), [22]. A good place for a lunch as well as a beer.  edit
  • Art tavern 'De Kogge', Braambergstraat (near the fish market). A wonderful place to stop by for a few drinks. This family-run place is amazingly friendly, and with 6 beers on tap, as well as 20 more on offer, it is a great place to sample some beer along with the local crowd. The building was previously owned by the Guildhouse of the Cereal-Carriers (the owners will be happy to fill you in on the specifics!)  edit
  • Vlissinghe tavern, Blekerstrat (on the way to the Jerusalem church). closed Mondays and Tuesdays. One of the less touristy bars, with a nice selection of draught and bottled beers. It's probably the oldest pub in Bruges dating from 1515.  edit
  • The area just north of the performing arts center has various cafes, most with sufficient beer selections, such as Cafe Leffe.
  • The Druid's Cellar, St Amandsstraat 11/b, 050614144, [23]. A very nice cozy place to drink a beer and listen to some good music. The bar is located underground and actually gives the impression of a cellar. Usually plays rock music. The bar has a wide selection of drinks, from simple beer to 16 year old Bushmills whiskey.  edit
  • Bean around the World, Genthof 5, 050703572. American coffee house in the center of Bruges - offers free American newspapers and WiFi to its customers  edit


Note that during the summer, Bruges is a very popular tourist destination; reservations are probably preferable.

  • Bonifacius [24] exclusive guesthouse in a historical house
  • De wilde Wingerd [25] "as it should be" guesthouse in the quiet part of the historical city
  • Passage [26] Very clean and quiet, centrally located Hotel/Hostel with a great restaurant-bar downstairs. The name "Passage" comes from the little alley-way right next to the building which you have to pass through in order to reach the reception. Prices for the hostel are around €14 and breakfast costs an extra €5.
  • Lybeer Travellers' Hostel [27] Spend a night, not a fortune! Located in the very city center. Member of the I-hostels network [28]
  • Hotel Tuilerieen [29] Famous hotel
  • Hotel Bauhaus [30] Good and cheap hostel/budget hotel with a cosy, popular bar
  • The Pand Hotel [31] is slightly expensive, but absolutely wonderful. Breakfast was great and rooms homey.
  • Hotel de Keiserhof, on a quiet street near the station, has inexpensive basic rooms from €25 per person and is not far from the centre. Basic breakfast is available.
  • NH Hotel Brugge [32], good food and comfortable beds near to parking on the innner ring road, the concert hall and main bus station, it is a gentle walk from the centre in an attractive and completely modernised old building. The staff is obliging and helpful and food is excellent at all meals. Salads, main courses and desserts were all a delight, with the desserts scoring particularly high for attractive presentation. If there was a weak spot, it was the quality of the orange juice at breakfast. Rooms are spacious, perhaps 50m2 or more and the beds have crisp white sheets, duvets and comfortable matresses. Wireless internet in the rooms needs an Orange subscription but this is modestly priced compared to many hotels. However, some rooms did not seem to have good wi-fi reception. NH took over the hotel from Sofitel in 2007.
  • Hotel Salvators, St.-Salvatorskerkhof 17, Bruges, 050 33.19.21 (, fax: 050 33.94.64), [33]. Quirky art hotel in the centre of Bruges, next to St Salvators Church. This traditional Bruges townhouse has been thoughtfully renovated, with each of the rooms decorated in its own style. Some of the rooms have en-suite jacuzzi, and some sleep up to 5 people. The hotel offers internet access and cycle hire for guests. A friendly, relaxed place to stay in the heart of Bruges. From €70 per night for a double room.  edit
  • Ridderspoor Holiday Flats [34] Holiday apartments on a quiet street two blocks from the city center. Flats include a bathroom and small kitchen and can accommodate 2-6 people. €60-100 per night depending on the number of people and length of stay. This is a great option for families, and allows you to eat some of your meals in to save money.
  • Hotel Asiris, a restored patrician residence in the shadow of the 15th century St-Gillis church, with 13 rooms, €EUR a single room, €60 a double room. You can also reserve a parking place for €4 / night. [35]
  • Hotel 't Voermanshuys, Oude Burg 14, +32 50 341396, [36]. checkin: 13:00; checkout: 11:30. Clean, spacious rooms in the centre of town. Very friendly staff and includes a substantial breakfast. €60 for a double with shared toilet/shower.  edit
  • Hotel Prinsenhof, Ontvangersstraat 9, 8000 Bruges, +32 (0)50 342690 (, fax: +32 (0)50 342321), [37]. This elegant and friendly four star hotel is perfectly situated near the Grand Place & historic town centre of Bruges, with secure private parking. €155 upwards.  edit

During the winter (November through March) a number of hotels offer a midweek promotion: 3 nights for the price of 2, if you arrive on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. Bookings can only be made through Bruges, Warm Winter Cheer [38]

Next to the numerous hotels and hostels that dot the city, there is also the nice option of choosing one of the little bed and breakfast such as:

  • De Wilde Wingerd, Elf julistraat 37 (In the quiet historical part of the city), +32 475 59 51 49, [41]. checkin: 12h00; checkout: 10h00. Opened recently, and gives excellent value for money. They can host up to 11 people, ideal for families, ask to cook you their lobster meal 70-140€.  edit
  • Hotel 't Zand, 't Zand 21, [42]. checkin: 15.00; checkout: 11.00. Hotel 't Zand is a small hotel with 19 rooms, which is situated in the very heart of unique Bruges. It is easily reached via the E40 (exit8) and you will find the hotel right opposite the main exit of the underground car-park "' t Zand". 105.  edit
  • Hotel Floris Karos (Hotel Floris Karos), Hoefijzerlaan 37 B-8000 Bruges, 00 32 50 34 14 48, [43]. The 3 star Floris Karos hotel in Bruges is located a few minutes away from Bruges' ancient market square. 59.  edit
  • Snuffel Backpacker Hostel, Ezelstraat 47-49, 8000 Bruges, Belgium, +32 (0)50 333133, [44]. checkout: 10AM. Snuffel Sleep Inn is friendly, a straight line from the central Markt and cheap. Breakfast is included and cheap internet available, with free wifi. And the bunk beds have ladders. €15.  edit
  • Walwyck Hotel Brugge, Leeuwstraat 8 (next to Leeuwebrug), +32 50 616360, [45]. checkin: 2.00 PM; checkout: 12.00AM. The hotel is situeted whitin the oldest ramparts of the medieval city at 1.30 min walking distance from the market and the belfry, in the heart of the city, but in the middle of a green area. Double: €100, Single: €90 (Breakfast and taxes included).  edit
  • Vrienden op de Fiets, 14 addresses for members making a cycling or walking tour through Belgium, [
  • Art Hostel Brugge, Low Budget hostel Bruges - group accommodation [46]

Get out

The most popular day trips from Brugge are to Antwerp, Ghent, Ieper, Oostende, and Damme.

  • Damme is a small village near Brugge. Some of the riverboats go there on a half-day cruise. It's a very scenic trip, the landscapes are picturesque, and the village of Damme even more so. One can also go there by bike (special route) and by local bus. It takes about 15 minutes by bus and an hour by boat.
  • Ieper (Ypres) is an important site of Great War battles, cemeteries, monuments and traditions such as the Last Post (every evening). Very popular among old veterans and young boys interested in wars. About one hour by train, and a very scenic ride.
  • Oostende is the monumental beach resort which king Leopold II (1865-1909) built before his attention turned to destroying inner-city Brussels to build his new capital. The quintessential cosmopolitan 19th century beach resort, full of endearing villas that have been classified as official monuments. About 20 minutes by train.
  • Close by, about 10 minutes by tram towards Raversijde, you can find the Atlantic Wall[47], two kilometers of trenches and galleries dating from both World Wars.
  • Antwerp and Ghent are great tourist destinations in their own right.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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Proper noun




  1. Capital city of the province of West Flanders, Belgium.



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Proper noun

Bruges m.

  1. Bruges

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