Bruges, in Belgium,
is picture perfect with its antique buildings and lovely canals. A
popular tourist destination that’s busy all year round, Bruges has been
preserved to retain its medieval qualities, and offers storybook
scenery and an endless supply of chocolate, mussels and beer.
Bruges’ market square (the Markt) is framed by attractive, colourful
buildings. Busy with tourists, the square is filled with outdoor
restaurants and horse-drawn carts waiting for passengers to jump on
Belgian beer. You have to!
Belgium is renowned for its beers and you won’t be short of finding
a place in which to drink them in Bruges. With a vast range of about
700 types including fruit-flavoured, chocolate and Trappist (brewed by
monks), even non-beer lovers are sure to find a beer they like.
a visit is Bruges’ oldest bar, Café Vlissinghe. They’ve been serving
drinks here for almost 500 years – rumour has it that 17th-century
artist Rubens was a regular at the pub.
The company hasn’t
always been so savoury here, though. In the 1500s Belgium was
experiencing a religious war and the bar’s publican, the leader of a
rebel conspiracy, devised a plot to get a bunch of his fellow
Protestants inside the city walls. His plan was discovered, and he was
tortured and beheaded by a gang of locals.
What to eat in Bruges
The streets of Bruges are filled with tempting chocolate
shops to satisfy any sweet craving. At the city’s restaurants you’ll
find hearty meals, with thick sauces accompanying meaty dishes.
Waterzooi is a national favourite – a watery broth served with chicken
or fish. Seafood is also popular and mussels are readily available to
Best of the rest
The centrepiece of the city’s skyline is the 83m-high Belfort Tower,
which was built in the 13th century. While the climb to the top can be
tiring, it is well worth the effort as it offers gorgeous views. Heilig
Bloed Basiliek (Basilica of the Holy Blood) is an eerie church, home to
what is believed to be a vial containing a few drops of Christ’s blood.
And a random fact…
Belgium has the second highest suicide rate in the EU, so a few
years ago the Bruges council decided to cheer everyone up by making
them say hello to each other.
Langestraat, the main road into Bruges town centre, became Hello
Street. So warm up your vocal cords and get ready to say ‘hey’ to
anyone you may pass. In French it’s ‘bonjour’, in Flemish it’s ‘goede
middag’, but a cheery ‘hi’ should work just well.
WHEN TO GO: You can enjoy Bruges at any time of year, but summer is best.
GETTING THERE: Either fly or catch the Eurostar to Brussels where you can take a train to Bruges (about an hour away).
VISAS: Australians and New Zealanders do not need a visa. South Africans need a Schengen visa.
CURRENCY: Euro. 1 GBP = 1.17 EUR.
LANGUAGE: Flemish and some French.
GETTING AORUND: The best way to see Bruges is on foot.
GOING OUT: A pint of beer is about €4.60.
ACCOMMODATION: A bed in a hostel starts from €13, while a private room is from €22.
Get more info at brugge.be