Medieval architecture, meandering canals and exquisite chocolate and beer: it's no wonder that more than 2 million tourists flock to this Belgian city each year.
Nunneries, belfries, guild houses, stone-paved squares and canals provide fascinating glimpses into Bruges’ past. Today, the old center of Bruges is an internationally recognized World Heritage Site and the most popular destination in Belgium, but architecture and history are just part of the city’s appeal. Enjoy some of Belgium's famous beer and rich chocolate as you discover all that Bruges has to offer.
Walking is the simplest and perhaps the best way to see the compact town, but there are other options. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride from the park near the tranquil Minnewater or a boat tour of the stunning Canals of Bruges.
At the center of Bruges is its Grote Markt, a pedestrian zone featuring exquisitely decorative architecture. Climb the Belfort for the finest views of the city. Other places of interest include the Heilige Bloed Basiliek (Basilica of the Holy Blood), St. Salvator's Cathedral, Old St. John's Hospital and numerous bridges over the canals. If you have a rainy day, visit the Groeningemuseum and admire the mastery of the region's artists through the ages. Get insight into the religious history of Bruges at Begijnhof, a nunnery that has been in operation since the 13th century.
It's not just the history you must sample, however. Belgium is renowned for its unique brews, so be sure to try several beers along with your moules frites (mussels and fries). For dessert, visit Choco-Story, The Chocolate Museum, where you can study the history of Belgian chocolate before sampling this famous export.
Bruges is a perennial tourist attraction. It’s busiest during the summer when music and dance festivals fill the weekends. Cactus Festival in July features rock and reggae in Minnewaterpark. August's MAfestival focuses on early music with organ, harpsichord, pianoforte and baroque choirs.
Bruges is charming in the colder months too, especially with seasonal attractions such as the Bruges Christmas Market and the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival, both held November to December. Seeing Bruges with a frosting of snow on the ancient buildings is an experience you'll never forget.