Bruges Travel Guide

A source of pride for Flemish culture, Bruges is a perfectly preserved time capsule of medieval European splendor. With a mere 115,000 residents, Bruges has a small town feel packed with an incredible Old Town and dozens of fairytale stone buildings along canals littered with swans. Tourists have been basking in this oasis of European glory for years, with no end in sight.

Unlike most European cities, Bruges emerged from WWII completely intact, leaving us with a picturesque view of medieval life best preserved in its amazing Old Town. UNESCO quickly recognized the importance of this rare site and added the entire Old Town to its World Heritage list. Most visitors will spend their time in this area, enjoying the Gothic buildings which have been converted into trendy caf├ęs, bars and boutique shops.

Two massive squares, the Burg and the Markt, stand side by side at the core of the Old Town. Webs of narrow medieval streets fan out in all directions from these two squares, complemented by a maze of canals which virtually encircle the city center. At the southern border of the Old Town is the swan-filled Minnewater (Lake of Love), with the Begijnhof on one side and a lovely park on the other. ****

Highlights

Basilica of the Holy Blood: this 12th century Romanesque church houses a venerated relic of Jesus Christ in the form of a piece of cloth with some of his blood on it. ****

Groeninge Museum: one of Belgium’s finest art galleries is dedicated to traditional Low Country art as well as the Flemish masters.

Kantcentrum: Bruges is famous for its production of lace, and this interesting facility is a workshop, museum and sales shop preserving the ancient art of lace making.

Princely Beguinage of the Vineyard: founded in 1245, this amazingly tranquil park next to the Lake of Love at the southern end of the Old Town represents an important traditional aspect of Flemish culture.

The Burg: this essential public square is home to countless historical buildings as well as a lively place to people-watch.

The Markt: the heart and soul of Bruges is the best starting point for explorations of the Old City and its many highlights which are all within a 10-minute walk.