Bruges is that charming little town tucked in the northwestern part of Belgium. Medieval gabled buildings that date back to the earliest centuries dot its landscape, along with narrow cobbled streets, bustling market squares, church spires and crisscrossing canals with fetching stone bridges.
Like some of you, probably, I’ve been introduced to Bruges via Colin Farrell’s movie In Bruges (No, it wasn’t the TV series The White Queen. That one I’ve yet to see.). Not the best of introductions, I know, but I fell in love with Bruges when watching that film. And probably not the best movie there is, too (at least not for me), but if its goal was in marketing Bruges, you could say that it was most effective as I was utterly persuaded that I had to see the real thing. And see it I did.
I was finally able to visit Bruges during last summer’s trip to Europe and what I saw didn’t disappoint. Bruges in the flesh, so to speak, is postcard perfect! It’s gorgeous, very scenic and utterly captivating. More colorful than what was in the film, I was mighty glad to be there!
What makes Bruges stand apart from other European towns, I believe, is the quaint, yet charming, juxtaposition of its long winding canals and imposing brick medieval buildings. The blending of those two is just awe-inspiring, and if you reflect on the long history that this place has been through, then it becomes humbling. Peppered around town are captivating canal scenes like these.
With buildings looking like they came straight out of story books.
Activities and happenings are mostly found in the market square, where travelers and the rest of the crowd gather in outdoor cafes and restos (seats are in demand so you have to order and keep on doing so if you want to hold on to your spot). While Bruges gets lovely weather during summer, it can get a little bit crowded as well.
People also mill about in the Burg Square, where the Stadhuis, Bruges’ City Hall, as well as the famous Basilica of the Holy Blood (where you can find the vial containing Jesus Christ’s blood) can be found. During the middle of the week, this large square is occupied by an outdoor market selling mostly produce like fruits, veggies and other what-nots.
Since Bruges is a fairly compact town, everything can be reached on foot. Biking is always a great way to see the town since it’s a much faster option and Bruges is very bike-friendly (bike rentals are aplenty). Going around, you’ll see scenes like these.
If you want to escape the crowd and find some quiet (as I often did), there are plenty of inner streets and alleys that offer just as amazing views.
Bruges is as picturesque at night, too—mysterious, cosmopolitan, romantic, and every inch European.
A walk along the quiet, lamplit cobbled lanes is a nice way to get a feel of this magical burg and wonder what could have transpired on these centuries-old streets.
How do you like Bruges? Would you be adding it to your bucket list?
On a final note, when in Bruges, don’t forget to take notice of the doors of most buildings as a lot of them are such works of art. You can see that they’ve been given some careful thought. I don’t know why, but Bruges residents seem to have a thing for doors (I had a wonderful time door-watching, in fact!). The one below is one of the simplest I’ve seen, but it’s such a beauty, nonetheless—a red hot one at that.
I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of Bruges. As always, happy travels and stay safe!