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Bruges

4.0 /5 24 votes

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Best Time: June - August Read More

Ideal duration: 1-2 days

Nearest Airport: Oostende Check Flights

"A soul-stirring experience."

Bruges Tourism

Bruges is one of those few places that are soul stirring. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Bruges is Belgium's well preserved medieval city. Steeped in culture and architecture and unpretentiously Burgundian, the 'Venice of the North' will beckon you to unravel its mysteries, while you saunter along its alleys, picturesque winding canals and regal fortifications. Fancy some chocolate?

Bruges is straight out of a gothic fairy tale flaunting a medieval touch. Wandering around the town seems like a step back into time, churches and the Bell Tower standing audaciously, the cobbled streets, the mystical canals adorned with lush greenery serpentining the city and the narrow alleyways with heavenly fragrance of chocolate and freshly baked goods. Soak in the serenity emanated by the daffodil carpeted courtyard of the Begijnhof or trot around tirelessly from museum to another standing as an ephemera of the past, each more resplendent than the other. Drown yourself in quality beer, for no other place shall afford you such a diverse selection or satiate your stomach with waffles wafting freshness. Tire your two feet so that no alley goes amiss or drift inertly on the canals. Or simply do it all! Cause when in Bruges, your heart will tell you to.

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Exchanging Money in Bruges

There are several money exchange offices in the center of Bruges and local banks also provide such facilities. Several ATMs are there at the railway station to withdraw Euros. Belgians prefer payment in Euros if the spending is small, so ensure likewise.

Daily Budget for Bruges

Bruges, although a popular tourist destination, is relatively more reasonable than its other European neighbours. It will prove economical to purchase the Bruges City Card, since other than granting inclusive entry to several attractions, also offers attractive discounts. As for food, around Euro 30 - 40 should suffice for meals in moderately priced bistros and cafes with an ocassional street side waffle as filler. Beer should cost you another Eur 3.5 - Eur 6, depending on the type of brew. Bike rentals for a whole day is not more than Eur 8. So you can estimate a tentative Eur 50 - 55 as daily expenses. Fine dining at the brassieres, wine, souvenior shopping will ofcourse escalate your expenditure by another Eur 40 - 50.

Religion of Bruges

The main religion practised in Bruges is Roman Catholicism. There also resides a small population who are followers of Judaism, Islam, Protestant Christianity, and Greek Orthodox Christianity.

Bruges Customs

Flemish Belgians tend to be more relaxed as compared to their French counterparts. However, certain decorum needs to be maintained in terms of demeanour as well as appearance. ¾Dress stylishly and smartly as attire is a matter of importance. Greetings are generally formal, so shake hands with all the people you meet (kissing the cheek is for closer relations). During your visit if you are invited to a Belgian home, do carry some chocolates or flowers as token of appreciation. Tipping in Belgium is not common. You can round off the bill, if you are extremely satisfied with the service or leave a few Euros. Do not leave a huge amount of tip as the locals tend to get offended.

Language of Bruges

Flemish and bit of French is spoken in Bruges. However, the hotel staff, resturant waiters are all fluent in English and you can easily converse in English. Local language for common phrases: Hallo - Hello Dank uwel - Thank you Kunnen we de kaart bekijken? - Can we see the menu? Ik ben vegetarier - I am a vegetarian Hoeveel kost et? - How much is it?

History of Bruges

Bruges history stretches back to the 9th century, when Baldwin the Iron Arm, the first count of Flanders, built a castle for protection from the Vikings and gradually a town grew. The name Bruges comes from the Old Norse word 'Bryggia' meaning harbour or mooring place. Bruges developed as a port directly accesible from the sea, till the Zwin silted up. However, the city remained connected even after by outports of Damme and Sluis. Renowned for textile manufacture and trade, the Flemish cloth manufactured here was internationally acclaimed. In 1300, Flanders was annexted to France under the reign of King Philip IV the Fair. May 1302 saw severe unrest in Bruges when King Phillip IV, introduced a new tax and took the two sons of Count of Flanders as hostage. In the massacre known as 'Brugse Metten', all those who couldnt pronounce the Flemish phrase, "schild en vriend" were slaughtered by the citizens of Bruges, in a rebellion led by Pieter De Coninck and Jan Breydel. Philips army was defeated by Flemish guildsmen at the Battle of the Golden Spurs in July, marking Flemish victory over France. In the 14th century Bruges became a key member of the Hanseatic League of Seventeen Cities, a powerful association of the northern European trading cities. Trade houses were built by Italian cities, Genoa, Florence and Venice and ships loaded wth international goods from all over Europe harboured at Minnewater Lake. Bruges continued to prosper under Burgundian reign, coupled with tremendous population growth. Flemish Art blossomed and Flemish primitives , Hans Memling and the Van Eyck Brothers belonged to this era. However, the 16th century marked the downfall of all glory. The Zwin silted completely, hence the Hanseatic headquarters along with a lot of merchants shifted to Antwerp. It was only in the 19th century that tourists headed to Waterloo battlefield near Brussels, passed by Bruges. Eventually more visitors bought the much needed wealth back into the capital city. The Boudewijnkanaal canal linking Bruge to the new port of Zeebrugge was also built. Thereafter, this Flemish city has flourished on tourism and is currently one of the highest tourist tread European cities.

Nightlife in Bruges

No denying Bruges is not known for its night life. There are very few scattered clubs, though these are quite low key. However, remember you are still in Belgium and you could dedicate your evenings to drinking beer! The sheer number and quality of pub and bars will leave you spoilt for choice. From traditonal pubs to more chic ones, groove to some jazz, latin or blues with occasional live nights as you sip on to your favourite brews. You must check out the Herberg Vlissinghe, Bruges oldest 500 year old pub. Blekerstraat and Vlamingstraat. Staminee De Garre and Joey's Pub are some of the other popular ones. If beer is not your spirit, head to Retsin's Lucifernum for a unique experience of solving clues to get your Sunday cocktails.

Shopping in Bruges

Shopping in Bruges is quite convenient since most shopping areas are well within walking distances and can be covered easily on foot. The main shopping areas in Bruges are situated between •t Zand and Markt Square. Steenstraat, Geld Montstraat and Jakobstraat are the primary retail arteries of the city, with other streets lined with shops leading off from these. Wollestraat is home to beer and chocolate shops while Katelijnestraat has a selection of souvenior shops. Do visit Chocolate-Line, for its one of the few that make chocolate on the premises and is widely experimental with flavours - wasabi and black olive, Cuban cigar, bitter Coca Cola! Wednesday morning sees a food market in the Markt Square, while •t Zand Square is a great place to pick up bargain clothes on Saturday. The Fish Market across the canal from Burg Square trades from Tuesday to Saturday and thereês a brilliant flea market on the Dijver Canal during the weekend. The big chain stores are concentrated on Steenstraat, while Noordzandstraat features numerous boutique outlets.

Currency in Bruges

All major credit cards are accepted here by the places of stay, restaurants and places of attraction. However, the cafes, street vendors, canal boat tours and certain attractions do not accept card payments. Therefore, it is advisable to carry some Euros in smaller denominations on your person.

Restaurants and Local Food in Bruges

Belgian cuisine is regarded second in quality to French. Pork, beef, fish and seafood - especially mussells are the staple items eaten here,traditionally prepared in butter, cream or herbs and sometimes even beer. Soup served in huge tureens is comfort food and even though reasonably priced can be quite satisfying. The cafes-bars in Bruge are the least expensive places to eat, with dishes ranging at a modest EUR 12 - EUR 17. The restaurants are usually the more expensive affairs and serve other cuisines apart from the usual Belgian fare. Bruge cuisine is traditionally Flemish, borrowing from Netherlands, known to be more simple. Asparagus, endives, potatoes and different types of meat or seafood are the most commonly used ingredients. So, if you want to try the local cuisine, go ahead and look out for Waterzooi, a stew preparation with chicken or fish boiled with vegetables; konjin met pruimen, rabbit with prunes (for the adventurous ones!); paling in êt groen, eels cooked in spinach sauce; stoofvlees, beef marinated in beer; stoemp, combination of mashed potato with meat or vegetable puree and hutsepot, a mixed stew comprising mutton, beef and pork. Moules or Mussells prepared in different ways, is yet another delicacy. Bruge is indeed haven for meat lovers. Breakfast in Bruges, is an usual affair of coffee, rolls or croissant, unless you opt for a breakfast buffet in the more expensive hotels, which is a lavish spread of cold cuts, cheese, fruits, cereals and the like. Feast on some French Fries (no they are not French in make), while on the move. Frituur stands or parked vans seve you this popular favourite with mayonnaise or other exotic dressings. These stands also serve a variety of sausages, the blood sausages being a local favourite. You can't go to Belgium and not have the Waffle or Belgian Chocolate. Gaufres/wafels available in two kinds - the more common Liege one, which is naturally sweetened and caramelised and the Brussels variety, fluffier, served which jam, honey, whipped cream or a variety of other sweet toppings. Bruge also boasts of several pattisseries and chocolatiers, serving pastries, mousse, chococlate bars which are sheer decadence. Do make a trip to the Godiva store in Markt, to pack home goodies. Teetotallers do not read ahead. Hop into the cosy unpretentious bars situated almost at every corner, to sample the beer here. Freshly brewed in plenitude of flavours (the De Garr serves 100 flavours!), beer is quite reasonable here. Vlissinghe Tavern is the oldest, having been around since 1515!
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