Cruise Port Pocket Guide Series: Bruges, Belgium
If you’re a fairy tale seeker, Bruges acts as a real life set to take you into your own storybook. You simply can’t walk 5 steps without bumping into something delightful, whether it’s a quaint row of colourful buildings, a bustling square or the smell of waffles seeping from a cosy store.
The best thing is, it’s very easy to reach and navigate as a cruise port destination, therefore there’s no need to take an organised tour, if you don’t wish to. All you have to do is take the coastal tram from the port in Zeebruge to the town of Blankenberge and, from there, it’s just a short train ride away. Choose to walk around for the day, or be like a local and hire a bike.
First Stop: Markt
If you can stop yourself from running into the chocolatiers first up (nearly impossible), explore the main market square, called Markt. This will also give you a reference point to get back to port, in case you become wonderfully lost in the narrow alleys. Plus, all the main attractions are close-by.
It’s located right in the city centre and it’s a bustling hub of shops, restaurants and market stalls on a backdrop of magnificent medieval buildings. From here, you can take a horse drawn carriage ride, walk the stairs to the top of the Belfry of Bruges or visit the Dali Xpo Gallery to view a collection of art by Salvador Dali. If it’s time for brunch or a beer, dine alfresco and watch the world go by in the square.
Explore the Canals
Don’t let the lines of waiting tourists deter you from jumping on a little boat for a canal ride. For one thing, you get to take that gorgeous picture of Rozenhoedkaai that you’ve probably seen on countless postcards.
Secondly, it’s such a tranquil, lovely way to get a unique look at the city, including some of its main attractions. As you float through the canal systems for approximately 30 minutes, following the city’s old fortifications, you’ll also get a good sense of where everything is.
Walk, Eat and Discover History
After that, you might simply want to try all the waffles, mayonnaise-covered chips and ice creams you can fit in, while you wander around the quaint shops in the streets trailing away from Markt. Or, take a picnic to Minnewater Park, an oasis of romantic weeping willows and elegant swans.
For history lovers, visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Burg Square, where legend has it some of Christ’s blood is preserved. While you’re there, you can also explore the Old Town Hall, with its incredible golden ceilings, paintings and statues. The steeple of the Church of our Lady dominates the skyline, so it’s easy to find and you can buy a ticket to visit outside of ceremony times.
One thing’s for sure after your day comes to an end in Bruges, you won’t walk away hungry! Plus, chances are, you’ll be so enchanted you’ll be planning a return trip. Be sure to check our weekly deals, to get you there on budget.