A Bruges travel guide – canalside strolls, Flemish art, and cobbled medieval squares
Cobbles and canals
By moonlight or by day, Bruges’ cobbled lanes, canal bridges and main squares Markt and Burg have a fairytale-like magic. Swans glide by on city centre canals like Dijver. The biggest attraction of a Bruges city break is simply wandering its beautiful old streets, admiring medieval mansions, art galleries and tempting chocolate shops. Dine on specialities like waterzooi stew or moules-frîtes (mussels and fries), or linger over strong coffee or local beers at one of the many pavement cafés.
Flemish art and architecture
Burg square forms a rare ensemble of historic architecture, with its darkly atmospheric Basilica of the Holy Blood and dignified 14th-century Town Hall. The massive 13th-century Belfort belfry gives panoramic views over the medieval town, a World Heritage Site. The 122-metre Gothic spire of the Church of Our Lady dominates Bruges’ skyline. A walk beside Dijver canal leads to the Groeninge and Memling museums, with major collections of Flemish Old Masters as well as modern Belgian artists like surrealist Magritte.
Traditional lace-workers sell their wares at Kantcentrum. Dozens of boutiques like Point de Bruges also sell delicate embroidered lacework. Fifty specialist chocolate makers invite you to sample Bruges’ most famous treat. Two local breweries are open for visits, tastings and sales – or just call in at any supermarket and take home some fine Belgium beer. Dozens of antique shops offer treasures, with bargains at the weekend market on the Dijver canalside.
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