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Bruges is commonly known as one of the most beautiful places in Europe, with the words ‘fairy tale’ often attributed to its aesthetic splendour. The city is a paradise of medieval structures, contrasting canals and cobbled lanes. Alongside being a photographer’s dream at every turn, central Bruges also features an array of popular attractions such as the De Halve Maan Brewery and Church of Our Lady, making it a favourite with travellers looking for a cheap – yet exhilarating – weekend away.
Bruges has one focal characteristic: its historical beauty. Tourists from around the world make a day trip to experience the artistic and architectural wonders of the city, although it is advised to book one of the various central hotels and explore this fascinating area to the full over an extended visit. This is because Bruges has a wide selection of attractions and activities that are spread throughout the city. The Historic Centre of Brugge is the main port of call for tourists, due to it containing many of the area’s most famous structures and historical sites. But this doesn’t mean you should disregard the other districts at its disposal. A charming collection of attractions – including the highly rated Folklore Museum, Jerusalem Church and Bruges Art Route – are located to the east of the city. And in the south, you will discover Minnewaterpark. Adjacent to this park is Minnewater Lake, which due to local legend is known as the ‘Lake of Love’.
There are many attractions that you shouldn’t miss when in Bruges. The aforementioned Historic Centre of Brugge – which was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO – boasts some of the best things to do, and that includes the Belfry of Bruges. Arguably the most prominent symbol of the city, this medieval bell tower offers incredible views once you’ve taken on the daunting task of climbing its steep, narrow staircase of 366 steps! The Church of Our Lady is another attraction you’ll want to spend more than a few minutes visiting, with this 13th century structure comprising a wonderful 115.5 metre high brick tower and valuable artwork – including the famous ‘Madonna and Child’ by Michelangelo. For a change of pace, and although it still has historical undertones, the De Halve Maan Brewery is a unique experience where you can take an insightful tour and learn the process of producing beer. Last but certainly not least, you should also try and visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood, Beguinage and the Groeningemuseum.
It’s true: Bruges cannot compete with the variety and depth of nearby shopping havens like Antwerp and Brussels. With that said, the city is still home to a healthy range of high street brands and designer boutiques. As for where the main shopping areas are located, you will find most retailers are situated between Markt Square and ‘t Zand – conveniently close to hotel and dining places. Did you know that Bruges is well-known for producing lace goods? So much so that there are approximately 80 establishments in the city that are dedicated to selling lace products. Yet when talking about Belgium, there is one particular item that is synonymous with the country: chocolate! Thankfully there is a plentiful supply of chocolatiers around the Old Town, ensuring you can pick up some fabulously sweet treats. Furthermore, the area also contains a nice selection of markets throughout the week – from the acclaimed Fish Market to the weekend flea market along the Dijver Canal.
When it comes to dining and drinking, Bruges has it all. Firstly, and as far as eating out is concerned, the city will certainly entice your taste buds. Whether you are searching for some of the most elegant dining choices that Belgium has at their disposal, or prefer a low-key bistro or fast-food joint, there are plenty of restaurants to suit all budgets. Similarly, the variety on offer is just as exciting. From fresh seafood to traditional Italian cuisine, there is something to match the tastes of every visitor. With regards to unwinding with a tasty beverage, there is an endearing nightlife scene provided by Bruges. Although it isn’t one of the liveliest with an innumerable number of nightclubs – after all, the city is an upmarket and refined type of place – there’s a vibrant community of bars and pubs. Typically serving a giant assortment of Belgian beers, these venues can also be accompanied by comforting food and live music on occasion.