Brugge, Bruges, however you spell it, hearing the name you may automatically think “Venice of the North”. Not having visited Venice myself, I can say from the pictures and video’s I’ve seen of Venice, Brugge is like the smaller, quieter sister of Venice.
If you’ve ever been interested in visiting Brugge, you may have watched the movie “In Bruges”. Although, some of the places seen in the movie are true to life, the dark story and brooding character of Colin Ferrell have no place in this city. Depending on what time of year you visit the city, sometimes it is so quiet you could hear a pin drop and you could even be one of the only people on the streets. If visiting outside the high tourist months (June to August), this will most likely be the case.
The must-do activity in Brugge, of course, is to take a reasonably priced half-hour boat tour on the canals. This is best experienced in the summer months on a sunny day when all of the leaves are in full bloom and all the colours of the buildings can be appreciated in the light. In the non-tourist season, which doesn’t usually see these conditions, the ride could be chilly, but it’s more romantic with fewer people in the boats and a light fog hugging the buildings.
A great pub to visit is the “2be” which is right on the water. The entrance is just around the corner from the Belfry tower in the Grote Markt. You will find a long wall featuring Belgium’s beers in their original bottles and accompanying beer glasses. You can find cookie-flavor, coconut-flavor, and banana-flavored beers on this wall in addition to the variety of blonde and dark beers. You can sit on the patio, look out on the water, the bridges and the buildings. Try the “Blanche de Brugge” a cloudy white beer made in Brugge.
Other notable activities in Brugge, is climbing the Belfry tower, where you can get a view of the whole city with its beautiful canals. After that, you can take a horse carriage (rather expensive) for a ride around the city, or you can walk, which is even more enjoyable because its at your own pace. You can pause to take a picture of the building marked from 1669, the narrow alleys or the pretty gardens.
If you want to take a little of brugge with you, I would suggest the “cushion store” on the “main street”. Its not a souvenier for under 10 euros, but it is a piece of art that really captures the beauty and character of Brugge. The needleworker details the bricks and red colour of the buildings into the pillows and it is something you can keep out at home that won’t look tacky after your trip. You can’t leave Belgium without chocolate either. There are many shops to choose from in Brugge, so take your pick and you won’t be disappointed.