Other recent lists by sabrina_ide:
Based on my experience at the tourist office and on the TA forum I decided to create a list of frequently asked questions. It might be useful for people preparing a trip to Bruges.
Prices mentioned are 2014 prices.
If, after having browsed this list, you haven't found the answer to your question feel free to contact me via my profile page. I'm more than happy to help.
You're welcome to use the Bruges forum as well of course.
FYI: contact me personally if you wish to receive this list in PDF-format. Easier to print and with a better layout.
To some, it might seem a silly question to start this list with. You’ve been to Bruges before, your colleague has told you all about his/her wonderful trip or maybe you’ve seen / heard / read something about the city and somehow the idea of Bruges hasn’t let go so you’ve decided to visit no matter what.
But to others the concept of Bruges is still very much shrouded in mystery. What to expect in this town? Is it worth going? Does it tick all the boxes of what you hope to find in a destination? Sensible questions indeed as traveling is not quite cheap.
So for those of you who are also still wondering what Bruges is all about let me try to describe the town that Colin Farrell so eloquently characterised as “a f*cking sh*ithole”, in the famous movie In Bruges.
Bruges is in fact quite charming, and to be honest, a little mischievous. The medieval town seems to have an uncanny ability to quickly enchant its visitors. No matter the season Bruges radiates a warmth and comfort that will most likely make you feel right at home. The relaxed and gentle atmosphere breezing through the cobbled streets will slow you down. From the moment you arrive you are invited to aimlessly wander along the swan-populated canals and simply enjoy the town’s scenery. Bruges possesses a certain refined class and uplifting spirit. Just being in the city means you can marvel at the historical opulence and sample the unique ambiance.
Its compactness combined with all that is on offer (culture, history, art, gastronomy, nature...) often amazes first-time visitors. The diversity of Bruges makes it an attractive destination to a lot of people.
To me, Bruges is a timeless beauty … proudly treasured by locals and (hopefully) forever adored by visitors. Ultimately however, you have to decide for yourself if you wish to visit Bruges.
Often the best place to start your visit. There are 3 tourist offices in Bruges:
* inside the train station: on the front side of the building there is a small office where you can go to get some basic information, like a map, city travel guidebook, event calendar, Brugge City Card, bike maps, directions to your hotel / b&b......
The staff here can help you find accommodation and/or book a hotel or b&b (no youth hostels or holiday homes!).
Monday - Friday: 10h00 - 17h00
Saturday + Sunday: 10h00 - 14h00
* Concertbuilding: the cultural tourist office can be found on 't Zand square, just 10 minutes walking from the train station or the central Market square. This office offers the same services as the small office in the train station, but they have a desk for cultural information as well. If you wish to buy tickets for a concert or simply find out what's going on in Bruges you can ask it here.
AS OF 25 NOVEMBER 2012 - NEW OPENING HOURS FOR THIS TOURIST OFFICE (so if you're traveling with an old guidebook, ignore the opening hours in your book)
Monday - Saturday: 10h00 - 17h00
Sundays and public holidays: 10h00 - 14h00
* Historium: the tourist office can be found inside the Historium tourist attraction, on the ground floor. You can find Historium on the corner of Market square and Philipstockstraat. The office offers the same services as the train station office. Keep in mind that in this office you will NOT be able to buy theater tickets.
Opening hours (for the tourist office, not the attraction!):
* Every day from 10h00 - 17h00
All three offices are closed on 25 December and 1 January.
Simply put: Bruges can be visited all year long. August is the busiest month, followed by July and the spring and early autumn months. January and February are most calm, followed by November and March. Because of the Christmas atmosphere December is busier than the other winter months.
Keep in mind that some private museums, restaurants and hotels have their closing period in January.
Weekends are more crowded than weekdays. Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually more quiet days, Wednesday is the calmest day. Saturdays is the busiest day of the week. On Monday several MUNICIPAL museums are closed.
During the day you'll most enjoy Bruges before 10h00 and after 20h00, when day trippers haven't arrived yet / have gone home.
There is no correct answer to this question, that's entirely up to you. I know there are people who keep returning to Bruges, they just can't get enough. But I have also met a woman who (I'm not kidding!) was in Bruges for 45 minutes and seriously wanted to know what she could visit.
I hope you all agree with me that 45 minutes is ridiculous, that's barely enough time to get a cup of coffee and use the restroom.
I usually say you need at least half a day, preferably an entire day, to get an idea of Bruges. Two full days will enable you to visit the popular and most important places and three or four days is perfect.
Longer is also perfectly possible. You can use Bruges as your base to discover the area. The city is close to the coast (15 minutes by train), Ghent (25 minutes by train), Antwerp (1h20 by train), Brussels (an hour by train) and Ypres (1h50 by train).
Should you need some itinerary advice, you're welcome to contact me.
The website of the tourist office is of course a good place to start (www.visitbruges.be and www.brugge.be). If you require more information you can contact them via telephone (0032 50 44 46 46) or mail (toerisme @ brugge.be) to ask for an information pack (see question 12).
In addition you can download a free ArrivalGuide. ArrivalGuides is the world's leading supplier of free pdf travel guides. Over 400 destinations, in 77 countries, have their own travel guide, which can be downloaded for free. It is for Bruges available in 10 languages> Dutch, French, German, English, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Chinese, Japanese and Russian.
The ArrivalGuide is written in collaboration with the tourist office, so you can expect the information to be correct. You can check the publishing date on top of each page. Because it is a pdf-file the content can easily be adjusted whenever something in Bruges changes.
The main differences between the city travel guidebook of the tourist office (see question 11), and ArrivalGuide is:
1) for tourists perhaps most importantly: it's free! The city travel guidebook is currently sold for 5 euro.
2) that ArrivalGuide is sort of an introduction, while the city travel guidebook contains a lot more detailed information like prices, opening hours, walking tours, bike rental locations and history. ArrivalGuide is also a simple pdf-file that you print, while the guidebook is a nice compact booklet.
3) that ArrivalGuide is available for download. The city travel guidebook can only be obtained by ordering it online, by buying it in Bruges or in your own local bookstore. It means that you have to wait or move: wait for it to arrive, wait till you get to Bruges, or go out to your local bookstore. ArrivalGuide is just one click away.
And last but not least there is me. There's nothing special about me, but because I work at the tourist office I'm very much in the know of what's going on and what you can do and visit. I can also easily check things, I don't mind calling this or that organization to verify something for you.
I have prepared Trip Lists (like this one) to aid you, but you're of course welcome to contact me at any time. Contact details are on my profile page.
On TA my fellow DE's (and other regular forum repliers) can answer your questions on the forum. They are knowledgeable and hold a special place in their heart for Bruges, a city that is dear to us all.
Without a doubt this is the most frequently asked question in our front offices! The people asking this question are already in Bruges, and haven't prepared their visit (hence the question). In that case it's best to get the tourist map on which the must sees are indicated with stars or numbers (see item 11).
If you're reading this it means you are doing some research, in which case I would like to refer you to my Trip List "First time in Bruges" (click on the link). Combine this with "Second time in Bruges" and "Daytrips and excursions in and around Bruges" to get the complete picture.
You can use the official city travel guidebook as well (see item 12)!
This item concerns museums and attractions only, meaning I will not discuss closures of shops, restaurants or hotels.
* Gruuthuse museum is likely to close in the second half of 2014 due to restoraton works. An exact closing date is not yet known.
Boat tours, winter stop 2013 - 2014
Season starts on 1 March, boat tours will then operate every day. Until that time only when the weather is nice, meaning you'll just have to wait and see.
I dedicated an entire Trip List to this, please click on the link to get re-directed.
FYI: I'm currently updating this Trip List. It'll eventually become a nice PDF-file with lots of pictures of pavements, museums, tourist offices ... to give you a clear idea of what to expect.
Have a look at my Trip List "Are we there yet? - Bruges 4 kids".
I like to think it is. Bruges is a convenient, compact and walkable city plus the three towers (Belfry, Church of Our Lady and Sint-Salvators cathedral) that dominate our skyline are all inside the tourist center, close to each other and other highlights. You can use them as orientation points when you move around.
However, the street pattern is medieval, which means (for my American readers) straight streets and avenues making up blocks simply do not exist. There is no such thing as "5 blocks from the train station". Streets fan out the Market square and go in all kinds of directions.
If you have zero orientation capabilities getting a map is a good idea. Go to item 9 to find a good map.
FOR CAR DRIVERS:
Bruges regulates traffic flow and therefore has a lot of one-way streets. Finding a certain location requires some planning for first-time visitors. Make sure to have a GPS in your car or study Google Maps before entering the town center.
Many guidebooks have their own map of Bruges, but these are usually very small and don't always indicate the museums, must sees or street names.
The official tourist map of Bruges is pocket-sized but when you unfold it the map itself (without the list of the museums and must sees) is a bit larger than A3.
In addition to attractions / museums the map also contains a list of all permitted accommodation and some basic information about how Bruges' accessibility from other European cities.
Available in 6 languages: Dutch, French, German, English, Spanish and Italian.
The official tourist map 2014 is free of charge.
The official city travel guidebook is available in 6 languages: Dutch, French, English, German, Spanish and Italian. It contains detailed information on the sights and museums, as well as some history, restaurants, bike rental points, tours in Bruges, a tourist map and much more.
The guide is for sale (5 euro) in the tourist offices, but you can also find them in some bookstores inside the city center and in your own local bookstore.
You can order in advance by contacting the tourist office (toerisme @ brugge.be).
Open the map by clicking on the link above. You'll no doubt notice the large canal ring that surrounds Bruges. That's what we call 'the city' or 'city center'. Locals also call this "the egg of Bruges" .....because its shape resembles that of an egg.
Now spot the smaller canal ring that doesn't quite close, that's 'downtown', 'the tourist center' or 'the golden triangle'. It's also the oldest part of Bruges and therefore the 'historic city center'. That's where you'll find the must sees, most important museums, monuments and churches, restaurants, shops, sightseeing tours, and also the majority of the hotels. B&B's are scattered throughout the city, but the majority are outside the 'tourist center' in more residential areas, or even outside 'the city'.
The north east part of the city, between the canal and the four windmills, is 'Sint-Anna kwartier' (St. Anne quarter), a more quiet part of Bruges with several museums, interesting churches and of course the windmills.
Generally speaking, the best place to stay is inside or near the 'tourist center' or otherwise inside 'the city'. As long as you stay inside 'the city' you'll be able to walk to most places of interest.
In Bruges you will find hotels, b&b's, youth hostels, holiday flats and two campsites. Nearly 80% of our accommodation capacity consists of hotels. B&b's make up for about 7% and the rest is divided in the other categories. As hotels, b&b's and youth hostels are the most commonly asked types of accommodation I will focus on these three.
Bruges' trademark are the (smaller) boutique hotels, in the *** and **** star category. There is also a range of * and ** hotels and one ***** star hotel. Prices of course vary according to season and availability and generally speaking it is advisable to book in advance if you have a restricted budget. Here is a rough indication for double / twin rooms (for Bruges!) to determine which category best suits your budget:
* 30 to 60 euro per room per night
** 50 to 100 euro per room per night
*** 90 to 200 euro per room per night
**** 100 to 450 euro per room per night
***** 150 to +500 euro per room per night
Keep in mind that these are not fixed prices, that's just to give you an idea! Some ** hotels might be a bit more expensive, other *** hotels might be a bit cheaper and so on.
B&b's come in all shapes and sizes. They are classic b&b's that offer cheap and basic but personal accommodation and then there are luxurious b&b's that can easily pass for a tiny **** or ***** hotel. As there is no classification system for b&b's I cannot give you a category price indication.
Youth hostels offer basic accommodation in dormitories at 17 to 20 euro per PERSON per night. Some youth hostels also have private rooms that are a bit more expensive. Youth hostels are the cheapest form of accommodation in Bruges, but they are also quite popular.
You can book accommodation at all three tourist offices (Historium, Concerthall and train station), but if there is a festival / conference / special event / bank holiday / busy summer weekend / X-mas market...going on it might get difficult to find (cheap) accommodation.
If you are an adventurous type and you like to go with flow then I'm sure you will adapt. If you however prefer to stay inside the city center in a reasonably priced accommodation I suggest in any case you book something in advance. That way you won't be surprised.
Click on the given link to find a list of accommodation (on page 2).
Yes, you can book a hotel room or b&b in all three offices (Historium, Concerthall, train station), but it is better to book a room in advance. Find out why in my Trip List "Tips on how to prepare your stay in Bruges".
The tourist offices CANNOT book holiday flats, youth hostels or a place at the local camp site.
A list of hotels, b&b's, youth hostels and holiday homes is available at all times at one of the tourist offices. You can also view it by clicking on the link in item 14.
You'll find the train station - simply called Brussels National Airport - underneath the airport. There are no direct trains to Bruges, so you'll first have to catch a train to Brussels where you can change at North, Central or South station or to Gent Sint-Pieters.
When you change trains you can catch an IC train heading to Knokke / Blankenberge or Oostende.
Total travel time from the airport to Bruges is roughly 1h30 to 1h50 depending which trains you use.
Up to date time tables and fares can be found on www.nmbs.be
If you click on the link you'll find more information on facilities in Brussels National Airport train station.
For going TO Brussels National Airport turn it all around. Also read item 49 and 50.
There are two ways:
1) By shuttle bus from the airport to Brussels-South train station and then by train to Bruges
2) By local bus (TEC) from the airport to Charleroi-South train station, then by train to Brussels-South where you change trains to go to Bruges
For going TO Charleroi Airport turn it all around.
I made an easy to use overview with full information about these transfer possibilities and turned it into a PDF-file. Contact me to request the PDF (don't forget to mention your e-mail)
Also, read item 49 and 50.
In short, there are two ways of traveling between the two cities:
1. a combination of regular fast Intercity trains
Intercity trains (IC) are trains that don't stop at every tiny village, therefore they can go faster and the duration of a journey is shorter. These trains are used to travel from one city to the next. You don't need to book your ticket in advance, but it is possible if you wish to. Tickets are cheaper than a high speed train ticket.
It is perfectly possible to travel from Amsterdam to Bruges (and vice versa) by using a number of Intercity trains. It does mean you have to change trains at least twice (in Antwerp and one or possibly two cities in The Netherlands: Rotterdam and Roosendaal) and your total journey time will be longer.
When looking at trains, it's possible you'll also come across Fyra. This high-speed train only operates in The Netherlands.
2) a combination of regular fast Intercity train + high speed train Thalys
This is a more comfortable option, as you only need to change trains once. Thalys is a high speed train from Amsterdam-Central Station directly to Antwerp-Central Station and Brussels-South Station. Thalys passes through Antwerp, before going to Brussels and later Paris, and vice versa, so there is no real need to use Brussels-South, unless it would fit your schedule better.
Another reason to change in Antwerp is the fact that the Central station there is one of the most beautiful in the entire world (it looks like a cathedral instead of a train station).
Thalys tickets need to be booked in advance, without a ticket you cannot use this train. You can only buy train tickets for Thalys 3 months prior to your travel dates. The earlier you book, the cheaper your ticket. On Thalys you will have appointed seats.
When buying your Thalys train ticket, via www.b-europe.com, you can purchase an ABS-ticket (EBS in Dutch) = Any Belgian Station. It means your Antwerp Bruges leg of the journey will be included in your Thalys ticket. There will be no need to buy a separate ticket for this Intercity train.
Keep in mind that this ABS-ticket can only be used to reach the Thalys train station, or to travel onward from the Thalys station. In other words: you cannot use it to travel between cities in Belgium in case you wish to make a day trip from Bruges.
Also don't forget that Antwerp-Central Station has multiple levels. The domestic Intercity trains arrive and depart from the upper level, while Thalys arrives and departs from the lowest level. You will need at least 5 to 10 minutes to change platforms. For your journey to Bruges this is not so much a problem, if you miss your Intercity train, you just wait for the next one.
For Bruges to Amsterdam however, it is best to take an earlier train in Bruges, and wait 45 to 50 minutes in Antwerp for your Thalys train as your Thalys ticket specifies a travel time, If you miss the Thalys train mentioned on your ticket, it'll mean taking a trip to the ticket desk.
To kill time at Antwerp-Central Station you can have a drink at the Starbuck, venture outside the train station and stretch your legs, use the toilet, or simply enjoy the train station.
First of all, there is a difference between cruise ships and ferry ships, they dock at different quaysides in Zeebrugge. Cruise ships will usually dock at Zweedse Kaai (Swedish Quay) while ferries will arrive near Leopold II-dam. Smaller cruise ships also use the quayside near Leopold II-dam.
Open the map by clicking on the link, and go to page 2:
P&O = nr. 21
Cruise ships = nr. 4
Small cruise ships = nr. 20 or 21
If you want to know in advance where your cruise ship will dock you can contact the port authorities at mbz @ zeebruggeport.be (remove spaces) or you may contact me and I will contact them on your behalf. Information you will need to pass on: date of arrival, name of your cruise ship.
USEFUL LINKS (remove spaces)
- map of Zeebrugge: click on above given link
Go to www.portof zeebrugge.be - put it on English - click on Downloads and links - Downloads - you can find the flyers under Miscellaneous
- flyer for passengers docking at Zweedse Kaai / Swedish quay
- flyer for passengers docking near Leopold II-dam
The flyers contain among others a list of taxi companies as well as a detailed map (which you will need to view / print in colour) visually clarifying what I have just explained.
People traveling with P&O Ferries can enjoy a shuttle service from Zeebrugge to Bruges. This needs to be booked in advance! When you buy your ticket make sure the shuttle service is included if you wish to use it.
The shuttle buses will wait at the quayside and depart at around 8h00. You will be dropped about half an hour later at the train station of Bruges, from there it's 5 minutes by local bus to the city center. Or you can simply cross the street and start sightseeing while walking north to the Market square.
To catch the shuttle buses in the evening you have to return to the train station. They will wait behind the Standaard book shop which, if you face the train station, is on the left side. Buses leave at 17h30.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW: from 14 December 2013 until 5 January 2014 P&O buses temporarily depart from the coach parking on Bargeplein, near the train station.
MIND: the P&O website will tell you the buses leave from behind the Carrefour supermarket at the train station in Bruges. In reality they mostly stop behind the book shop Standaard.
The price is currently 6,75 pound for a single trip.
Cruise companies offer shore excursions, most likely Bruges will be one of the destinations. They will sell these excursions, but in addition most of them will also provide a shuttle service (to Blankenberge!), only they will give you this information shortly before you arrive in Zeebrugge. By that time most people will already have booked an excursion, or done research on alternative means of transportation.
Cruise passengers without a shore excursion have the following options to get from Zeebrugge to Bruges:
By far the easiest and fastest way to reach Bruges is just to take a taxi at the quayside. Taxi companies know very well when cruise and ferry ships dock and they will have cars waiting at the quay. It's a 20 minute ride to Bruges and you can ask to be dropped anywhere you like.
FYI: the tourist offices can be found at the train station, on 't Zand square or in Historium on the Market square.
The official fixed rate for Zeebrugge to Bruges is 50 euro. To lower the cost you can perhaps carpool with people you met on the ship, or use forums to find people in advance. Booking your taxi in advance is possible. I will come to that later.
In Bruges you can find taxis at the train station, or on the Market square.
2) COMBINATION OF TRAM AND TRAIN
Zeebrugge has two train stations, but you need to check which one you can use in advance!
- Zeebrugge Dorp = Zeebrugge Village station> only open from September to June, on weekdays
- Zeebrugge Strand = Zeebrugge Beach station> only open on Saturdays and Sundays from September to June and every day in July and August
Village station is nearest to the cruise dock, while Beach station is nearest to the ferry dock.
For the latest train schedules you can check the website of the Belgian rail company: www.nmbs.be (also available in English). Select the correct Zeebrugge station, and Bruges as your destination.
Keep in mind that there is often only one train per hour, and sometimes even only one every two hours.
To reach the train stations you can go walking, but keep in mind that Zeebrugge is first and foremost a large and busy industrial port. There are few facilities for pedestrians when coming from the ferry dock, so you'll mostly be walking on the street where trucks are driving. The cruise dock is much nearer to the residential areas, so you'll reach sidewalks a lot faster.
However, the port authority of Zeebrugge provides a free shuttle service to cruise passengers (no ferry passengers! They can use the P&O shuttle to Bruges. See question 17) as they are obliged to guarantee safe passage to the exit of the terminal.
The shuttle will take you from the quayside to Kustlaan. Passengers from large cruise ships will be left near the Seafront theme park, while passengers from smaller ships are dropped near the tram stop Strandwijk. The shuttle buses can take about 20 people and will travel back and forth as long as it takes to transfer everyone.
From Kustlaan you can either walk to one of the train stations (Village or Dorp) and take a direct train to Bruges, or you can catch the coastal tram to Blankenberge (heading west, about 10 minutes) or Knokke (heading east, about 15 minutes). In both coastal towns the tram stops at the train station and you can catch a direct train to Bruges. Whether you travel from Zeebrugge, Blankenberge or Knokke, the train journey to Bruges won't be longer than 20 minutes.
Check the time table for the coastal tram on www.delijn.be/kusttram.
Firstly: Bruges is small. When arriving at the train station you only have to cross the street and you're already inside the tourist part of town! So there is no real need to catch a bus (the only public transportation we have). Everything is within walking distance.
If you prefer to catch the bus you can find the buses in front of the train station. All buses with CENTRUM written on top of the bus will go to the Market square (third bus stop). It takes about 5 minutes and there is a bus every 5 to 10 minutes (less frequent on Sunday).
The bus company is called DE LIJN, it's a different company than the one in Brussels, which means you can't use your bus ticket purchased in our capital city!
Price for a one-way ticket to the Market square: 1,30 euro in the ticket shop or 2 euro on the bus. The ticket shop is the small building in front of the station, next to the buses.
Taxis are waiting in front of the train station, next to the buses. It's a 5 minutes ride to the Market square, price will be somewhere between 8 and 12 euro.
For all day trippers out there reading this, you can safely leave your luggage at the train station or in Historium on the Market square.
There's a couple of things you need to remember though:
TRAIN STATION: lockers are accessible 24/7. Various sizes are available, the price is 3 euro, 3,50 euro or 4 euro depending on the size of the locker. To find the lockers, head to the main entrance hall of the train station (where you find the tickets booths). Face the ticket booths, they are numbered. Left of ticket booth nr. 1 you will see a corridor, it leads to the lockers.
HISTORIUM: lockers are accessible ONLY during the opening hours of the Historium attraction. Historium is open every day (except 1 January and 25 December) from 10h00 untill 18h00 (doors sometimes close earlier so people can only exit the building, not enter, so take 17h30 to be safe).
A much heard question in our tourist office is: "Should we walk or hire bikes?" The answer is quite simple really.
If it's your first time in Bruges I suggest walking around. Bruges is a very walkable city, all highlights are within easy walking distance of each other and in between you'll come across shops, restaurants, boat companies, chocolate stores and museums.If you hire a bike you'll have to dismount almost every minute and lock it...it might annoy you.
Tourists usually marvel at the city's architecture and often don't look where they're walking (not judging anyone, just stating a fact) ...I sometimes joke that dodging tourists in the street is a local sport.
What I'm trying to illustrate here is that it's easier (and safer) to walk when you're not so familiar with Bruges.
However, when you have little time (some people only visit for 3 or 4 hours) it might be better to hire a bike to see as much of the city as possible. Also, if your goal is to see the quiet part of Bruges, the picturesque Sint-Anna quarter with its windmills and Lace Center, renting a bike is easier as Sint-Anna is in the north east part of the city, outside the tourist area. For discovering the ramparts surrounding the entire city it is also better to hire a bike, as cycling is a lot faster than walking.
People staying for several days can also rent a bike to venture outside the city, to Damme, Lissewege, the coast or The Netherlands (Sluis).
In the end it of course depends on what you prefer.
Also read the answer to question 57 and 60.
No, you cannot.
In Brussels MIVB is responsible for the public transportation, while in Flanders (Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent, Ypres, Mechelen, Leuven, Oostende and so on) De Lijn organises public transportation. The ticket you have bought in Brussels can therefore not be used in Bruges.
Public transportation passes from De Lijn bought in Bruges can be used in other Flemish cities, like Ghent or Antwerp.
Not really, no. Because the entire city center of Bruges is labeled World Heritage signposting is not allowed.
What you do find are a lot of poster size city maps. You can find these all over town and they contain all necessary tourist information. You will find the classic YOU ARE HERE mark and a list of all museums, attractions and must sees.
Street names can be found on the walls of houses. Museums can be recognized because of a sign with the name and opening hours, it's on the facade of the building.
There are a number of brown signs indicating hotels. These are outdated as some hotels have lost or gained stars. What's more annoying however is that the metal signs are thin and therefore rather flexible. Some have been twisted and are now pointing you in the wrong direction!
I therefore suggest you invest in a good map or guide book. See item 11 and 12.
"Normal" shops (clothing, shoes, department stores...) close at around 18h00 / 18h30. Tourist shops stay open till later in the evening, sometimes 21h00.
Kitchens normally close at 22h00, but some restaurant stop serving food at 21h30. You can still have a drink of course.
Museums close at 17h00, but keep in mind that sometimes the last entrance is at 16h15 / 16h30!
The majority of the "normal" shops (clothing, shoes, department stores...) are closed on Sundays. Tourist shops are open.
On shopping weekends "normal" shops will be open on Sunday, but the majority only in the afternoon. Contact me to request a list of all shopping weekends.
Almost all museums are open on Sunday. Several of the MUNICIPAL museums are closed on Monday.
The two main shopping streets are Zuidzandstraat / Steenstraat and Noordzandstraat / Geldmuntstraat. Both streets change names halfway. They run parallel from 't Zand square to Market square which means you can make a perfect loop. These streets contain "normal" shops (clothing, shoes, department stores) as well as some chocolate stores and a few restaurants.
For tourist shops (chocolate, lace, beer, t-shirts) you can visit Mariastraat / Katelijnestraat, Wollestraat, Philipstockstraat and Breidelstraat. Philipstockstraat, Wollestraat and Breidelstraat start from the Market square. Mariastraat / Katelijnestraat is the street that runs along the Church of Our Lady.
Additional shopping streets are Langestraat (more alternative and creative shops), Ezelstraat / St. Jakobsstraat (the "forgotten" shopping street), Smedenstraat (mostly food and real estate agents combined with some clothing stores), Vlamingstraat and Philipstockstraat (both mostly restaurants).
Large supermarket chains like Carrefour and Delhaize have small stores inside the tourist center, but the very large shops are all outside the city and for tourists without a car it means losing precious time to get there by public transportation. The small ones have everything you need though, so here are the addresses:
* Carrefour, St. Michiels exit train station
* Carrefour, main exit train station (on Stationsplein)
* Carrefour, corner Vlamingstraat and Philipstockstraat (next to Market square)
* Carrefour, Katelijnestraat 76
* Carrefour, Zuidzandstraat 5
* Carrefour, Smedenstraat 6
* Delhaize, Oude Burg 22
* Delhaize, Noordzandstraat 4
In November 2011 the tourist office launched a chocolate website which was part of the winter campaign. It was online for one month only and contained (among others) a useful list of all chocolate stores in Bruges. Before the website was pulled offline I downloaded the list in 5 languages (Dutch, French, German, English and Spanish).
You can send me your e-mail address (see my profile page for contact details) and preferred language and I will send you the pdf-file asap.
The EURO is the only currency used in Belgium.
The only currency used in Belgium is the EURO. You can change money at Brussels Airport and Brussels-South train station when you first arrive.
In Bruges there are no exchange offices inside the train station! If you have no euros you will have to walk to the city center (about 20 minutes) as foreign currency is not accepted in buses or taxis. There are however ATM's inside the train station.
* Western Union - Steenstraat 2
* Pillen - Vlamingstraat 18
* Pillen - Rozenhoedkaai
* New Best Money Exchange - Sint Amandstraat 5
Most banks will also be able to help you. They can mostly be found in the shopping streets, on the Market square and on Simon Stevin square.
The official city travel guidebook 2014 contains three different walking tours. Each walking tour starts with an introduction and a map on which the route is indicated. The following pages contain the explanation of the museums and sites that you pass when following the tour.
The first walking tour explains the most important things to see and do and is the best tour for people who haven't been to Bruges before. You can very easily combine the first tour with the second walking tour, which mostly deals with Bruges' Golden Age. Last but not least there is a walking tour to discover the quiet, picturesque Sint-Anna quarter, a part of Bruges most tourists don't visit.
The guide is for sale (5 euro) in the tourist offices, but you can also find them in some bookstores inside the city center, in your local bookstore or order it via the tourist office. Also see item 12.
All year long you can join a group for a guided walking tour. A person from Bruges will take you on a 2 hour walking tour through Bruges, showing you the most interesting places. There is a walking tour in Dutch, French and English. The departure point is Concertbuilding tourist office on 't Zand square.
If you can't find the guide (normally he/she will have a badge) feel free to approach one of the tourist office employees as guides will have to announce their presence upon arrival.
It is necessary to buy tickets in advance, as one guide is only allowed to take 25 people. The price is 12,50 euro per person. Tickets can be bought online (click on the link) or at the Concertbuilding tourist office.
In 2014 walking tours are on the following days:
January: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday @ 16h00 + Sunday @ 10h30
February: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday @ 16h00 + Sunday @ 10h30
March: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday @ 16h00 + Sunday @ 10h30
April: Saturday @ 14h30 + Sunday @ 10h30 + Easter holiday (5/4 until 20/4) on weekdays @ 14h30
May: Saturday @ 14h30 + Sunday @ 10h30
June: Saturday @ 14h30 + Sunday @ 10h30
July: Monday until Saturday @ 14h30 + Sunday @ 10h30
August: Monday until Saturday @ 14h30 + Sunday @ 10h30
September: Saturday @ 14h30 + Sunday @ 10h30
October: Saturday @ 14h30 + Sunday @ 10h30
November: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday @ 16h00 + Sunday @ 10h30
December: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday @ 16h00 + Sunday @ 10h30
There is a guided tour @ 10h30 on the following Belgian public holidays in 2014:
- 20 April
- 21 April
- 30 May
- 8 June
- 21 July
- 15 August
- 1 November
If you're not entirely sure about a date / time, feel free to contact me via personal message.
January, February, March, November and December are free if you have bought a Brugge City Card.
FYI: you can hire a private guide as well, in case the above mentioned times/dates don’t match with your travel itinerary. Contact me for more information.
No. As Bruges is a very walkable city it's no use having hop-on hop-off tours. Once a tour (bus, boat, horse carriage...) is finished you can easily walk to all the places you have seen during a tour.
Check out available tours by clicking on the link.
No, we do not book tours for individual tourists. You either buy your ticket on the spot (for boat tours, sightseeing tour...) or you book it online / via call center (bike tours, walking tours, hot air balloon ride...).
Have a look at my Trip List "Daytrips and excursions in and around Bruges" to find out more about tours in and around Bruges.
NEW in 2014: as of this year the tourist office in Historium and Concertgebouw will start making bookings for WW1 battlefield tours (because of 14-18). More info will follow.
The weather in Belgium is somewhat unpredictable, it can rain any time of year. Our boat tours operate every day between early March and mid-November. They are open from 10h00 till 18u00 (last boats at 17h30).
Our boats do run when it's raining. As the boats are not covered umbrellas are handed out to the passengers.
Winter stop, 2013 - 2014
- Venice of the North (on Huidenvettersplein): open daily until Friday 15 November 2013. Last boats at 17h00. However, when the weather should be bad, chances are this company will close the entire afternoon.
- Coudenys (on Rozenhoedkaai): open daily until Sunday 17 November 2013. Then, but only when the weather is nice, on weekends until the end of 2013.
- De Meulemeester (in Wollestraat): open daily until Monday 11 November 2013
- Gruuthuse: open daily until Sunday 3 November 2013. Then weekends in November and December 2013.
- Stael (in Katelijnestraat): open daily until Monday 11 November, but only when the weather is nice. Last boats at 16h00.
In all cases small dogs are welcome as you can put them on your lap and they are easily controllable. Large dogs however are not allowed.
Assistance dogs are allowed.
No, you cannot. Only the five boat companies are licensed to sail on the canals, and their route is strictly limited. Once a year the local Kayak Club is permitted to let their members kayak on the canals, it’s usually somewhere in March.
The following locations will give you a nice view over the city:
1) Belfry tower: the most well-known place to get a panoramic view is the iconic medieval Belfry on the Market square. The reason is quite obvious: it's right in the heart of town and offers a 360 degrees view over Bruges. Of course, such a view comes at a price. 366 winding steps (no lift) have to be conquered to reach the top of the 83 meter high structure.
PRICE: 8 euro for adults | 6 euro for people aged 6 until 25 | free for children younger than 6
2) Concerthall: construction for this modern theater building was completed in 2002, the year in which Bruges was Cultural Capital of Europe. The top houses an interactive museum of sound, called Sound Factory. When visiting the museum you will also be presented with a fine view over the city, allowing you to see the three main towers (Belfry, Church of Our Lady, St. Salvators cathedral).
You can choose stairs or elevator to reach the top.
PRICE: 6 euro for adults | 5 euro for people aged 12 until 25 | free for children younger than 12
3) Gentpoort: head to the towngate museum for a more alternative view over Bruges. It's off the beaten path on the edge of town. Halfway through your visit you will climb the winding stairs to end up on the roof of the towngate. You will be rewarded with a different view over Bruges and one of the suburbs, called Assebroek. Try as you might, you will not be able to see the St. Salvators cathedral though, it hides behind the Church of Our Lady. Trust me, I've tried all corners of the roof to get a glimpse.
PRICE: 4 euro for adults | 3 euro for people aged 12 until 25 | free for children younger than 12
4) Sint-Janshuis and Bonnechiere windmill:both mills are perched on a low hill and flanked by trees and other greenery, this is probably the most peaceful place to get an unlimited view over Bruges. On the edge of town, in the quiet St. Anne quarter, you will be able to see all three towers, a neighbouring windmill and peep into the garden of the St. Sebastian's Archers Guild...so don"t panic when you see arrows flying. Luckily, the archers have stopped practice shooting at the windmills mid-seventeenth century.
PRICE: no fee to get your view, if you wish to visit the Sint-Janshuis windmill you do have to pay.
5) Brewery De Halve Maan: don't worry, sampling the beer comes at the end of the tour, so climbing to the roof of the brewery shouldn't be any problem! You will be presented a unique view over the famous Beguinage. In addition you can also see the Church of Our Lady and St. Salvators cathedral.
PRICE: 7,50 euro for adults, incl. one beer (or something else in case you don't drink beer)
6) Hot air balloon ride: without a doubt the ultimate view over Bruges, as nothing beats the height of a hot air balloon. Leisurely floating over the city you will be granted access to all Bruges' secrets. The pilot is more than happy to point out locations or answer questions. As the wind direction is checked to determine to take-off site you will have a guaranteed flight over the city. Your landing site will be a surprise.
PRICE: as of 170 euro for adults
In the past the tourist office had an overview of all events that would take place during the year. Several years ago it was decided that this annual calendar wasn't dynamic enough for the constantly changing event industry. Sometimes dates, hours, locations changed during the year and so eventually the annual calendar contained a lot of incorrect information.
So, to provide tourists and inhabitants of the city with the best and most up to date event information the tourist office now has a monthly event calendar. At the end of each month the calendar for the next month is released. For instance: the calendar for December is available in the last week of November.
The calendar is available in the tourist offices and is free of charge. You can also download them from the given website.
Yes, there are concerts all year long on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 11h00 till 12h00. In summer there are additional evening concerts on Monday and Wednesday from 21h00 till 22h00. You can find the concert calendar on the website.
Best place to listen is on the square between the City Halls. You have to walk through the gate.
Frank Deleu is our main city carillonneur, he's been playing the Belfry's carillon since 1984.
The following parkings are meant for cars and are inside the tourist part of the city:
* 't Zand
On the edge of the tourist part, but well within walking distance of the highlights, you can park your car in:
Click on the link, scroll down and find "Bruges". Then select one of the parkings above to learn more about the opening hours, prices and exact location.
It's good to know though that the parking at the train station is the cheapest parking in town and that you get a free bus ticket (return trip) per person!
PEOPLE SPENDING THE NIGHT IN BRUGES - FYI: There are hotels / b&b's that have their own private parking, but know that a lot of them ask prices that are much higher than the underground car parks. My advice: check the price your accommodation offers first and then decide whether or not you find it worth to park at your accommodation, knowing that Bruges is so small and walkable.
Need help figuring out how well your accommodation is situated with reference to attractions, museums, restaurants...don't hesitate to contact me.
You can find a list of underground car parks in question 44. By clicking on the link in question 44 you will end up on the website of Interparking, the company responsible for underground parking in Bruges. All underground parkings have a fact sheet on the website, including the maximum height. The 'highest' parking can be found in front of the train station (side of the city), maximum 2m15.
So what if your car is higher? No worries, there are a number of other places where you can leave your car:
1. Outdoor car park from Interparking
In addition to underground car parks Interparking also has one outdoor parking behind the train station (on the suburban side): look for Oesterparking on the Interparking website. The price is 2 euro for one day. To reach the city center from here you simply cross the street, walk through the train station and you're there. The train station is on the edge of the tourist town.
2. Outdoor parking in the city / along the outer ring road
- you can also simply look for a spot somewhere in the city, but keep in mind that Bruges is divided into different parking zones and that we have a lot of one-way streets. Click on the link above to view the coloured parking zones:
blue = Monday until Saturday (not on Sundays and public holidays), max. 4 hours, blue parking disc (so no paid parking) from 9h00 till 20h00
yellow = every day, max two hours (one hour on Burg square!) , paid parking from 9h00 till 20h00
red = every day, max. two hours, paid parking from 9h00 till 22h00
green = Monday until Saturday (not on Sundays and public holidays), max. 4 hours, blue parking disc (so no paid parking) from 9h00 till 18h00
- the outer ring road consists of the following 'streets': Buiten Kruisvest, Buiten Kazernevest, Buiten Boninvest, Buiten Gentpoortvest, Buiten Katelijnevest . It's in fact one long road that?s part of the city's ring road for traffic. You can park along the road for free, as long as you like. Truckers, mobile homes and coaches also frequently use these parking places. You can walk into town, but when entering the city through one of the town gates you will find yourself in more quiet part of Bruges. The tourist center is 15 to 20 minutes walking depending on where you enter the city.
3. Outdoor parking outside the city: there are 6 parkings outside of Bruges, in the suburban areas. You can park here for free, as long as you wish. In most cases, to reach the city center you will need to catch a bus.
- Bevrijdingslaan = address: between Jan Breydellaan and Peter Benoitlaan. To town: 10 to 15 minutes walking or bus 23 from bus stop 'Bevrijdingslaan'.
- Magdalenastraat = address: crossing of Edgar De Smedtplantsoen and Magdalenastraat. To town: 15 minutes walking or bus 52 or 53 from bus stop 'Hertogen'.
- Coiseaukaai = address: crossing Lodewijk Coiseaukaai and Havenstraat. To town: 30 to 35 minutes walking or bus 14, 41, 42 or 84 from bus stop 'Haven'.
- Steenbrugge = address: end of Baron Ruzettelaan (near the bridge). To town: 40 to 45 minutes walking or bus 20 or 21 from bus stop 'P&R Steenbrugge'.
- Jan Breydel = address: Olympialaan (near Jan Breydel football stadium). To town: 40 to 45 minutes walking or bus 5, 15, 52, 53, 54, 55 or 89 from bus stop 'Sint-Andries Kerk'.
- Boogschutterslaan = address: Boogschutterslaan (near the church). To town: 25 to 35 minutes walking or bus 6, 10, 11, 16, 62 or 81 from bus stop 'Sint-Kruis Kerk'.
There is a special parking for people coming to Bruges with their mobile home. It's near the train station and just south of the beguinage. Signs will point you in the right direction.
There used to be a parking where you could park for the day + a parking where you could spend the night. That has recently changed: the day parking has vanished and only the parking where you can spend the night has stayed.
October till March = low season = 15 euro per day
April till September = high season = 22,50 euro per day
If you visit the website you will be able to find more details. Click on the link, scroll down and find "Bruges". Then select "Kampeerautoterreinen 1 & 2 (Bruges)" to learn more.
Check the answer to question 45 to learn about places where you can park for a couple of hours / half a day only.
In general you may simply use one of the car parks (above ground or underground) but if you do keep in mind that you will need to pay for your parking place.
There are however a number of parking areas inside / in close proximity of the tourist center reserved for motor bikes, and those are free:
- Beursplein (Zwijnstraat)
- 't Zand (side Hoefijzerlaan)
- 't Zand (side Westmeers)
- Vlamingstraat (in front of the theater building)
- Boeveriestraat (near house number 59)
Eurolines buses leave from Bruges to London and from Bruges to Amsterdam. The departure point is in the square, Stationsplein, in front of the train station where the local buses stop.
There are many different bus platforms, the Eurolines bus stops at platform 10! There is no sign indicating that platform 10 is the Eurolines stop (there is only a sign with Platform 10), so make sure you arrive in the square about 10 to 15 minutes in advance.
There is no Eurolines office in Bruges, so be careful not to miss your bus! It's not always a bus with "Eurolines" written on the side of the bus. So if a bus stops at platform 10 around the time of your departure, just ask the bus driver if he/she is the bus that goes to London / Amsterdam.
Tickets can only be purchased via the official website or by contacting the call center.
In general: the best place in Bruges to ask for train information is at the ticket desk where train tickets are sold. There is no separate information point inside the Bruges train station. There are desks for domestic and international train traffic as well as tickets machines.
Intercity train from Bruges> Brussels / Ghent
Every day at xxh01 and xxh36
Last train leaves in Bruges at 23h06.
These are direct trains.
Intercity train from Bruges> Antwerp
Weekdays: every xxh17 (direct) and xxh36 (1 change)
Last train leaves in Bruges at 22h36 (1 change)
Weekend: every xxh06 (direct) and xxh36 (1 change)
Last train leaves in Bruges at 22h36 (1 change).
The early morning and late evening trains might have a different schedule, which you can check on the official website of the train company (see link). The earliest trains depart shortly after 04h00.
As you never know what might happen always check the screens in the train station for the times and the platform number!
For the most up to date schedules visit the official website of the railway company (click on the link).
ALSO CHECK the answer to question 79.
No need for panic. Brussels is never the final destination of Intercity trains leaving Bruges, but Tongeren or Eupen is.
Normally only the final destination is shown on the departure screens in the train station, but not having Brussels appear on any screen is unthinkable. So Brussels is mentioned as well.
A train going to Brussels will always stop at all three train stations: Brussels-South (first), Brussel-Central (second) and Brussels-North (third station). Brussels-National Airport requires a change in one of those three stations (see item 16).
At each platform you will find a screen mentioning all stops for the next train leaving from that platform.
ALSO CHECK the answer to question 79.
There are frequent evening buses till at least 23h00. You best catch the bus with STATION written on top of it at the library Biekorf in the Kuiperstraat (just north of the Market square). Buses passing through this street return to the train station immediately. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes.
DON'T TAKE A BUS ON THE MARKET SQUARE!
Buses passing through the Market square will return to the train station.....eventually.
These buses have just started their round and will first tour the residential areas, sometimes going outside of Bruges, before returning to Biekorf library and the train station. In the worst case scenario it can take up to 1 hour to reach the train station.....(speaking from experience here)
As stated on the website there is a shuttle service between Zeebrugge and Bruges for P&O passengers, operated by Albion Tours.
The bus will be waiting at the terminal in Zeebrugge at around 8h00. It takes about 30 minutes to drive to Bruges where you will be dropped at the train station.
In the evening the bus departs at 17h30 at the train station in Bruges. The bus stop can be found behind the Standaard book shop. (the P&O website mentions Carrefour supermarket, but in reality it almost always stops behind the book shop).
HOW TO FIND THE BUS STOP IN BRUGES?
If you are facing the train station, the bus stop for the local buses and taxis will be on your right, on your left you will see several shops. Standaard is one of them, right next to the road for traffic.
Behind Standaard the Albion bus will wait, the exact address is Hendrik Brugmanstraat.
You cannot buy your ticket for this bus on the spot. Keep in mind it has to be booked in advance!
Eurostar and Thalys trains always leave from Brussels-South.
Brussels - South = Brussel - Zuid (in Dutch)
Brussels - South = Bruxelles - Midi (in French)
You can take the xxh01 or xxh36 train from Bruges. The journey will take about an hour (remember your check-in times!), Brussels-South is the first train station in Brussels and the second stop from Bruges.
The train will stop in Ghent-St.Pieters first and then Brussels-South.
ALSO CHECK the answer to question 79.
Yes. The official discount pass promoted by the tourist office is the Brugge City Card. It includes all museums, the boat tour OR sightseeing tour by bus, several museums outside of Bruges (in Damme, Oostende, Zeebrugge) and offers discount on bike rental, parking, public transportation, certain concerts and events.
All detailed information (prices, where to buy, how it works) can be found on the official website (click on the link).
There is also a three day pass for all 15 Municipal Museums, as well as several combination tickets for the Municipal Museums or private museums. If you need help figuring out which pass best suits you, don't hesitate to contact me!
PRICES Brugge City Card 2014
48 hours adult: 40 euro per person
72 hours adult: 45 euro per person
Along the Belgian coast, which is about 67 km, you find lots of small towns and seaside resorts. Each has its own unique atmosphere which explains why the coast is so very popular among the Belgians!
Choosing a coastal town pretty much depends on what you prefer and how much time you have. Visit the website to discover each of the seaside resorts.
Most people want to visit the coast for an afternoon or a daytrip. Starting from Bruges I usually suggest the east coast, that's the area between Oostende / Ostend and Knokke. Ostend is about halfway along the coast. In the hinterland you'll find Bruges roughly in the middle between Ostend and Knokke.
Very popular among tourists (and locals) is the coastal tram, operated by DE LIJN, the same company that is responsible for the buses in the Flanders region. The tram runs along the entire coast, from Knokke (on the Dutch border) to De Panne (on the French border). It stops in every seaside town!
In the summer there is a tram every 10 minutes, in both directions. During the winter the trams run a little less frequent, but still are an ideal and easy way to explore the coast.
Website: http:// www.delijn.be/ dekusttram /en/ index.htm (remove the spaces).
So what you can do is take a train from Bruges to Ostend (about 15 minutes), hop on the coastal tram that goes to Knokke, stop along the way where you want, and take a train from Knokke back to Bruges (about 20 minutes). Or the other way around, start in Knokke and end in Ostend.
Another way to discover the coast is by bike! It gives you more freedom. There is a special bike map for the entire Belgian coast which is for sale in all the tourist offices along the coast as well as the offices in Bruges.
The most popular bike map sold in Bruges is called "Brugse Ommeland Noord" which spans the entire region north of Bruges (with Damme and Sluis) and also the east coast area between Ostend and Knokke (with Lissewege).
As mentioned earlier each coastal town has its own tourist office. If you need the contact details for an office, don't hesitate to contact me.
Damme is a small town north east of Bruges. It is mostly famous for its windmill, church tower, Market square and general picturesque landscape with the tree lined canal and flat polders. There are multiple ways of reaching Damme, depending on the season:
BY BOAT - April until 15 October
The nostalgic river boat Lamme Goedzak takes you on a calm and peaceful trip from Bruges to Damme. You will sail on a straight canal flanked by trees and enjoy the scenery. The voyage takes about 45 minutes.
In Bruges you'll find the departure point at Noorweegse Kaai and in Damme near the famous windmill. To reach the embarkation point in Bruges you can catch bus 4 (at the train station, 't Zand square, or on the Market square) and get off at "Sasplein". From there it's about 10 minutes walking to Noorweegse Kaai.
* from Bruges at 10h00, 12h00, 14h00, 16h00 and 18h00
* from Damme at 9h15, 11h00, 13h00, 15h00 and 17h20
PRICES - single trip
* 7,50 euro for adults
* 6,00 euro for children aged 3 until 11
PRICES - return trip
* 10,50 euro for adults
* 8,50 euro for children aged 3 until 11
BIKE AND BOAT
One of the bike rental companies in Bruges has made a deal with Lamme Goedzak. You can rent a bike for the entire day at B-Bike, inside the Concertbuilding on 't Zand square in Bruges, and take it on the boat to Damme. This combination ticket costs 14 euro per person (2014: TBC). The normal price to rent a bike for the entire day is 12 euro.
BY LOCAL PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION BUS - all year round
Bus 43 used to be a perfect alternative for the sightseeing bus / boat tour, but due to cutbacks made by De Lijn - the bus company responsible for public transportation in Flanders - the nr. 43 is now hardly worth using. These days it is primarily aimed at people who need transfer between Bruges and Damme for work or school purposes, which means there is one bus in the morning and one bus in the evening. On Wednesday there is often an extra bus around noon. Of course, in summer you can combine bus 43 with the boat.
In Bruges you can catch the bus at the train station, on 't Zand square or the Market square. The ride takes about half an hour.
You can find the timetable for bus 43 on www.delijn.be
BY BIKE - all year round
There is nothing more easy than biking to Damme. It gives you lots of freedom and doesn't require a bike map at all. A regular Bruges tourist map is sufficient, find it by clicking on the link. In the upper right corner you will find the canal that leads to Damme. You can bike on both sides of the canal (Noorweegse Kaai or Damse Vaart-Zuid).
If you take Noorweegse Kaai you will follow a wide road along the canal, and later along a dyke (meaning you won't see the canal). Cars are allowed on this road, but most drivers use Damse Vaart-Zuid instead. Especially in summer and on warm spring / autumn days Noorweegse Kaai and onwards is filled with cyclists which makes car driving somewhat unpleasant. The car drivers you will encounter are most likely people who live along the canal.
You can also follow Damse Vaart-Zuid. You will find yourself on a narrow bike path (two people max.) along the road for car traffic. You will bike along the canal and later on top of a dyke.
Starting on the edge of Bruges, it should take you about 20 minutes to bike to Damme, perhaps a little longer if you stop to take photos.
Like I said you don't really need a bike map, but bike maps are of course available at the local tourist offices.
Bike rental points in Bruges: see the answer to question 60.
BY TAXI - all year round
Quick and easy, but the most expensive option. The ride is about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on traffic. You can find taxis at the train station in Bruges. The price would be about 25 euro (according to taxi company Snel).
WALKING - all year round
Basically the same as biking to Damme, only it will take longer. The distance between Bruges and Damme is approximately 6 km / 3.7 miles.
First of all read the answer to question 24.
In short though: for Bruges’ city center you don’t really need a bike, except perhaps if you wish to explore the green ramparts around the city without losing too much time. You can walk around the ramparts but biking is faster.
That said I will focus on how to explore the area around Bruges. You should know that Belgium and The Netherlands have a compatible cycle route network. For the area around Bruges, the provincial tourist office Westtoer has selected the safest and most beautiful bicycle trails. These carefully chosen paths are linked in the large network.
How does it work?
The point where two or more bike paths meet is called a junction. Each junction has received a number. By combining these numbers you can map out your own route and, if you wish, plan your ride in advance.
In the street, each junction is marked with a sign: on top the sign mentions the number of that particular junction. Below the junction number you will find arrows pointing you in the direction of the nearest junctions. Additional signs are added between two junctions to keep you going in the right direction.
Tourist offices throughout Flanders and The Netherlands sell bike maps with their regional networks. In Bruges the most commonly asked maps are:
* Brugse Ommeland Noord = the area north of Bruges, with the coastline between Oostende and Knokke, going to the Dutch border
* Brugse Ommeland Zuid = the area south of Bruges, with numerous forests and parks
* De Kust = the entire coastline
Brugse Ommeland Noord is one of the most popular maps. For this map the junction numbers stop at the Dutch border, but if you visit the tourist office in Sluis for instance, you can find maps to continue north in The Netherlands.…. and so on. That way all regional bike maps are compatible. It would be impossible to make one map of Belgium and The Netherlands together!
So, you can buy these maps at the tourist offices, but you can also use the website (see link) to map out your route. The junction numbers from the website correspond – naturally – with the junction numbers on the bike maps.
In addition there are fixed bike routes. The cycle network explained above gives you complete freedom. You’ve got a map of the region, dotted with junction numbers and you can decide for yourself which junction numbers you connect into a cycle route. The fixed bike routes use the same network, but a route has already been selected for you.
If you prefer to do a guided bike tour, kindly read item 9 to 11 in my Trip List “Daytrips and excursions in and around Bruges”.
Will update asap.
At certain locations inside the city center you can access the network of Zapfi, this is free. The tourist office inside the Concerthall on 't Zand square also offers free wifi.
Click on the link to find the bike rental companies.
Keep in mind that these are all different companies. You rent it at company A, you return it at company A. Renting and collecting at company A and leaving it behind at company B is not possible.
Also read the answer to question 24.
No, tourist office employees are not allowed to recommend anything in particular, this applies to shops, restaurants and hotels! Questions like: "What's the best restaurant in town?" or "Where would you go?" will remain unanswered.
We can however recommend you something based on your preferences! So you'll need to be specific. A free restaurant guide is available at the tourist offices.
But hey, this is Tripadvisor! Use the forum, lots of people will be able to help you or tell you about their favourite restaurant.
Resto (see link) is a useful website as well. Select "West-Flanders" at "Provence", "Bruges" at "City" or 8000 at "Zip code".
Contact me to request a list of vegetarian (friendly) restaurants in Bruges. Kindly mention your e-mail address as attaching documents via a Tripadvisor message is not possible.
Sure it's nice to order breakfast in your room or connect with fellow travelers in the breakfast area, but you can also have breakfast in town and perhaps meet some locals.
I've collected a list of places where you can have breakfast, or buy bread / sandwiches.
Contact me to get the list, and please mention your e-mail address as attaching documents in a Tripadvisor message is not possible.
If you wanna do some heavy partying in a fancy club, in all honesty: you should find another city. Bruges is known for it's quiet nightlife, the only thing we have are pubs pubs and...more pubs. Mind: they play (loud) music and you can dance, but they're still pubs. There are a couple of lounge bars as well.
Het Entrepot is a hangout place for young people and probably the closest thing we have to a club. There are frequent concerts and parties.
www.hetentrepot.be> kalender (event calendar)
There are two areas in Bruges where people go out: 't Zand square and a small square behind the Market called Eiermarkt. You can find the 2013 map with all pubs if you click on the link (might take a while to load).
It's on the website.
Dutch only for now, but more languages will follow.
Bookstores and newspaper shops often sell stamps as they also sell postcards. Usually when you buy a postcard you will be asked whether or not you want stamps as well.
However, the best place to buy your stamps is of course in the post office, where they will also be able to advice you.
The post office of Bruges can be found on the corner of Market square and Breidelstraat. Opening hours: Monday – Friday from 9h00 till 18h00 and on Saturday from 9h00 till 15h00, closed on Sunday.
A second smaller office can be found near ’t Zand square, in Sint-Maartensbilk (or Beursplein/square). They are open Monday – Friday from 9h00 till 12h30 and 13h30 till 17h00. On Saturday it’s only open in the morning and on Sunday the office is closed.
In addition to these two post offices there are also a few post points, shops that offer a minimal post service:
- ’t Dagelijks Nieuws in Langestraat 27-29
- Press SH in Katelijnestraat 41
Since 1 July 2011 Belgian law prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places. That includes train stations, public transportation, airports, shops, cinemas, but also restaurants and cafes/ pubs. If you want to smoke you will need to step outside. You can only smoke inside when there is a separate smoking room available in the public place. You are allowed to smoke on restaurant and pub terraces.
Hotel entrances, corridors, lobbies, lounges and bars are also public places and therefore you are not allowed to smoke here. Your hotel room is considered private for the duration of your stay, however hotel owners can decide for themselves whether or not they allow smoking in their rooms. Some hotels choose to be completely non-smoking, others have smoking and non-smoking rooms. Naturally it is most definitely not allowed to smoke in a non-smoking room.
The government website (click on the link) is only available in Dutch, French and German, so any English speaking people with questions can contact them via roken-horeca @ health.fgov.be (remove the spaces).
Here is a list of pharmacies (in Dutch: apotheek) located within the tourist center:
- Apotheek Baert, Wollestraat 7 (next to the Belfry)
- Apotheek Coene-De Jonghe, Katelijnestraat 50 (across the Diamond museum)
- Apotheek Lesage, Langestraat 36 (across hotel Flanders)
- Apotheek De Biekorf, Sint-Jakobsstraat 6 (just off Market square)
- Apotheek Alice De Pauw, Genthof 12 (near Jan van Eyck square)
- Apotheek Fevery - De Witte, Zuidzandstraat 1 (in shopping street, next to Sint-Salvators cathedral)
- Apotheek Fernand Kyndt, Geldmuntstraat 32 (in shopping street, near the large ice cream shop Da Vinci)
- Apotheek Christine Latruwe, Braambergstraat 23 (near Vismarkt / Fish Market)
- Apotheek Priem, Noordzandstraat 53 (halfway in shopping street)
- Apotheek Storme, Eekhoutstraat 7 (near Rozenhoedkaai)
- Apotheek Jooris, Hoogstraat 16 (just off Burg square)
- Apotheek Monica Soetaert, Vlamingstraat 17 (just off Market square)
In more residential areas of the city you find:
- Apotheek Smekens, Langerei 2 (near CafeVlissinghe = oldest pub in town)
- Apotheek Debaenst, Langerei 56 (near Grootseminarie museum)
- Apotheek Vande Ginste, Annuntiatenstraat 43 (near hotel Jacobs)
- Apotheek Ellen Braems, Ezelstraat 123 (near Snuffels Backpackers youth hostel)
- Apotheek De Leyn, Smedenstraat 16 (near 't Zand square)
- Brupharma, Smedenstraat 73 (near 't Zand square and town gate Smedenpoort)
- Apotheek Katrien Lemahieu, Gentpoortstraat 3 (near Koningin Astridpark)
- Multifarma, Park 7 (near Koningin Astridpark)
- Apotheek Sint-Anna, Jeruzalemstraat 62 (near Lace Center)
- Apotheek Patrona Pharma Groep, Oude Zak 54 (near hotel Walwyck)
- Apotheek Luc Van Ruymbeke, Sint-Jakobsstraat 54 (side street from Market square)
Pharmacies are open during the week, but in weekends only 1 or 2 remain open. You can find the pharmacies on duty on the website above. It's in Dutch or French only, but quite simple to use. Simply enter "8000" at "Postcode" ( = postal code) and /or "Brugge" at "Gemeente" ( = town). Hit "Zoek apotheek" (= find pharmacy).
Yes and no.
A civil marriage is not possible. One of the two people must have been living in Bruges for at least three months and that’s just one of the requirements.
But once you are married in your own country you can have a ceremonial wedding in Bruges if you like.
The wedding planet (click on the link) is run by a former member of the tourist office. Kathy will be able to help you find that perfect spot and assist you navigating through the paperwork.
I have dedicated an entire Trip List to this question, but it's not available on Tripadvisor as it's actually a PDF-file. Each location is marked on a map and I added several pictures for each location. You can contact me via Tripadvisor (see profile page) to have the document send to you via e-mail.
Combine my list with the locations mentioned on the tourist office website (click on link).
I have made a route description explaining which bus to take and from where, illustrated with maps. If you wish to receive the document kindly contact me with your e-mail address so I can send it to you (attaching documents in Tripadvisor is not possible).
Jan Breydel by the way is home to two soccer teams: Club Brugge (black and blue) and Cercle Brugge (black and green).
In Belgium you are not obliged to tip and if you do it’s a sign of appreciation. It means you are satisfied with the service you have been given.
In cafes / pubs and restaurants VAT and service charges are included when you receive your bill, but people often give a tip by rounding up the amount. For instance: if the bill says 87,45 euro, you can pay 90 euro. The larger the amount, the higher the tip of course. No need to tip 3 euro when you have only bought two drinks on a terrace.
VAT and service charges are also included for taxi rides. It is less accustomed to give the taxi driver a little extra, but it happens.
Tipping in a hotel isn't necessary, but you're welcome to do it if you want to.
That is entirely up to you. You can walk into a local frietkot to order French (actually Belgian, but let's not discuss that major historic blunder) fries and pay 5 to 8 euro for a full meal. There are take-away shops where you can order pasta, panini, pancakes or waffles for the same price and less. And of course there are many many restaurants.
When going into a restaurant a reasonable price for a main course only would be between 15 to 25 euro per person, depending on the dish you choose. Drinks are between 2 and 3 euro.
Keep in mind that restaurants on the Market square are more touristy (= bit more expensive).
No, you may not swim in our canals, except in December and January when the local "Polar bear club" organises their annual X-mas and New Year's swim at Rozenhoedkaai.
FYI: because of increasing demand to swim in the canals the city is currently researching whether or not it is possible to permit swimming in the canals on fixed days and hours. Maybe it will be possible as of summer 2014.
Dutch is the official language spoken in Bruges, not French as many tourists seem to think!
The official Dutch that you hear in Belgium sounds different than the official Dutch used in the Netherlands. It's like American English vs British English.
Besides the official Dutch there are the many different Dutch dialects, both in Belgium and The Netherlands. The one used in Bruges is called West-Flemish.
As many of you will probably not be able to speak Dutch you can use French or English in Bruges. You won't have any problem. Several travel guide books say that it's best to use English instead of French because of the tense political situation in Belgium. Personally I think it is best to start with: "Do you speak ... French / English / German?" before asking your question. This is more polite and you'll see for yourself what the answer will be.
Ow, and let's not forget German. Some people will be able to help you in that language as well.
I work at the front office desks and I sort of noticed over the years that more and more people expect to be helped in their own language, even though it is far from normal for Belgians to speak that language...like Russian or Italian.
So, just to give you an idea:
Generally speaking, everybody at the tourist office can speak Dutch (the native language in Bruges), French and English (working proficiency). A large amount can speak basic Spanish and/or German. Only a couple can speak Italian and there is one person who can speak fluent Swedish / Norwegian.
As you never know which languages the tourist office employee in front of you is able to speak, it is best to politely ask if he/she can speak your language keeping in mind that English / French is always safe.
In a perfect world all Belgians are bilingual: Dutch and French. Therefore some Flemish people find that when in Flanders you have to speak (or try to speak) Dutch. This applies to the French speaking citizens of course, not tourists.
The political party promoting this way of thinking is currently the largest party in Flanders. They are also in favour of splitting the country. You may have heard that Belgium has broken the world record for time taken to form a new democratic government after an election. This made Belgium international news. Because of the media the matter of Dutch vs. French remains a hot topic. Therefore some travel guidebooks now mention that you best not speak French in Flanders…and Bruges.
Does this mean you cannot speak French in Bruges? No.
Bruges is a tourist destination. The tourist industry cannot afford to not speak French as so many of our visitors are French speaking (either from Belgium, or France). Furthermore, it is a courtesy to welcome people in their own language, as much as possible. So yes, you can speak French in Bruges. If you are uncertain whether a person speaks French or not, just ask them at the start of you conversation.
We locals understand you can't speak (perfect) Dutch, but it is always appreciated when you say little things like "hello" , "thank you" or "goodbye" in the local language. So here's a few simple but essential phrases to twist your tongue around:
* Hello = Hallo (a like in "ask" / "answer" - British pronunciation that is)
* Thank you = Dank u (dhank-ew)
* Please = Alstublieft (ahls-tew-bleeft)
* Yes = Ja (yaa)
* No = Nee (nay) - like in the House of Lords
* Do you speak English = Spreek u Engels (Spraykt uw eng-uhls)
That's all you need really to make me smile, in a good way!
There is none.
As explained in the answer to question 75 we speak Dutch in Bruges (and Flanders). Wallonia is the French speaking part of the country and Brussels is officially bilingual. There is a small minority German speaking population near the Belgian/German border.
So Midi is French, and Zuid is Dutch for Brussels-SOUTH train station. Here are some other examples that might be useful when traveling around:
* Brugge (Dutch) - Bruges (French) - Bruges (English)
* Gent (Dutch) - Gand (French) - Ghent (English)
* Antwerpen (Dutch) - Anvers (French) - Antwerp (English)
* Brussel (Dutch) - Bruxelles (French) - Brussels (English)
* Ieper (Dutch) - Ypres (French) - Ypres (English)
* Kortrijk (Dutch) - Courtrai (French) - Kortrijk or Coutray (English)
* Oostende (Dutch) - Ostende (French) - Ostend (English)
* Leuven (Dutch) - Louvain (French) - Leuven (English)
In one word: unpredictable.
We have a moderate sea climate which means that we have mild summers (18 to 22 degrees Celsius by day on average) and winters (0 to 5 degrees Celsius by day on average). It can rain any time of year, but most rain falls in autumn. We can have beautiful sunny days with clear blue skies and a handful of puffy white clouds any time of year as well. In winter we are sometimes graced with snow, but it's often a thin layer of only a couple of centimeters. Snow can occur between November and March.
Day trippers coming from the inland, keep in mind that as Bruges is only a couple of kilometers from the coast in summer it is usually a couple of degrees colder than temperatures inland (say Brussels). In winter it is often a bit warmer in Bruges.
You can check the day to day weather on the website of KMI, the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium. It's available in English.
Belgium, and therefore Bruges, are UTC +1 and UTC +2 in summer.
In 2014 we change to SUMMER time in the night of Saturday 29 to Sunday 30 March. We turn the clock one our forward> 2h00 becomes 3h00.
In 2014 we change to WINTER time in the night of Saturday 25 to Sunday 26 October.
We turn the clock one hour back> 2h00 becomes 1h00
On 01/01/2013 there were 117.578 people living in Bruges, that includes the communities surrounding Bruges as well as Zeebrugge, Lissewege, Dudzele and Zwankendamme.
The city center itself, which is surrounded by a canal, had 19.741 people at the beginning of 2013.
In Bruges phone numbers start with 050 (area code). Belgian cell phone numbers always start with 04. If you see +32 it means 0032, the country code for Belgium.
How to call a Belgian number using a Belgian phone?
For example: 050 44 46 46
Dial: 050 44 46 46
For example: 0479 08 45 25
Dial: 0479 08 45 25
How to call a Belgian number using a foreign (cell) phone?
For example: 050 44 46 46
Dial: 0032 50 44 46 46
For example: 0479 08 45 25
Dial: 0032 479 08 45 25
You leave out the first zero.
220 / 230V.
Read about the plug used in Belgium on Wikipedia, it's type CEE 7/5 (French).
Should you find yourself in trouble with our sockets you can buy a universal plug adapter at the large Saturn store next to the train station. Otherwise you can also check with your b&b owner / hotel reception if they keep adapters.
Generally speaking entry requirements are not so strict, but it depends on where you're from. So, it is best to check this with your own government, or local travel agent.
For example: For British citizens I copied a link to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
It is fair to say that Bruges is a relatively safe city. If something "bad" happens everybody talks about it for days as we are not used to crime.
Of course it is wise to observe a few simple precautions to avoid being pickpocketed or have your bag snatched, like:
* not leaving your personal items unguarded in trains, stations, restaurants and public areas
* not leaving your bag open
* not carrying a lot cash money
and so on.
Should something go wrong you can find a police office in:
* Kartuizerinnenstraat 4 (near the Market square)
* inside the train station
The main office is just outside the city, on Lodewijk Coiseaukaai (bus 14, 41 or 42, bus stop = Haven)
Personally I always carry the contact details of my own embassy (Dutch and Belgian) on me when traveling abroad, just to be sure.
If you click on the link you'll be directed to a Belgian government website listing all embassies and consulates in the country. You can search for your own and copy the contact details.
The general number to call is 112, for police, ambulance service and the fire department.
For doctors on duty, call 0032 (0)78 15 15 90
For pharmacists on duty, call 0032 (0)900 10 500 ( a list of all pharmacies in Bruges can be found in the answer to question 68)
For dentists on duty, call 0032 (0)903 39 969
For local police, call 0032 (0)50 44 88 44 ( a list of police offices can be found in the answer to question 86)
There are three hospitals in Bruges:
* A.Z. St.-Jan, Ruddershove, 8000 Brugge, tel. 0032 (0)50 - 45 21 11
* A.Z. St.-Lucas, Sint-Lucaslaan 29, 8310 Brugge, tel. 0032 (0)50 - 36 91 11
* St.-Franciscus Xaveriuskliniek (part of AZ Sint Jan), Spaanse Loskaai 1, 8000 Brugge, tel. 0032 (0)50 - 47 04 70
There are quite a lot of churches in Bruges, so I will list the most important ones:
- Church of Our Lady: Tuesday and Thursday at 9h00, Saturday at 17h30, Sunday at 11h00
- Saint Salvators cathedral: Monday until Friday at 18h00, Saturday at 16h00, Sunday at 10h30
- Beguinage church: Monday until Saturday at 7h15, Sunday at 9h30
- Basilica of the Holy Blood: every day (except Thursday) at 11h00
If you need another church or the full list, feel free to contact me.
There are no car rental companies inside the city, all companies are located (just) outside of Bruges. Therefore I have made a document with route descriptions on how to reach each car rental company, plus of course the practical information about the company itself.
Contact me to request the document and don't forget to mention your e-mail address, as attaching documents in Tripadvisor isn't possible.
I collected some tips on how to prepare your visit to Bruges in a separate Trip List. Click on the link to get redirected.