Bruges City Guide

Affectionately called as the Venice of the North, the city of Bruges is considered as one of Belgium’s crown jewels. Here, people are consciously trying to preserve the beauty of their architectural and historical treasures, not to mention the quiet but quaint charm of the city. The center of the city itself has been tagged as a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO.) Although there is conclusive evidence that shows that Bruges has been flourishing ever since the 1st century during the height of Julius Caesar’s reign, the city itself reached its pinnacle of development, (in terms of historical sites and architectural wonders) during the 12th century and onwards. It was this time when canals became part of the urban setup, and all sorts of commercial markets were established. With the emergence of a booming economy, art and architecture also flourished. Today, the inhabitants of Bruges are adamantly pushing for the preservation of their “medieval” settings, while encouraging more people to visit. Tourism means big business in Bruges, and the city has been known to be very accommodating to tourists and visitors. Regular tourist treats include: riding the canals, or walking on the streets paved with cobblestones, or staying in ivory covered hotels and inns. As such, the best way to travel to Bruge is by plane, car, boat, or by train. However, once you get to this miniature city, travel would be a lot easier (and faster) if you hitch ride on the bus, or rent a bicycle of your own. There are certain parts of the city wherein automobiles are still not allowed. Therefore, using environmentally friendlier modes of travel is better here… and that includes walking all over the cityscape. In fact, there are numerous walking tours available to people who want to see the architectural treasures of Bruges. Bruges is gorgeous all throughout the year, but many people love visiting the city during the summer and winter months. Local holidays contribute greatly to the festivities, but the natural landscape is really the selling point here. The long sunny days of summers in Bruges and the pristine white horizons of winter win over tourists and locals alike. On the other hand, there are those who would rather not rub elbows with the throng of tourists, especially since hotels and other lodging establishments fill up very quickly during the summer and winter months. This makes an autumn season visit to the city well worth the wait, since there are fewer people on board. And you get to pick and choose the best hotels at discounted prices too. Shopping in Bruges is a relatively easy affair. There are only two large market areas where you can practically buy anything you can think of or fancy at the moment. Food, drinks, trinkets, souvenirs, clothes, jewelry and what-have-you are readily available; but goods can be a bit expensive if you do not take the time to really look around for bargains and better priced deals. Nightlife in the city is relatively quiet. Although there are some hip clubs and bar joints to go to, most of the wilder stuff happens beyond the borders of Bruges.