MUCH OF OLD-WORLD EUROPE has been swept away. Thanks to countless wars, the irresistible draw of modernization, and overwrought tourism infrastructure, the Europe of your dreams is harder to find than ever. However, there are still towns where you can experience that ‘old-world European charm’ almost like it was when Wordsworth and the Romantics first popularized vagabonding the Continent.
One of the few cities that still well-preserved to its original state is Bruges, in Belgium.
Thanks to a silted-up port, Bruges—Venice of the North—is a perfectly preserved medieval UNESCO World Heritage Site. With tons of amazing beer and chocolate.
I visited Bruges on 17th Oct 2015 as part of my short visit to Central Europe itinenary.
Bruges, the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium, is distinguished by its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. Its port, Zeebrugge, is an important center for fishing and European trade. The city-center Markt features horse-drawn carriage rides and 17th-century houses converted into restaurants and cafes, as well as the 13th-century belfry with its 47-bell carillon and 83m tower with panoramic views.
To my dismay, our tour of the Old Town only lasted for a few hours because we need to hurry to Paris before the jammed get started.
If you really want to enjoy this amazing city, you need to stay here at least one or two days. I assure you ~ you wont regret it.
Me ~ The happy traveller with my selfie stick!
BRUGES OLD TOWN BELGIUM
One of the most perfectly preserved medieval towns in Europe, Bruges Old Town has something for all tastes. Simply stroll the cobbles and you will discover many pretty scenes, medieval houses, winding canals and tempting shop window displays of chocolate. The whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the historic fabric and original Gothic constructions have maintained themselves over the centuries.
The town revolves around the Markt- the main town square, and this area issurrounded by shops and restaurants. At the south end of the square, lies the town’s musical bell tower known as the Belfort. For a dramatic view of the whole city, climb the 366 steps to the top of the Belfort tower. During the Christmas period the Markt hosts a Christmas Market, surrounding a central ice rink. Thus making it a holiday destination all year round.
Other main sights within the Old Town include the Basilica of the Holy Blood (housing a container of what is supposedly the blood of Jesus Christ, the dignified Town Hall and gilded Renaissance Hall.
If I had to choose between Brussels and Bruges, I will take Bruges without hesistant.
1. How to and from Brugges
From Air France:
Easy drive from France and other, all you need on road conditions and information from the Belgian route network here
From Paris you can take the autoroute A1-E17 to Lille ,then the autoroute A22 until connect with autoroute A17-E403 direction Brugge (Bruges in French). Once arriving, get on one of the 6 public parking garages in town.
You can use route planner
The parkings are Centrum-Zand ,Parking Biekorf, Parking Pandreitje ,Parking Katelijne ,Randparking (Parking beltway) ,Bevrijdingslaan Randparking (Parking beltway), Magdalenastraat Randparking (Parking beltway), Coiseaukaai , park and relay P & R Steenbrugge, park and relay P & R Jan Breydel, and park and relay P & R Boogschutterslaan. The best is katelijne or at your hotel. Cheapest at the train station.
Great map from city of Brugge for direction in town
By train from Paris Nord (gare du nord) to Brussels Midi and then Brugge about 2h30.
Baggage depot available at Bagagekluizen Station, Stationsplein ,by the bus stop Station perron 1, Station plein tel: +32 50 30 23 28, and at the Bagagekluizen Historium, Markt 1, by the bus stop Markt,tel+32 50 27 03 11
Some train stations with easy access to Brugge:
NMBS Station Lissewege
NMBS Station Zeebrugge
NMBS Station Zwankendamme
Zaventem airport at Brussels is only about 1h30 and Charleroi about 2hrs.
The bus stations are located at bus station Centrum : Markt, Wollestraat, Biekorf, Kuipersstraat. for city and nearby, and for longer distance they are at ‘t Zand as well. The bus is here in Flemish.
If you rather best to walk once in town
Taxi stands are at Stands : Markt : tel. 32(0)50 33 44 44 and Stationsplein : tel. 32(0)50 38 46 60.
Horse Carriage Tour
I guess for many people (especially couples) a horse carriage tour is a romantic way to see an old medieval town. Of course the reality is a bit different, for this old fashioned style of transport you have to pay lot of money for just a 30 minute ride through the streets along with cars and numerous other visitors.
Most of them depart from Market square, I noticed the driver was also a guide too, pointing at sites etc so it’s not just a ride but a small tour around.
Although it was nice to see around these horses and listening to the clip clop sound I was surprised to see how clean the streets were until I realized there is bag underneath the horse’s tail
Every horse we saw seemed in good condition.
Brugge is full of canals and a canal tour will give you an opportunity to see this beautiful medieval town and many of these old monuments and buildings from a different point of view.
There are many open boats that run through the main canals with the boat driver as a guide too that will give information about the surroundings (usually in more than one language). The boat tour lasts for 30 minutes.
Wait for more pictures.
…… to be continue