One of a number of countries in Northern Europe which sometimes go by the name of the Venice of the North, Bruges certainly matches its Italian counterpart when it comes to creating a special atmosphere for visitors to experience. The capital of the Province of West Flanders in Belgium, it’s a principal port of call on itineraries which explore the Dutch Belgian Waterways and is a joy to explore. The UNESCO World Heritage Site centre is where all tourists head and it’s where you’ll find the vast majority of this charming port’s attractions. Weaving through a number of them is the city’s canal network, which offers a great introduction to Bruges and is considered by many the best way to see the sights.
Burg Square is the medieval heart of Bruges and offers a thoroughly rewarding and atmospheric experience. It’s here that you’ll find some of the town’s most historic buildings, such as the Town Hall and the Basilica of the Holy Blood. The Town Hall dates all the way back to 1376 is still the place from where Bruges is governed. Step inside and you’ll see some excellent gothic architecture and enjoy a fascinating look at how Bruges was governed over the years. The Basilica of the Holy Blood is celebrated for its reliquary containing a phial which reputedly holds a sample of Christ’s blood. Understandably, this makes it a hugely popular tourist spot but the church itself is an architectural delight, whether you see the holy relic or not. Other buildings of architectural and religious note include the Holy Saviour Cathedral, which is Bruges’ oldest parish church and the beautifully ornate Church of Our Lady.
Belgium is of course famous for its world-class chocolate and there’s no finer place to sample it and indeed stock up on it, than Bruges. As you stroll through the Old Town’s quant cobbled streets, you’ll pass numerous specialist outlets where you can pick up the delicacy in numerous forms and of course, sample it for yourself. For a closer insight into how the chocolate is actually made, make sure you head to Choco-Story, the Chocolate Museum, which features live demonstrations, museum displays and of course, plenty of chocolate treats for sale.
The canals are always busy, so if you're planning a boat ride, get there early to avoid the queues. If you happen to visit on market day, you’ll be able to sample the local produce and perhaps pick up some souvenirs to take home.
Suggested Read: Bruges: A chocolate box city with enduring charm