Bruges (or Brugge in Dutch) is like a medieval postcard come to life and is Belgium’s top tourist attraction. This is the best preserved medieval city in all of Europe and the historic town center in now officially a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The official language is Dutch, but everyone speaks French and English as well so visiting could not be easier.
What to do
The market square in the center is still a functioning daily market for locals if they can get through the throngs of photo-snapping tourists and the horse-drawn carriages coming and going. The tour boats on the canals are also popular and worthwhile. The price is reasonable and these are a great way to get your bearings in the city and see many things you’d never access or notice on foot.
So much of the center is so perfectly preserved that it feels like you are visiting a theme park. There are churches and museums all over, but you are in Belgium and that means you are in the home of some of the world’s best chocolate and beer (sold separately). There are chocolate shops all over town and the quality is excellent, but they tend to be pricey. There are beer boutiques as well, but the local pubs stock a fine selection of the famous and intoxicating monastery-brewed Belgian beers.
Bruges is usually approached by train and is a frequent stop for Eurail Pass holders. Trains from Brussels leave every 30 minutes or so and long distance bus services are also available. Bruges has an international airport (code: OST) but not many passenger flights use it so it’s almost always best to book a flight into Brussels or even Amsterdam and take the train from there.
Where to stay
Bruges gets mobbed in summer. There are many hostels in Bruges and quite a few hotels as well, but if you are coming during the peak season it’s advisable to book well ahead as the better and cheaper places tend to fill up first.
Read: Camping in Europe: A First Timer’s Guide, there’s a great campground in Bruges!