Small, quaint and cosmopolitan, the city of Bruges, Belgium (Brugge in Dutch) often shares the title of ‘Venice of the North’ with Amsterdam, thanks to its famous canals. Its origins can be traced back to the days of the Vikings, and Bruges officially became a city in 1128.
Today, its historic Medieval city center has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Bruges thrives as a major tourist destination; a remarkable feat for a city that was saddled with a dwindling population and impending nonexistence in the early 1800s. Bruges, like Belgium itself, is widely known for its incredible chocolate and lace – both of which can be readily purchased here.
Your River Cruise Ship Docks …
While deep-ocean cruise ships are forced to dock at nearby Zeebrugge, river cruise ships are able to tie up near the center of Bruges itself.
When in Bruges …
With its charming streets, medieval buildings and pleasant atmosphere, Brugges lends itself well to on-foot exploration, a task made even more accessible for river cruisers thanks to the proximity of the docks to the city itself.
Among the best ways to spend your day:
- Walk. This “Venice of the North” is much like its Mediterranean counterpart: it’s a beautiful city to stroll around and lose yourself completely in. Don’t be afraid to try new things!
- Chocolate. Belgium is known for it, and there’s certainly no lack of delectable sweets shops here in Bruges.
- Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk is a church worth visiting if only to see one of the rare examples of Michelangelo’s work available outside of Italy: the sculpture of Madonna with Child.
- The Frietmuseum: Bruges is nothing if not diverse, and the Frietmusem is an excellent example of this. What is it? Why, a museum dedicated to the intricate history of the French fry, of course! But seriously: it’s pretty cool.
River Cruisers Should Know!
- The currency of Belgium is the Euro (€)
- Dutch and English are widely spoken throughout Bruges, along with a smattering of German.
- Crime shouldn’t be a major issue in Bruges, but it still pays to exercise the normal level of alertness you would in any major city.
- For some great shots of Bruges, rent the 2008 film In Bruges. Starring Colin Farrell, nearly the entire movie was shot on-location in Bruges.