Hostelworld Guide for Bruges

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Thanks to its enchanting squares, medieval buildings and cobweb of canals, Bruges is like something out of a fairytale. Unsurprisingly, it is Belgium's most popular tourist destination. This is a city in which you can get totally lost, yet always find your way back to the centre thanks to the Belfry, the old tower in the centre of the city. As you walk around its streets, crossing canal bridges and letting the sound of trotting horses drown out your chit-chat, you will feel like you have stepped back in time.

 

 

In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop






 The Essentials


 Climate


Exchange Rates

rates

Getting There

By plane: Bruges doesn't have its own airport. The nearest airport is Brussels International. The train journey from Brussels airport to Bruges takes approximately 1 hour 10 minutes - 20 minutes from the Brussels Airport to Brussels Midi and 50 minutes from Brussels Midi to Bruges.

By train: Bruges' train station is on the outskirts of the city centre. There are regular connections with other Belgian cities. The train station itself is a 15 minute walk from Central Bruges. There are regular connections to the centre via bus.

By bus: Buses travelling to Bruges from other parts of the country terminate at the city's train station.

Getting Around

On foot: As Bruges city centre is extremely compact, you can see all its main sights on foot. As one of these, the Belfry tower, is right in the middle of the city, you'll never get lost!

By bus: There is a local bus operating throughout the city but apart from the journey to and from the train station, you won't need to use it.

By horse & carriage/boat: Neither are these are very practical, but if you're looking for a different way to get around Bruges consider either of these!


Bruges experiences a maritime climate due to its proximity to the North Sea meaning it gets its fair share of rain and grey skies. The average temperature in winter never drops O°C while summers are pleasant as it never gets unbearably warm. The best months to visit are between March and October.

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 Useful Information

Language: Flemish
Currency: Euro
Electricity: 220 Volts, AC/50Hz
Area Code: +32 (Belgium), 050 (Bruges)
Emergency Codes: Ambulance 100 / Fire 100 / Police 101
Time Zone: Central European Time
Central Post Office: Markt 5
Main Tourist Office: Burg 11

Embassies*

USA: +32 (0)2 508 2111
UK: +32 (0)2 287 62 11
Canada: +32 (0)2 741 0703
Australia: +32 (0)2 286 0500
South Africa: +32 (0)2 285 4400
Ireland: +32 (0)2 707 2693
Germany: +32 (0)2 774 1911
Spain: +32 (0)2 230 0340
Italy: +32 (0)2 643 3850
New Zealand: +32 (0)2 512 1040
France: +32 (0)2 548 8711

*Embassies in Brussels

 
Hostelworld Guide for Bruges www.hostelworld.com

 Cheap Eats


 After Dark


Frituur Peter, Markt These stands, located right in front of the Belfry Tower in Markt, have been satisfying rumbling stomachs for decades. The menus are packed with fast food but there are some local specialities thrown in for good measure. €5 will get a you lots of junk for your trunk, and a drink too. Open daily from 10am-4am.

Pili Pili, Hoogstraat 17 While their logo sports a chili, Pili Pili specialises in Italian fare, not Thai. Here the funky décor and cool paintings make eating an extremely pleasurable experience. Pastas on the menu start at €5.50 while this snug restaurant also does meal specials from €8. Open daily from 12 noon-2pm and 6pm-10.30pm.

De Bretoen Pannenkoeken, Ezelstraat 4 Located beside a canal just north of Markt, this cosy café/restaurant offers food for a couple of Euro less than those dotted around the city's more central streets. Its menu isn't the most extensive in the world, but this is the perfect place for an afternoon lunch. Open daily from 11am-10pm.

 Want to know where to start the day?

Het Dagelijks Brood, Philipstockstraat 21 It's seldom that you enter an establishment and know within minutes of sitting down you'll be returning soon. But when you take a seat at the communal table here to enjoy your bread and tea for breakfast, or soup or salad for lunch, you know you'll be back. Staff are refreshingly polite in a city run by tourism and the fare is second to none. Open daily from 8am-7pm.

Le Baguette, Katelijnestraat, 20 If you’re looking for a fast, quick lunch that won’t work out too expensive, Le Baguette on Katelijnestraat in Central Bruges is just the place. There’s nothing particularly special about the interior, but they do good paninis, baguettes and cakes if you feel like a treat. Open daily from 7.30am-6pm.


Bistro 't Zwart Huis, Kuiperstraat 23 Yes, you've read correctly - this is a bistro. But only half of this venue is a dedicated restaurant. Covering the rest of the tiles are Bruges' twentysomethings who come to enjoy strong cocktails, good music and buzzing atmosphere. Open Monday-Sunday from 5pm-midnight.

De Garre, Garre 1 Tucked down a lane between Markt and Burg, it's quite hard to find this bar. Thanks to the house beer that is 11% strong, it's quite hard to get out of also. The beer in question is called 'Triple de Garre', but just ask for the house beer and they'll know what you're on about. Not the liveliest place in the world, but certainly one to get you on your way. Open daily from noon-midnight.

 Gay / Lesbian Bruges

Taking into consideration that Bruges is a city that thrives more on tourism than any other industry, it doesn't have an overly active gay scene. This isn't to say that gay bars don't exist. Bar Bolero (Garenmarkt 32) has been a favourite with the city's gay community for years, as has Jeugdhuis de Comma (Postbus 11). Both are particularly popular on Thursday nights. The city's main lesbian venue is De Poort (Koningin Elisabethlaan 92).

De Coulissen, Jacob Van Euf Straat Wandering around the streets of Bruges you soon discover that things get pretty quiet after dark. But locate this nightclub across from the city's main theatre and you'll find out that there's somewhere to let your hair down. This club draws an energetic crowd who get down to chart, hip hop and dance tunes until the early morning. Open nightly from 9pm-close.

De Republiek, Sint-Jacobstraat 36 This airy, open-plan bar is just minutes north of Markt but yet still off the tourist trail. The wooden interior is warm and the perfect place for a night out in winter while the large courtyard out back never stops buzzing throughout the summer. DJs play at the weekends to liven things up even more. Open daily from 11am-close.

Opus Latino, Burg 15 (in Galerj ter Steeghere) As canals are part and parcel of this charming city, sipping on a nice cool beer beside one of them is a rather enjoyable experience. In Opus Latino you can do just that. You can also enjoy attentive service and treat yourself to a few portions of tapas if you feel peckish. Open daily from Sun-Tues & Thurs-Sat from 11am-close.


 Don't Miss


 Mark Your Calendar


Markt Bruges' main square, bordered by medieval buildings, dominated by a bell tower and populated by horse-drawn carriages, is one of Europe's most beautiful squares. This is the commercial heart of the city centre and where all day's sightseeing tend to begin and end.

Burg Where Markt is Bruges' commercial centre, Burg is the city's administrative heart. Its best-known attraction is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, with a relic with the blood of Christ. It is where you will see gothic, renaissance and baroque style buildings.

The Belfry, Markt No matter where you are in central Bruges, the tower which dominates the skyline is that of the Belfry, the 83 meter high tower that dates back to 1240. Today you can climb the 366 steps, winding your way past tourists from all over the world, to the top of the tower for unrivalled views of this medieval city. Open Tues-Sun 9.30am-5pm; admission €5.

The Church of Our Lady, Mariastraat Also known as Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, the Church of Our Lady took almost two centuries to complete and is best-known for the many art treasures it houses. Of these, the most famous is Michelangelo's 'Madonna and Child' which was his only piece to leave Italy in his lifetime. Open Mon-Sat 9am-12.30pm & 1.30pm-5pm (4pm on Sat), Sun 1.30pm-4pm; admission free, €2.50 for museum.

 Bruges from a boat

NV Stael Boat Trips, Katelijnestraat 4 Even though it's hard to think of a city as pleasant to walk around as Bruges, it is best seen from a boat on one of the city's canal tours. NV Stael's tours pass the Church of Our Lady, the Groeningemuseum, St John's Hospital and more of the city's landmarks. Tours depart every half hour between 10am-5pm; admission €6.50.


March - Cinema Novo Initially called the 'Third World Film Festival', Bruges’ annual film festival has come a long way when it was founded in 1984 and attended by 700 people. Today it is attended by over 18,500 people every year.

May - Procession of the Holy Blood Every year on Ascension Day, Bruges' most sacred relic, a piece of cloth that is said to be stained by drops of the blood of Christ, is marched through the city.

July - Cactus Festival Bruges' 'Minnewater' is where to be at the beginning of July for this 3-day festival that attracts the world's biggest names. Acts who have entertained concert-goers in the past include Gnarls Barkley and Erykah Badu.

July - Festival Musica Antiqua Bruges has been hosting some of the world's best classical acts for over 40 years and for its 'Festival Musica Antiqua'. It is still as popular as ever. The main venue for the annual event is the concert hall.

July/August - Klinkers Festival The historical centre of the city is the setting for this annual music festival, with acts playing to thousands in Markt and Burg squares. Bands and DJs playing serve up an eclectic mix of salsa, latin, afrobeat, and more.

August - Bruges Canalside Festival The city's famous canals are completely transformed at night for the month of August for this music festival that recaptures the spirit of the Middle Ages.

September - Bruges Concert Weekend The Bruges Concert Weekend festival takes place in various venues throughout the city and features music from different periods in history.

October - Jazz Bruges Jazz performers from all around Europe travel to Bruges each year for the city's annual jazz festival. Lasting three days, shows can be caught in the Concertgebouw and Groeningemuseum.

November/December - Winterfoor Fun Fair While this festival is aimed at children thanks to carnival rides and candy stalls, adults will like it too, with a fine array of Belgian beers to be sampled.

December - Bruges Christmas Market Markt, Bruges biggest and most beautiful square, is transformed every year into a Christmas wonderland. Here you can buy gifts, enjoy mulled wine and ice-skate in the rink which sits in the middle of the square.

 
Hostelworld Guide for Bruges www.hostelworld.com

 Get Connected


 Retail Therapy


St. Christopher's Bahaus, 133-137 Langestraat Located in the hostel of the same name, this is the best place to log on to the web in Bruges. Six terminals face on to the street so you can do some serious people-watching and emailing at the same time. Open daily from 9am-10pm; €3 per hour.

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Charlie Rockets, Hoogstraat 19 There's only one terminal to log on to the world wide web in this hostel bar, but it stays open until 4am which is an advantage. The bar also has live bands playing regularly, giving you something to tap to as you type. Open daily from 8am-4am; €4 per hour.

Snuffel Backpacker Hostel, Ezelstraat 47-49 Located on Ezelstraat just north of Markt, there are two internet terminals in the back of Snuffel's Bar. Both are coin operated so make sure you have a couple of coins at the ready if you want to use them. Open daily from 8am-midnight; €2 per hour.

Snooker Palace, Noordzandstraat 4 In this snooker hall you can also have a go at darts, pool and (obviously) log on to the internet. You can even join their football league! Open daily from 11am-close; €5.20 per hour.

The Coffee Link, Centrum 'Oud Sint-Jan' Mariastraat 38 While it's more expensive to use the internet than other places around Bruges, The Coffee Link is an extremely peaceful place to log on. Down by the canal, terminals circle a coffee bar in the middle of the room. Open daily from 11am-6pm; €5 per hour.

 www.

www.brugge.be
www.trabel.com/brugge.htm
www.visit-bruges.com
www.cactusfestival.be


Steenstraat This busy street off Markt gets traipsed on day after day by tourists and locals alike due to the large number of well-known shops that line it. Here you can treat your feet to a new pair of trainers from Footlocker or deck yourself out in the latest designer gear from Tommy Hilfiger, Zara and Mexx.

Markets, t'Zand Whether buying something or not, it's always worth checking out a city's biggest market. Every Saturday t'Zand, the square at the top of Steenstraat, is a hive of activity as this is where (and when) the week's biggest market takes place. Along with a lot of food, you can also buy everything from clothes to pet birds! Open Saturday from 7am-1pm.

 I take you to the candy shop...

Zucchero, Mariastraat 18 As you mosey down Mariastraat you will see a crowd of people standing at the corner of a shop, staring through a window. That shop they are standing outside will more than likely be this one, as here you can see how candy canes (or rock) is made. You could watch for hours. If you've a sweet tooth you could also stock up on a lot of sweet things. Open daily from 9am-6pm.

Katelijnestraat Where Steenstraat is where to go for the latest fashions, Katelijnestraat is where to go to pick up touristy kitsch such as Belgian chocolate, lace, beer and waffles. You may not find something for yourself but most of what's on offer will make a good gift.

Dijver Market Boasting a particularly scenic setting along the Dijver canal, this market takes place every Saturday and Sunday. There are lots of stalls, although most of them specialise in antiques and plates. Not what you might want to pack into your backpack, granted, but you could pick up a small gift for somebody as there are jewellery stalls too.


 Budget Tips


 A Day in Bruges....


Visit Bruges churches Just like in most European cities, some of Bruges' most beautiful buildings are its churches. Entrance to most is free. The best known is the Church of our Lady which houses Michelangelo's 'Madonna and Child', while entrance to the 'Basilica of the Holy Blood' is also free. Entrance to St. Saviour's Cathedral, Bruges' oldest parish church, is also free.

Embark on a customised walk Look around your hostel and you'll find small maps with 'Bruges City Walk' on the front of them. These walks have been set with young people in mind and are a great way to see different parts of the city.

Explore 'Begijnhof' Founded in 1245 by the Countess of Flanders, Bruges' 'Begijnhof' is almost like a separate town within the city. This is where the 'Begijnen', a group of women that lived like nuns although didn't make the same vows, lived. Today the small 'town' is a series of whitewashed houses that is extremely serene when compared to the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

 The perfect city to get lost in

Wander the streets of Bruges It's a bit of a cliché when it comes to 'budget tips', but it really is difficult to think of a city nicer to wander around for a few hours than Bruges. Thanks to its medieval streets and canals many have compared it to something from a fairytale. Get lost for an afternoon in its streets. And because of the 'Belfry', you'll never get lost!

Buy combination tickets If you're a culture vulture and like to take in as many museums as possible in different cities, enquire in Bruges' tourist office about different 'combination tickets'. One costs €15 and gets you entrance into 5 museums, while another gets you entrance into three museums, bike rental for a day and a drink!


Begin the day with breakfast in Het Dagelijks Brood. You never know who you might strike up a conversation with thanks to its large, communal table.

Make your way to Markt, Bruges' famous square. Climb to the top of the Belfry, the tower that dominates the square, for breathtaking views.

Visit Burg, the city's other main square. Here you'll find all types of architecture. You will also find one of the city's top attractions, the 'Basilica of the Holy Blood'.

Grab some lunch. They're fairly no-frills, but the two fast-food vans in front of the Belfry have been dishing out food to the people of Bruges for years. Perfect for a quick snack.

Take a couple of hours out to wander the city's streets. Don't miss the The Church of Our Lady with Michelangelo's 'Madonna and Child'. Wander down Katelijnestraat also.

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Take to the canals and go on a boat trip around Bruges. They are arguably the best way to see a lot of the city in a short space of time. Guides are informative also.

After freshening up, begin your night in 'De Garre'. Ask for 'Triple de Garre' - the 11% house beer. It is sure to get you on your way!

Check out Bistro 't Zwart Huis. Not only does it serve great food that isn't too expensive, it also gets very lively after dark.

Finish the night off dancing away with the rest of the city's revellers in De Coulissen, Bruges' number one nightclub.

 
Hostelworld Guide for Bruges www.hostelworld.com