Brugge is Europe’s best preserved medieval city and Belgium’s most visited tourist area. The city’s entire historic center has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
Trains arrive every hour from Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent, as well as the North Sea ports of Ostend and Zeebrugge.The Journey time is about one hour by train from Brussels or Antwerp and 30 minutes from Ghent. There are frequent buses from Ostend and Zeebrugge. Additionally, Eurolines operates a daily service from London’s Victoria Coach Station.
At the heart of the city, the medieval Belfort offers panoramic views of historic Brugge. Almost all of the buildings are hundreds of years old. Of particular interest are the city’s four fortified medieval gates, as well as the stunning 14th century church, the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk.
Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed (Basilica of the Holy Blood) is another sight worth visiting. This Romanesque basilica has a Gothic upper floor. Inside is a fragment of cloth supposedly stained with what is said to be the coagulated blood of Christ, wiped from his body by Joseph of Arimathea after the crucifixion.
The city also contains one of Europe’s premier art museums – the Groeninge. It is home to a collection that covers paintings from the Low Countries from the 15th to the 20th century. Also of interest is the Diamantmuseum (Diamond Museum), covering the history of diamond polishing in Brugge.
Damme is a charming village just 7 km away. Visitors here can spend time at the lovely Markt, which is host to a statue of native Jacob van Maerlant, the ‘father of Flemish poetry’. There is also some gorgeous canal-side scenery on the route here from Brugge. One of the most pleasant ways to get to Damme is to take the stern-wheel paddle steamer Lamme Goedzaak from the Noorweegse Kaai in the north of Brugge.
Brugge boasts excellent restaurants, laid-back bars and a range of fine accommodation. Additionally, you can sample some tasty beer at one of the city’s two breweries open for touring – the De Gouden Boom Brewery Museum and the Straffe Hendrik Brewery.