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Why Go To Bruges

Swans swim its canals; medieval buildings shadow its cobblestones; willow trees weep over its lake; rich chocolates peer from behind its windows; pints of Belgian blondes sit on its café tables; and carillon chimes fill its air with music: This is Bruges. This idyllic city in northern Belgium is more touristy and yet more quaint than the capital city of Brussels. So you visit Bruges for a taste of medieval Europe in the 21st century, for a friendly small-town feel with world-class charms (the Historic Centre of Brugge to name one) and, of course, for the beer, fries and chocolate, all national treasures. Some also visit because they're fans of Colin Farrell. The violent and yet still somehow comedic 2008 film, In Bruges, was shot here. And fans of Farrell (Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes too) can trace the actors' steps through this small city. Whatever your reason for coming to Bruges, we're pretty sure you'll be charmed. 

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Bruges Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit Bruges is the summer, when the weather is mild and the trees are green. Still, the weather year-round is characterized as chilly and damp -- summer temps only reach the 70s. Spring and fall act as shoulder seasons with fewer tourists and cooler temperatures. In the winter, temperatures drop to near freezing levels, which in turn keeps many visitors away. 

What You Need to Know

  • Hop on a boat tour Canal boat tours are a great way to get an overview of Bruges; you'll glide along Minnewater Lake and past the Church of Our Lady.
  • Stop for some chocolate Belgium is known for the sweet stuff, so be sure to pause for a chocolate break at a well-known chocolate maker like The Chocolate Line or Sukerbuyc.
  • Bruges is an hour from Brussels This northern Belgian city is only an hour by train from Brussels. You can visit Bruges on a daytrip!

How to Save Money in Bruges

  • Get a BrugesCard If you stay at a youth hostel or a budget accommodation, you get a free BrugesCard, which offers significant discounts on the city's top things to do.
  • Book a B&B A stay at one of these usually includes a hearty Belgian breakfast, which will keep your hunger at bay. A light lunch (even just some fries!) should tide you over until dinnertime.
  • Rent a bike Bruges caters to cyclists, so you'll find that bike lanes web the city and extend into neighboring villages like Damme. 

Getting Around Bruges

The best way to get around Bruges is on foot. The city is small -- in fact, you can walk from one end to the other in 30 minutes. Biking is the second best way to get around. There's also a small bus system, but it's most useful in getting from the train station to the city center rather than for exploring the city. Cars are really not recommended since Bruges' streets are narrow and webbed with canals. You can also get taxis, but you'll have to reserve them in advance rather than hail them from the street. The closest major airport is Brussels International (BRU), so most visitors take the train into Bruges. The train station is located just southeast of the city center, about a 12-minute walk from Minnewater Lake. 

Entry & Exit Requirements

A valid travel document, preferably a passport, is required for citizens of the United States to travel to Belgium. U.S. citizens can stay for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. At customs, you'll have to present a return airline ticket, as well as a passport that is valid for at least three months after the date of return. If you're planning to stay in Belgium for more than 90 days, you'll have to obtain the proper visa before leaving the U.S. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of State's website.

Photos

Bruges1 of 15
Bruges2 of 15
lehaneb/Flickr

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