Most visitors to Belgium tour its capital, Brussels. But Bruges, just an hour away from Brussels, is Belgium’s hidden jewel. Bruges is a city of wonderfully preserved medieval houses and picturesque canals. While the official language of Bruges is Flemish, many of its occupants speak English well and are very friendly to tourists. During your visit to Bruges, a boat tour is the best way to see the city. Bruges is riddled with canals, and drifting through tranquil waters is a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. The river guides are incredibly informative, and you will learn a lot about the history of Bruges. The waters are lovely, but Bruges does tend to be cold—don’t forget to bring a jacket.

 Walking and cycling are also great ways to see Bruges. Many tourists visit just to wander around the medieval buildings and soak in the charming feel of this Old World city. Be sure to visit the Market Square to see Bruges’ famous belfry and the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which is said to contain a vial of Christ’s blood. Bruges also features a famous work of art: Madonna and Child, by Michelangelo, dwells in the Church of Our Lady, a 13th-century Gothic cathedral.

No visit to Bruges would be complete without sampling some of the local cuisine. Belgian waffles are famously delicious, and fries are an integral part of Bruges’s food culture. Fries with mayonnaise as well as mussels and fries are two popular local dishes. High-quality chocolate is also everywhere in Bruges, and it’s relatively inexpensive. Finally, Bruges is famous for its lacework. Be sure to pick up a sample of Bruges lace and some delicious Belgian chocolate to remember your trip to Bruges.

Malary Bartholomew

(Last two photos by the Bruges Tourism Bureau.)