Bruges - The Center of European Culture

Despite being a relatively small town, Bruges has recently gained a great deal of attention. Along with Salamanca, Spain, Bruges was named a Cultural Capital of Europe in 2002.


Bruges - The Center of European Culture

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Globe on August 30, 2002

The prettiest part of the city is the Grote Markt, the main square in town. I always think that it looks like a fairy tale town, with picturesque buildings, outdoor cafes, and horse-drawn carriages. Another highlight is taking a canal tour through the city. You can start a tour at several points around town, and each tour is comparable in cost, length, and content. This may be a good way to start your visit because you can see some highlights and pick which places to see when you´re back on foot. Bruges, and Belgium in general, is well known for food and drinks. Belgian beer comes in many flavors, colors, and tastes. My personal favorite is Kriek, a beer made from cherries. Especially near the coast, like in Bruges, you should try mussels, which come to your table in huge buckets. For those with a sweet tooth, Belgian waffles and chocolates cannot be beat. For waffles, avoid the fancy, expensive cafes and head for a stand on the market place or one of the little bakeries with take-away windows. You´ll spend half as much and they are twice as good!${QuickSuggestions} Bruges is extremely popular for tourists right now. As soon as you start planning your trip, make reservations for your accommodation. There are many hotels and bed & breakfasts, but they fill up far in advance. In the summer, many require a two day minimum stay on weekends. Although it makes a great weekend destination, Bruges is actually small enough to see in one day. By train, it is only one hour from Brussels, so it makes a great getaway to see another side of Belgium. Bruges can also be a good gateway to the North Sea coast. A 15 minute train ride, which departs several times an hour from the station, will get you to Zeebrugge, where there is a nice beach with little shops, restaurants, and hotels. Another nearby coast town is Oostende, where you can catch shuttles to England, or just enjoy another nice beach.${BestWay} The train station is about a 20 minute walk outside of the center, but the trip is a nice way to see one whole side of the city. If you would prefer to take a bus, just take anyone heading towards the center. The only other public transportation seems to be the horse-drawn carriages and canal cruise boats!

Hotel De Pauw

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Globe on August 30, 2002

This is a charming little hotel within a short walk of the city center. We were met at the door by the owner, who checked us in, gave us a map and some recommendations for dinner. The rooms are given names, not numbers, and that adds to the quaint feel of the hotel.

You can choose a room with or without a bathroom, and of course those without are cheaper. Each room has a sink. The rooms are tastefully decorated and you feel like you are staying in someone´s home.

Breakfast, included in the price, includes juice, coffee, tea, toast, muffins, and eggs. The dining room is beautiful, and you eat with the other hotel guests.

This is a small hotel and a good bargain for Bruges, so book far in advance. Keep in mind that they have a two night minimum stay on weekends during the summer.

Hotel De Pauw
Sint Gilliskerkhof 8-8000 Bruge
Bruges, Belgium
33 71 18/33 41 11

Hotel Nicolas

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Globe on November 12, 2002

Hotel Nicolas is a charming little place only one block away from the Markt, the beautiful square in the center of town. After booking the room on the internet for only 53 euros, I was actually expecting much less, so I was very pleased with the hotel.

The multilingual receptionist was welcoming and helpful. She directed us to our room, and we were pleased to find a beautiful bay window that gave us a view of the top of the Belfry on the Markt. The room was simple, but clean and comfortable. The bathroom was modern and the shower seemed quite new.

The hotel has a variety of brochures about things to do in and around Bruges. Maps are also available. A small lounge is behind the reception with a TV, books, and magazines.

Breakfast is included in the price of the room. It included bread and rolls, cold cuts, cheese, cereal, and beverages. Breakfast was served from 8:30 to 10:30, and check-out time is 11:00.

The hotel has its own website: http://users.pandora.be/hotel.nicolas

Hotel Nicolas
Niklaas Desparsstraat 9
Bruges, Belgium
32 50335502

De Carré

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Globe on November 12, 2002

De Carré is one of the restaurants on the Markt, the main square in Bruges. They have a nice terrace that is heated in the winter, and the inside is also pleasant. On the cold, rainy night of my visit, the lit fireplace made the restaurant seem warm and cozy.

The waiters seem to speak Flemish, French, English, and German, and the menu is available in each of these languages. Although we had several servers through the night, they each immediately addressed us in English.

The menu includes beef, chicken, and fish dishes, plus the traditional Belgian dishes of mussels, rabbit, and Flemish stew. They offer a fixed menu for 16 euros. This includes a welcome drink, appetizer, main dish, and choice of dessert. Be careful, though, because some of the choices come with an additional fee of 1 to 2 euros. Although we felt like this menu was a good deal, I had the impression that the waiters were always trying to sell us more by asking if we wanted bread, vegetables, etc. (all for an additional charge, though that was not mentioned). Still, it was a very pleasant dining experience that I would recommend.

De Carré
Markt 26
Bruges, Belgium
31-50335431

Canal cruise

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Globe on August 30, 2002

Bruges is famous as being a canal city, and of course the best way to explore the canals is by boat! There are five main cruise operators, all with similar tours and prices. You will see various departure points around the city, or ask at the tourist office. The cruises last 45 minutes to an hour. The drivers/guides give explanations of the sights in several languages, usually English, Dutch, German, and French-quite remarkable! The weather in Bruges is quite moody, and if you are hit with a rain storm during your trip, the drivers will pull out a stash of umbrellas to keep you dry!

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