A medieval town in the north of the Flanders plain, Bruges is a true open-air museum. With its winding streets, its authentic little squares and its picturesque canals, the town seems to be right out of a fairy story. The Venice of the North is small, and lends itself easily to a day’s excursions on foot, in a boat or in a horse-drawn carriage. After dark, you can appreciate the way the lights reveal a thousand and one architectural details.
All roads lead to the Markt
The Markt (the main square, literally “the market”) is one of the town’s must-see places, and it’s where most of the horse-drawn carriage tours set off. Located right in the town centre and covering two and a half acres, the paved square with its coloured facades is surrounded by important monuments such as the Belfry and the Provinciaal Hof. It’s the ideal spot to admire a team of horses while enjoying a chocolate waffle, or to sit on the terrace of one of the many cafes that surround the square.
Admire the view from the top of the Belfry tower
With its 366 steps, the Belfry of Bruges is one of the town’s most popular attractions. It’s 83 metres (272 feet) tall, and the panorama from the top, which takes in the entire town, is breathtaking. In the old days, this medieval tower, built in the 13th century, acted as an observation post, and the town archives have long been kept there.
Take a boat trip on the canals
No visit to Bruges is complete without a cruise on the canals, the town’s thoroughfares. The medieval centre, designated as a UNESCO world heritage site, has strong links with the water, and its story unfolds in front of your eyes when you’re aboard a small boat. The canals provide magnificent panoramas that you can’t appreciate from dry land. Taking a boat trip along the poplar-lined canals gives opportunities galore to discover the secret gardens, the charming bridges and the still lifes from water level.
Dine at La Mangerie: a haven for lovers of bistro-style cuisine
To finish the day, true gourmets make a booking for one of the restaurants and brasseries whose tables line the Markt, to explore their authentic menus. In this equally authentic location, near all the amenities, the La Mangerie restaurant offers classic specialities, with a subtle nod to the Far East, and at affordable prices. For example, a two-course menu for less than €35.