Cobbled stone streets, medieval buildings, and romantic canals, all within a small town three hours away from London by train. Bruges is a fairytale dream come true.
Bruges, or Brugge in Dutch, is labelled Venice of the North. The most well preserved medieval town in Belgium, Bruges lies in Flanders, northern Belgium. Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage since 2000, and its buildings, churches, and museums are rich in history and culture.
Bruges is perfect for a quiet getaway break from a busy city life. Try to visit mid-week, if you can, to avoid tourists and you would have the town to yourself. Stay overnight, and watch the buildings light up. Be sure to leave enough time to wander around the streets to quiet corners, those only known to locals. Hop on for a canal trip around the town, and, though it is touristy, it is a must for a trip to Bruges.
Don’t miss climbing the 900-year-old Belfry of Bruges, the town’s iconic attraction, for €8. At the end of the 13th century tower’s 366 steps, if you brave the winding stairs, is a breathtaking view of the historic square.
Bruges’ Our Lady’s Church, unmistakable with its mesmerizing 400 feet spires, is free to enter and houses one of the few Michaelangelo sculptures outside Italy. Another top free attraction is the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Burg Square, said to house a phial containing Christ’s blood.
For €6, you could view stunning Flemish artists’ work in Groeningemuseum, the most famous being Jan van Eyck’s 15th century “The Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele”.
Foodies can browse and learn the delicious history of chocolate at the Choco-Story museum and of Fries at the Friete museum, both offering €1 discount for ISIC card holders.
Looking for a refreshing stroll? Visit Bruges’ small Hof Arents Park displays Rik Poot’s Knights of the Apocalypse sculptures and is the location of Bonifacius Bridge (Lovers’ Bridge). Should you walk further to Minnewater Lake, also called, “The Lake of Love,” and cross the bridge there with your loved one, it is believed you would be granted eternal love. Bruges’ Beguinage neighborhood is famous for its swans circling the banks of the canals, just like in Grimm’s fairytales.
But if you are in need of sustenance from all the exploring, Bruges has got you covered. Drop by Cafeo Li O Lait at Dweerstraat 30 for €5 - €9 Euros for coffee and breakfast, order cherry and cream topped Belgian waffles for €4 at Oyya, Noordzandstraat 1, and drink a takeaway hot chocolate to your heart’s content at Old Chocolate House, Mariastraat 1, for €2.
A recommended accommodation on a student’s budget is Hotel Ibis Budget Brugge Centrum Station, located right next to the train station and within 15 minutes’ walk from the market square. From £41 per night, the hotel offers a double bed, a private bathroom, free wifi, and a buffet continental breakfast for an additional €6.
So take a chance, board the train and discover Bruges for yourself. Who knows, you may fall in love with this medieval town while living out a fairytale in real life.
I'm a Management Science (Decision Science Stream) Master's candidate at London School of Economics and Political Science. Originally from Thailand, I'm as passionate about the science, psychology, and statistics behind decision making as I am about film and writing. I enjoy opportunities to combine my passions in reviewing, discussing, and analysing films. My major influences include the New Yorker's James Wood, classic Russian literature, and Richard Siken's poetry. I've written film reviews, celebrity profiles, and news and technology coverage for my undergraduate engineering newspaper, the University of Waterloo's Iron Warrior. I'm also a guest blogger and Student Blog Editor for LSE's Department of Management. I believe pop culture, current affairs, and critical, world-changing ideas are integral to student lifestyle, and I'm committed to representing students' reality outside the classroom to society and the world. I hope to continue investigating this theme through NUS' platform for student voices.