Ancient, gothic architecture and innumerable bridges over narrow canals: the small city of Bruges appears as if from a romantic fairytale. This picturesque, Hanseatic city is famous for its dark chocolate and spire-y skyline, but also for the countless museums and opportunity for cultural enrichment. Bruges’ hotels fit in perfectly with the charm of the city. Historic hotels combine medieval beauty with original period furniture and other antiquities. City hotels in Bruges exist at the meeting point of a culture-oriented vacation and one that is all about luxury.
The best visit to Bruges consists of simple strolls over romantic canals, views of beautiful buildings, and allowing oneself to be taken by the ambiance of the city. Let yourself be driven over the bumpy cobblestones of narrow streets via horse-drawn carriage for a particularly romantic excursion. Or, while away a day or two in the many cafes in the medieval city, that have, since many years, set a new standard for Belgium chocolate and candies. And then, climb the beautiful Belfry together. The bell tower is a symbol of the city; those who can manage the 366 steps are rewarded with an unbelievable view. The hotels in Bruges have adapted the traditional romantics of the city, offering old-town views, breakfast in bed, and organized candlelit dinners. Especially romantic is Christmastime in Bruges. The Markt square is filled with jovial Christmas markets, and the gabled houses are decorated with fairy lights. In the summer, love birds can stroll through the flea market along the Dijver and pick up some local wares and fares.
When the waterways from the North Sea were silted up in the late Middle Ages, Bruges lost its influence as a harbor city. Still water plays an ever-important role: uncountable canals and rivers flow through the city, giving the Flemish city its nickname as the “Venice of the North.” A boat tour belongs on the program; glide under bridges and past banks fringed with willows. From the boat, a completely different view of the magnificent buildings and quays of the city opens up. The hotels in Bruges located directly canal-side can also be seen from a new vantage point. Outside the city, discover the long North Sea beaches of Knokke-Heist.
Things calmed down around the small Renaissance city after “Bruges-la-Morte” was published in the 1890s. The melancholic novel immediately brought crowds of visitors to Bruges. History repeated itself after the Hollywood film, “In Bruges, ” came to theaters in 2008. Bruges has earned the reputation of a cultural city and has even been named a European City of Culture. In the Groeningemuseum, you’ll find the work of Flemish masters on display. Lovers of unique museums should pay a visit to the Diamond Museum, the Chocolate Museum, or the Frietmuseum, one dedicated to the history of potatoes. In the Lace Center, the story of crochet lace is depicted. Music and film festivals also regularly take place. Those looking for a hotel in Bruges during the Procession of Holy Blood should aim to book early. That said, this event is not to be missed: every year on the day of the Ascension of Christ, the inner city transforms into a colorful, medieval costume spectacle.
Getting there: Bruges is very close to the UK and very easily accessed. Take your own car for a 4-hour drive or hop on a high-speed train for a 3.5-hour, scenic trip with a quick transfer at Brussels Midi/Zuid. Once there, the city is small and there is a network of public buses in place to help you get around, although even the walk from the train station to the main square is just 20 minutes.