I was originally planning to be in S. Korea this trip but when a friend canceled due to a family emergency I flew over here instead to explore my family’s roots in Luxembourg and the countryside. This has been an inspirational trip so far, from the people I’ve met to the amazing towns and countryside. Usually when I think of travel I want to visit Asia but now I’m craving more of Western Europe!
I came to Bruges, Belgium for one reason and one reason only, to see where they filmed the movie “In Bruges”. Boy was I surprised to find what stunning city this is! Museums, picturesque old world European architecture, churches (including one statue from Michelangelo) canals (Venice of the north), quaint restaurants with fabulous food and lots and lots of shopping (clothes, shoes, jewelry, antiques, old paintings, Belgian chocolate & much more)! Out of the activities in Bruges, the most popular are shopping, dining, photography and enjoying the fantastic old world charm.
Bruges is located within several hours of Luxembourg City, an hour from Brussels and close to the coast. The main part of town is easily within walking distance (unless you are bogged down with luggage) or you can hop on any of the buses that arrive at the train station for a short ride into the city.
Stay near the main square, there are plenty of cozy small hotels within several blocks and prices typically range from 50 to 200 Euros. A number of the hotels even list their prices on the outside next to their main entrance. In mid August, we just showed up and found a number of places that had rooms earlier in the day but were sold out by evening (as there always is a high turnover of people coming and going). Restaurants abound, especially around the main square where in the summer you will find people eating outdoors late into the evening.
There are many nice spots to stay in Bruges but two places we personally checked out were Hotel Nicolas (reasonably priced, clean and comfortable) and the Heritage Hotel right next door which is a member of the Relais & Chateaux. This is a 4 star luxury hotel. The nice thing about both of these hotels is their location to the main square – about a 2-3 minute walk.
A climb to the top of the Belltower on the main square is not for the faint of heart. This has stood here for centuries. The narrow walkway is steep and circular with 360+ steps leading to the top. From the lookout you have excellent views in all directions. This is also where Ken jumped to his death in the movie, In Bruges.
The central part of the city is surrounded by canals with smaller canals located about. Boat rides are popular with tourists and often in the summer the lines will outpace the capacity of the boats.
The Madonna of Bruges (carved by Michelangelo) is located in the imposing and impressive Church of our Lady. Its a small statue but you will surely be led in its direction by the numbers of people in front of it with their cameras (when inside the church looking forward it is on the right hand side). This is the only known statue to have left Italy during Michelangelo’s lifetime. The statue actually left Belgium twice since it arrived in Bruges, once during the French Revolution and then again during WWII when German soldiers smuggled it out.
Bruges is a city built for walking (or bike riding) and all the attractions and activities are located in and around the city center. In 2000 the medieval part of the city was declared a UNESCO heritage site.
This city is a photographers dream. Here are a few of our favorite photos: