Bruges, Belgium

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Bruges (Dutch: Brugge)  is a town in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium. Relatively cosmopolitan and bourgeois given its compact size, it is one of the best preserved pre-motorised cities in Europe and offers the kind of charms rarely available elsewhere. Bruges is a postcard perfect stop on any tour of Europe.

Understand

Climate

Even by Belgian standards, Bruges has a poor reputation for its weather. Compared to other western European cities like Paris, the weather in Bruges is colder and more damp. Even in July and August, average daily maximum temperatures struggle to exceed 21° C (70° F) and rainfall averages 203 mm (8 in) a month. After October, temperatures drop off quite rapidly and winter months are damp and chilly.

The summer visitor should always be prepared for rain in Bruges and that warm and sunny weather is not constant during that season. Also note that the daily and monthly temperature variations are quite small. Daily differences between average highs and average lows don’t exceed a range of 9° C (or 16° F).

Get in

By plane

A large number of carriers offer direct flights to Brussels. Belgium’s main airport has its own railway station. Bruges can easily be reached through the airports of Brussels, Charleroi (Brussels South) and Lille, so getting to Bruges by train is by far the easiest way. Only one change at one of the three main stations is needed and the entire connection takes about 1:20.

By train

Traveling to Bruges on Belgium‘s excellent rail system is a natural choice. Trains to and from Brussels leave every 30 minutes during the day. The journey from Brussel-Zuid (a.k.a. Bruxelles-Midi if you prefer French to Dutch) to Bruges takes about 50 minutes. Brugge is not the terminus, look for trains going to Oostende or Blankenberge. If you are traveling on the Eurostar that same day, you can get a cheap add-on ticket to “Any Belgian Station”. Otherwise, buy a ticket when you get to the station. Luggage lockers are available from 6AM to 9:30PM. For more information on schedules, prices, and services visit the website of the NMBS/SNCB.

Be aware that trains are often full to and from Bruges, especially during rush hours, so if you or your colleagues have any problems with mobility you could be standing the whole trip or at best sitting in the entry area of the carriage. There isn’t really any solution to this during the tourist season when Bruges is wall to wall people.

With a backpack nearly all hotels are reachable on foot. However, if you have a suitcase consider taking a taxi because the cobbled streets make the use of wheeled suitcases or carry-on bags very difficult (cost ~€11 depending on destination). A cheaper option is the very frequent bus service from the station to Markt square. Buy your ticket from the kiosk at the bus station outside the railway station (€3.00 as of February 2016). Any bus that says ‘Centrum’ on the front will take you to ‘Markt’, the picture below of the Belfry shows a bus at the Markt stop.

By car

If you are planning a bus-tour: be aware buses and camping vehicles are not allowed intra muros. There is a perfect parking place for them on the south side of the city with a newly designed gangway bringing you directly into the heart of the town. It is in general a bad idea to venture inside with a car, as parking is limited and finding your way difficult. There are multistory car parks a five minute walk from the city centre. Nice city mini-buses cruise the town with high frequency, and in any case, the historical centre must be traversed on foot, by bicycle, by horse-drawn carriage or by boat to enjoy it.




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