Walking the streets of Bruges feels a bit like stepping into a Gothic fairy tale, thanks to the well-preserved architecture, stunning canals and cobbled streets.
Markt, or Market Square, has long been a gathering place in the city for markets, festivals, demonstrations or jousting tournaments. These days, you’re more likely to see tourists than knights.
The Beguinage was once home to lay religious women, called beguines, who lived together without taking formal vows. These days, the grounds are home to the Sisters of the St. Benedict Order.
Built between 1376 and 1421, the Stadhuis (City Hall) is one of the oldest city halls in the Low Countries. The Gothic Hall with its 20th century murals is particularly impressive.
The whitewashed historic dwellings known as Almshouses (Godshuizen), many dating back to the 14th century, were often used by local guilds to provide housing for the elderly or widows.
The Jerusalem Chapel, consecrated in 1429, is the private chapel of the Adornes family who came to Bruges as merchants from Genoa. The layout and architectural details were inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Bruges was founded on the banks of the River Reie, and today, its network of canals and bridges have earned it the nickname "Venice of the North." Some of these bridges date back to the 14th century.
One of the best ways to explore Bruges is from the water. Hop aboard one of the open-top tourist boats plying the waters of the canals for a picture-perfect view of the city.
Perhaps the most photographed site in all of Bruges is the Quay of the Rosary. The Groenerei and Dijver Canals meet at this point, once a mooring spot for salt traders during the Middle Ages.
Gouden Handrei (Golden Hand in English) ranks among the most picturesque canals in Bruges. It’s also the name of two streets that run along the canal, making this an ideal spot for an evening stroll.
This former dock known as Minnewater is now a favorite spot for couples, who come to stroll hand in hand over Lovers Bridge or cozy up on the banks of the Lake of Love.
During the Middle Ages, this square in the middle of Bruges served as a lively trading port. Today, Jan van Eyck Square contains a statue of the famous master painter of the same name.
Only a handful of historic mills remain in Bruges, including the Sint-Janshuis Mill. Built in 1770, it’s the only mill in the city that still grinds flour and is open to visitors.
No matter where you go in Belgium, you’re likely to find shops selling waffles. These light, crisp waffles are typically topped with fresh fruit, fruit preserves, whipped cream or Belgian chocolate.
It took more than two centuries to build the Church of Our Lady, which houses numerous pieces of religious art, including a sculpture of the Madonna by Michelangelo.