Brugge, Belgium: Venice of the North

Brugge, Bruges, however you spell it, hearing the name you may automatically think “Venice of the North”. Not having visited Venice myself, I can say from the pictures and video’s I’ve seen of Venice, Brugge is like the smaller, quieter sister of Venice.

If you’ve ever been interested in visiting Brugge, you may have watched the movie “In Bruges”.  Although, some of the places seen in the movie are true to life, the dark story and brooding character of Colin Ferrell have no place in this city. Depending on what time of year you visit the city, sometimes it is so quiet you could hear a pin drop and you could even be one of the only people on the streets. If visiting outside the high tourist months (June to August), this will most likely be the case.

The must-do activity in Brugge, of course, is to take a reasonably priced half-hour boat tour on the canals. This is best experienced in the summer months on a sunny day when all of the leaves are in full bloom and all the colours of the buildings can be appreciated in the light. In the non-tourist season, which doesn’t usually see these conditions, the ride could be chilly, but it’s more romantic with fewer people in the boats and a light fog hugging the buildings.

A great pub to visit is the “2be” which is right on the water. The entrance is just around the corner from the Belfry tower in the Grote Markt. You will find a long wall featuring Belgium’s beers in their original bottles and accompanying beer glasses. You can find cookie-flavor, coconut-flavor, and banana-flavored beers on this wall in addition to the variety of blonde and dark beers. You can sit on the patio, look out on the water, the bridges and the buildings. Try the “Blanche de Brugge” a cloudy white beer made in Brugge.

Wall of Belgian Beer, 2be

Other notable activities in Brugge, is climbing the Belfry tower, where you can get a view of the whole city with its beautiful canals. After that, you can take a horse carriage (rather expensive) for a ride around the city, or you can walk, which is even more enjoyable because its at your own pace. You can pause to take a picture of the building marked from 1669, the narrow alleys or the pretty gardens.

Belfry Tower, Grote Markt

If you want to take a little of brugge with you, I would suggest the “cushion store” on the “main street”. Its not a souvenier for under 10 euros, but it is a piece of art that really captures the beauty and character of Brugge. The needleworker details the bricks and red colour of the buildings into the pillows and it is something you can keep out at home that won’t look tacky after your trip. You can’t leave Belgium without chocolate either. There are many shops to choose from in Brugge, so take your pick and you won’t be disappointed.

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About Nicole Basaraba

Nicole Basaraba is a Canadian writer focusing on topics of travel (Mondays), writing and literature (Wednesdays), lifestyle (Fridays) and her experiences living in the capital city of Europe: Brussels, Belgium.
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5 Responses to Brugge, Belgium: Venice of the North

  1. Good post – Thanks for the memory nudge!

    • Nicole says:

      Your Venice Gondola Ride sounds much more extravagant than the Brugge canal tours (6-7 Euro for 30 minutes). I hope to visit Venice someday. Thanks for the comment!

  2. sondosaudade says:

    Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for the nice piece and good ideas! I’m so glad I found it because my Belgian coworker recommended visiting the Venice of the North and I had never heard of it before.

    I’m going to be in Belgium for the first time later this month for work and I may have a few hours or even a full day to play and explore. If I only had 1 full day to experience Brugge, would you say it’s better to come up to Brugge from Brussels in the early morning and spend the day there? Or is it better to try to get up there the night before? (assuming the hotels might be a little cheaper in Brugge than Brussels…)

    Also – what’s the weather like there in October?

    Cheers,
    Andrea

    • Hi Andrea,

      Thanks for your comment. You can easily catch an early train to Brugge. It depends on what you want to see. If you plan to go to some of the museums, it might be good to go the night before. It might also be nice to see the city lit up at night with all the canals. But you can also see a lot and do a lot outside in one day if you make it a day trip by train.

      Hope this helps.
      Nicole

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