With cobbled streets, narrow alleys, looming towers and plenty of chocolate shops, Bruges looks like it came straight from the pages of a fairytale. This picturesque medieval city is one of the best-preserved in the whole of Europe, and city breaks to Bruges are a great choice for both family trips and romantic getaways. Situated in Flemish region of northwest Belgium, Bruges draws visitors in droves with its medieval buildings and breathtaking canals.
Public squares and bell towers
The historical centre of Bruges is the Grote Markt, a big public square lined with medieval buildings and cafés where you can enjoy a glass of Belgian beer. This is also where you’ll find the most iconic structure in the city – the Belfort. This grand 13th-century tower can be seen from miles around, and a climb to the top offers stunning panoramas of the city and surrounding countryside. There are 366 steep stairs to climb, but the effort is definitely worth it for the view. Explore the city and you’ll find a number of other important historical buildings, including the early Baroque Brugse Vrije, the Gothic 15th-century Stadhuis and a number of almshouses, or Godshuizen.
Bruges boasts a rich artistic history, the hub of which can be found in the celebrated Groeningemuseum. This world-renowned art museum has a staggering collection of iconic Flemish medieval and Renaissance artworks, including masterpieces by Jan Van Eyck and Gerard David. A ticket to the Groenigemuseum will also get you into the Arentshuis, a stately 18th-century house with paintings by the war artist Frank Brangwyn. More Renaissance art can be seen in situ in the 13th-century St Salvatorskathedraal, which is an especially beautiful place to visit at night when the exterior is floodlit.
Home to the masters of chocolate making, Belgium is the place to indulge your taste buds with some delicious treats. You can learn about the process of making chocolate and enjoy some free samples at the Choco-Story Museum. Wander through the streets of Bruges and you’ll soon come across a chocolate shop, but if you’re looking for the highest quality then Van Oost on Wollestraat is the place to go for artisanal delights. Belgium is also famous for its beers, and there are plenty of pubs and bars in the city where you can sample some. 't Brugs Beertje is a legendary café with over a hundred different brews to try, while L’Estaminet is a cosy place to enjoy a meal with your beer.