This is a great deal if you want to see a fair number of museums and places of interest in your stay. 24 of them are free with the card and others are discounted. That's a fee boat trip, free Belfry and Dali Exhibition, free Brewery Tour (de Halve Maan), and so many free museums from the Memling (fantastic medieval hospital to the Groeninge (all flemish art) to the Choco-Story and the Friet(chips) museum. Every major museum is included so you can dip in without taking any risks. There are discounts off cycling, ballooning, buses and much more. It costs €33 for 48 hrs and €39 for 72 hrs.
We just enjoyed ourselves walking the canals, eating and drinking and seeing whatever we fancied - and somehow we saved €30 each on two days of entertainment, without really trying. The Belfy & Dali exhibition are €18 together to start with - so you can see how the savings add up quickly.
You may be given a card if you're in a grand hotel but the rest of us end up buying one - and it's great value!
You get a visitors' guide with it too.
Buy the card at the Concertgbouw Information Centre (on T-Zand) and at the Station Information Office. Details on www.bruggecitycard.be
This is a great little brewery, the only one left in Bruges. Our tour guide was entertaining with a really dry sense of humour as she took us ever upwards demonstrating the malt and hops process as it was (historic machinery) and is now (very modern). From the roof terrace there's a panoramic view over a good section of Bruges, more interesting and detailed than that from the Belfort. The ticket (€5.50 1hr tour) includes a glass of Brugse Zot (Bruges Jester) blond beer and there are two other excellent brews to sample. We had a snack lunch in their cafe too.
Good beer and an excellent tour.
Having used the been there to plan a short trip to Belgium I thought it only proper to note down my experiences for the reference of other visitors.
We travelled to Bruges in our own car via ferry from Dover to Calais – for our trip we found that this was the most cost-effective means. The drive from Calais to Bruges is not arduous and took less than 1.5 hours - sat nav makes it all the more simpler and brought us to the door of the Anselmus Hotel in central Bruges.
We found that this was a very comfortable, friendly family-run hotel that we could heartily recommend. It is ideally located close to the central area.
The city is fabulous – we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Take the canal tour and get a view of the local Flemish architecture, visit the Chocolate museum, watch the demo and sample the goods. Have hot chocolate and waffles in one of the street cafes as a mid morning snack or maybe grab a portion of chips and mayo from the mobile frituur in the market square, browse the unique shops – not too much sign of globalisation here!
For our meals we found excellent mussels and frites at Breydel-de-Coninck just off the main square at Breidelstraat 24 and for an alternative evening we could recommend the Grand Café de Comptoir with their excellent selection of international dishes, warm welcome, elegant décor and reasonable prices.
Then there’s the beer, you can visit a local brewery but if it’s the business end of the operation that you are interested in you will not be disappointed by the selection of bars and pubs and the variety of local beers on offer – close your eyes and take your pick.
The following day we visited Ypres (Ieper), about 70 km away, where you cannot fail to be stirred by the tragedy of the first world war. The museum named ‘In Flanders Fields’ in the main square of the town and only a short walk from the Menen Gate really puts a subsequent driving tour of the battlegrounds and cemeteries into vivid perspective.
Near Hill 62 you can view the trenches and let your imagination construct what it must have been like to fight in these conditions. The largest allied cemetery at ‘Tyne Cot' has over 12,000 graves regimentally aligned plus a wall of remembrance with thousands upon thousands of names of those who fell but have no known grave.
Bruges and the locality have much to offer visitors looking for a city break with a difference – I look forward to going again at some stage.
Check out the hotel at en.venere.com/belgium/hotels_brugge/hotel_anselmus.html?fe1&ref=682988, Breydel Restaurant site is www.breydel-deconinc.be/
Discover an oasis of calm. Go to the Beguinage, a beautiful small green and shaded space flanked by distinctive white buildings and crossed with paths. Sisters of the religious St. Benedict order have taken the place of the former beguines of the former cloistered community. Its atmosphere is wonderfully serene.
The Begijnhof is just off Wijngaardplein and has a shop, church and small museum. There are signs asking people to be silent (though not always obeyed).
Externally the facade of the Stadhuis is decorated with 49 statues representing Royal and Biblical figures.
The original statues where destroyed in 1792 and replaced in 1862, however, the inferior masonry used meant that the statues had to be replaced again in the 20th century.
If you visit the Gothic Hall you are also given a guide to the statues telling you who is who and expanding on some in more detail.
We particularly liked “Baldwin with the Iron Arm” and the wonderfully named “Philip the Beautiful”.
If the Belfort stands guard over the Markt in Bruges then the The Stadhuis or Town Hall is sentinel of the Burg.
This magnificent Gothic building was built between 1376 and 1420 and renovated in the 19th and 20th centuries. On the first floor is the restored Gothic Hall, which can be visited for an entrance fee of 2.50 euros (price includes a very informative audio guide).
What strikes you first about the Gothic Hall is the vibrant colours with which it is decorated. The brown, gold, red and burgundy of the arched ceiling and the large, multi-coloured wall frescos. The latter were commissioned towards the end of the 19th century and show scenes from the history of Belgium and Bruges such as the defeat of the French at the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302. Where the ceiling arches meet are small keystones showing scenes from the New Testament and around the perimeter of the hall, where the arches touch the wall, are small frescos representing the months and seasons.
A small room leading off from the hall contains a number of historical artefacts including an interesting and detailed map of the city.
If you get lost in some of the attractive narrow streets of Bruges see if you can spot the distinctive shape of the Belfort standing out above the buildings as it is a useful focal point to lead you back to the Markt.
The Belfort looks like the sort of tower Rapunzel would be locked up in. Two square Norman style church towers stacked on top of each other with an extra hexagonal tower on top for good measure, decorated along the way by spires and arrow slits.
This imposing structure dominates the Markt and the surrounding area. Climb the 366 steps (count them, 366) to the top for fantastic views of the surrounding city. It is a bit of an 'energetic' climb, however, there are places where you can stop and rest for a while on the way, although with traffic moving up behind you and coming down ahead of you passing can be quite tricky (but a useful way to practice saying “After You” and “Thank You” in various languages). The views really are worth it though
And you might also hear the 47 bells of the Carillon play a tune.
Entrance is 5 euros
Open: 9.30am-5.00pm Tues-Sun (closed Mon)
The Groeningemuseum is a small, fascinating world-class art gallery/museum in Bruges.
The permanent collection includes paintings by early Flemish artists Jan Van Eyck and Hans Memling plus works by Gerard David, Hieronymus Bosch and, from more recent times, Paul Delvaux and Rene Magritte. Quite an impressive ‘cast-list’ for a museum of only 11 rooms.
The rooms take you through different periods and styles in art i.e Flemish Primitives, Renaissance and Expressionism. You can compare a number of paintings on the theme of the 'Last Judgement' – including the disturbing but compelling imagery of Bosch’s version. Jan Van Eyck’s 'The Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele' is wonderful in its detail; you can almost feel the texture of the robes and clothing depicted in the painting. Disturbing could also be used to describe Magritte’s 'The Assault' although, as with so many Surrealist painters and particularly Magritte’s dream-like images, what may seem unsettling to one person can be quite un-perturbing to another.
The museum hires out a very informative audio guide, which gives you historical and artistic details about a number of the paintings.
The small scale of the museum means that you can look round the whole of it quite happily in a couple of hours, each room having a kind of theme based on an artistic movement or period - this gives a good historical reference point allowing you to compare and contrast different styles, artists and their interpretations etc.
The quality of art on display is excellent - this really is a jewel of a museum and I would recommend that anyone visiting Bruges pay it a visit.
050 44 87 11
Cost: 8 euro per ticket plus 3 euro for the audio guide
Opening Hours: 9.30am-5.00pm (closed Mondays)
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