Hire a bike from Bruges station for the day (you'll need a passport as ID) and head for the village of Damme.
Cycle along quiet tree-lined canals and stop in Damme for a coffee or lunch. Then continue along more traffic-free tree-lined canals, popping into the odd village along the way.
Bike hire is very reasonable at about 15 euros for the day.
Don’t miss a trip to the Half Moon brewery in the centre where you can take a tour and learn of the traditional brewing methods.
There are quite a few very steep steps so take the tour before sampling the beer but the added bonus is the fantastic panoramic view of the city from the rooftop. Included in the modest price (around €4) is a glass of the wonderful Zot beer. There is also a good café/bar. A Votre Santé!
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)
This is a wonderful way of seeing Bruges from - literally - a different level. You cruise along some extremely beautiful stretches of canal overlooked by some extremely pretty buildings, especially the houses right by the water. Many have stone jetties leading into the canals, some have overhanging windows and others small courtyards overlooking the water.
The trip takes about 30 minutes and there are many views that will have you reaching for your camera.
One, small criticism is that the boat driver/guide can differ in quality. Some can be a little lack-lustre in their commentary – ours always seemed to have gone past the building, point of interest etc by the time he got round to talking about it and so I felt I didn’t get as much information about what we were seeing as I would have liked. However I would still recommend a canal trip for anyone visiting Bruges. Sit back, relax and enjoy seeing the city from a different viewpoint
The trip cost approx 5 euros.
George STAEL Katelijnestraat 4.
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