There are a number of cities in western Europe that demand attention from international tourists: London, Dublin, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, and Amsterdam, just to name a few.
But one wonderful city in the same region that’s not always mentioned in the same breath is Bruges, Belgium. Located about 150 miles east of London across the English Channel and just an hour’s drive northwest from the Belgian capital of Brussels, it’s a very accessible destination, and one well worth considering for the following reasons.
1 – It’s A Great Starting Point In Europe
One of the most popular ways to travel through Europe is to start in a given city and then travel from there to other destinations, either by rail or via road trips. Basically, some tourists choose to establish a base. And if you’re interested in western Europe, it’s hard to imagine a better base than Bruges, for some of the reasons already mentioned. It’s in close proximity to London, Brussels, Paris, and even Amsterdam, yet it’s not as massive and complex as some other popular travel “bases” such as London, Paris, or Madrid.
2 – The Food Is Terrific
On either side of Belgium, we recognise France and the Netherlands frequently for their outstanding comfort foods. But if that’s among your reasons for considering a visit to Paris or Amsterdam, you may want to put Bruges on your list as well. Within its taste section featuring news and tips on specialty foods around the world, the Huffpost devoted an article a couple years ago to recognising some of the foods that will make you want to visit Belgium. These included wonderful chocolates, traditional waffles, a special twist on potato gratin (not to mention basic french fries), and shortbread cookies, among other treats. Some of these specialties can be found at any of a number of famous cafés in Bruges.
3 – Walking Tours Are Feasible
Look through travel guides for some of Europe’s more famous cities and you’ll almost certainly come across the advice to simply get out and walk around. It’s true that this is often the best way to take in a city’s sights and experience the culture firsthand. However, a lot of the larger cities are also very difficult to simply get out and walk around in without a guided tour. In Bruges, however, you really can see the best parts of the city just by exploring, and a lot of travellers find real value in that. Famous monuments including the Belfort tower, Burg Square, the Basilica, and others are all within reasonable range of one another, and you can easily get off your feet for a break in a brewery or pub along the way.
4 – It’s A True Romantic Haven
For a lot of travellers, particularly from outside the continent, part of the allure of European cities is the romantic atmospheres they possess. This is one of the main reasons that millions flock to places like Rome and Paris year in and year out. Interestingly enough, in a general magazine section alongside its scratchcard games online, Lottoland wrote up a list of the ten most romantic cities in the world and included Bruges on the list. Discussing medieval architecture and meandering waterways, the list described it as the perfect place for an intimate romantic getaway. Indeed, a similar description would fit several locations in Europe, but those seeking romance appreciate the relative small size and quaintness of Bruges in comparison to other romantic cities.
5 – You’ll Understand A Terrific Indie Film
It may seem like a silly reason to travel, but if you’re interested in film you may have noticed that the past decade or two have brought about a lot of films that deeply engage the cities they’re set in. Midnight In Paris, New York, I Love You, and even Love Actually all come to mind. One other is the quirky, dark indie comedy In Bruges, which came out in 2008 starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. The film actually doesn’t take a wholly flattering point of view regarding the city, but it nevertheless shows off some of Bruges’ more beautiful places. It’s a terrific film that’s best enjoyed if you know the city yourself.
There are certainly grander and more glamorous places to visit throughout Europe. But for these and more reasons, Bruges is absolutely worth adding to your list.