Bruges On a BudgetLocated in the northern part of Belgium, in Flanders, Bruges is one of the most charming and well preserved cities in Europe. With its stone streets and charming shops, it is a postcard perfect city that seems to have jumped out of the pages of a Disney fairytale. The city itself is quite compact, adding to the charm and making it easily walkable. Even given its old world charm, it manages to present a cosmopolitan air as well. There's an active nightlife, but during the day the historical city center is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. You can take a carriage ride through the cobblestone streets or you can wander around on your own. Be sure to swing into some of the museums, cathedrals, and churches you'll see along the way. There are now shops everywhere that are designed to appeal to tourists. While some may be easy to walk by, it takes the strongest souls to ignore the chocolate shops you'll see on your way.
Some say Bruges has moved too much in the direction of tourism, giving it an almost Disney World like feel. The city has been cleaned up and renovated, and with the changes it's lost some of its authentic, down to earth, character. It's a balancing act for any city hoping to attract tourists without the feel that it is set up to attract tourists, and Bruges is still working out that balance.
Bruges weather is often cold and damp. Even during the summer months the daily maximum temperature often does not rise above 21 degrees Celsius. After October the temperatures can plunge and the winter is usually cold and damp. It rains throughout the year and if you visit during the summer, come prepared for wet weather.
SightsPart of the appeal of Bruges is its charming atmosphere. The streets are lined with quaint, historic houses and you are never too far from a canal. The houses have been cleaned up, but despite their fresh appearance, they are still centuries old. Outside of the main touristy areas, there are more quiet neighborhoods such as St. Anna, where you can still feel like you're visiting some place "real".
Popular sights and attractions around town include the Groeninge Museum, the Basilica of the Holy Blood, Brewery De Halve Maan, Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk, Jerusalem Church, the Begijnhof, the Choco-Story Museum, DiamantMuseum, and the Friet Museum.
NeighborhoodsSome of the most notable neighborhoods in Bruges are Market Square and Burg, St. Anna, and St. Gilles. Around the Market Square and Burg area you'll find many of the city's main tourist attractions. Market Square is located right at the center of town and it is surrounded by the Belfry Tower, restaurants and cafes. To the east of the Market Square is the Burg. This is where many museums, chocolate shops, restaurants, and the town hall are located. This area is particularly popular with tourists.
St. Anna has many churches including the famous St. Anne's Church. The Jerusalem Church has beautiful stained glass windows. Other sights in the area include Bruges' Lace Center and the 18th century Sint-Janshuysmolen windmill. It's a pleasant walk to wander along the canal along Sint-Annarei as well as the cobblestoned streets.
St. Gilles is a short, five minute walk to the north of Market Square. This is a quiet area that is famous for St. Gilles Church, which dates back to the 15th century. This church has many old paintings and a beautiful pipe organ. There are many affordable accommodation options in the area as well.