366 Steps to Heaven in Historic Bruges

By Steven Wright

Bruges is a delightful little city with the historic centre designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cobblestone streets, historic sites and canals provide a delightful backdrop to great shopping, fine dining and upscale hotels appealing to tourists from around the world. If you only plan on having one day in town I would suggest starting early as on a sunny day the narrow streets fill up quickly and sometimes can be a little crowded.

Whether you arrive in Bruges by train or cruise ship, it is a short and reasonably cheap trip in a cab from the train station and approximately 15 km from Zeebrugge cruise port. I would suggest starting your visit in the¬† historic centre at Markt Square. The square is dominated by the Belfry Tower, a medieval bell tower, the tour promotes “366 steps to Heaven” which brings you to the top with a 360 degree view around the city. If you have not yet had the chance to climb a tower in Europe then this is a good one to try, if you have been up a few towers, the choice is yours.

Mrkt Square is lined with beautiful historic buildings including the Post Office, and don’t miss the cobblestone walkway on the south west corner of the square leading to Burg Square. Many of the buildings in this area are adorned with gold, everywhere you look is another beautiful building. The winding streets around the square offer great shopping with many international brands and department stores, there are also many shops and boutiques with unique items and keepsakes from your trip.

The old city is filled with churches that are open to the public and many allow pictures to be taken of their interiors. I would suggest the best one to visit would be The Church of our Lady, the tallest structure in Bruges and its Cathedral. Inside you will find a Michelangelo statue of Madonna & Child that is known to be the only sculpture to leave Italy during his lifetime.

The narrow streets are lined with small historic buildings, many with adornments of statues and sculptures of a religious or somewhat humorous nature, they are great to look out for as you make your way through town. Some areas feature have tie up posts and watering spots for horses. Grab a spot on the Braambergstraat bridge for one of the most picturesque spots in the city. Travel by horse carriage on a guided tour of the old city, or grab a seat in the many boat tours allowing you to travel through the canals for a different perspective of the city.

For a little break from the busy streets head to the Beguinage, a monastary for the Benedictine sisters who continue to reside here today. A group of small houses surround a park filled with Poplar trees slightly tilted off centre. This area of town provides a bit of a refuge from the busy city and a chance to quietly relax and rejuvenate before heading back.

Belgium is famous for a few items including chocolate, waffles  and beer and there are many opportunities to try out these delicacies while in Bruges. Freshly made Belgian waffles smothered with Belgian chocolate can be a great snack, or grab some chocolate covered strawberries for your walk. Relax at one of the patios with one of the over 450 varieties of beer produced in Belgium, kind of like the Belgian chocolate you may have to try a few.

There are many ways to visit as Bruges is centrally located with close proximity to Brussels with an international airport and rail links to The Netherlands, France, Germany and beyond. The port of Zeebrugge (Bruges by the sea) is a popular cruise ship destination with more then 10,000 annual moorings. A travel agent like myself can help you to include Bruges as part of your itinerary. See more Bruges in my photo gallery below.

Photo Gallery:
Belgium Posts:
Gnoshing in Brussels
One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow smaller – Mini Europe and Atomium
Antwerpen – The Diamond of Belgium
Brussels, EU Headquarters & A Great Link to the Rest of Europe