10 reasons why you should travel to Bruges instead of Brussels
One of the best things to do in Europe is to travel to Belgium, a member state of the Benelux Union. This beautiful country is home to medieval towns, as well as Renaissance architecture. Belgium is located in Western Europe, bordering France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. To the northwest, the North Sea washes Belgium's shores. Its territory stretches over 30,689 square kilometres. The country consists of three regions: Flanders, Wallonia, and the Brussels-Capital Region.
Today, our focus will be on Bruges (Brugge in Dutch), the largest city in the West Flanders province of the Flemish region. Bruges is renowned for its medieval buildings, picturesque architecture, and cobbled streets. The city spans over 138 square kilometres, with a population of about 120,000. If you are wondering what to do in Bruges and where to stay in Bruges, then read this article carefully to find that out. Bruges weather is compatible with year-round tourism, allowing you to enjoy activities and things to do in Bruges in every season of the year.
You can travel from Brussels to Bruges by train for about €15. Travel from Brussels to Bruges by train is arguably the most convenient way for tourists, since it only takes approximately one hour, with more than 70 trains per day travelling between Brussels and Bruges.
Here are ten reasons why you should travel to Bruges instead of Brussels.
1. Less explored places
Everyone visiting Belgium most definitely travels to Brussels, unlike Bruges. It is one reason why you should travel from Brussels to Bruges. You will find a lot of places in Bruges, which are less explored by tourists. It will allow you to find extraordinary places to explore and take photographs that will amaze your friends on Instagram. Reports show that every year Brussels receives about 1.5 times more international tourists than Bruges. You will find a myriad of unique streets with a rich history, beautiful architecture, picturesque view, and a peaceful atmosphere. The official tourism website of the city offers a particular page called “hidden gems” to introduce unique yet less-known places in Bruges. These friendly and peaceful gems include Major Seminary front garden, Garden suburb, Coupure, and so on. Your photograph from these places will show how you value peacefully elegant tourist sites.
2. More affordable city
When you travel to Belgium, another reason why you should visit Bruges instead of Brussels is that things to do in Bruges and accommodation in Bruges are more affordable. The fact that Brussels is the leading business and capital city of Belgium makes its prices relatively higher than Bruges. Also, Bruges is smaller, and the distance between historic attractions and buildings, making it easier to walk. Walking through the cobbled streets of Bruges instead of taking a taxi or public transportation will save you money. Staying in the Brussels city centre would cost you more than in Bruges. Grand Hotel Casselbergh Brugge, Hotel Dukes’ Palace Brugge, etc., are excellent choices for visitors of Bruges. For backpackers and travellers on a tight budget, where to stay in Bruges? Well, there are various affordable hostels, rich options in Airbnb and CouchSurfing.
3. Club Brugge KV, professional football club
One of the main reasons Bruges outranks Brussels is Club Brugge KV. It is a world-class football team that is also known for its play in the UEFA Champions League. Club Brugge was founded in 1891 and is currently the most supported football club in Belgium. It has been 16 times Belgian League Champion, 11 times Belgian Cup Winner, and 15 times Belgian Super Cup Winner. It is famous among football fans for its occasional impressive performance in UEFA Champions League and Europe League. You can also visit Club Brugge’s home stadium, Jan Breydel Stadium, to take pictures and learn more about the history of the club. If you happen to be lucky during your visit to Bruges, you can watch Brugge play in that fantastic stadium.
4. Amazing canals of Bruges
Most experienced tourists give a prime example of what to do in Bruges, that is, enjoying canals in every possible way. Canals of Bruges have always been the veins of the city, attracting many tourists every year. People enjoy strolling around the canals and taking a boat trip. Rozenhoedkaai canal is probably the most iconic and scenic spot of Bruges, urging every visitor to take a most liked Instagram photo. Regardless of Bruges weather, you will find the warmth of this fantastic place, and the beauty of the water and architecture combo will never fail to amaze you. The other unique sites in Groenerei and Minnewater. No tourist is recommended to leave Bruges without exploring it on a boat. You can go on a boat trip around the city every day from 10:00 to 18:00.
5. Godshuizen, charitable housing
Unlike Brussels, you will find almshouses in Bruges. An almshouse is a charitable house offering accommodation for the poor. Being called Godshuizen in the city, the almshouses of Bruges are very Instagrammable and a peaceful place to enjoy. Some of these buildings date back to the 14th century. It used to be home for widows, well-mannered burghers, and elderly people. Every set of almshouses had chapels for inhabitants to pray and secure transition to after-life. After modern reconstruction and restoration processes, these almshouses serve today's elderly residents of the city. With its beautiful garden and white-coloured facades, it offers serenity and tranquillity. Lovely blocks of Godshuizen include Het Rooms Convent, Godshuis De Vos, Sint-Joosgodshuis, and so on.
6. More historic attractions
Unlike Bruges, Brussels is more of a business centre. It is a dynamic city with a lot going on. Bruges, on the other hand, is a more peaceful place with more historical attractions. While strolling through the streets of Bruges, you will feel the historical atmosphere from the buildings around you. One of the most famous spots, as such, is Belfort. It is a stunningly picturesque tower with a height of 83 meters. Belfort was built in the 13th century, and today, it is included as a world heritage site. There are many excellent museums, such as Choco-Story, the Diamond Museum, the Groeninge Museum, etc. Other historical places include Bladelin Court, the Guild of Saint Sebastian, and many more stunning buildings.
7. Bruges is for lovers
As a visitor, you will realize that Bruges is for lovers. There are many beautiful places for people to enjoy with their partners. Hidden parks and canals with beautiful swans are places for romantic relations to thrive. The loveliest channel in the city is, without a doubt, Groenerei. Surrounded by greenery and vintage buildings, the area also features a romantic bridge. Lovers like enjoying the atmosphere around that bridge, while the sky with beautiful sunset reflects on the water. Minnewaterpark, also called Lake of love park, is another delightful place for romantic visitors. Flowers, a charming atmosphere and the gracefulness of the lake make this park a perfect place to express your love toward your partner.
8. Amazing parks all around
Greenery and amazing parks in Bruges will make your visit to Bruges even more relaxing. These parks also feature beautiful flowers and trees, where you can lie down on the grass to enjoy the tranquillity. Right in the city centre, you will find Queen Astrid park. Apart from its greenery, this charming park possesses a romantic kiosk and fountain, as well as a playing ground for children. Other green glorious parks in the city include the Graaf Visartpark, Koning Albertpark, Poertorenpark, etc.
9. Rich religious heritage
The city used to have a very active religious life, making it home to many churches, chapels, and monasteries. The ecclesiastical heritage of Bruges shows its rich history, beautiful architecture, and the centuries-long evolution of its economy and culture. It is home to one of the unique churches, the Church of Our Lady, with the world's second-tallest brickwork tower. It is a place for lovely Instagrammable photographs. Other unique sites showcasing the city's religious heritage are the Jerusalem Chapel, St Giles' Church, the English Convent, the Carmelite Convent, etc.
10. The Great Flemish Primitives
Artists created fine beauties during the golden age of the city, i.e., the 15th century. The Great Flemish Primitives started to bloom during the Burgundian dynasty at the time. They are paintings representing the Northern Renaissance. There are very famous works of Jan Van Eyck, Hans Memling, and other prominent artists. The Groeninge Museum and St Saviour’s Cathedral are worthy of a visit to see amazing pieces of art. Do not forget to visit the Church of Our Lady to see Michelangelo’s incredible works.
A quick recap
Overall, Belgium is an amazing place to enjoy the beautiful architecture and historic buildings while strolling through elegantly paved streets. Brussels is the main destination for visitors to Belgium. But, of course, Belgium is not only about Brussels, which I aimed to prove in this article. In this blog, I tried to write about why you should choose Bruges over Brussels when you travel to Belgium. I wrote about the best way to travel from Brussels to Bruges, what to do in Bruges, and where to stay in Bruges. I also touched upon Bruges weather and how it affects things to do in Bruges. Ten reasons that I have highlighted showing why you should travel to Bruges instead of Brussels are as follows: relatively less explored places, more affordability, Club Brugge KV, beautiful canals, Almshouses, comparatively more historical attractions, better romanticism, parks all around, rich religious heritage, and the great Flemish Primitives.
Kamran was born in Ganja, one of the ancient cities of Azerbaijan. Since his childhood, he has had a special interest in photography and traveling. As a recent graduate majoring in International Relations, Kamran has a relish to learn more about worldwide culture, art, and history of other nations. He also has more than one and a half year of experience in hospitality and tourism industry in Azerbaijan. He is a participant of the Summer Work & Travel program sponsored by the U.S. government. Kamran currently studies Master of Sustainability at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.