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Bruges this August...anything open? happening?

Hi, I'm an American who lives in the south of Spain, so am not affected this summer by most European countries' restrictions onU.S. travelers. I had planned an extensive train trip around some major European cities, including Bruges, and have decided to go ahead with it, on the theory that what I lose by some things being closed I may gain by being able to visit in high season and good weather without the usual hordes.

I'm wondering what suggestions there might be for 5 nights in Bruges, considering that, as I understand it, all the usual events and festivals have been canceled. I'm thinking a trip to Ghent might be in order? And of course, visiting any historic buildings and museums that are open. Other thoughts?

Melissa

Posted by
1103 posts

We were in Bruges quite a few years ago, but from my memory 5 nights would be too long for Bruges, especially without the crowds.

Posted by
146 posts

We were in Bruges a few years ago and recall we spent three nights. Besides seeing Bruges, we trained over for the day to Ghent and another day to Antwerp. Then on to Brussels for three nights. We then traveled to London vis the Eurostar from Brussels to join a RS Best of England trip. We really enjoyed Bruges!

Posted by
5537 posts

I agree that 5 nights might be too many for Bruges unless you want to rent a bicycle and do some touring / relaxing out in the countryside. I wouldn’t call it a “major city,” either - maybe you are thinking that it is bigger than it is? It is beautiful and enjoyable and yes you can visit a few other places from there so if you are happy with a slower pace, 5 nights could be fine.

Posted by
2717 posts

A couple years ago we spent 3 nights in Bruges before moving over to Ghent for 2 nights and then Antwerp for 2 nights. Of the time we had in Bruges, one day was spent taking the Quasimodo tour of the WWI battlefields and monuments. To me, Bruges is good for 2 full days.

Posted by
58 posts

Thanks all: I actually do know that Bruges isn't a "major" city or even very big. I should perhaps have explained that I have plenty of time and enjoy exploring at a leisurely pace. Bruges is just one stop on an 8 week trip to various cities I haven't been to yet. I'm fortunate to be retired in the south of Spain and able to do house swaps for my guest apartment there. So I've been spending my summers on long trips. This time, I'm headed to Paris first for 2 weeks, then an overnight stop in Brussels before the 5 nights in Bruges. From there, I stop for a night with some friends near Mainz, Germany and head to Berlin for a week. Then Prague, Vienna, Ljubliana (another not major city!) and finally Venice, each for a week I know 5 nights in Bruges is fairly long, but I love old architecture; I understand the city is charming and Im looking forward to exploring a city that I know from some favorite literature at a leisurely pace.

I understand that museums, historical sites, restaurants and cafes are open, but that all concerts, festivals and other large gatherings have been cancelled. So I'm looking for suggestions for some activities in addition to seeing all the "top sites". Anyone done the chocolate workshop, for example? A bike trip?

Posted by
113 posts

Been to Bruges three times in the last 20 years during the Summer and fall. I usually rent an apartnent and stay at least 3 days. I don't think 5 days is too long at all. Bruges is quite charming and quaint after the Tour buses leave. Last October when we were there, there was been a real push to limit the number of tour buses. They are encouraging overnight stays and some places give discounts such as the De Halve Moon Brewery to overnight guests. 1. We usually do de Halve Moon Brewery tour and walk in the Beguinage. 2 Rent bikes one day and go to Damme. It's a lovely ride along the canal. If you are really ambitious you can ride all the way to the coast.
If you don't get to the coast on bike you can take the train. Supposedly a lovely old beach town. 3) Visit a museum or go to the Church of the Holy Blood. 4) Eat/drink at least once at Cambrinus with their bible of beers. They do have some of the hard to get top beers in Belgium available there and their food is great.
5) If we catch Market Day on the Markt, we always plan on picking up a dinner at the market The food is amazing. Buy during the day and reheat for dinner. Roasted Chickens my favorite.
For more Ideas They have tours of Flanders Field available or take the short train ride to Ghent!
You are so lucky you can "slow" travel in Europe. Enjoy Bruges!
PS. Our new favorite place Struise Craft Brewery enjoy a beer with a large selection of beers to go.

Posted by
4694 posts

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/belgium/day-trips-from-brussels-besides-bruges-and-ghent

This is just one example of the many posts here about train day-tripping in that area of Belgium. I suggest you use the search box (blue, top left) to mine that vast archive.

I personally would not sleep five nights in Bruges. One justification in summer might be if you are going to the coast several times for beach and nightlife (if not World War and similar sites.) I found Ostend to be largely reinforced concrete postwar purpose-built resort-Spain! There were some older buildings, which was why I went in off-season.

I consider Antwerp more central for daytripping, but it is not essential to stay there. Factors you didn't mention are price range choices, and crowding vs. Covid-19 safety. I suppose you have a European credit card so that you can buy your daily train ticket at a machine in Belgium, instead of standing in a line for a human agent.