Please sign in to post.

Seeing Bruges Suggestions

I am going on a cruise in August and the first port is Bruges. I have never been.

Looking at shore excursions, one is doing Bruges on your own. You take a bus from the port to the parking area and then have several hours of free time. The information cautions that it is about 20 minutes from the parking area to the center.

It appears that Bruges is very walkable and that i could see and do a lot in a few hours.

Looking for advice and or suggestions.

Also, I could go to Ghent. How about Ghent instead of Bruges?

Posted by
6781 posts

Gent is an outstanding place to stay for a few days and explore the area. But if you’ve only got part of a day on a shore excursion, Bruges will easily fill it with museums, Flemish art, town square, architecture, chocolate . . . and if you’re up for a little additional time on water, even a cruise on some of the town’s canals. Rick’s guidebook has an excellent walking tour you can do on your own - invest in the book, or borrow from your library to check it out.

Posted by
129 posts

The cruise port for Bruges is not very convenient. It is a mostly industrial port and some distance from Bruges. We have reserved a taxi in advance twice with mixed results. Lots of people competing for a few taxis and drivers not necessarily waiting for their customers (or being lied to as to who they are). Basically a zoo. Long walk to the train station and may have to wait for a train. The only advantage of a taxi is that the drop off is in the town square. Recommend the ships bus. Note that if you don't want to walk back to the bus you can catch a taxi at the town square.

Bruges is a wonderful walking town and the RS guidebook walking tour is excellent.

Posted by
1874 posts

Ghent and Bruges are comparable, nevertheless there are several reasons why each has it’s favorite. So if you have never visited one of these places Bruges remains to my opinion a good option for a visit. I would (only) go to Ghent if you really like to see for instance The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb and don’t mind adding that (at least) 1½ hour extra traveling time to get there and back. Otherwise stay in Bruges and in case there is enough time left you can bike to Damme along the canal.

Posted by
6696 posts

Both cities are nice, but Bruges is the easy winner for someone on a cruise ship. I would take the cruise ship bus if possible, because although overpriced, it means that (if you are on the bus) the ship will not leave without you. Although local trains are easy, Ghent is too far to go the same day with a cruise ship departure deadline. That's because the train doesn't go to Zeebrugge, AFAIK.

Presumably they don't take you to Bruges on a day when some museums are closed? Both cities are easy to get to if you have a future land trip to Brussels or Antwerp.

Although I like Ghent, and the Mystic Lamb ... if conservation is completed and it is reinstalled ... is quite special, no one will ask you at home if you saw Ghent. They will ask about Bruges. I can't imagine anyone passing up Bruges, but I have heard that there are some World War II sites along the Belgian coast, and part of the coast has a tram line, starting in Ostend. Don't know about the Bruges end.

I personally think the UNESCO WHS Beguinage in Bruges has lost some charm from the residential conversions. But someone has to pay for the upkeep, don't they?

Posted by
12618 posts

Definitely stay in Bruges for this trip. You'd just waste so much time going to Ghent and there is so much to see in Bruges. I know some return to the boat for lunch but I'd stay in Bruges as there are many restaurants around and you can get more sightseeing in.

The museums are great here and the canals are lovely and scenic!

I did a quick search on where the buses park and see it looks like you are dropped at Bargeplein. That is excellent as it takes you thru Minnewater park and near the Begijnhof then it's an easy walk in to the city center. I might leave the Beginjhof to the end of the day in case you have left over time instead of spending your time there first.

Here is a link to the visitor center site which also has a good map to look at with the various interesting sights listed.

Posted by
15089 posts

Yep, if you're getting off a cruise in Bruges, then explore Bruges. We've spent multiple days there without running out of interesting things to see! Now, those were things WE were interested in seeing/doing, and your interests may be different. Still, Ghent is similar enough that if what Bruges has to offer isn't tripping your trigger, Ghent's offerings won't trip it either.

A place to get started?

I'm happy to point you in the direction of some of (what we felt) were highlights if you can share what your interests are?

Posted by
5598 posts

With the time you have I’d go with Bruges too. It’s very easy to walk around.

Posted by
946 posts

BRUGES is awesome! You'll love a day trip there.

The information cautions that it is about 20 minutes from the parking area to the center.

The bus will probably let you off at the train station, which is about 20 minutes from Markt Square, which is the centre of everything in Bruges.

Walking from the station to Markt (if that is indeed your route) will take you near the Begijnhof, an old convent that provides awesome photo ops of medieval buildings, canals, swans, and if you're lucky, a nun in her Beguine habit.

At Markt is the famous Bruges Belfry Tower, made famous in the film In Bruges (see it before you go, if you can). Also tons of cafes, chocolatiers, and pleasant streets to wander around.

If there just for a day, I wouldn't add more than two "destination" stops. Perhaps the Church of Our Lady to see the only Michelangelo statue outside of Italy, if you like art. Or a climb up the Belfry Tower itself for 360 views and (if timed right) a carillon bell show.

Take in a boat tour around the canals of Bruges. I think they are a half hour, departing from many locations on the canals east of Markt.

And that should do you for an awesome day in what I think is the most beautiful city in Northern Europe.

Posted by
1220 posts

We are supposed to arrive in Bruges at 8 am and leave at 5 pm. Some of the guided excursions that appeal to me are 6 or 6 `1/2 hours long. Bruges on your own is 7 hours long but this includes the trip from and back to the port..

I love art and would love to see some of the Flemish Masterpiece if possible but I will not overdo it.

The following is from a description of Bruges on your own:

"This excursion is organized for those guests who have previously visited Bruges or who want to explore independently. Transfer to the entrance of the old city, where you will have approximately 5-hours of free time to take in the activity of your choice.

Thanks to all for your input.

Posted by
15089 posts

Phil, if you are looking for Primitives, Sint-Janshospitaal has a small but significant collection of Memlings as well as an interesting background as a 12th century hospital.

For a larger collection of art, you'll want the Groeninge. Take a free virtual tour to see if it goes on your must-do list?