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Seeking Bruges Information

I am taking a cruise in October and Bruges will be my first port.

I am attaching the description of the excursion that I have signed up for.

For people who have been, what do you think? I will have about 5 free hours in Bruges (not enough time)

Suggestions on what I must see ....

Bruges On Your OwnDETAILS
Estimate Duration
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. A tour escort will be aboard to answer any questions you may have regarding the best places to see or shop. The escort will remain at the drop off point for approximately one hour after arrival, to further assist you if needed.

Need To Know:
The drive between Zeebrugge (port) to Bruges is approximately 30 minutes in each direction. Maps are available on the coach. There is approximately a 20-minute walk on cobblestone surfaces from the parking area to the center. Comfortable shoes are highly recommended.

tours with this activity level involve walking over relatively level terrain, possibly some cobblestone, gravel, or a few steps. Comfortable shoes are recommended.

Posted by
2424 posts

I will have about 5 free hours in Bruges (not enough time) Suggestions on what I must see ....

  • View the Grote Markt and the Belfort.
  • Buy a waffle and/or some chocolate
  • Right near there is Berg Square. Go inside the Basilica of the Holy Blood
  • Also in Berg Square is Stadhuis (city hall). We went inside but I wouldn't if you're short on time.
  • From Berg Square you're not far from the Vismarkt (Old Fish Market). This area is really pretty and nice to wander around in.
  • Near Vismarkt is Rozenhoedkaai (Rosary Quay) - a scenic spot
  • About 5 minutes walk from here is Bonifaciusbrug (Boniface Bridge), probably the prettiest bridge I saw there.
  • Depending on how much time you have left, you could walk 10 minutes from Boniface Bridge to the Begijnhof. This was a nice, peaceful area to walk around in.
  • Are you out of time yet? If not, you could visit Sint-Salvatorskathedraal since it's sort of heading back towards the central area.
  • Eat some fries
Posted by
7394 posts

Just to be sure, please add the day of the week. Cruise ships don't have 100% record on avoiding "closing days."

There's an annoying amount of upscale adaptive (not demolition ...) redevelopment in the Begijnhof. But this is a UNESCO WHS, so you have to see it. It's a relatively large area, so wear walking shoes, and check the weather forecast before you set out.

While more time would be desirable, I was happy with a one-day excursion from Antwerp to Bruges. You have not missed out on "seeing" Bruges. Obviously you will be there the most crowded hours, but that's the way Bruges is. At least it's October, and Bruges is still only talking about visitor-count limitations.

Posted by
32964 posts

just be sure to leave more time to return to the meeting spot than it took in the morning - I expect you will be tired and moving slower.

Posted by
1946 posts

well, this is terrible news. We will be there on a Sunday and in the small print on my excursion, there is a note that says "On Sundays, only souvenir shops are open. "

Is that true? Is nothing at all open on Sundays but souvenir shops?

I am glad that I looked over the information and posted on R S now rather than found this out when I went on my excursion.

Posted by
6084 posts

I'm sure cafes etc will be open.

You're there the wrong week as 1st Sunday of the month is Shopping Sunday when many shops are open in the afternoon.

The Vismarkt is closed but the Basilica opens after mass at 1215, the Staduis and most other tourist sites are open- see the City tourism website-

I don't know about the US market but in the UK market NCL are having a 35% sale at the moment. Maybe worth checking with your TA to see if you can get a bit of OBC as you are paid in full now. Without Free at Sea that cruise is currently about £90 a night solo without Free at Sea, or £110 a night with.

Posted by
1946 posts

Hi Nigel

These days I move slowly, period. In the USA, I stay over to the right if people are behind me so they can pass me. I am wondering if I need to stay over to the left when I am walking in Europe.

I will be very certain to be back at the bus before it is. time to leave.

Posted by
1946 posts

Thanks to everyone for your input

I emailed visitor information asking if "everything" is shut down on Sunday. and did some research. I did not find anywhere saying anything about Bruges being closed on Sunday.

I think that refers to shopping and maybe some churches during services and life event. Possibly some attractions like museums have shorter hours.

I am certain there will be a lot of things. to keep me occupied in Bruges for about 5 or so hours.

Tim, the thread was helpful and all others, your info was helpful as well.

I know that I will be able to find some chocolate and maybe some lace.

Posted by
1946 posts

Hi isn31c

The cost of my cruise has gone down more than once. I received credits applied to my account which helped me pay it off faster than I would have.

Now, I also have a $200 credit which will be applied to my next cruise after I take this one. That is because I am fully paid off and was not offered OBO after my cruise went down yet again.

That worries me. Did NCL have so much trouble selling this cruise that they had to greatly reduce the price. Maybe it was too high to begin with?

Posted by
6084 posts

The tour bus will almost certainly drop you at Stationsplein- at the end of the day (when you are tired) there is a public bus back from the City Centre to Stationsplein every 5 minutes-

There is no obvious reason to me why that itinerary is not attractive, no clear reason for the struggling to sell. It is still a time of the year when it should still be in reasonable weather, and what I think is an interesting itinerary.

As is well rehearsed neither in terms of NCL company culture, or the type of vessel, me and NCL are not even vaguely natural vacation partners. But as someone who could live happily without 'free at sea' - I can easily do my own thing at each of those ports, can readily digitally detox, and can easily manage without a beverage package, then on the current level of base solo pricing and that itinerary, it is one that (if I didn't have other things to do) even I could be very seriously interested in. If the pricing level was formerly too high it is now right- even with what is still effectively a 100% solo supplement. It is now as low as I have seen for NCL transantlantic voyages with no air fare to think about for Europeans.

Boiled down to it's simplest it is a sea voyage to 5 countries, all transport, food, accommodation and entertainment now for £90 per night.

Posted by
78 posts

I am puzzled by your remark to stay over to the left when walking slowly in Europe. Please explain.

Posted by
1946 posts

Hi veerie3

Well, in the United States, we drive on the right.

Because I am 78 and have health issues, I walk slowly, much slower than a younger and or healthier person. Without meaning to, most younger and healthier persons are on top of me when walking and so I move over to let them pass.

I have come to walk over to the right so as to not hold up foot traffic.

In fact, I believe that I have seen signs asking people to stay to the right when walking except when passing.

I believe Europeans drive on the left hand side of the road.

So with tongue in cheek but also somewhat serious, I am asking if I should walk on the left hand side so that i can let others pass because of my slow walking

Americans are asked sometimes to stay over to the right when walking so that faster walkers can pass. Are Europeans asked to stay over to the left when walking so that faster walkers can pass.

I can still walk a mile or two a day. Sometimes I need to sit. I am considering that it may be time to get a cane. I have resisted due to vanity but now all my friends are getting one so I am open to a cane.

I was also joking with Nigel who suggested that i might be slower at the end of my excursion. I was telling him that I am slow anyways. I am slow to begin with.

Posted by
1946 posts

Good Morning isn31c

I am not much of a drinker and I do not need to eat in the private restaurants. I am happy with the buffet. I can always find something to eat and I eat all day long. Because I have sailed several times with NCL, I get invited to one or two private parties where I can have a couple of drinks and sometimes find a bottle of wine in my cabin.

I opt out of the so called drink free at sea and the private restaurant free at sea neither of which are free.

I take the $50 off of shore excursions and the so called free wi fi. The free wi fi is very limited and I almost always have to pay something for my shore excursions but I like those two.

I travel alone so the free second person is of no help to me. I book my own air because I want to stay more than two days in my and post cruise ports. It costs me more but I like the control over my travel. Some guests love the air travel they get through NCL while others are really unhappy. The price is excellent however compared to what I have to pay.

Posted by
1946 posts


I emailed Visitor Information in Bruges yesterday and already got a lovely email back. Great customer service.

"Good morning,

On a Sunday all museums and tourist attractions will be open from around 10 am until 5 pm.
Restaurants will also be open."

And I got a link to their wonderful website which I had already discovered.

Who knows what NCL was talking about? I think they use a third party for excursions.

Bruges, I will see you soon. Getting very excited.

Posted by
2424 posts

I'm excited for you, bostonphil! Bruges is so so pretty. I was there on a Sunday and don't recall things being closed.

Posted by
67 posts

A lot of shops are closed on sundays unless it's a "koopzondag (sunday shopping)". But museums, bars and restaurants will be open in most of the cases. For museums, monday is worse as a lot of them ate closed then.

Posted by
4943 posts

I believe Europeans drive on the left hand side of the road.

What would lead you to believe that? The only European countries that drive on the left are in the UK, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta.

Posted by
6636 posts

The Begijnhof was one of my favorite places, and also the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Other than that, there will be plenty to see just walking around.

Some of the speciality shops in Bruges will be open on Sundays (not just Shopping Sunday); for example, I'm sure you will find chocolate shops open that sell beautiful pieces of chocolate. You could also visit Käthe Wolfhart, which is a German shop that sells exquisite Christmas ornaments and decor. It is always open on Sundays.

Also, Belgium cars drive on the right, just like the US. You're probably thinking of the UK.

Posted by
260 posts

Visit Market Square to hear the beautiful bells in the belfry. The best French fries I had was from the green kiosk right in front of the belfry. Try them with mayonnaise, like the locals. Bruges is a beautiful town to just walk around in but if the canal boats are running it’s a lovely way to experience them. They are small and open, you’ll go under bridges and see swans. Burg Square for, as others has mentioned, the Basilica of the Holy Blood. And the Church of Our Lady for Michelangelo’s beautiful Madonna and Child statue. If you like art or just need/want to be indoors for a bit the Groeningemuseum (Flemish primitives) is worthwhile. And treat yourself to a waffle, there are waffle shops/stands all over. Same with chocolate, you can buy a few pieces, they price by weight.

Posted by
1946 posts


For some reason, I thought that all of Europe drove on the left hand side of the road. I guess not. Good thing that I have found out or I might have gotten run over.

I do not know why I thought this way.

Posted by
1946 posts

I think that I am going to love Bruges. I already do and I am not even there.

I was surprised that when I went on my Baltic Cruise, I fell in love with Tallinn. I was not expecting to do so. I am feeling that it is going to be the same with Bruges.

So 5 hours is not a lot of time but I will still see and feel Bruges. I will have pictures and memories for a very long time.

I can not wait to write reviews and be able to say that I have been there and give information and advice.

Thanks to everyone for all you have given me. Thank you for putting up with my lack of knowledge.

Posted by
78 posts

Hi bostonphil7 - here veerle3
I suspected you thought we are driving on the left, but I wanted to clarify, for possible future readers.
I am 78 as well, and am also a slow walker, and I realise that instinctively I walk on the right whenever possible.
Have a nice visit to Brugge!

Posted by
1946 posts

thank you veerie3

I did think that all of Europe drove on the left but I found out that is not so. Only UK, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta drive on the left. Europe drives on the right.

Mostly I stay on the right when walking but sometimes, I am on the left depending on what side of the street I am walking on. It is not. always easy to cross a main street or a bridge just to walk on the right.

I live on a greenbelt and take a path towards the lake. I walk on the left toward the greenbelt because the path seems slippery on the right and I fear falling.

I think that I am going to love Bruges.

I regret that I was not able to travel when younger and that I have not been able to travel more.

Posted by
1813 posts

I like peaceful Sundays in tourist cities like Brugges. Usually fewer people, unless busy with cars and commerce make it much easier to imagine what the place was like in the past.

You've gotten good advice above about plotting out a walking tour. Really the main attraction of the city is just looking at the place as you walk around.

I'd grab a Belgian beer too, maybe something traditional for lunch.

Posted by
1946 posts

Yesterday, I watched a couple of You Tube videos about Bruges. I am already in love with the place. It feels good.

Posted by
7394 posts

Be careful about your footing on cobblestones, especially if wet.

Posted by
1946 posts


Began the video and will watch in pieces. I subscribed. The Creators deserve the money they earn from producing such wonderful videos.


I will be very cautious walking on the cobblestones. Afraid of falls. Too old to fall! After a certain age, a fall can be a death sentence.

Thank you both for your inout.

Posted by
464 posts

We just returned from Bruges and found that most places were open on Sunday. I would recommend a canal boat ride in Bruges. It is lovely and gives you a good overview of the town. We also enjoyed seeing the Markt, Burg square, eating Belgian waffles with toppings, and buying Belgian chocolates. There are horse and carriage rides also if you do not wish to walk on the cobble stones.

Posted by
1998 posts

In general shops in Flanders are free about the hours they want to be closed. Most of the time fashion shops and hardware stores are closed on sundays, supermarkets some are open and some closed even from the same chain. Bakeries many open on sunday morning but the rest of the day closed for instance.

Posted by
1946 posts

Thank you organizer8 and Wil

Whoever wrote the description of the shore excursion that I am taking was sloppy in either the research or what they wrote or both. It is possible that they have never even been to Bruges or maybe they went on a Sunday and that was their perception.

I am glad that I asked the question and got so many helpful responses.

No matter what, I am still not going to be there long enough.

Posted by
3 posts

Hey Phil, you're right, you won't be there long enough, but Bruges is a very walkable city. We first did a free walking tour with Ambassadors Tours and our guide gave us a list of recommendations. We had a great waffle at House of Waffles and saw Michelangelo's madonna in the main church, did a boat tour and went to the beer museum which was interesting and we opted for the 3 beers to taste at the end.