Bruges, Belgium

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on April 10, 2006. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Bruges, destination, Dubrovnik, Europe, Istanbul, Kiev, Kosice, Krakow, Ljubljana, RaeJean Stokes, Sarajevo, Tallinn, vacation package.

Bruges, Belgium

With a city center on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, the seaside city of Bruges is as ancient as it is beautiful. The town center teems with monuments, churches, gardens, and statues, and the air is permeated by the rich scents of waffles, chocolate, and beer.

A heaven for foodies, Bruges offers endless opportunities to be gluttonous. You can sample chocolates, sit at outdoor cafes and sip tea, or stop by one of the waffle carts that line the cobblestone alleys. The city has dozens of proper waffle shops, but the ones fresh from street vendors tend to be sweeter, crunchier, and more sinfully delicious.

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No trip to Belgium, let alone Bruges, would be complete, however, without sampling some of the country's famous beers. Numbering more than 450 varieties, Belgian beer has a reputation for being the best in the world. A good place to sample a few brews is the 't Brugs Beertje pub, which offers more than 250 choices. Options include Trappist-brewed ales, every type of Hoegaarden imaginable, cherry beers, white beers, and dark ales.

Before all this food and drink starts to affect your waistline, it might be time to tackle the bell tower. The 272-foot tall Belfry Tower, home to 47 bells and a centuries-old clock, offers spectacular views of the city to those willing to climb its 366 steps. Other excursions include visiting the Benguine Convent, or touring nearby Flanders Field, the site of one of World War I's most famous battles.

Quality accommodations in Bruges are not hard to find. This is still Western Europe, so prices are more expensive than some of the other cities featured here, but cheaper options do exist. Beds in backpacker-type hostels cost less than $20, rooms in three-star hotels are generally about $75, and luxury hotels charge upwards of $200 a night. On the upside, travel to and from Bruges is comparatively cheaper. Flights to Brussels can be had for under $500 in the winter, and under $900 in the summer, before taxes and fees. And the train from Brussels to Bruges is only about $14.

For more travel information, visit BrugesInfo.com.

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