It’s small enough to wander and be enchanted. But if you need a little inspiration for ways to spend your time.

Now, there are a number of ways to get to Bruges, ships excursion the most costly), Taxi – if more than two the mid-range, Tourist coach, again a mid priced option and the train the cheapest.

For DIY: The station to use is in Blankenburge and there is normally a free shuttle bus to it. The shuttle takes about 10 minutes; you then pay €6.20 per person, 2016, return to get the train to Bruges. The trains run from Blankenberge at 10 past the hour every hour and leave Bruges on the way back at 25 to the hour every hour. But, on Sundays these timings are different so check before you board your train.

Another way to get into Bruges is by taxi, this is about a 20 minute ride. The standard fare in 2015 was €60 each way, so the more of you there are the better the fare. It is suggested you book in advance because the queue when you dock can be quite long. One link: You can email them to book and you pay on the day.

Try a firm called Viator who operate as. ‘Cruise Express’ in Belgium. You can book in advance, confirmation will be sent to you which you exchange on the day for your tickets, or can also buy tickets on the day if you have not booked. You take the free shuttle bus to the port entrance (you cannot make your own way out of Zeebrugge you have to take the bus) at the port entrance turn right and you see a ‘cruise express’ sign less than a 2 minute walk to the bus pick up point. Buses run every 30 minutes. Cost £17 each. No hassle and good service. For the return journey then make your way to where you were dropped off and you are taken back to the port gates.

Not adventurous enough to be bothered with doing it all DIY then try Bruges on your Own, £36pp. (2016) Coach to Bruges, you are given a map each and on the way you will have a lovely talk about the countryside. On arrival at Bruges you will be guided into Bruges via a very scenic route with lots of information provided and then left to do our own thing for several hours. At the appointed time you will be met at the pick-up point – another load of information and then a very gentle return to the ship.

Just to let you know that the train station and drop off point for the DIY coach tour are very close. From here it is about a 15-20 min walk into town over some cobbled paths.

Once you get to Bruges you’ll find 3 tourist offices: The first tourist office can be found at the exit of the railway station. The second larger tourist office is located inside the Concert building, just 10 minutes walking from the railway station. A third office is inside the Historium on the Market square. The offices are open Monday till Saturday from 10am – 5pm and on Sundays 10am – 2pm.

Bruges is a charming maze of cobblestoned streets and canals and at its very heart lies Market Square. Lined with fairy-tale facades and lively café’s, this vast open square is a constant hive of activity. Dominating proceedings is the huge Belfry Tower. This costs €8 for people aged between 24 to 64 those outside of that age bracket pay €6, (2014). There are 366 steps to the top and very fortunately there are a few places to stop and rest. Some of those places have small exhibits to do with the whole tower. If you go up the tower be prepared for the pain of descent and the pain in the backs of your legs next day!, however the climb to the top of the tower is worth it for the outstanding views of Bruges.

There are many nice cafes around the city that serve hot chocolate made with real chocolate melted into the hot milk. A favourite is Old Chocolate Shop, 1, Mariastraat. You get a large cup of hot milk, chocolate bowl filled with chocolate buttons that you drop into your milk and with the whisk supplied stir, heaven in a cup. you can choose between, dark, milk, white and some others like Baileys, Chilli, but I will leave you there and let you find it and try for yourself. Cost, 2 hot chocolates, 2 small bars of chocolate, 2 biscuits and a grand cost of €10. ps, the cafe opens at 10am and there are not many tables and chairs.

Belgian chips and mayonnaise are good, as are mussels. Beer with your meals (recommended like wine) is a novelty. For a nice relaxed beer try, 2be Beer Wall, just off Burg, beers from 3.5% to 9%, and are served in small, medium and large glasses. You can either sit in the small interior or opt for the garden where you have views over the canals.

If you are thinking of purchasing chocolates then ladies, every other shop is a chocolate shop so there is no need to buy straight away.

There are Horse and carriage rides around the town, these cost €50 for up to 5 people.

Take A Canal Ride In Bruges: 5 Starting points: at the back of the Belfry Tower, City Hall and near the Church of Our Lady. The tour takes 30 minutes and starts and ends at the embarkation point of your choice (it’s NOT hop on hop off). Each boat company does the same tour, gives the same explanation and has the same prices. Adults pay € 7.60 and children under 12 year pay € 3.40 (these are 2013 prices). Individuals don’t need to book in advance; you can buy your ticket on the day itself. Be warned, they cram you in.

Other tours:
The War Graves And Ypres Tour: Ypres and the Menin Gate is beautiful and fascinating tour. There is beautiful country side and time to shop in Ypres after the trip where there are plenty of chocolate shops and lace shops.

Discover the city of Ghent: Undoubtedly one of Europe’s best kept secrets, Ghent is usually overlooked in favour of its better known neighbours Bruges and Brussels. With its enchanting gabled houses, ancient churches, little canals, and chilled-out café culture, Ghent is similar to Bruges in many aspects. But whilst Bruges is very much a ‘museum city,’ Ghent has an edgier, local feel to it.

By Peter Dagnall

See our holiday photos click here.

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