Step back in time: travel to Bruges and discover the most delightful little city of canals and bridges, medieval Flemish architecture and higgldy-piggledy cobbled streets. Often compared to Venice for its canals, Bruges also has a Florentine touch, evident in its Renaissance flamboyance thanks to a properous period in the 16th century. The Count of Flanders, one of the richest noblemen in the West, was based here in Bruges, and the town was a hub of commerce, with merchants from 34 different countries regularly trading here. Like Venice, Bruges was famous for its high quality lace.
By the Burg main square, you'll see that the traditions are still alive: lace shops and market stalls abound. Medieval brick buildings with their pretty gables complete the picture. Above your head, three towers keep watch over the city. Tackle the 370 steps of the 13th century Belfry of Bruges, with its carillon of 47 bells, for an unparalleled view over the red roofs of the city, from its great height of 83 metres (272 feet). You'll spot the tower of the Church of Our Lady of Bruges, as it's the highest church tower in Europe. Saint-Salvator's Cathedral is worth a look for its interesting tower, which had the top peak added later as it was considered too flat.
One of the top museums in Europe the Groeningemuseum in Bruges will take you through six centuries of Flemish, Dutch and Belgian painting. You'll find works by Jan Provost, Jan van Eyck and Gérard David, as well as a fine collection of Flemish primitives here.
For a unique and entirely Belgian experience, visit the Frietmuseum or Museum of Chips, or if you have more of a sweet tooth, Choco Story: The Chocolate Museum will give you a glimpse into the world of the chocolatier, such as the famous Jeff de Bruges. If you're a true chocoholic, don't miss the Choco-laté Bruges Chocolate Festival.
If you're intrigued by Bruges' lacemaking tradition, head for the Kantcentrum lace centre, and 't Apostelientje lace shop just opposite.
If you fancy a bit of peace and quiet, stop by the Beguinage. This was traditionally a community of widows and women who had fallen on hard times. Here you'll find a veritable haven of tranquility beside of the picturesque Minnewater "lake of love" it seems that time has stood still, embodying the traditional charm of Bruges.
De gare à gare