Planning a Trip
The tourist office, Toerisme Brugge, Burg 11, 8000 Brugge (tel. 050/44-86-86; fax 050/44-86-00; www.brugge.be), is right in the center of town, in the historic Palace of the Liberty of Bruges. It's open March to mid-November, Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 6:30pm, weekends from 10am to noon and 2 to 6:30pm; mid-November to February, Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 5pm, weekends from 9:30am to 1pm and 2 to 5:30pm. This friendly, efficient office has brochures that outline walking, coach, canal, and horse-drawn-carriage tours, as well as detailed information on many sightseeing attractions. Ask for the complimentary annual events@brugge brochure and monthly Exit newsletter, both of them excellent directories of current goings-on.
In addition, there's a booth for tourist information and hotel bookings outside the rail station.
Brussels National Airport is the main airport for Bruges. There is a small airport at Ostend (Oostende) just 24km (15 miles) from Bruges at the Belgian coast, but it handles mostly charter and air-taxi flights.
Trains arrive every hour or so from Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent, and from the North Sea resort of Ostend (Oostende) and the ferry port of Zeebrugge. Journey time is about 1 hour from Brussels and Antwerp, 30 minutes from Ghent, and 15 minutes from Ostend and Zeebrugge. A train to and from Lille in northern France connects there with the Eurostar trains through the Channel Tunnel from London to Paris and Brussels. From Paris, you can take the Thalys high-speed trains through Brussels direct to Bruges, or the slower and cheaper International trains, changing in Brussels. From Amsterdam, you can go via Antwerp or Brussels, either on the Thalys or the normal International and Inter-City trains.
Although the city is called Bruges in both English and French, look out for its Flemish name, BRUGGE, written on the rail-station name boards. The station is on Stationsplein, about 1.6km (1 mile) south of town, a 20-minute walk to the town center, or a short bus -- choose any bus labeled CENTRUM and get out at the Markt -- or taxi ride. You can even get started on sightseeing here, because inside the station is a large wall mural depicting scenes from Bruges's history and everyday life. And when leaving, the elegant Perron Brasserie is a good place for a pretrain snack or drink. For train information, call tel. 050/38-23-82 between 6:30am and 10:30pm.
Buses are less useful than trains for getting to Bruges. The Bruges bus station adjoins the rail station . For schedule and fare information, call tel. 070/22-02-00 daily between 6am and 9pm. Eurolines operates a daily service from London's Victoria Coach Station -- via the Dover-Calais (France) ferry or the Channel Tunnel's Le Shuttle train -- to Brussels, stopping at Bruges. Bruges can also be reached from all over Britain and Europe on the Eurolines network, via London or Brussels. For schedule and fare information, contact Eurolines at tel. 08705/808080 in Britain, and tel. 02/274-13-50 in Belgium.
Bruges is 92km (57 miles) northwest of Brussels and 51km (32 miles) northwest of Ghent on A10/E40; 102km (63 miles) west of Antwerp on A14/E17 and A10/E40, and 30km (19 miles) southeast of Ostend on A10/E40; and 16km (10 miles) south of the ferry port Zeebrugge on N31 and N371. From Calais and the Channel Tunnel, take E40 east. For a hassle-free visit to Bruges, drive directly to the large underground car park near the rail station at 't Zand and leave your car there until you're headed out of town. You'll find it's all but impossible to use a car in the center, since the confusing network of one-way streets makes driving a trial.