Bruges is the capital and largest city of West Flanders in the Flemish part of Belgium in the northwest of the country. It is a UNESCO world heritage site with a population of over 117,000. The metropolitan area covers over 238 square miles and has over 255,000 inhabitants.
It is a canal-based city and is sometimes referred to as “The Venice of the North”. Bruges' economic importance can be attributed in part to its port and at one time it was considered the chief commercial city of the world. It is thought that the name of the city.
It also has a port, Zeebrugge which is an important area for both fishing and European trade. The city centre had Burg Square which is the main square and features the 14th century Stadhuis which has ornately carved ceilings. The city itself is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO and is often called, along with Amsterdam, the Venice of the North due to its many canals.
During World War 1 Germans forces occupied Bruges and was later liberated by the Allies in 1918 and again during World War 2. After the war, the city experienced a renaissance with both residential, commercial and historic monuments being restored which create a surge in tourism and the economy grew.
The port of Zeebrugge was built in 1907 and was used for German U-boats in WW1 and was expanded in the 1970’s and 80’s, fast making it one of Europe’s most important ports. Arguably Bruges most famous landmark is its 13th century belfry which houses a municipal carillon made up of 48 bells and you will often see free concerts on a regular basis.
For exploring the many canals in the city there are plenty of canal tours on offer which give a fantastic tour of the city as well. The cities nightlife is centred around an area just north of Markt on Kuipersstraat and has theatrical and concert events across several venues along with Cinema Lumiere or a theatre show at the 1869 theatre Koninklijke.
April – September are the best times to visit Bruges, during spring the weather is drier with rain expected only on half of the month instead of two thirds. The summers are fresh and not too warm with temperatures reaching up to around 23°C in July and August.
If you want a fresher experience spring and early Autumn might be better but do expect more chance of rain. St. Nicolas is celebrated here on the 6th December where him and his entourage arrive in Belgium in late November, a couple of weeks before the celebration starts.
As with any holiday, it's a good idea to carry some identification with you at all times and to keep a photocopy of your passport. British passport holders don't need a visa to enter Belgium. Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports, visas and travel.