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Bruges is a wonderfully preserved medieval city threaded by a system of lovely canals that are best appreciated from the span of a deserted bridge after the sun has gone down. This one-time merchant center gets completely clogged with daytrippers during the tourist season, to the point where negotiating some of its famous art museums or climbing the steps of the towering Belfort is practically impossible. But outside the peak visiting months, Bruges' beautiful streets and squares are uncluttered and perfect for peaceful wandering. On display in the Groninge Museum is the work of the Flemish Primitives, including Jan Van Eyck and Gerard ...

Bruges is a wonderfully preserved medieval city threaded by a system of lovely canals that are best appreciated from the span of a deserted bridge after the sun has gone down. This one-time merchant center gets completely clogged with daytrippers during the tourist season, to the point where negotiating some of its famous art museums or climbing the steps of the towering Belfort is practically impossible. But outside the peak visiting months, Bruges' beautiful streets and squares are uncluttered and perfect for peaceful wandering. On display in the Groninge Museum is the work of the Flemish Primitives, including Jan Van Eyck and Gerard David, while Hans Memling gets his own museum in the old St. John's Hospital. If decorative arts such as lacework, tapestries and sculpture is more your thing, visit the Gruuthuse and Arentshuis museums. And don't miss visiting the serene grounds and whitewashed houses of the city's Begijnhof, once home to the Catholic Beguine order. At the end of a day of exploration, put your feet up in one of the warm local bars and enjoy a glass or three of some of the finest beer in the world.

Paul Smitz
About the Expert

Paul Smitz has coauthored a dozen guidebooks for Lonely Planet on places such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei, various Pacific Islands, Prague, and Brussels.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Weather-wise, between April and September; shoulder months are best for avoiding crowds.