Bruges (tours from Zeebrugge), Belgium

With its leafy squares, picturesque canals and historic architecture, Bruges is one of the most attractive cities in Europe and a popular destination for tourists around the world.

Your Guide to Bruges.

Just seven miles from the city center, the harbor-town of Zeebrugge is the gateway to Bruges for Cunard voyages. From here it’s just a short train journey to Bruges with its cobblestone streets lined with waffle houses and exquisite chocolate shops – an indulgence you won’t be able to resist taking home. Enjoy a scenic canal ride along the city’s waterways, pay a visit to the Basilica of the Holy Blood or climb the winding stairway of the medieval Belfry tower for remarkable views of the Bruges’s rooftops.

Exploring.

Once in Bruges, make your way to Markt (Market Square), home to the 13th century Belfry of Bruges tower - a protected world heritage site. At 83m tall, the tower unlocks spectacular city views (although you’ll have to climb 366 steps to see them). If the ascent doesn’t appeal it’s still worth seeking out the square for the many photo opportunities. Other notable Bruges highlights (of which there are many) include the Gothic Town Hall and Basilica of the Holy Blood, both located on Burg Square. The Basilica reputedly houses a crystal phial containing a drop of Christ’s blood while the square is one of Bruges’ oldest, featuring many historic buildings.

Eating and drinking.

If you have a sweet tooth, there are few better places to be than Bruges. The city is awash with café’s serving Belgian waffles, which come delectably soft in the center and sugary crisp on the outside. Topped off with ice cream, they’re the perfect antidote to a morning spent exploring and a true taste of Belgium you shouldn’t pass up. Belgian beer is also widely available in Bruges and makes a nice accompaniment to moules frites (mussels with fries) a dish with origins in Belgium. You’ll find hundreds of beer varieties in the city’s bars, though be warned, the strongest are considerably more potent than your average lager.

Shopping.

If there’s one shopping experience Bruges is synonymous with, it's Belgian chocolate. Never before will you have seen so many chocolate shops in such close proximity and the smell drifting from their doors is truly intoxicating. Most shops offer a counter-service, allowing you to mix and match by weight, but you’ll also find pre-mixed boxes ready to carry out. The main shopping streets are between the Market Square and the old city gates, while if you happen to be in port on the weekend, Dijver flea market (held from spring to autumn) sells a range of second-hand wares that attract shoppers from across Belgium.

Beyond Bruges.

While Bruges has much to offer, the city is a great jumping-off point for exploring more of Belgium. You’ll find places of interest within a few miles, including the seaside resort of Blankenberge with its sandy beach and art nouveau architecture. Damme (around four miles out) is an attractive town filled with historic buildings while Ghent offers the formidable Castle of the Counts and beautiful canals. Elsewhere, the city of Ypres (southwest of Bruges) is a must for anyone interested in World War history. With a cemetery housing 1,500 WWI graves and Menin Gate - inscribed with the names of 54,000 British soldiers - it’s a poignant excursion.