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Getting around Bruges

Public transport

The cobbled streets of Bruges’ Old Town are well worn by the millions of tourists who have walked around this fairytale city. And you should take a leaf from their book, because the best way to explore Bruges is on foot. Built in a bygone era before the motor car, the Old Town was never designed to accommodate vehicles and is best avoided. If you want to get from A to B quickly then follow the locals’ lead and get on your bike – two wheels are definitely better than four in Bruges. 

If that sounds like too much effort, you could always jump in a taxi and let the driver worry about navigating the city’s narrow streets and one-way systems.

De Lijn (tel: +32 70 220 200; www.delijn.be) operates the Bruges city and Flanders regional bus services, with more than 50 routes serving the city and surrounding areas including the coast. The main bus terminal is outside the railway station, with many services also stopping at 't Zand opposite the new Concert Hall and in the central Markt. 

You can buy single tickets (valid for any journey within one hour), SMS tickets (cheaper, and ordered via your mobile phone), a 10-ticket Lijn card, a one-day pass, a three-day pass or a five-day pass.

Taxis

You can find taxi stands at Markt and at the station. Local operators include Euro Taxi (tel: +32 50 317 731) and Taxi Snel (tel: +32 50 363 649). It's usual to round up the fare.

Driving

If you can avoid driving in Bruges, it’s best to do so. Streets in the Old Town are easily congested and on-street parking is expensive and limited to designated areas; in metered spaces the maximum stay during the day is two hours, which leaves you barely enough time for a Flemish lunch.

Add this to the confusing one-way systems and you have a motoring experience that could make a saint swear.

If you have no choice but to bring your car, find a hotel with reserved spaces to take the hassle and expense out of parking. Alternatively, you could leave your motor at Centrum Station where there is a 1,500-space car park. The charge includes a bus ride into the city.

Car hire

If you want to explore the wider Flanders region, renting a vehicle is a great way to do so. Car hire is available from Avis (tel: + 32 50 394 400; www.avis.be), Europcar (tel: +32 50 314 544; www.europcar.be) and Luxauto (tel: +32 50 314 848; www.luxauto.be). The minimum age for hiring a car is usually 21, but expect to pay a surcharge if you're under 25.

Bicycle hire

Cycling is a popular and practical way to get around in Bruges, but cyclists should be careful on the narrower historic streets of the centre. You can hire bikes from De Ketting, Gentpoortstraat 23 (tel: +32 50 344 196; www.deketting.be), and Popelier, Mariastraat 26 (tel: +32 50 343 262; www.fietsenpopelier.be), as well as at the railway station, many hotels and hostels.

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Hotel Navarra

A grand hotel in a compact city, the Navarra is housed in a gorgeous, listed building in the heart of Bruges. There are 94 comfortable rooms in total, not to mention a fabulous swimming pool and sauna, which is the perfect tonic after a day of sightseeing. If you’ve brought your wheels to the city, the hotel’s on-site parking will ease the burden.

Hotel Fevery

Small, friendly and family-run, the Fevery is in a quiet spot just 10 minutes from the central market square. Rooms are simply furnished, but homely and good value. The fact there are only 10 of them keeps the service personal, ensuring the vibe stays like that of a suburban bed and breakfast, rather than a slick city hotel.

The Pand Hotel

Quite possibly the best place to stay in Bruges, The Pand is a small, luxurious hotel in the heart of the Old Town. Sumptuous but not showy, this former 18th-century carriage house has a friendly, laid-back ambiance and one of the best champagne breakfasts in the city. Festooned with the owner’s personal collection of antiques, there are 26 individually designed rooms to choose from.

Hotel Jacobs

Nestled down a sleepy side street on the edge of the Old Town, Hotel Jacobs is one of the best budget options in Bruges. This pretty, step-gabled building has 23 homely rooms, each with their own bathroom. Renovated a few years back, there’s free Wi-Fi, a bumper buffet breakfast and plenty of information about local attractions. The 10-minute walk into town is pleasant and easy-going.

Passage

Another wallet-friendly option, the Passage is a youth hostel, budget hotel, and restaurant split between two Old Town buildings. Scruffy and old fashioned but charming nonetheless, the Passage offers dorm beds, cheap doubles, and reasonably priced food. The staff are helpful and Bruges’ main attractions are just a short stroll away.

Hotel de Orangerie

Opulence abounds in the 20 large and lavish rooms of this lovely boutique hotel, housed in a former 15th-century monastery. Those facing the picturesque canal have some of the best views in town. If you can tear yourself away, the lounge bar has a warming open fire in winter, or you can enjoy afternoon tea in the elegant winter garden.