Getting around Bruges
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.