Also known as the ‘Venice of the North’, Bruges’ namesake comes from the multiple canals that encircle the city centre. There are more than 80 bridges connecting the town and make for endless paths for you to hop, skip and jump your way around the city centre. Want to know more about Bruges? Here’s the essential info you’ll need to know before you go.
Australian citizens do not need a visa to holiday in Belgium under the Schengen Convention. However, your stay in any countries within the Schengen Area should not exceed 90 days in a 6-month period. You’ll also need proof of sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. When travelling internationally, always ensure you have at least 6 months’ validity on your passport. These requirements and travel conditions can change at any time. For more up-to-the-minute information, please refer to the Belgium embassy in the ACT.
Belgium is a part of the European Union and uses the Euro as currency. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the Euro changes constantly, so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase Euros when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
Flemish cuisine flourishes in Bruges. The town’s proximity to the sea means there’s a heavy focus on seafood with mussels being a favourite. These are usually served moules marinieres-style with frites (fries) or crusty bread. When choosing a place to dine, steer clear of the Market Square as prices are usually inflated here and quality less valued. Wander off the beaten track or ask a local where to find the best meals in town. Herberg Vlissinghe offers a pretty great croque monsieur (fancy ham and cheese toastie) and an impressive beer list – it’s also probably the oldest pub in Bruges, dating back to 1515. If you’re in the Market Square and simply must eat, the best choice is the iconic Craenenburg restaurant. Apparently royals would watch jousting in the square from this haunt in the 1460s and you’ve got to admit, the view of the Belfort from here is pretty inspiring.
Most revellers head to the Old Town for traditional-style bars with encyclopaedic selections of beer. If you‘re after a more modern vibe, head to the hip and happening joints around Kuipersstraat and Zilverstraat. La Bodega is a trendy cocktail bar if you want to take a break from beer tasting, and on Friday and Saturday night there’s a DJ from 10pm. If you’re after a haunt that’ll be packed to the rafters with locals, De Garre pub is the ideal place to start out the night in Bruges - especially as the house beer, Triple de Garre, is an 11 percent-alcohol tipple. It’s sure to get you off to a strong Belgian start and with over 100 different beers on offer; you may end up spending the whole night at De Garre. After a couple of cherry-flavoured beers, you’ll have just the right kind of rose-coloured glasses on to wander the streets and admire the quaint lamp posts and old-world charm.