Get to know what it’s like to visit this destination.
Getting To Know Bruges – Cruise Port Guide
Bruges is a hugely popular destination on many Northern European itineraries and is especially prominent on mini-cruises. Our Bruges cruise port guide will enable you to make the very best of your visit during your cruise call.
Bruges is the capital and largest city in Belgium, within the Flemish Region. It’s vast, exciting and filled with many charming buildings, canals, museums and more. Of course, one must sample some true Belgian chocolate while in the city and there are no shortage of fine chocolatiers on every street. Belgian waffles come in second and again, must be tried and tasted during your visit.
The city centre is in fact a UNESCO World Heritage Site and covers around 430 hectares in all. Bruges is also the proud home of the College of Europe, a university institute dedicated to European studies.
One day is not enough time to see and do everything, so we suggest pinning down the things that appeal to you the most and working your way through those. Some of our favourite recommendations include Sint -Janshospitaal, also known as the Hospital of St.John. It was originally founded in the 12th century and the premises are home to some of Europe’s oldest surviving hospital buildings. Today, the building is home to the Hans Memling museum.
The Markt is also worth visiting and is right in the heart of the city. In fact, if you visit the Markt, you’ll also be able to enjoy the 12th century belfry, one of the city’s most iconic symbols and the former home of the treasury and municipal archives.
Bruges can be expensive, so plan ahead of time when budgeting and allow for a little extra euros.
The port is around 15 kilometres from the city centre (ships dock in Zeebrugge), but don’t worry, the port authorities usually offer a shuttle service for visiting cruise passengers – there is a charge for this.
Once in the city, the best way to explore it is on foot.
The BrugesCard is a great option if you plan to explore several key museums and take a canal cruise. It offers free entry and discounts at venues across the city.
Key highlights of Bruges
- Choco-Story museum
- Basilica of the Holy Blood
- Belfry of Bruges
- Church of our Lady Bruges
- Groeninge Museum
- Sint -Janshospitaal
- Bruges City Hall
- Lake of Love
- Diamond Museum
- Torture Museum
- Canal Cruise
- Food Tour
- Archaeological Museum
Regular cruise line visitors
- Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
- P&O Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- Saga Cruises
- Viking Cruises
- Oceania Cruises
- Celebrity Cruises
- Royal Caribbean International
Bruges Cruise Port 🔎 by Andy Harmer
Known as ‘the Venice of the North’, the city of Bruges is a truly beautiful place to visit as part of a cruise. Ships dock seven miles away in the Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal, and if you decide to explore the city alone rather than on a shore excursion, there are regular trains from Zeebrugge to the city centre, otherwise consider a taxi.
Bruges is one of the most well-preserved Medieval cities in Belgium. The city’s name means “pier” which it received due to its long history as a shipping port. Today, the river that once ran through the city has been re-directed to make more room for the many visitors which it receives. While it deserves a few days to fully explore, as a small city, it is still possible to get a real feel of what the city has to offer during a day visit.
While Bruges attracts a large number of visitors each year, the city has preserved its historic legacy and sense of integrity. The buildings are simply breath-taking, with structures that reminded me of life-size gingerbread houses. Any time of year is a great time to visit, but I particularly loved visiting in December to experience the Christmas markets and have a go at ice skating in the city centre.
I believe one of the best ways to explore new places in by cycling around, and Bruges is a perfect city for a leisurely bike ride. During one visit, my partner and I rented bikes for a couple of hours and cycled 6km down the river, past rows of stunning windmills, to Damme, a lovely village in the greater area of Bruges. This medieval town is reminiscent of a more peaceful, miniature version of the city of Bruges and boasts many historic monuments like the 13th-century Sint-Janshospital and the Schellemill.
After stopping in Damme for a coffee in a cosy café, we headed back to the city centre and rewarded ourselves for the leisurely bike ride by sampling the local beer and devouring a hearty lunch in the city square. While food and drink here will be more on the pricey side due to its location, it is definitely worth the extra euros to be able to dine al fresco and soak up the atmosphere.
After the bike ride and lunch, there was still plenty of time to wander around the city, explore the shops and try the local delicacy (chocolate and waffles) before heading back to the ship.
As one of my favourite ports of call in central Europe, Bruges is certainly not one to be missed.