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Bruges old town tour & canal cruise

Bruges old town tour & canal cruise, Belgium

Explore the long history of Bruges on a historic walking tour of the old town, and then embark on a peaceful cruise down the city’s canals. On the walking tour, your guide will bring you to see Markt, the city’s market square in the heart of the old town. Here, you can opt to climb the 366 steps to the top of the Bruges Belfry in the square for expansive views over the city.

You’ll also see Burg Square, the historic area where Bruges was founded. You’ll encounter the tallest tower in the city when you visit the Church of Our Lady, which is home to Michelangelo’s sculpture, Madonna and Child. The tour also brings you to the Lake of Love, a serene park near the Begijnhof, which Benedictine nuns still call home.

The second part of your tour is a cruise down Bruges' canals, where you can enjoy the city from another point of view.

The first four hours of this tour is a privately guided walk of Bruges’ old town, while the last hour is a cruise on the city’s canals. Private cruises aren’t available, so you’ll be on a shared guided cruise with about 15-20 other people. The walking tour is available year-round, but the canal cruise is weather-dependent, so March through October are the best months for this.

The exact order of the walking tour can vary depending on the timing of the cruise, but you can expect to see many of Bruges’ highlights. You’ll visit Markt, in the heart of Bruges’ old town. The square is wide-open, mostly traffic-free and surrounded by former guildhalls and multi-hued step-gabled houses with mismatched rooflines. The square is dominated by the 13th-century belfry, rising 83 m (272 ft) into the sky. For expansive views of the city you can climb the 366 steps to the top.

You’ll also see Burg Square, a cobblestone square where the city was founded. The square is framed by the manor of Franc of Bruges and the Basilica of the Holy Blood. The basilica has an intricate dark-grey Romanesque façade adorned with gilded figurines. Inside, it consists of two separate chapels, the Saint Basil Chapel and the Holy Blood Chapel, which is home to a relic containing what is believed to be the blood of Jesus Christ.

The Church of Our Lady is the tallest building in the city, with its tower reaching 116 m (379 ft) into the sky. You can admire the cross-vaulted nave, the black-and-white-tiled flooring and the heavily ornamented Baroque-style interior. The church is also home to Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child, a white-marble sculpture of the Virgin Mary with an infant Jesus.

The tour will also take you to the Lake of Love in Minnewater Park, a reservoir joined with the canal system. The peaceful lake is an excellent place to see some wildlife, especially swans which are the symbol of the city. Nearby, you can visit the adjoining Begijnhof, a group of white step-gabled houses now occupied by an order of Benedictine nuns.

The hour-long cruise will provide a different perspective of these sights, as you glide along the postcard-worthy canals ornamented with willow trees, elegant stone bridges and medieval buildings.

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