Selected departures from March to November 2019
Medieval buildings, romantic squares, pretty canals, world-class art; Bruges is a lavish feast for the eyes. This being Belgium, it also provides satisfaction for the tastebuds, with flavoursome local beers, the crispest frites and, of course, world-renowned chocolate. A perfect destination to explore on foot, Bruges is ideal for discerning travellers keen to discover a city where history, culture and cuisine combine like nowhere else.
You’ll immediately soak up the unique atmosphere of Bruges’ beautifully preserved historic core, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of its gabled buildings were built on wealth accrued from the textile industry that transformed the city into one of Northern Europe’s most important trading centres during the Middle Ages. Whether strolling by one of the many waterways that give Bruges its ‘Venice of the North’ moniker, sipping coffee in the old market square with bells from the 13th-century Belfry peeling in the background, or taking a gentle trip by horse and carriage, the city’s ambience is sure to instil a sense of tranquility.
Art-lovers will be attracted to the wealth of exceptional works to be found across the city. Bruges was at the heart of the Flemish Primitive movement, and one of its earliest members was Jan van Eyck, Bruges’ most famous resident. You can see several of his classic paintings at the superb Groeningemuseum, while the 12th-century former hospital of Sint- Janshospitaal houses detailed works by renowned artist, Hans Memling. Throw in Pieter Brueghel (the Younger and Elder), Hieronymus Bosch, Michelangelo, Magritte and Dalí and it’s clear that Bruges offers something for every art lover.
Another unmissable sight is the Basilica of the Holy Blood. As you enter through its gilded facade you’ll be transported to 12th-century Flanders. In the upper chapelle in a silver tabernacle you’ll find the Basilica’s star attraction – a phial said to contain drops of Christ’s blood, reputedly brought back from the Holy Land after one of the Crusades.
If your penchant is for nothing more than to wander the city and unearth some hidden gems, you’ll be rewarded at every turn. Meander through the cobbled lanes and you may spot 18th-century windmills, tiny chapels, rows of almshouses and even a silent religious order of Benedictine nuns. A break in one of Bruges’ cosy restaurants or cafés is a must, too; your only quandary is which delicious dish to choose from or whether to pick a dubbel, tripel or lambic from the extensive list of Belgian beers. A treat for all the senses, Bruges is sure to capture you in its romantic spell.
Take the late morning/early afternoon Eurostar service from London St Pancras International to Lille. On arrival, we transfer by coach to your hotel for three nights in Bruges’ old town.
After breakfast we take a guided walk to discover the highlights of this alluring city. We begin in its medieval heart, the Markt, which has served as the main market square since the 10th century. Towering 272 feet over the colourful gabled buildings framing the square is the Belfry and its 47-bell carillon. This afternoon you’ll have the opportunity to climb the 366 steps to the top, the reward being a breathtaking view of Bruges and the Flanders countryside extending beyond. We also visit two other notable buildings in the Burg, the city’s second main square – the elegant Gothic Stadhuis (Town Hall) and the 18th-century law courts – plus the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Another must-see is the Church of Our Lady, which houses Michelangelo’s beautiful white marble sculpture, Madonna and Child. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore. The Groeningemuseum and Sint-Janshospitaal are home to sublime works of art and you can find museums dedicated to Belgium’s holy trinity of beer, chocolate and frites, while no visit to Bruges would be complete without a brewery trip. Why not try ‘De Halve Maan’, which has constructed a two-mile-long pipeline from the brewery to a bottling plant on the city’s edge; a fascinating tour of the cellars concludes with a tasting of its excellent Brugse Zot Blond.
This morning we can arrange an optional boat tour of the canals so you can see the city from a waterside perspective (subject to seasonal operation). Late morning, for those interested, a coach leaves Bruges to visit Ypres and nearby Great War battlefields. Alternatively, you can simply choose to remain in Bruges to spend your time as you please. The battlefield tour centres on Ypres, which was almost flattened during the First World War as Allied and German forces fought for control of this strategically important town. The countless lives lost are remembered with a moving ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial each evening at 8pm. You can also visit the Passchendaele Memorial Museum, which shines a light on some of the darkest days of the Great War. During the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917, over 500,000 troops died in just three months as the Allies attempted to take the village of Passchendaele. We visit the bunkers, craters and trench sites of this monumentally bloody battle. The day concludes with a visit to the world’s largest Commonwealth cemetery at Tyne Cot, its sea of 11,961 graves reflecting the First World War’s staggering loss of life. Returning to Bruges in the late afternoon, you cannot fail to be touched by the sights and sounds of this unforgettable trip back in time.
Belgian chocolates are known as the finest in the world, and this morning we visit one of the few establishments in Bruges where they are still made by hand. During the demonstration you’ll learn all about this artisanal craft, including the top-quality ingredients that are used and the techniques involved in making these delicious luxuries. Later, a coach returns you to nearby Lille for an afternoon Eurostar service back to London St Pancras International.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes a return standard class reserved seat on Eurostar coach transfer from Lille to your hotel in Bruges (approximate transfer time one hour), three nights’ accommodation with breakfast, all local accommodation taxes and the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager.
Included excursions are: a walking tour of Bruges, a chocolate making demonstration, a visit to the First World War battlefields. Occasionally the opening times of the places of interest vary, and if this happens we may change the order of the visits on this tour.
Not included in the price is: entrance fee to the ‘Halve Maan’ brewery museum which is approximately €7.50 and payable locally, the boat trip which is approximately €6.40 and payable locally, entrance to the Flanders Field museum which is approximately €7 and payable locally, entrance to the Passchendaele Memorial Museum which is approximately €7 payable locally.
Convenient local departures
Why not enjoy a convenient departure from a station close to home? Booking your own cross-country train transport can be tricky when considering station changes and onward train times, so here at Riviera Travel our Eurostar team work hard finding your preferred regional departure to add to your booking.
We offer departures from stations such as Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Derby, Southampton, Bristol, Lancaster and many more. We endeavour to provide connections from as many stations as possible across the country, so wherever you live you’ll be sure to find a local departure to suit you.
It’s easy to book a local departure; simply select the station you'd like to depart from when making your booking online. If your preferred station is not available to select from the dropdown menu in the checkout, get in touch with us and we can request a station for you.
Enjoy a relaxed journey in the spacious and quiet First Class coach of your regional train. We can add a First Class upgrade to your booking at any time before departure, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
In order to enjoy your Eurostar experience to the full, you may upgrade to Standard Premier Class on the Eurostar (and onward TGV, where applicable). You’ll get a seat in the spacious Standard Premier coach with a complimentary light meal offered from a selection of sweet and savoury cold snacks, and a drink appropriate to the time of day, served at your seat while you relax in the comfort of Standard Premier Class. Upgrades can easily be added to your booking any time before the final balance has been paid, so please call us to enquire further.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Train station||Hotel location||Transfer time|
|Lille Station||Bruges||1 hr|
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
Returned from a wonderful tour in Bruges last week. The tour manager, Angus was exceptional. His knowledge and passion for this tour was superb. This tour had been recommended to me and my wife and I finally booked. So glad that I...
Wonderful trip, good hotel and brilliant tour manager Pete. Very well organised and content was excellent, just remember the comfy shoes for the cobbled streets....