The capital city of Belgium's West Flanders province, Bruges, is situated upon a network of canals that connect directly to the North Sea. Bruges city centre is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it only takes a single glance at the city to see why.
In the city's Golden Age, the 12th to 15th centuries, Bruges experienced a prosperity boom that led to its transformation from a sleepy town into a premier Hanse city (medieval merchant city). Following a period of economic hardship in later centuries, the city experienced a revival during the last half of the 19th century.
Unlike much of Belgium, there were virtually no damages in Bruges as a result of World War I or World War II and the German occupation. The city later experienced a renaissance of sorts after the mid-1960s, when local officials completed restorations for numerous historical sites, buildings, and churches.
Nowadays, it's those same restorations that continue to draw in tourists from all around the globe, bringing an incredible 9 million visitors annually. A quaint, classically European city with a waterfront view, Bruges truly is a fairy tale sprung to life.
Are you planning on taking a trip to 'the Venice of the North?' If so, then continue reading below to find out everything you need to know about Bruges before you arrive, including where you can find secure luggage storage around the city while you visit.
Luggage Storage near Train Stations in Bruges
Keeping in mind that the city of Bruges is relatively small, let's go over one of the main ways locals get around the city: trains.
Brugge Railway Station
The primary station in Bruges, and one of the busiest in the country, Brugge Railway Station, first opened to the public in August of 1838 to resounding success. Quickly, the station became popular among residents and eventually had to be rebuilt between 1910 and 1936 to accommodate the increase in regular ridership.
The tenth busiest station in Belgium, Brugge Railway Station, underwent further modernisation and expansion during the mid to late 2000. Now, the station sees an average of more than 18,000 passengers each year through its corridors.
Made up of 5 island platforms serving 12 tracks, the Brugge Railway Station offers six intercity service lines in addition to two local service lines.
Bruges-Saint-Pierre Railway Station
Built between 1904 and 1909, the Bruges-Saint-Pierre Railway Station is modelled in the Neo-Renaissance style. Originally, the station was conceived on a grand, massive scale as it was expected to see mass amounts of transit.
However, the station saw less usage than initially anticipated due to issues with port developments in the area. During the 1940s, members of the Belgian Army were held and stationed at Bruges-Saint-Piere until the eventual German occupation took control of the station. At that point, the building was looted and ravaged by German Soldiers.
Today, only a single passenger terminal remains of the original building, with the rest having been demolished in 1957. The Bruges - Saint - Pierre Railway Station offers L train and peak hour train services via two platforms.
Luggage Storage at Airports near Bruges
While there are no airports in Bruges, there are several international airports nearby that serve the region.
Ostend-Bruges International Airport
Known to the locals as Ostend Airport, the Ostend - Bruges International Airport is about a half-hour drive, or 25 kilometres (around 16 miles), from Bruges city centre. In recent years, the airport's popularity as a commercial flight destination has increased, with almost half a million passengers arriving or departing from Ostend Airport in a typical year.
Initially known as the Stene Aerodrome, the airport was relocated to its current location during World War II by occupying German forces. Once the war ended, the airport was equipped for international travel before being reconstructed for modernization during the 1960s and 1970s.
These days, Ostend Airport offers flights to more than 20 domestic and international destinations, as well as regularly scheduled business and freight services. The airport also contains two restaurants and a cafe for guests to enjoy before heading out into the city.
Also known as Brussel-Nationaal and Luchthaven Zaventem, the Brussels Airport is a military and public use airport situated just over 111 kilometres (a little more than 69 miles) northeast of the city centre. The Brussels Airport provides international and domestic flights and sees an average of more than 26 million passengers through its terminal in a typical year.
The land that the airport currently sits on was first used in the 1940s by occupying German forces as a reserve or backup airfield for the Luftwaffe. After Allied forces liberated the city in September 1944, the Belgian authorities took over the space before eventually opening it to the public in 1948 as a civil aerodrome.
These days, the Brussels Airport is the 24th busiest in all of Europe and home to around 260 companies. Designed with a single-terminal concept, the airport is split into four levels and two piers that connect via an above-ground building and platforms.
Brussels South Charleroi Airport
Located 120 kilometres (74 miles) south of Bruges city centre, Brussels South Charleroi Airport is the second busiest airport in all of Belgium behind Brussels Airport. To its more than 7 million passengers annually, the airport is colloquially known as Brussels-Charleroi Airport, Charleroi Airport, and, sometimes, Gosselies Airport.
First utilized in 1919 as a flying school and aircraft maintenance zone, the Brussels South Charleroi Airport officially opened to the public during the 1970s. Today, the airport operates regularly scheduled charter and commercial flights through nine airline companies, including Air Belgium, Pegasus Airlines, and Ryanair.
Brussels South Charleroi Airport has more than 20 restaurants, bars, cafes, and duty-free shops for passengers to enjoy. Additionally, the airport offers several transportation connections to and from a variety of domestic and international destinations, such as Luxembourg and the Brussels-South Railway Station.
What to do in Bruges
- Watch as chocolatiers craft iconic Belgium chocolates at Choco-Story, Bruge's chocolate museum.
- Climb more than 300 steps to the top of the Belfry of Bruges for an unrivalled, panoramic view of the city.
- Stop in at the oldest church in the city, St. Salvator's Cathedral and marvel at the gorgeous gothic architectural feat.
- Check out one of the oldest City Halls in the country, Bruges City Hall, in the city's central plaza.
- Try and catch an unveiling of the blood of Christ at the Basilica of the Holy Blood. And, while you're there, be sure to check out the exquisitely carved gold features on the church's building front.
- Learn about Bruge's history and its many legends on a walking tour. Or, if you're feeling a bit spooky, take one of the city's many ghost tours and peek in on some of the most haunted spots in the area.
- Visit the Markt, the Bruge's city centre, for lunch at one of the city's premier restaurants and a day of shopping.
- Immerse yourself in the city's art at the Gruuthusemuseum Bruges, with more than 500 years of Bruges historical artefacts and artistic works on display.
Due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Bruges has a breezy sub-oceanic climate and is heavily influenced by the sea. There are four distinct seasons in Bruges, and summers in the city, notably, tend to be comfortably cool, with temperatures rarely rising above 18.4 Celcius (65.2 Farenhieght). Conversely, winters in Bruges are only moderately cold, with temperatures rarely dropping below freezing, 0 Celcius (32 Farenhieght), during the day.
Rain is common throughout the year in Bruges, as the city sees an average of 836 millimetres (or just over 32 inches) of precipitation each year. In a typical year, that translates to around 132 days of rain for residents to contend with! Furthermore, the winds in Bruges blow frequently and can range from mild to intense, especially during the winter months. Be sure to take a look at the forecast for your visit before you book to ensure your stay in Bruges is a comfortable one.
Fun Facts About Bruges
- Of Belgium's 470 castles in the Flanders region, more per square inch than anywhere else in the world, 50 are located in Bruges.
- Due to the extensive network of canals, there are more than 80 bridges connecting the city.
- The city virtually closes down every Sunday, with most shops and restaurants regularly closing for the day.
- Bruges is home to the only beer pipeline on the globe, stretching 3,276 kilometres (2 miles) under the city.
- There's a replica of Pieter Lanchals head on a spire in Market Square to commemorate his torture and beheading at the behest of the Bruges population.
- Local legends state that if the city's swan population ever drops below 100, the city will decline without the possibility of recovery.