1.3 Sparkling Flanders: Bruges and/or Ghent

Leaving Brussels, our first stop is the beautiful city of Ghent located in Flanders just 30 miles from the capital.

With a population of about a quarter million citizens, Ghent is both a busy cosmopolitan town and a comfortable provincial city.

During our walking tour we will see the St. Bavo’s Cathedral, home of the world-famous altarpiece “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” painted by the Van Eyck brothers in the 15th century (optional, closed on Sundays). 

We will also admire impressive constructions such as the Belfry or the Saint Nicolas church, and in the ancient port of Ghent, the fascinating architecture of some guilds’ houses.

There is plenty to discover as we stroll through the narrow medieval streets, like the breath-taking Gravensteen (castle of the former Counts of Flanders originating from the Middle Ages) and the Vrijdagmarkt with the statue of Jacob van Artevelde. It is the place where markets have been held since the Middle Ages and was the starting point of social disturbances or protests up until the 19th century. Next, we will proceed to Bruges.

Your first sight upon arrival in Bruges will be the romantic Lake of Love (Minnewater) and the Beguinage (convent) where you can admire the elegant swans of Bruges.

Your guide will take you through the numerous alleys of this significant medieval city. You will admire marvels including Our Lady’s Church with the statue “Madonna with Child “ by Michelangelo (optional), the Saint John’s Hospital turned into a museum (optional) and the outstanding architecture of the Town Hall in the “Burg”, the historical centre of Bruges.  On that square also stands the Basilica of the Holy Blood: the wonderful Saint Basil chapel (a beautiful Romanesque chapel on the ground floor) and the neo-gothic Holy Blood chapel on the first floor (closed at 17:00 and between 12:00 and 14:00).

The most important building on the Market square is the amazing Belfry (listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list) and the city’s Cloth Halls.

Our guide will give you information about the different possible choices available in Bruges, from a boat cruise on the city’s canals to the fascinating contents of the museums.

During this full day excursion, you will have the possibility to choose to have lunch either in Ghent or in Bruges.

Both cities provide excellent Flemish cuisine including Waterzooi (poultry or fish creamy stew), Belgian chips, mussels, Flemish beef stew and a variety of tasty Belgian beers.

Time: minimum of 9 hours, departing from and returning to Brussels.

Both cities can be visited from Brussels separately on different days in a shorter time or the sightseeing can start from each place on the basis of a two-hour city tour, which can be extended on the day.

Potential museums or visits to be added to the tour:

In Ghent

  • Van Eyck Altar in Sint Baaf  

The Van Eyck brothers painted this unique altarpiece in 1432. The masterwork survived the Protestant Iconoclasm, felt into French hands under Napoleon and was requisitioned by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Now it rests in the place where it belongs at St. Bavo’s Cathedral.


  • The Castel of the count – Ghent

Overlooking the city from its battlements high up on the keep, one can sense the feeling of wealth and power that the lord of the castle must have imposed. On certain weekends, you may even meet some real knights.


  • Boat Trip in the historical city

Ghent is located at the confluence of two rivers, the Lys and the Schelde, which lets visitors discover the city from very nice and interesting angles.


  • Belfort of Ghent  

The Belfry symbolises the autonomy and independence of the city of Ghent. In addition to its Carillon and chime bells, a lift makes it easy to get to the top watch tower and enjoy stunning views of the city.


In Bruges

  • Canal Cruise

One of the most relaxing ways to discover the famous medieval city and to understand why it is also the “Venice of the North”.


  • Choco Story

Located in an historic building, this chocolate museum is an incredible source of historical, geographical and botanical information about cocoa and its transformation into the quality of Belgian chocolate.  Unmissable for chocolate lovers!


  • Have Maan Brewery  

For centuries this family of Brewers has been creating beers in the centre of Bruges. During this visit you go through the modern brewery as well as the museum of traditional brewing, an unparalleled introduction to the world of malt and hops. You can also enjoy a panoramic view of Bruges from the roof of the building and of course enjoy tasting the beer at the end of the tour! 


  • Groeningemuseum

The Groeningemuseum is one of the most important Bruges municipal museums dedicated to the Flemish Belgian paintings. It covers six centuries of masterpieces from Jan van Eyck to post-war modern art.


The Belfort of Bruges (Belfry and Carillon)

The most important of Bruges’ towers stands 83 metres tall. Those who take on the challenge will have to climb 366 steps for the reward of a breath-taking and unforgettable panoramic view of the city.


  • St John’s Hospital

Saint John’s Hospital was built in the XIII Century. You can visit medieval wards where the nuns and monks performed their work of mercy, as well as the chapel with its impressive collection of archives, artworks, medical instruments and masterpieces by Hans Memling.


  • Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady)

The 122m high brick tower of the Church of Our Lady is a perfect illustration of  Bruges’ power in the Middle Ages. The church displays a valuable art collection: Michelangelo’s world-famous Madonna and Child, countless paintings, 13th-century painted sepulchers and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold.


–         Stadhuis of Bruges (City Hall)

Bruges’ City Hall (1376) is one of the oldest in Belgium with an absolute masterpiece: the Gothic Hall. The adjoining room brings the city’s history to life with a number of authentic documents, works of art and a multimedia exhibition on the ground floor illustrating the evolution of the Burg Square.