Belgium's biggest draw outside of Brussels itself, the medieval town of Brugge is as beautiful as you've heard. Simply wandering the streets is enchanting, though there's also a wealth of art from the country's primitive era. Base yourself here before sampling beer at the nearby St. Sixtus Abbey.
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- Food and Wine
- The St. Sixtus abbey was founded in 1831 and is still in operation. Twenty-nine monks live here, devoting themselves to prayer, study, and manual labor. They produce three kinds of Trappist beer: Blonde, Eight, and Twelve. Call ahead to purchase beer, then enjoy it across the street at the De Vrede welcome center, where you'll learn about life in the abbey.
- There's no shortage of Flemish Primitives in the Groeningemuseum. Works by Bosch, Brueghel the Elder and Younger, and van Eyck are found here, along with a strong collection of Dutch and Belgian works from the 15th to 21st centuries.
- The Markt has been the center of action in Brugge since 958; the iconic belfry tower on the north side dates to the 13th century.
- The Procession of the Holy Blood is held on Ascension Day in early May.
- The Day of Carillon, when bells are rung throughout the area, is the third week in June.
- The fishing village of is 4 mi/7 km north of Brugge and accessible by paddle steamer.
- The seaside attractions of Oostende are 17 mi/27 km west of Brugge.