Bruges has been transformed into a free open-air gallery: until mid-September, innovative installations can be found dotted around the city’s historic canals.
The Triennial 2018 art trail features more than a dozen, ranging from ingenious pavilions to a canalside walk and floating classroom.
Polish artist Jaroslaw Kozakiewicz has constructed a metal bridge inspired by the human face, while Brussels’ Renato Nicolodi has contributed a gateway to the underworld.
Nicolodi’s gateway (photos: Jan D’hondt)
One of the most striking pieces has a sober message: a gigantic whale made from plastic waste recovered from the world’s oceans (see main picture).
After exploring the art trail (free maps are available from information points), discover what else the city has to offer – from medieval treasures to high-end restaurants.
Step back in time
Marvel at Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child sculpture in the Church of Our Lady, and the luminous oil paintings of Jan van Eyck and the Flemish masters in the Groeninge Museum. The 13th-century Béguinage used to be home to pious single or widowed women, and its tranquil courtyard is still an oasis in the heart of the old town. Take the 366 steps up to the top of the Belfry in spectacular Market Square and you’re rewarded with a fabulous bird’s-eye view. A more relaxing way to see the city is by canal boat, meandering past elegant townhouses.
Cruise past architect Peter van Driessche’s floating house
Dine in style
Bruges’s restaurant scene is anything but medieval. There are dozens of excellent restaurants tucked away in the winding streets of the central square, serving up Michelin-starred fare and hearty Flemish classics. At Rock Fort, fresh seafood is paired with inventive flavours in a minimalist dining room, while Assiette Blanche offers fine dining in a bistro setting. At cosy De Vlaamsche Pot, the chef dishes up his grand- mother’s recipes: beef slow-cooked in dark beer, steaming pots of mussels and creamy fish stew.
Drink in the history
Bruges is also a beer lover’s paradise. Its oldest pub is snug Café Vlissinghe, which dates from 1515; they say Rubens drank here and paid in paintings. The best place to sample a Trappist ale – brewed by cloistered monks – is Le Trappiste, a spooky bar in a vaulted medieval cellar. Settle in with the locals at ‘t Brugs Beertje, where the knowledgeable barmen will guide you through a menu of more than 300 brews, from punchy Dubbels and Tripels to Flanders’ famous sour beers.
Learn how they’re made at the city’s last remaining brewery – the family-run De Halve Maan offers daily tours, which include a glass of Bruges Zot, one of Belgium’s best-known beers.
Travel to Bruges with Super Break and enjoy a three-night B&B stay (hotel options below), with return Eurostar travel and a Bruges canal cruise, from just £255 per person. Visit radiotimes.com/bruges to find out more.
Stay in Bruges in style – 3 nights from £255pp
Three-star Hotel Hans Memling: Three nights’ B&B from £255pp. Various departures May to September 2018, includes return travel by Eurostar and a free Bruges canal cruise.
Four-star Hotel Navarra: Three nights’ B&B from £265pp. Various departures May to September 2018, includes return travel by Eurostar and a free Bruges canal cruise.
Five-star Dukes’ Palace Hotel: Three nights’ B&B from £389pp. Various departures May to September 2018, includes return travel by Eurostar and a free Bruges canal cruise.
Terms and Conditions: All prices quoted are based on two people sharing a twin or double room and travelling on 1 July 2018. Prices may vary and are subject to availability. Super Break booking conditions apply; please ask reservations for details. Breaks operated by Super Break, ABTA No Y1453, ATOL 10518. Stated dates may be subject to change and should be checked before traveling. Prices correct as of 9 May 2018. Free Bruges canal cruise may not be available every day and must be checked at the time of booking.