You can’t visit Bruges without taking a boat tour and going on a little trip down the Bruges canals! Along with other cities, it is often referred to as Venice of the North… All the hustle and bustle of the city streets disappear as soon as you set off. It’s quiet besides the occasional tidbit of information from the driver, guiding you along the beautiful canals.
Unlike the canals in Amsterdam, the canals in Bruges are hard to get to by foot. You can walk down some of them, but there are quite a few areas where it’s just buildings on either side of the canal. By taking a boat tour, you’ll get to see the beautiful buildings and landmarks around Bruges from a completely different perspective, going under the numerous bridges and past these un-walkable areas that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise!
What happens on a Bruges boat tour?
Explore the Bruges canals by boat as the captain takes you on a tour between Jan van Eyck Square and the Beguinage. As you travel down the canals, the captain will give you a snapshot guide of the buildings you go past, giving an explanation and insights into the life and culture surrounding Bruges. Spot all the beautiful houses and gardens, see landmarks from a different viewpoint and just relax as you slowly meander down the canals.
Seating on the canal boats
These boats seat quite a lot of people on them, so you may feel quite close to people if it’s busy. The captains do tend to wait until the boat is full before setting off. It’s worth noting that there is a single row of seats that runs down the middle, so if you’re wanting to take photos it’s best to avoid that seat where possible!
How to find the Bruges boat tour starting points
There are five landing stages where you can embark on the canal boats. Whilst there are a few different companies running the tours, they all follow the same route and cost the same so there’s no need to worry about choosing the ‘right’ one. The only difference is your starting and ending points.
The boats appear regularly, and you can fit between 35-40 people per boat, so any don’t be put off by queues – they go down quickly!
You’ll find each company in the areas below. Here’s a map showing exactly where to embark on the boats, and the route that is taken.
- Venetië van het Noorden, Huidenvettersplein 13
- Coudenys, Rozenhoedkaai
- De Meulemeester, Wollestraat 32
- Gruuthuse, Nieuwstraat 11
- Stael, Katelijnestraat 4
How much does it cost to go on a boat tour in Bruges?
You can expect to pay around €12 per adult, and €7 for children – though children under 3 are free. This is one of the cheaper attractions that I spotted whilst visiting, and one that allows some time to relax! There are booths situated at each landing stage so they’re easy to find, but you will need cash to pay.
When do the Bruges boat trips run?
These boat trips run from early March to mid-November generally, with running times going from 10am to 6pm each day. It isn’t possible to pre-book your ticket for these boat tours. You simply turn up, pay at a booth and jump on the next boat available. It’s a simple process, though it can obviously get busy at peak times so that’s something to keep in mind.
Have you ever visited Bruges? And if yes, did you try out a boat tour? If you’re looking to see more, check out this reel I made documenting our Bruges boat trip.