On a recent trip to Brugge (or Bruges) we took the Bruges canal tour; a relaxing and enjoyable experience surrounded by the breathtaking buildings, passed swans and weeping willows. When planning the trip I got a bit confused about where to board the canal boats and who actually runs them. So I thought I’d share with you what I learnt. A Bruges boat tour is a great introduction to the city and helps you get the lay of the land so I would recommend doing the tour in your first few days in Bruges. Don’t worry about the weather, even if it rains they just give out umbrellas.
What You Need to Know about Bruges Boat Tours
Brugge is a small place, you’re not going have trouble finding the landing docks or figuring out how to pay, where to pay or how the canal tour works. The Brugge canal tour operators run the business with their eyes closed; they see so many thousands of tourists that it is a well oiled machine. All the locals can point you in the right direction (they do it for other tourists every day). And the system is quiet simple, there aren’t that many options.
It is not a romantic boat ride; you are herded in with another 30 people sitting one behind the other on both sides of a long boat. Try t sit at the front or back of the bat for unobscured photo ops. It is extremely picturesque and you will see the canal side of some famous sites but this cannot replace actually walking around the town and visiting the landmarks.
Don’t expect an amazing commentary by your “guide” who steers the boat. We couldn’t understand him well because of his accent. He says the same speech every hour, every day so don’t expect him to be too enthusiastic about it either – but he tries to entertain and offer both jokes and knowledge about the passing sites.
Where, When and How
There are several boat companies all operating the same route but with different embarcment points throughout the city. At each dock there is a little booth where tickets are sold. You can’t buy your ticket at one dock and then catch the boat at a different dock as they are different companies. Each company has one dock- you can only get on and off at that point.
Bootex.be runs the Bruge canal tours daily from March to the end of October from 10am to 5pm. In winter months they operate on Saturdays and Sundays depending on weather conditions. Their boarding point is at Botexcursies Gruuthuse, boarding point 3, Nieuwstraat 11, near Our Lady Church on the corner of Nieuwstraat and Dijver. This is the only embarkment and disembarkment point for this company. The departure points for other companies include near Burg square, the Quay of the Rosary, behind the Belfry Tower and Katelijnestraat 4.
There are no prepaid tours and they take cash only. The price is the same for all companies – €8 for adults and €4 for children aged 4-11. A Bruges canal tour is included in the Bruges City Card.
The Bruges canal tours are not the same as the canal tour which travels from Bruges to Damm 1 April-30 September.
Overall – don’t miss a boat ride in Bruge, it’s a good time to rest from walking those cobbled streets and despite being in a boat with 30 strangers the surroundings, swans and gorgeous city will make it seem romantic.