Updated 18th December 2018
The town of Brugge lies in the north west of Belgium. Every year, millions of tourists visit Brugge, drawn to its unspoiled mediaeval charm. Although the town is in Belgium's Flemish-speaking region, it is better known by its French name, Bruges.
I visited Brugge on a cold and wintry weekday afternoon in December 2017, and again on a much warmer day in August 2018.
Bus services in and around Brugge are provided by Belgium's Flemish region transport provider, De Lijn.
A network of bus services operates within Brugge itself. Some of these operate into the historic heart of the town.
I found small single-deck buses on these services. These vehicles have two sets of doors.
The conventional layout for a two-door buses has the second set of doors at the centre of the vehicle. However, some of the older buses in Brugge have the second doors at the rear.
The smaller vehicles are a mix of conventional diesel and hybrid.
The conventional diesels have a roof line while is mostly or wholly level.
The hybrids are recognisable by their higher roof line.
There are also a couple of fully-electric small buses in use at Brugge.
The hub of Brugge's bus network is at the railway station, around 10 minutes' walk from the centre of the town.
There is a second bus interchange at 't Zand, a few hundred metres away from the station.
Most bus services call at both the station and 't Zand, although there are two or three services which only call at the station.
Full-size single-deck buses operate on a number of other services, both within Brugge and to nearby towns.
Articulated buses also operate on some routes. I found them on both a local service within Brugge and a couple of interurban services to towns on the coast.
The articulated buses I saw had three sets of doors.
In the rural area surrounding Brugge, demand-responsive minibuses provide a link to villages which are not otherwise served by the bus network. These minibuses do not operate into the centre of Brugge, or to the railway station, but instead connect with other buses on the outskirts of the town.
Fares on De Lijn buses in and around Brugge are simple. At the time of writing, a flat fare of €3 applies to any journey. This allows interchange for up to 60 minutes, and can be bought from the bus driver as well as from Lijnwinkel enquiry offices. Tickets can also be bought more cheaply by text message, at €2 (plus a small connection fee), or for €1.60 per trip using a 10-journey Lijn Card. Group tickets are also available for five or more people travelling together, at €1.25 per person.
An all-day ticket is available for €6 if bought from sales points, or €8 if bought on board the bus. Three-day and five-day passes are also available.
These fares and tickets apply across the whole of De Lijn's network across Belgium's Flanders region, with the exception of a couple of express services from Brussels or Antwerp into the Limburg province.
Brugge is in the West Flanders province, which covers the whole of Belgium's coastline. In this province only, De Lijn offer a 7-day pass costing €24 for one person or €36 for two, and also a family one-day "Multimix West Flanders" ticket (for up to 2 adults and up to 3 children) for €20. Although valid in Brugge, these tickets can only be bought from sales points on the coast.
Brugge is less than 15 km from the Dutch border. Bus route 42 from Brugge crosses the border, to reach the Dutch town of Breskens. Although De Lijn operate some journeys on route 42, the majority are provided by a Dutch operator, Connexxion (website only in Dutch). De Lijn fares and tickets apply between Brugge and the border town of Sluis on all buses, irrespective of operator. Connexxion fares and ticketing applies beyond Sluis.
Long-distance international coach services serve Brugge, using a coach stop on the far side of the railway station from the town centre.
Within the old town, there are several services catering for tourists.
A sightseeing tour operates all year round, using minibuses.
The tour is operated by City Tour and picks up at the market square in the heart of Brugge.
There are also horse-drawn tours which operate from the market square.
I did not see them on the day I visited Brugge in December 2017, but that may have been because of the weather conditions.
They were, however, out in force when I returned during the following summer.
Brugge has a network of canals, and boat tours are operated from early Spring until late Autumn. The Visit Bruges website has more information about the boat tours.
I also spotted this cycle taxi plying its trade.
Finally, a free shuttle bus serves the centre of Brugge.
Introduced in May 2018 the service operates every 5 minutes on Saturdays, and also on Sundays when the shops are open. Since September 2018, a weekday service has been added running at a 20-minute frequency. Minibuses are used.
More information about the shuttle buses is available on the Visit Brugge website (in Dutch language only).