Romancing the horse coaches in Bruges



Almost every city in the world has its own distinct way for tourists to explore its destinations, landscape and heritage. Few of them still have an old world charm of doing that. Belgian city of Bruges is one of them. Actually, Bruges has not one but two classical way to be explored- by boat on its canals and by horse-drawn carriages. Both of them are fairytale sort of romantic rides in a city which is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I would largely agree to that. 

Two women with their horse carriages at Bruges market square

Cobbled streets, winding canals and magnificent Gothic architecture, make Bruges a trip back to medieval times. Besides, swans gliding on canals, horse-drawn carriages, historic buildings, the Belfry and the Beguinage and everything else also make this “Venice of the North” one of the most romantic cities. 

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Bruges market square, where the horse carriage tour starts

Well, we were talking about the horse carriages. I was definitely quite impressed by the coaches lined up at the Market square and the coachwomen waiting for tour parties. Horse drawn carriage tours are an ideal and extremely personal way to get to know Bruges. A typical way to discover the real Bruges, where you will find many small picturesque corners, several museums and other historic sites. It may draw the attention of every single passer-by in Bruges as you clip clop along the cobbled streets, you’ll get the whole fairy-tale experience when you grab a horse-drawn carriage tour around the old town.

A carriage on the tour

Tradition of these horse carriage rides might be definitely very old like many other medieval cities. Although there is no definite history about it but what indeed special is the way this tradition has been kept alive and flourishing.   

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A family enjoying a horse carriage tour in Bruges

Starting pretty early in the morning and continuing through dark, all year round, you can find the carriages in the market square. They line up and you should approach the one in the front. The coachperson gives expert commentary en route. They explains the city to you, and gives you information in your language about all the buildings and places on the tour. Tour goes through Bonifaciusbrug Bridge, Basilica of the Holy Blood, Church of our lady and much more.

Midway rest for carriages at Béguinage

Halfway the trip, the horse gets a rest at the Beguinage where one can descend and get photos of you and the horse and carriage. Normally the carriages roll up until they reach the Béguinage and then make their way back.You’ll find the horses congregated around the Grote Market as well as around the Béguinage where they get some well-deserved refreshments. Beguinage, was a convent founded in 1245 and still inhabited by nuns. You can walk across the nearby bridge and see the swans.of hoofs clicking on cobblestone. A 35-minute exploration with horse and carriage is an original way of getting to know this beautiful city.

Two women drivers having a chat while waiting for passengers

Points to note

  • Depending on traffic and current events, the Tourism of Bruges may at times impose other routes. 
  • In good weather conditions, the carriages roll also at night under the magical glow of the lights (up until 10 pm). 
  • The meeting point for the carriages is the Market square. (Departure on Wednesday: Burg Square).You might have to wait for a few minutes for coach to arrive from a trip.
  • Price as of now is €50 but this does not include a ‘tip” for the driver and the commentary.
  • This price is for the hire regardless of passenger numbers which may be limited to 4 adults.
  • Carriages are clean and tidy with blankets and canopy when required. Drivers are pleasant and friendly.
  • It is indeed great as a special treat, but if you’re keen to spend that much than the canal tour is cheaper at €10 each. 
  • Your hotel can also arrange for horse carriages for a tour across the city. You can also have a private tour with a champagne.
Horse carriages are also the art at Bruges. A street art near the canal.

Also read: The whole of Bruges is a public art gallery.

A horse head drinking fountain at Bruges. Horse heads are used in this fountain as sprouts to fill the troughs. These troughs are used for horses as coach-person fill the drinking baskets of their horses from here. Pic: Steven Feather/Flickr

Pay more next year

Horse-drawn carriage ride for tourists in the Venice of the North will cost more next year, according to new pricing plans for Bruges. On January 1 2020, the price will increase by €5, as announced by the Bruges communal council some time back. Actually, in the last five years, the price of the popular carriage tour has increased sharply at the drivers’ request. Next year, tourists will have to fork out €55, five euro more than the current price. This will be the third price increase in the past five years. Prior to 2015, a carriage ride cost €39. The fixed fare for a bus tour will remain unchanged for the next three years: €20 for a ride around the town lasting 50 minutes.

Bruges at Sunset

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Have you explored a city on a horse carriage? How was the experience? Share with us in the comments section below.

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4 thoughts on “Romancing the horse coaches in Bruges”

  1. arv! says:

    I didn’t explore Bruges on horse carriage as I had just a couple of hours. With limited time, and photography as a big draw I chose to Walk around and get lost in this ancient town.

    1. swamiupendra says:

      You explore it anyway, Bruges is extremely beautiful!

      1. arv! says:

        It wouldn’t be wrong to say it is one of the top beautiful towns in Europe.

      2. swamiupendra says:

        True Arvind.

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