I don’t normally spring for expensive tours in new cities. I prefer walking, taking public transport, wandering about on my own and at our family’s pace. But, I couldn’t get away from this advice no matter where I turned. And, let’s face it. Little boys love boats and water.
My boys also love horses, but we could only afford one splurge and the budget choice (though not exactly cheap) ended up the winner. Plus, I can walk where the horses trot, but I can’t swim where the boats glide.
I couldn’t find any concrete information (as in a credible website, exact address, phone number, GPS coordinates) as to where exactly I should find said boat tours. The only clue? Head down the Wollestraat, and keep your eyes peeled for the skipper.
Well, whaddya know, those imperfect directions sufficed. Several boat tour companies have set up shop in this small area. We picked the only one open at the time we visited, plunked down some cash (€ 6,50 adults / children 4-11 € 3 / free for children under four), and climbed aboard.
Boats are small, so little ones should be closely supervised to avoid swimming with the sharks (just kidding, no fin friends here). The captain offers gossipy and historical tidbits about the charming houses and occupants lined up along the water. Not too dense, not too dull. Our guide spoke English, but other languages were available.
The whole shebang lasted about 35 minutes, just enough time to absorb a few facts but not long enough to drive little ones over the edge. Tips will be solicited at the end of the ride, so keep your euro coins handy.
Speaking of tips, here are a few weather-related ones… Tours do not run when the canals are frozen. Duh. However, just a little ice doesn’t scare these fellas; our boat crunched its way through Brugge during our visit at the end of March. Also, no tourists, no tour. The captain waits until the boat reaches capacity before sailing off. If you’re the first to arrive, you may find yourself shivering under the open skies waiting for the rest of the frozen folks to show up.
Brugge is full of canals, and known as one of the European “Venice of the North” cities, so no wonder all the experts insisted on seeing it the way residents have for centuries. Our whole family enjoyed taking in the unique scenery that a boat tour affords, soaking in the atmosphere of this beautiful old city.
Would you rather experience Brugge by boat or horse drawn carriage? If you’ve had the privilege of either one, share your experience in the comments below. Looking for more about Brugge? Check out the best things to do in Brugge with kids, and tips on eating out in the old city.