Planning a European cycling tour? Consider Bruges. Just 18 kilometres from Holland and 10 to the North Sea, Bruges is a small, quiet, perfectly intact medieval city of 117,000 whose respect for cyclists is legendary.
Everywhere are the paved red paths indicating cycling tails that provide access to the inner city and beyond. Those looking for a shorter trip head to the village of Damme five kilometres away on the canal bike path.
To explore any of the 18 museums of Bruges, including the quirky French Fry, Chocolate and Folk museums just pull up in front, lock your back wheel and remember to take your key. All bikes are left freestanding, including rentals, which can be found on Hallestraat off the market square.
Other good stops include the Half Moon Brewery and Cafedraal – whose courtyard provides excellent lunches on sunny afternoons and an elegant dining room for dinner.
The mussel and vegetable soup is a house specialty that goes well with their cherry beer. In a county that produces over 700 top notch brews, it’s a good idea to order a different one at every meal and rest stop.
A good place to spend the night is the Hotel Albert near the main city bus terminal in the town centre. The small, reasonably priced inn provides an excellent hot breakfast complete with stewed cherries and rhubarb as well as the usual assortment of cheeses, cold cuts and cereals.
Direct flights from Toronto to Brussels are available on Air Canada with quick and easy train connections to Bruges one hour away.