The ‘In Bruges’ walking tour


I can’t remember the last time I read a blog about Bruges that didn’t mention the black comedy ‘In Bruges’. So rather than just mention it, I thought I’d write a whole blog post on it. Come with me as I go on a self-guided tour of Belgium’s prettiest city in search of key locations from the film.

First of all, if you haven’t seen In Bruges, why not? You should pick up a cheap DVD copy from Amazon a.s.a.p. For those who don’t know it, the film is about two hitmen, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) who are sent to lie low in Bruges by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) when they botch a job.

As well as excellent comedy performances and a smart script, the real star of the show is Bruges and her many charms.

Want to see them? Then have a listen to the film’s haunting piano theme tune, below, and follow me.

I’d always wondered where the hotel is that Ray and Ken are forced to share a room in – would it really exist? Bruges, being small and medieval, doesn’t have too many large chains, with hotels tending to be small, family-run affairs in old buildings, often alongside canals.

The 4* Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce hotel, in the building with the red rooves below, is on Bruges’ most photographed spot, Rozenhoedkai, and it is from here that Ray jumps on to a passing boat on the canal in the film’s finale.

Being keen to see the sights, Ken takes Ray on a canal cruise early in the film. This is one of the most popular things to do in town, and for €7 you can take a half-hour guided canal cruise from the bridge on Wollestraat to see the best of Bruges from the water.

Just as important to the film as Ray and Ken is the belfry in the main square, Markt. You can climb the 366 steps to the top of this 83-metre belltower which dominates Bruges for €8 these days (Ken paid €5 in 2008). Ray waited outside and told a group of fat American tourists not to bother trying to climb – he was right, there’s no way they’d have got up or down the very top section, where the staircase becomes extremely narrow.

You’re likely to have to queue for a long time to enter, unlike Harry and Ken who waltzed straight in for the film’s final shoot-out. A sign by the entrance says a maximum of 70 people are allowed inside the belfry at any one time.

The view from the top is pretty special, and you will agree with Ken that “it’s like a fairytale”, although unlike in the film you won’t be able to fall off, as a wire fence surrounds you.

Much of the film is shot outdoors in easily identifiable locations. We went to Jan Van Eyckplein, below, facing the Spiegelrei canal where Ray and Ken sit on a bench discussing karate-chopping lollipop men.

The weather took a turn for the worse, so we didn’t make it to Koningin Astridpark, the city-centre park named after Belgium’s Queen Astrid where Ray goes to ponder life in the children’s playground and Ken goes in search of “the alcoves”.

In return for a night out, Ray promises to let Ken choose what they do in the daytime, and so a trip to some of Bruges’ famed churches and museums ensues. Ken’s priority is a visit to the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges’ other city-centre square called Burg. Here, a phial of blood is kept and is said to be that of Christ.

Ray quickly loses interest, so they move on to the Groeninge Museum to see the masterpieces of medieval art on display. If you want to see paintings by Flemish masters like Jan Van Eyck, it’ll cost you €8 and is closed on Mondays.

Ray and Ken’s first taste of Belgian beer is at ‘T Zwart Huis (below) on Kuippersstraat, unfortunately closed when we were in Bruges. Ray subsequently has a disastrous dinner-date with Chloe at posh restaurant Cafedraal near Sint Salvadors-kathedraal.

I was saddened to learn that the bar where Ken goes to drown his sorrows and Ray meets Jimmy the dwarf (played by Jordan Prentice) doesn’t exist. It is one of the few scenes to be shot in a studio set rather than a real life location.

We had more luck finding De Beurze in Markt, the terrace bar where Ken has showdown talks with Harry. You can understand why director Martin McDonagh chose this setting with the belfry all lit up at night in the background.

The tourist board of Bruges has produced a helpful map of the key locations in the film – you can download a copy here. There probably won’t be a sequel any time soon, so follow in the footsteps of Ray and Ken yourself to see how perfect this city is for the setting of a perfect film.

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Categories: Belgium and NetherlandsTags: , , , , ,

41 comments

  1. Great idea! Will definitely give this a go if I make it back to Bruges.

  2. Great post Richard – I didn’t see the film until after I returned from Bruges so couldn’t take a tour but if ever I get to go back I’ll use this as a guide. Thanks

  3. Loved doing that tour. Glad you did too x

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed the read, Richard 🙂 I couldn’t get the volume to work, which was mildly frustrating but I often have that problem. I’ll go to YouTube shortly. I’ve never seen the film but I might just buy that DVD to take out to the Algarve with us. We don’t have any TV channels currently so it’ll be a good way to spend the odd night in.

  5. Good post Richard – I am overdue a return to Bruges so might follow your suggestion!

  6. Great post Richard! I only saw the film fairly recently but I’m dying to watch it again now and thanks for the link to the map. Will definitely be following in your footsteps sometime soon.

  7. I’ve been discouraged from going to Bruges because of reports of crowds, but your post and great photos give me encouragement. I imagine it is somewhat like Rothenberg ob der Tauber–the crowds are there for good reason, and they clear out in the evening.

  8. Thanks for blogging about the movie! I haven’t even heard about it! I have downloaded it for watching now!!

  9. Reblogged this on Random Musings and commented:
    “In Bruges” Movie: A must watch for Bruges

  10. Love Bruges and loved the film. Brendan Gleeson awesome. Have you seen The Guard?

  11. Great city and film – probably the film I’ve watched the most (after Star Wars!) Yes, i loved the guard but was not too keen on Cavalry which was billed as a sort-of sequel.

  12. I’ve wanted to visit Bruges since watching the film a few years ago but I hadn’t thought about a “In Bruges” walking tour until now – thanks for the idea!

  13. I hadn’t even heard of the movie until I was in Bruges last week…looking forward to seeing it in the next couple of days now and reliving Bruges 🙂

  14. Thanks for the In Bruge tour and thanks for stopping by my blog. My visit to Bruge was far too short and with a tour group. I have on my travel list to get back and do a run on that great walking trail that runs through the city.

  15. I enjoyed your recreation of the movie that I have to watch it. I haven’t seen it as of yet, but will be watching it this week. Beautiful pictures and black comedies are OK by me.

    Happy Blogging
    Stop by and visit anytime 😉

    http://www.quietramblings.com/

  16. Love this! Used to go to Bruges a lot years ago and we love the film. We’re going next weekend for our wedding anniversary and will be using your brilliant guide to refresh our memories of the city and the film. Thanks!

  17. I have been to Bruges three times and love the place. I went because of the film as felt the place is amazing and did not disappoint me. Due to going been messaging by email Facebook twitter and YouTube. And Brugges City Film Office are trying to organise a possible film😀. Colin Farrell your see what he says https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LZoApHKemwY try Gruuthuse Hof restaurant great value great food

  18. LOOK ME UP ON INSTAGRAM (COLIN FARRELL IN BRUGES 2) I HAVE TONS FOLLOWING ME. AND HAVE LOADS OF REALLY GOOD POSTS😁 ALSO I HAVE A GROUP ON FACEBOOK CALLED (IN BRUGES 2008 FILM MARTIN MCDONAGH COLIN FARRELL BRENDAN GLEESON) WITH AROUND 92 MEMBERS https://m.facebook.com/groups/596176563907468?fref=ts 😁

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