Brugge (Flemish spelling) or Bruges (French spelling) lies in the far north west of Belgium, close to the Dutch border and also the coast. Despite this being deep within the Flemish part of the country, from this point on I'm going to stick with the French version of the name since that's the version normally used in spoken English. As most people are well aware, it's a city with many beautiful buildings, built on a network of canals.
Bruges is less than 10 miles from the port of Zeebrugge, which can of course be reached by daily ferry from Hull with P&O Ferries. The cheapest deal is four people sharing a cabin. On arrival in Zeebrugge there is apparently a coach waiting to transfer people to Bruges, although this must be booked in advance. Alternatively there's an hourly train from Zeebrugge-Dorp station, with a journey time of 20 minutes. Be aware though that the station is a good 20-25 minutes walk from the ferry terminal.
The nearest airport that you can fly to by budget airline is Charleroi. It takes a couple of hours to get from the airport to Bruges. An alternative route is Amsterdam, although the onward journey at the other end is longer and more expensive. It takes around 3 hours 40 minutes to get to Schiphol to Bruges (hourly service), with a change at Antwerp. You can cut around 50 minutes off the journey time by catching a Thalys (the Dutch high-speed service) from Schiphol, but it'll cost you a stack more. Note that in Holland you have to pay a supplement if you buy a ticket at a ticket office rather than from a machine. If you happen to be travelling from Amsterdam itself rather than Schiphol, it's the same train but leaving 15 minutes earlier.
This has to be the most the civilised way to do it - stroll down to Leeds station, get on a train to Kings Cross, then get off a Eurostar in Brussels just over 5 hours later! And of course there's no worrying about whether your hand baggage is too big/heavy, or what you can and can't take in it. To be fair though, you do then have to get from Brussels to Bruges. There are two fast services an hour, and the journey time is an hour. Note that you have to check in for Eurostar 30 minutes before departure. However, if you miss this cut-off due to your train to Kings Cross arriving late, and if you've booked the journey as a 'package' (as opposed to booking East Coast and Eurostar separately), then Eurostar will re-book you onto a later service at no charge. The same applies coming back if you miss the connection from Kings Cross.
Guide to Eurostar (courtesy of the man in seat 61!)
Places to stay
There's any number of hotels in Bruges, everything from hostels up to 5 star jobs, and including many of the usual chains (Ibis, Best Western, etc).
Hotel Ter Reien
Rough Guides guide
Lonely Planet guide
Trip Advisor reviews
Daily Telegraph readers tips
Bruges Tourist Office
Where to drink
The obvious place to head for pre-match is Markt, which is the main square and contains loads of bars and restaurants. However:
- the chances are you'll pay much more here than in less touristy areas of the city
- you may well be 'requested' by the police to accompany them to the ground ridiculously early
- the bars here will probably be chocka
I'd therefore suggest finding some quiet locals bar down a back street somewhere. If you fancy getting settled into a bar near to the ground then there are four to choose from. They're marked on the map in the 'Club and ground' section below.
Club and ground
Club Brugge play at the Jan Breydelstadion, which They share with their rivals Cercle Brugge. The ground, named after a local man who led a rebellion way back at the start of the 14th century, holds just under 30 thousand and is around 2 miles from the station and town centre. You can save yourself the walk by catching the 5 or 15 bus. There's quite a frequent service, although I don't know if there are extra services on match days. Tickets are cheaper if purchased in advance from one of the many outlets in Bruges, rather than from the driver.
Official club site
FSF guide to Jan Heydelstadion