1. Understanding the Driving Culture
Driving in Bruges, like many European cities, can be a bit challenging for newcomers. The city is known for its narrow, winding streets and heavy pedestrian traffic. It’s important to be patient and cautious while driving. Belgians drive on the right-hand side of the road and overtaking is on the left. The speed limit in urban areas is usually 50 km/h, but it can be lower in certain residential areas.
2. Choosing the Right Car
Given the narrow streets and limited parking, a smaller car is recommended for driving in Bruges. Compact cars are easier to maneuver and park. Also, consider choosing a car with a good fuel economy as petrol can be quite expensive in Belgium.
3. Parking in Bruges
Finding parking in Bruges can be difficult, especially in the city center. There are several public parking lots available, but they can fill up quickly. Parking fees vary depending on the location and duration, but they can be quite expensive. It’s advisable to explore public transportation options or consider walking or cycling for short distances.
4. Driving with an International License
Foreigners can drive in Belgium with an international driving permit (IDP) for up to six months. After this period, you will need to obtain a Belgian driving license. It’s important to note that not all countries’ driving licenses are accepted in Belgium, so it’s best to check with the local authorities.
5. Obtaining a Belgian Driving License
If you’re planning to stay in Belgium for a longer period, you will need to exchange your foreign driving license for a Belgian one. The process varies depending on your country of origin. For EU citizens, it’s usually a straightforward exchange process. For non-EU citizens, you may need to pass a theory and practical driving test. It’s advisable to contact the local municipality or a driving school for detailed information.
6. Adhering to Traffic Rules
Belgium has strict traffic rules and heavy fines for violations. Always wear your seatbelt, don’t use your phone while driving, and adhere to speed limits. Also, Belgium has a strict drink-driving law, with a maximum allowed blood alcohol level of 0.05%.
7. Preparing for Different Weather Conditions
Belgium’s weather can be unpredictable, with frequent rain throughout the year. Make sure you’re comfortable driving in different weather conditions. Always keep your lights on when visibility is poor, and be cautious when driving on wet or icy roads.