Brugge is such a small city that everything is easy accessible by foot. Just make sure you get a map (it's available in the train station and in various hotels) and walk through the town. The only advantage of the coaches is that you get some info from the guide. But then again ... they won't be any good book available in the shops.
I am not a big proponent of these ubiquitous canal boat trips but I am sure they are perhaps warranted in a city so full of beautiful architecture and picturesque waterways. They do take away somewhat from the timeless feel of the city. I've generally found that I get a better feel for a city by walking around and besides the lines are so long that unless you have a few days to explore you lose more time than its worth.
Unique Suggestions: I don't know what time they start up but maybe doing one in the early morning would be less crowded and serene.
Fun Alternatives: Walk along the canals to get similar perspectives.
28 euros per carriage for a half-hour joyride. Convert that into USD..hmm..$34! Enough said!
Unique Suggestions: Take a look at the horses near their resting station at Minnewater. They'll drink from a fascinating horse-head fountain. Or if you're really dying for that experience, gather enough friends, go for the joyride and split up the cost later. Afterall, it's charged per carriage and not per person
Fun Alternatives: Walk, my man, Bruges is a tiny place! Why the hell should you add to the traffic woes by riding around the city in a carriage? The streets are already congested with buses and cars
Certainly carriage rides are not solely a tourist trap that is cofined to Brugge. I remember going to school in downtown Chicago and seeing couples embark on their "romantic" roundabout amongst the skyscarpers of the Windy City. I just don't get it. The lines were long in the Markt as people were eager to stand around waiting their turn to take a clappity-clap horse and buggy ride along the cobbled streets of Brugge. But maybe they looked at me looking at them from my perch at the cafe enjoying a nice Westmalle Tripel and shook their heads wondering what I was thinking as I sat on my butt drinking Belgium beer.
Fun Alternatives: Beer, of course!
Well, the city might look and sound nice with all the horse-drawn carriages (and some of the 'drivers' might look very nice with their hats and smiles ;)... but 27 Euro for 35 minutes doesn't sound like a great value to me ....
Unique Suggestions: Pick up the "driver" hahaha
Fun Alternatives: Walk! And be careful not to be run over by a carriage ;)
If your idea of a holiday is standing in a queue, then by all means, step up for the boat ride, the carriage ride and be sure to eat lunch at the most prominate restaurant on the Markdt. That way you can kill your day in Brugge with a morning boat ride, a loooong lunch and then a interminable wait for the horse and buggy to round out the day.
I'm not sure why the boats are such an attraction. Every canal has a walkway, so it's not like there are hidden treasures only avaialable to those who opt for the boat ride. Personally, I blame Disney for this idea of plopping into a boat in order to see the world go by.
Fun Alternatives: Keep to your own feet and you will see and experience much more than the canned tourist spiels.
The canal boat rides and the horse carriage tours are tourist traps IMO. They are both rather expensive and you don't get to see very much.
The best way of exploring this small city is with a city map and one (or more) of the described city walks ON FOOT.
Fun Alternatives: Use your FEET!
There must be a better way to see the canals from the water than these tourist boats with amplified commentary -- let me know?