Last Updated on May 5, 2022
Why You Should Visit Bruges
Bruges is one of our favorite European destinations. Once you have walked the streets of Bruges, it would be hard to not see why. Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact and the historic center of Bruges was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Bruges is full of picturesque cobbled lanes, medieval Flemish architecture, bridges, and canals linking everything the city has to offer, from stunning views to towers and historic churches. Everywhere you turn you are surrounded by stunning medieval beauty. Bruges is both romantic and inspiring and looks like a backdrop for a fairy tale.
Since it is such a walkable city, you could explore the best Bruges attractions in only one day if you wanted to. However, we recommend at least staying overnight so you can soak in the atmosphere and beauty before running off to your next destination. Plus, seeing Bruges lit up at night is medieval vibe magic! Easily accessible from Belgium’s major cities, it is possible to explore Bruges for the day, or a weekend stay.
Bruges has become quite a tourist destination, but great destinations usually do as they don’t stay a secret for very long. Especially during the peak summer months, you’ll find tourists flocking to Bruges to experience its medieval charm. However, we felt that Bruges was still able to maintain its authenticity. Bruges deserves some of your time to be fully appreciated.
Table Of Contents
- Why You Should Visit Bruges
- Here are our 17 best things to do in Bruges:
- Bruges Historic Market
- Burg Square
- Heilig-Bloedbasiliek ( Basilica of the Holy Blood)
- Choco-Story: The Chocolate Museum
- Walking Tour
- The Belfry Tower
- Experience Belgian Beer
- In Bruges
- The Lover’s Bridge and Lake Of Love
- The Canal Perspective
- Stadhuis (Town-Hall)
- Belgian Chocolate Workshop
- See The Brugse Vrije
- Church of Our Lady
- Eat Belgian Fries (Frites) and Waffles
- Rent A Bike
- Visit The Windmills
- Know Before You Go
Here are our 17 best things to do in Bruges:
Bruges Historic Market
Bruges Historic Market is a beautiful open square surrounded by impressive medieval architecture, plenty of cafes, and restaurants located in guild houses. It is the epicenter of the city and the most crowded place in Bruges. The Market is a popular meeting place for locals and the millions of tourists that visit each year.
Since 1958 the square was used as a marketplace and from 1985 the weekly market was held. Wednesday is when you will find the stalls full of fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, meat, cheese, and snacks. Visitors can find everything from local specialties to international foods in a lively atmosphere.
The market is also a great place for people-watching in a vibrant atmosphere. There are often musicians playing in the square. Bruges Historic Market is the perfect place to experience the city’s historic charm while getting a taste of its modern vibrancy.
If you want to take a horse-drawn carriage ride of the city, they are available for hire in the square.
Burg Square is located right next to Market Square. The buildings around the square have gorgeous medieval architecture, most notably the Bishop’s palace. The palace was the seat of the Count of Flanders for many years. Other key landmarks on the square are the Town Hall, Old Civil Registry, and the Holy Blood Basilica.
Burg Square is one of the most iconic and beloved gathering places in Bruges. Located right in the heart of the city, this charming square is always bustling with activity. Whether people are sampling fresh-baked waffles from a local vendor or lounging on a nearby bench and taking in the views, Burg Square is a lovely place to wander. With its central location, lively atmosphere, and undeniable charm, Burg Square truly exemplifies the friendliness and welcoming spirit of Bruges. Whether you’re visiting for a day or staying for a lifetime, you can always find something to enjoy.
Heilig-Bloedbasiliek ( Basilica of the Holy Blood)
The Basilica of the Holy Blood in Brugge is a stunning example of medieval architecture and craftsmanship. This beautiful gothic building was constructed in the 12th century and has served as an important religious space for centuries since. The exquisite interiors are adorned with intricate carvings, detailed frescoes, and colorful stained glass windows that create a luminous glow throughout the interior. Whether you are visiting for religious or aesthetic purposes, this iconic minor basilica is sure to delight and inspire. After all, it is one of the most cherished landmarks not just in Brugge, but in all of Europe.
The Basilica of the Holy Blood houses a relic of the Holy Blood, attracting millions of visitors every year. The relic is bought out for viewing at 2 pm every day. Also worth viewing inside is a crown that once belonged to Mary of Burgundy.
The building was built between 1134 and 1157 and was the chapel of the Count of Flanders until 1923 when it was promoted to a minor basilica.
Choco-Story: The Chocolate Museum
One of our favorite parts of Bruges, aside from the beauty, was being surrounded by so much chocolate. Do not miss stopping at the Choco-Story: The Chocolate Museum to get a glimpse into the world of the chocolatier.
At Choco-Story, the Chocolate Museum in Bruges, visitors young and old can explore the history and science behind everyone’s favorite treat. Located in a beautiful old building, this museum takes you on an indulgent journey through centuries of chocolate production and consumption. Whether you want to learn about how cocoa beans are harvested and transformed into rich, creamy bars or find out all about the scientific structure of cocoa butter, there is something for everyone at Choco-Story. You can learn about chocolate production back to its role as an Aztec currency, and sample a praline after watching it be freshly made. There were also a ton of interesting and ‘naughty’ chocolates available on display, giving even the most mature person a giggle.
Whether you’re a serious chocoholic or just enjoy a small sweet indulgence every now and then, Choco-Story is undeniably one of the best places for candy lovers to spend their day. With its fun atmosphere, engaging exhibits, and mouthwatering treats, it truly is a must-visit for anyone who appreciates the good things in life.
Bruges is a beautiful medieval city that is perfect for a walking tour. Visitors can start at the Market Square, which is surrounded by historic buildings like the City Hall and the Church of Our Lady. From there, they can explore the winding streets and canals of the city center, stopping to admire the architecture and take in the views. The tour can end with a visit to one of Bruges’s many museums or art galleries. Or, visitors can simply enjoy a leisurely stroll through the city’s parks and gardens. No matter how it is done, a walking tour of Bruges is an enjoyable way to spend a day.
Taking a free walking tour can be highly informative and it is a great way to find some new friends to walk around and explore with. It can help to give a more complete picture of Bruges as well as some great tips. Even if you are on a ‘free’ tour, if you enjoyed the tour, a donation is encouraged at the end. Help to keep the free walking tours alive!
We always recommend taking a walking tour if available to get yourself better oriented with where you are visiting. It will help you make the most of your time spent there.
The Belfry Tower
The Belfry Tower is a must-see when visiting Bruges. It is a bell tower that was built in the fifteenth century. It stands tall at 83 meters and because of its height is best admired from a distance. Climb the 366 steps to the top of the tower for an amazing view of the city. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to the coast. The tower also houses a Bell Museum, which tells the history of the belfry bells and how they were used to warn of fire, announce curfew, and call people to worship. One of the city’s most prominent symbols is the Belfry.
It can get quite busy during high season as only 70 people are able to be admiring the view at one time. If you make the climb on the hour, you may be able to hear the building’s 47 bells. There is a board at the tower entrance that lists the times the bells can be heard.
Experience Belgian Beer
Home to more kinds of beer than you can ever imagine, the 2be Beer Wall is a fun shop and museum. You can wander through rooms of Belgian Beers, and chocolate, or take the fun photo opportunity with the beer wall.
On a budget? You will also find some markets with a great selection of beer that will still leave you standing there, trying to choose one, or several different kinds. Also, you can take a tour of Brouwerij De Halve Maan Brugge. At only €10 per head, it includes a drink and a great rooftop view of the city. The brewery is family-run and dates back to 1856.
Enjoy tracking down some of the sights and locations of the popular movie In Bruges, which featured Colin Farrell. You can grab information from the tourist office that lists the locations of popular scenes. If you are a fan, it is a fun way to bring a favorite movie to life.
The Lover’s Bridge and Lake Of Love
The Lover’s Bridge in Minnewater Park is a beautiful spot in Bruges, Belgium that has become a popular destination for couples. The bridge spans a small lake, which is surrounded by trees and flowers. Couples often come to the bridge to declare their love for one another, and many leave locks on the railings as a symbol of their commitment. Stories say that if you cross the bridge with your partner and kiss, your love will last forever. The Lake of Love is also a popular spot for picnics and romantic walks, and there are often musicians playing nearby. The Lover’s Bridge and Lake of Love are both wonderful places to visit if you’re looking for a romantic setting. It is a very serene peaceful escape, right in the confines of the city.
The Canal Perspective
One of the best ways to explore Bruges is by the canal. You can find boats departing from one of the piers. The guides, or captains, have great commentary, and great stories about the city. You will see Bruges from a completely different perspective.
You can take a boat tour from March to the middle of November. Buy your ticket at the pier from one of the shipping companies.
From the Stadhuis (town hall), Bruges has been governed for over 600 years. It is one of the oldest buildings in Belgium and is gorgeous. The gothic architecture is striking and stands out in this city so fabulously trapped in time. You will also notice statues of former counts and countesses of Flanders. If you are mesmerized by the exterior, the interior will really impress. The Gothic Hall has extraordinary 19th-century murals and an impressive polychrome vault. Get an audio guide for a great history lesson.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Bruges is the Town Hall, which was built in the 14th century. The Town Hall is located in the Market Square, and it is one of the most photographed buildings in Bruges. Visitors can take a tour of the Town Hall, and they can also learn about the history of Bruges at the Bruggemuseum-Stadhuis, which is located inside the Town Hall.
Belgian Chocolate Workshop
Belgium is famous for chocolate, and with good reason – it is melt-in-your-mouth heaven.
You can find a wide range of fun and delicious chocolate-making classes for people of all ages. Whether you’re an experienced chocolatier or this is your first foray into the world of confectionery, a workshop is a perfect place to explore your passion for decadent treats.
Some workshops will have you only dipping stuff in chocolate. Look for one that will show you how to make pralines, from scratch!
See The Brugse Vrije
The façade of the Brugse Vrije (Liberty of Bruges) will really catch your eye. The gold Lady Justice on the roof is a reference to the building serving as a law court between 1795 to 1984. Today, it houses the Bruges City Records Office, which preserves the civic written records. Inside you will find the original courtroom, located at the rear of the building. The fireplace mantel is stunning, a gigantic carved-wood masterpiece from 1528. It was made from oak and depicts Charles V and his two grandfathers.
The Liberty of Bruges building is a cherished landmark in the bustling city of Bruges. Located at the heart of the historic center, this iconic civic structure has long served as a symbol of the city’s steadfast commitment to freedom and equality. With its grand facade, the building boasts an elegant yet dignified style that is singularly associated with Bruges.
Standing tall against the skyline, the Liberty of Bruges Building represents a pillar of strength and stability that unites all inhabitants of the city under one banner. Whether for business meetings or civic gatherings, it is here that people from all walks of life unite as a community to celebrate their common heritage. Indeed, few structures are more beloved in Bruges than this humble yet distinguished icon of liberty.
Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady The church’s distinctive spire has become a symbol of the city, and its ornate interiors are a must-see for any visitor. The church was built in the 13th century, and its architecture reflects the Gothic style of that period. The interior of the church is decorated with beautiful stained glass windows and intricate stone carvings. The church is also home to a number of important works of art, including Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child. In addition, it also houses several tombs and 13th-century sepulchers. Visitors can explore the church’s many chambers and climb its towers for stunning views of the city. The Church of Our Lady is a truly unique place, and it is well worth a visit when you are in Bruges.
The Church of Our Lady has the second-highest brick tower in the world. It is almost 400 feet tall.
It is free to visit the church, but if you want to view the artwork, you will have to pay 6 Euros.
For more information on visiting, go to the Musea Brugge website.
Eat Belgian Fries (Frites) and Waffles
Belgian Fries (Frites) and Waffles are two of Belgium’s most iconic dishes. Frites are fried potatoes, usually served with a dipping sauce, while waffles are a sweet, crispy treat made from batter. Both dishes have a long history in Belgium and are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Frites were first introduced to Belgium in the 17th century, while waffles have been around since the 13th century. Today, both dishes are served in restaurants and cafes all over Belgium. Belgian Fries (Frites) and Waffles are also popular tourist attractions. Every year, thousands of people visit Belgium to try these iconic dishes.
With so many options to dip the frites and a variety of topping options for waffles, we won’t judge if you decide to eat your weight in frites and waffles. We wanted to!
Rent A Bike
Looking for a fun and easy way to explore the beautiful city of Bruges? Look no further than renting a bike! With a bicycle, you can easily navigate through the charming city, enjoying all the fantastic sights this charming city has to offer. In addition to providing you with access to more remote areas of town, renting a bike is also a great way to get some exercise while immersing yourself in Bruges’ rich history and culture. Whether you’re traveling as a family or on your own, the experience of riding around Bruges on two wheels is sure to be one that you’ll never forget. Head over to your nearest rental shop and start exploring today. It is a great way to see the city!
Visit The Windmills
Bruges has a rich history of mills. There are windmills along the canal on the eastern part of Bruges. Windmills are so picturesque, making it hard to resist taking the time to admire them.
One of the most well-known attractions is undoubtedly the collection of beautiful windmills. The unique buildings are a sight to behold, with their towering wooden blades that come to life in the breeze. If you want to experience this breathtaking view firsthand, make sure to visit Bruges and see its beautiful windmills for yourself. Back in the 16th century, there were 23 windmills that were part of the town walls since the end of the 13th century. Today, there are four remaining mills.
Know Before You Go
Where is Bruges located?
Bruges, Belgium, is a charming city located along the banks of the Zwin River. Known for its cobblestone walkways, canals, and medieval architecture, Bruges draws visitors from all over the world. Its central location in northern Europe means that it is easily accessible by train or bus, making it a popular getaway destination for backpackers, families, and friends.
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, and by population is the seventh-largest city in Belgium.
Is Bruges Worth A Visit?
Bruges is definitely worth a visit! This beautiful city is known for its canals and medieval architecture. The entire city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you know it’s going to be picturesque. You can easily spend a day (or two) exploring all the nooks and crannies of this fairytale-like town.
Many consider the medieval fairytale town of Bruges in Belgium one of Europe’s prettiest cities. And, it’s completely true. We completely fell under Bruges’ spell and were charmed by the atmosphere and all of its beauty. The medieval architecture of Bruges is absolutely mind-blowing. Bruges is one place we would go back to in a heartbeat.
How To Get There
We traveled to Bruges from Brussels. It takes just over an hour on the local train.
Day trips from Amsterdam and Paris are another popular option, with the train rides both taking around 3 hours, each way.
If you do not want to go it alone, you can also find several tours from Amsterdam or Paris.
Best Time To Visit
If you’re going during the summer peak season, try to go mid-week to cut down on the crowds. However, one benefit of visiting Bruges during summer is being able to have an enjoyable beach day. There are several beaches along the Belgian Coast. A few of the easiest to reach by train, in around 15 minutes, are Knokke, Blankenberge, and Oostende. The low season is November to March.
The best time to visit anywhere in Europe is usually during the shoulder seasons of early Spring or late Autumn, when you will be able to enjoy the locations without the extra throngs of tourists.
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