The historical city of Bruges is one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium. What to do when you’re visiting Bruges? 19 tips.
Located in the northwest of Belgium, the city of Bruges (Brugge in Dutch) is one of the country’s most famous attractions. Is Bruges worth visiting? YES! It has a beautiful medieval city center that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many canals in the city, which is why Bruges is sometimes called the “Venice of the North.” Bruges was a major trading city and from the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, it was known as the economic capital in northwestern Europe. You can still feel the importance of the city when you’re walking around.
Now, Bruges is primarily a tourist destination. In the city center, you can stroll endlessly through the beautiful medieval streets and watch some spectacula historic buildings. Bruges is a wonderful place for a short city break.
Visiting Bruges: the best things to do
What to do in Bruges Belgium? And what are the most beautiful sights? Here are 19 tips.
The Markt (also known as Grote Markt) is one of the main attractions in Bruges. As the main square, it’s an important central point in the city that includes the old Belfry. This is a nice place to have a Belgium beer, there are several terraces from where you can enjoy the views. Drinking a beer on this spot is pricey, but it’s definitely worth it. The square is surrounded by beautiful buildings and it is also a lot of fun to study all the different tourists.
On the Markt, you will find the Historium, one of the most enjoyable museums in Bruges. In the museum, you travel back to the Golden Age and learn more about what it was like to live in Bruges during this time in seven different rooms. Choose the VR option for an even more special experience.
The Town Hall of Bruges
On the beautiful square De Burg, you will find the town hall of Bruges. It has been there since 1400, making it one of the oldest town halls in the Netherlands and Belgium. You will immediately notice the facade of the building, as it is richly decorated with, among other things, statues of historical figures. It’s a beautiful sight!
The Minnewater Park
If you arrive in Bruges by train, chances are you will walk into the city through Minnewater Park. A good choice, as this is a beautiful part of Bruges. Lots of water, a beautiful park, nice views, and lovely benches to enjoy a break. There is also a castle, Castle Minnewater, this is a restaurant. There are few tourists to be seen in the Minnewater Park, which makes it a good start to a day in Bruges.
Bruges Beer Experience
Like Amsterdam, Bruges has a Beer Experience, also known as the Beer Museum Bruges. At this museum, you will learn how beer is made and you can have a beer tasting. A fun activity to do with friends.
Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde
Many Belgium and Dutch cities have beguinages. The only preserved beguinage in Bruges is Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde. It has a large lawn with trees, a row of white houses, and a chapel. The entrance gate and the Vineyard Bridge from the eighteenth century are incredibly beautiful
Basilica of the Holy Blood
The Basilica of the Holy Blood, also known as the Basilica of the Holy Blood, is an unusual Gothic-style chapel and is located next to City Hall. It belongs to St. Basil’s Chapel, which is from the twelfth century. The chapel houses the relic of Holy Blood that is carried around every year on Ascension Day during the Holy Blood Procession.
St. Salvator’s Cathedral
One of the largest and most important churches in Bruges is St. Salvator’s Cathedral. The church was built in 1127 and has a tower 79 meters high. Several beautiful works of art can be admired in the church, including the Statue of God the Father by Artus Quellinus the Younger and large Brussels tapestries.
The Fish Market
The Fish Market in Bruges has been in use for centuries. Even now, fish is sold daily (except Sundays). The current covered market, with 126 Tuscan columns, has been there since 1821. Around the Fish Market are several seafood restaurants where you can enjoy sitting on the terrace.
Jan van Eyck Square
In the Middle Ages, Jan van Eyck Square was one of the most important places in Bruges. Several historic buildings with stepped gables line the square and a statue of Jan Van Eyck stands in the middle. Although most places in Bruges are very crowded, Jan van Eyck Square feels more quiet. In fact, this square is located just outside the busy city center, but it is definitely worth a visit.
The French Fries Museum (Frietmuseum)
It’s time for something really fun: the French Fries Museum! At the Frietmuseum you will learn all about the tasty salty snack; its history, potatoes, and which sauces and spices go with it. Yummie!
Another important church in Bruges is the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady). At 115.6 meters, the tower at this church is a lot taller than that of St. Salvator’s Cathedral and it is also one of the tallest in the world. The tower, therefore, defines the cityscape of Bruges.
The church is not only impressive to see on the outside, but also on the inside. Among other things, you will find here the mausoleums of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. In addition, here you can also admire Michelangelo’s world-famous marble statue, Madonna and Child.
Tip! Would you like to check out more interesting Belgian churches? Make your way to the town of Damme (very close to Bruges) and visit the 13th-century Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-Hemelvaart church. Climbing the church tower is one of the best things to do in Damme, the view is great!
Tour the canals in Bruges
As you have learned earlier, Bruges is also called the “Venice of the North” due to its many canals. It is therefore incredibly fun and one of the top things to do in Bruges to go on a canal cruise. During the boat tour, you’ll get an explanation of the city and learn even more about the historic buildings.
The Bonifacius Bridge
The most famous bridge in Bruges is undoubtedly the Bonifacius Bridge. Although the bridge is not even that old compared to other structures in the city, its location makes it immensely photogenic. Next to the bridge are several beautiful medieval houses on the waterfront, in addition, from here you also have a beautiful view of the Church of Our Lady. The place is always packed with people, so get there early for that perfect shot.
The Queen Astrid Park
A lovely place to take a break is the Queen Astrid Park. A beautiful park, with a pond, statues, and fountains. In this park, you’ll hardly see any other tourists. Especially with good weather, it’s a great place to enjoy peace and quiet. So bring a blanket, a book, some drinks, and food and relax in the grass for a bit.
The city gates
Bruges had seven different city gates in the thirteenth century, four of which remain today. You can still see the Forge Gate, the Donkey Gate, the Ghent Gate and the Cross Gate and all four are impressive to see.
St. John’s Hospital
Another notable structure in Bruges is the St. John’s Hospital. This was an important institution in the Middle Ages for the sick and poor, among others. It is now a museum where you can see various works of art and utensils from the monastic community and hospital care. Very interesting!
Belgium is bursting with chocolate studios, and you can also taste the most delicious chocolate in Bruges. But isn’t it fun to make your own chocolate? You can do that with a chocolate workshop! The best place to do that is at the Chocolate Museum. And of course, you get to take your homemade chocolate home afterward.
The most important of all Bruges tips: just wander around the city without a plan. Leave the map with highlights for what it is and enjoy all the alleys, beautiful old buildings, and the many canals. Take a good look around, there is so much beauty to see in Bruges. Enjoy!
Where to stay in Bruges
Want to get the most out of your city break in Bruges? Then it is wise to stay at least two nights in this beautiful city. These are some great places to stay in Bruges:
- Adornes Hotel – Beautiful 3* hotel in the historic center.
- B&B Filemon&Baucis – Cozy B&B with pool in the garden.
- Hotel Dukes’ Palace Brugge – Luxury 5* hotel in a former ducal residence from the fifteenth century, right in the center.
For more options and availability, visit Booking.com.
Book your trip to Bruges
Do you want to travel to Belgium? These are some useful websites that can help you to plan your trip.
- Train travel is easy in Belgium. You can travel to Bruges by train from cities like Antwerp and Brussels which have good international connections. Check Rail Europe for European train tickets.
- Flying to Belgium – Brussels has a large international airport. Check Skyscanner for prices and tickets.
- Don’t forget about Travel insurance. Check Insubuy for options and prices.
- Want to do some fun tours and visit great attractions? Check Get Your Guide and Tiqets.
Read more about Bruges and other beautiful places in Belgium
These are my tips for a trip to Bruges! Want to read more about Bruges and other beautiful places in Belgium? Then there are some fine travel guides full of tips:
In addition, you can also read more about beautiful places in Belgium on this website. For example, also read these articles:
- Bucket list: 15 beautiful places in Belgium
- 10 fun things to do in Ghent
- 15 great things to do in Leuven Belgium
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This article was published in June 2017. Last update with even more tips: June 2022.
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