Best Things to Do in Bruges, Belgium

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Advisor - Lizz Callaway
Curated By

Lizz Callaway

  • International Travel

  • Belgium

  • Boutique Travel

  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Local Culture

  • Foodie

  • Local Food

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Curator’s statement

What is more romantic than a city that seems like a backdrop for a fairy tale? The medieval overtones of Bruges’ cobblestone streets cause infinite historical, architectural and creative wonders. Marvel at ornate homes lining tricky canals and see why that is a favorite vacation spot for all kinds of travelers. The entire town emanates an appreciation of the past, a love of the present and exuberance for the future.

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Where to stay in Bruges, Belgium

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Things to do in Bruges, Belgium

boat under bridge next to building during daytime

The Markt: Vibrant and humming with daily life, Markt Square is absolutely the heart of Bruges. Mared by the 83-meter-tall Belfry, this iconic square is home to delicious restaurants and specialty storefronts. While this is typically more touristy than other areas of Bruges, you will still have a fantastic time whether you grab a local beer at one of the open-air cafes whilst watching the activities throughout the square and the rhythmic clip-clop sound of the horse-drawn carriages.

Belfort (Belfry): The iconic bell tower at the heart of Bruges, the Belfort is now protected as a world heritage site. Climb the 366 steps to the top to take in the breathtaking views of the city. But don't fret about hiking straight up with no fun in between: there are multiple areas in which you can visit some cultural artifacts, like the city's charter and seals.

Church of Our Lady Bruges: One of the most beautiful churches in Europe. You can enter the church for free, but I highly recommend spending the extra few euros to visit the additional areas with the painted graves, additional frescos, coats of arms of the knights of the golden fleece, tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold, and of course Michelangelo's Madonna with Child sculpture.

Go bridge-hopping! Every bridge in Bruges tells a tale. No two bridges are alike, giving you magnificent views, historical cobblestone and more. Donkey Bridge (Ezelbrug) is not related to donkeys at all and Key Bridge (Sleutelbrug) does not refer to the treble clef, but to a 15th century brewery that was located nearby.

Sint-Salvatorskathedraal: This 14th century cathedral has a looming Gothic tower and priceless Flemish art.

Gallery XPO Salvador Dalí: Explore the collection of paintings, sculptures and more from Salvador Dali. Admission will run you about 10 euro and is at the bottom of the Belfort.

Visiting in the winter? Bruges has Christmas markets that are not to be missed! There are two and each has a different theme: one for more traditional products and Simon Stevinplein is focused more on craft.

Visit Gruuthusemuseum. This museum has so much history, intricate architecture, and fabulous views of the Bonifaciusrug

Tour De Halve Maan: This brewery has been in the family for six generations. Take a tour and learn about their history as well as their underground beer routing system that pipes their beer to their bottling factory over 3 km away!

Places to eat & drink in Bruges, Belgium

red tables and chairs outside next to brick building

Food stalls throughout the city, especially in Markt, will have vendors selling delicious Belgian eats. I highly recommend a cone full of frites with lots of sauce. Do not be afraid of the mayo; it will blow your mind.

Soup: This small, woman-owned business is cozy and comforting. The daily menu changes and is budget-friendly! A warm bowl of soup, some fresh bread and a local beer will set you up for a wonderful afternoon.

Chez Albert: Get your Liege waffle fix! There are many waffle shops and carts throughout the city, but Chez Albert has everything you need. Toppings from delicate Belgian chocolate to strawberries and whipped cream! Grab one of their menu items or make your own combination.

Le Trappiste: Located in a medieval cellar that is over 800 years old, Le Trappiste has over 25 beers on tap, hundreds more bottled, and knowledgeable staff. Grab a flight and they bring you your pints on a paddle!

Poules Moules: Mussels and fries (or moules frites) are a local staple in Belgium. Poules Moules serves some of the best with a variety of options like white wine or local beer within which you can have your mussels cooked. Not feeling like shellfish? Try the Vol au vent or Flemish stew!

Looking for a more romantic place to grab a drink? Cafe Rose Red is in the heart of city center but somehow missed by most, giving this bar a quiet and cozy vibe. When the weather is nice, grab your flight of local beer onto their terrace to enjoy the fresh air.

That's Toast offers breakfast all day! Feeling like a seasonal fruit bowl with homemade granola or a full English fry up? Come on by and grab whatever fits your fancy. No reservations though!

Dumon Chocolatier: The highest standard for Belgian chocolate can be found at Dumon. Stephan and his mother have devoted their passion for chocolate into each and every aspect of these chocolates. Make sure there is room in your bag for a few kilos to bring home

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out my guide to Seattle: Foodie's Guide to the Best Restaurants in Seattle.

Advisor - Lizz Callaway

Travel Advisor

Lizz Callaway

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