Bruges is listed as one of the ‘most romantic cities in Europe’. The swans in the canals, medieval buildings, and little cobblestone squares, all of it give way to a perfectly romantic ambiance. Legend has it that the swans arrived in this city during the 15th century when the people of Bruges were rebelling against Maximilian I. Among other cities like Amsterdam and Stockholm, Bruges is also referred to as the ‘Venice of the North’. Bruges is a city of all seasons. In Spring, daffodils cover the serene courtyard of the Bejignhof and in Winter, you almost have the magnificent icy town to yourself. There are so many things to do in Bruges that one-day trippers seem to miss on a lot of it!
Here is a little motivation for you to pack your bags and get going to Bruges!
#1 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Take a boat tour down the canals
Bruges is most famous for its canals and intersecting waterways. There is no best way to explore the city other than the boat tour. The canals are romantic and lovely but some say that it doesn’t meet the Amsterdam’s boat tour in any way. However, every city has its own charm. The guide tells you all about the history and significance of the passing buildings. You can considerably increase your knowledge about this city in a short time of 30 minutes because 30 minutes is all it takes to complete a boat tour in Bruges.
#2 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Find out if Belfry is really leaning!
Belfry of Bruges is one of the most exceptional bell towers in Belgium. It is located in the Market Square and without any doubt is one of the top things to do in Bruges. The tower is 83 meters high. You’ll have to climb 366 steps to reach the top of it. Once you are there, you’ll get to see this city in all its glory. There is nothing like a panoramic view of a city as beautiful as Bruges! Also, Belfry is included in one of the few leaning towers in the world. The tower is bent almost a meter to the East which makes it almost impossible to take a symmetrical photo of Belfry. They only let a limited number of people enter the tower at once to make sure you have enough room to move. So book your tickets in advance if you are planning your visit to Bruges.
#3 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Satiate your hunger with Belgian Chocolate
Heaven for chocolate lovers! Belgium is famous for its chocolate for centuries now. It is an extensive industry in Belgium and a major part of country’s economy and culture. In Bruges, you can find plenty of chocolate shops serving the yummiest of chocolate delights. From mouth-watering pralines, truffles, and chocolate ganache to white and dark chocolate, everything will sway you away with its succulent taste and texture. Bruges’ chocolate museum; Choco-Story is completely dedicated to the history of chocolate. Every item on display is made of chocolate only.
Watch this video to find out best chocolate shops in Bruges, Belgium.
#4 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Hop on a Bike
Bruges’ narrow pavements and alleyways make for a perfect reason to rent a bicycle and pedal through the city streets. After a boat tour, cycling is the most famous way of exploring this city of canals and medieval architecture. You can follow the tracks along the Old Town’s perimeter to have a more tranquil experience of the city.
#5 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood
The major attraction in the Basilica of the Holy Blood is the blood of Jesus. There is a vial made of rock crystal that is said to contain some drops of Jesus’ blood. The blood was brought to this city by Thierry of Alsace after the 12th century. Every year, during the month of May, the relic containing blood is carried through the streets of Bruges during the Procession of the Holy Blood. Witnessing this vial is an emotional experience for Catholics and people in general. The Basilica itself stands as a prime precedent of ancient architecture.
#6 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Walk along the colorful Markt
Located in the central part of the city, Markt or Market Square is surrounded by the prettiest buildings from all times. The colors of the buildings are eye-catching that look even prettier in Spring. You can find different restaurants and cafes serving all types of cuisines. A perfect place to “people watch”. You can also buy souvenirs for friends and family at a very reasonable price. The Market gets extraordinary busy during the day so try to go there in the morning to grasp a hassle free experience. The bus tours and carriage rides leave from here so you better find out about all the timings in advance.
#7 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Visit the De Halve Maan Brewery
Right in the heart of Bruges, Belgium, De Halve Maan Brewery is another attraction for visitors who enjoy a good glass of wine. Tours of 45 minutes are arranged between 11 am and 4 pm. Guides are provided with each tour who help you understand the history and charisma of this place. You will not want to miss this place if you are a bear lover.
#8 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Drop by the Town Hall (Stadhuis van Brugge)
It is one of the oldest buildings in Belgium raised between 1376 and 1420. Fabricated in the Gothic style, this building is a sight to behold. Town Halls are not normally considered to be tourist attractions but Stadhuis is a building matched only by a few other attractions in stature! Inside, there is a Gothic Hall on the first floor that has beautiful timber vaulting. The interior of the entire building is stunning with pictures depicting different aspects of the history of Bruges.
#9 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Learn the history of French fries at the Frietmuseum
This might sound like a funny thing to do but this place has its perks and certainly does give you knowledge about French fries. You’ll find lots of information about potato and its origins, health benefits of chips and how they are cooked. Also, they show this funny yet interesting video of a cone of French fries being launched into space! You can enjoy the chips with the dip of your choice at the end of the tour.
#10 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Visit the Groeninge Museum
Groeninge Museum is known to hold Bruges’ best collection of art from various masters. Located in the Groeninge district, this museum is situated where once stood the Ekhout Abbey. The museum houses not only great masterpieces from Flemish art but also a gallery of modern day paintings and an impressive collection of sceneries of old Bruges. The first five rooms contain amazing paintings from Flemish collection. Flemish masterpieces include the classics like ‘Hieronymus Bosch’, ‘Madonna and the Donor’, ‘Canon van der Paele’, ‘The Artist’s Wife’ and ‘The Last Judgement’. A special staff is hired to protect these artworks and they are also very knowledgeable of the pieces they are protecting. In addition, there is a garden outside which is not to be neglected.
#11 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Bruges Art Route
On the edge of the city there is a collection of four decoratively refurbished windmills. These four windmills are in great proximity to each other. It is a route used by the locals for jogging or regular evening strolls. Along with the serenity this place has to offer, the view is very picturesque. You can take some of your best pictures in this proximity. Some describe this place as ‘a dessert course after the platter full of Bruges city tour’. If you get lucky, you’ll be able to see hot air balloons and paragliders over the sky.
#12 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Indulge yourself in the vibrant Food scene
Apart from the Belgian chocolate and wine, Bruges also has different cuisines to offer. You can grab your food on the go from different food trucks in various parts of the city. Bruges is more famous for its bars, clubs and food trucks more than restaurants. The Olive Tree, Park restaurant, De Stove, Pomperlut and Le Mystique are among the most popular restaurants in Bruges. If you want to go easy on your pocket, you can grab your meal at Soup, Sanseveria Bagelsalon, Bocca or Beers Yesterday’s World. You can also reserve a table beforehand online at some places to relieve yourself of the worry of finding a good place to eat.
#13 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Have fun riding the horse-drawn Carriage
Yet another way to explore this beautiful city of art and culture. There is a particular sense of romance in this old school way of commutation. The sound of hoof beat of the horse develops a rhythm to sync your journey with. You’ll not be able to help but feel like royalty sitting in that carriage. Imagine if it starts to snow during your ride! Not only recommended for couples and families, It can also be a fun experience for children. You can head over to the Central Square and hire a carriage for the city tour. The driver of the carriage provides insights about different parts of the city. Carriage makes a stop every half an hour to let the horses catch their breath. All in all, it is a must have experience when you are in Bruges.
#14 of 15 Things to do in Bruges, Belgium – Ride a Hot Air Balloon
Tick off hot air ballooning from your to-do list when you are in Bruges. Bruges Ballooning has millions of positive reviews and provides the best services ever. The only way to see all the attractions – canals, churches, bridges and towers of Bruges, is a hot air balloon. They know where to take you, whatever the wind conditions, for the best views. The scenery is like nothing you have seen in your life. Christophe from Bruges Ballooning might take you above the clouds for a more surreal experience. You’ll spend a good amount of time in the air and in the end, you’ll be treated with champagne and waffles.
Also, read this article about hot air ballooning – Hot Air Balloon.
#15 of 15 Things to do in Bruges. Belgium – Visit the Minnewater Lake
Also known as the ‘Lake of Love’, Minnewater lake is a perfect spot for you to drop by after a tiresome city tour. This area is as tranquil as it gets. Drop your worries and lassitude in the Minnewater lake and feel as light as a
feather. The highlight of the lake is the ‘Lover’s Bridge’ which has a legend about it. A girl, named Minna, fell in love with a boy. Her father didn’t approve of their union so she ran away from home. When her lover found her in the forest, she died in his arms of exhaustion. The lake was named after this young girl. You don’t have to believe in this legend to enjoy the beauty of this natural treasure. The ever present swans in the lake are a sight to live by!
Here is a list of some other things to do in Bruges or points of interest in Bruges:
- Burg Square
- Bourgogne des Flandres Brewery
- Torture Museum Oude Steen
- Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk
- Folklore Museum
- Holy Savior Cathedral
- Salvador Dali Exhibition
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