What are the things to do in Bruges? I had already talked about this splendid Belgian city right after coming back from it. I remember being very enthusiastic about Bruges, but just after travelling, as it often happens, people are ecstatic and tend to overestimate things a little bit. But this is not the case of Bruges, a city that wouldn’t otherwise be called “the Venice of the North”.
Indeed, Bruges in Belgium is one of the most fascinating cities I’ve ever visited. No doubts about that. As I wrote in my previous post, Bruges offers plenty of things to see and do. For this reason, I’d recommend spending at least two days there in order to better appreciate it.
How to get to Bruges?
There are many different ways to reach Bruges, especially if you’re departing from Bruxelles. If you want more information about how to get to Bruges by train, please read the following post in which you’ll find many useful tips to get from Bruxelles to Bruges by train travelling half-price -> From Bruxelles to Bruges by train saving 50%
Where to stay in Bruges?
In this post, I’d like to list the top 10 best things to do in Bruges. But before doing so, let me suggest a hotel where to stay for the night (assuming you’ve decided to visit Bruges for at least two days): the Gran Kaffe Passage.
My experience in this hotel was wonderful. The rooms were spotless, the price we paid for one night was affordable and its atmosphere was really cosy and welcoming. The Gran Kaffe Passage is very close to Market Square, which is basically the heart of Bruges, and it also has an excellent restaurant where you can stop and enjoy a cup of tea to warm you up at the end of a long day exploring around the city.
This hotel surely offered us the best value for money. I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Top 10 Things to do in Bruges
But lets get to the point of this post, what to see in Bruges? As I’ve already told you, it would be better to stay in Bruges for at least two days.
Its streets, canals and atmosphere are definitely worth more than just a 24h visit.
Here you’ll find a short list of 10 top things to do in Bruges which you can easily put in your self-guided walking tour of the city.
In addition, I also want to recommend something that will give that extra touch to your visit to Bruges. How about a free tour of the city?
Free tour available:
- Discovering the mysteries and legends of the city
- A gastronomic tour of Belgian delicacies
- A classic tour to discover the centre
If you prefer a private tour, here it is -> GUIDED City tours (in ENGLISH with free cancellation)
1 – Markt Square or better Place Markt
This square is located right in the heart of the city centre.
It is a fairly big square, surrounded by many different places where to sit and enjoy a drink whilst looking at the Belfort of Bruges. It’s the medieval bell tower, one of the symbols of the city. In all four directions of the square, you’ll see unique buildings with pointed and colourful roofs which will surely be a delight for everybody looking at them, but especially for people into photography.
The Markt is the perfect place where to eat or drink something whilst enjoying the hustle and bustle of Bruges. From the inhabitants to the tourists, the square is constantly buzzing with life.
If you’d like to go on a carriage ride, that’s exactly where you can pick one up for a panoramic tour of the entire city. I personally prefer avoiding the exploitation of animals, so I warmly encourage you to walk rather than sitting in a horse-drawn carriage.
2 – Gettin to the top of the Belfort Tower, named Beffroi
The Beffroi of Bruges, or Belfort, is the most famous medieval tower in Bruges, situated right in its historical city centre. The tower was firstly built in the 13th century. A fire destroyed it in 1280, so it had to be rebuilt during the following centuries. The tower is 83 metres high and visitors can reach its top by climbing a total of 366 steps. The tower was, at first, housing a treasury and served as an observation point. Today, it represents one of the most prominent symbols of this Belgian city.
The tower must be visited for two simple reasons:
- Its marvellous and melodious carillon.
- The breath-taking 360° view of Bruges it offers.
Whilst climbing up the staircase, you will hear the sound of the carillon with 47 melodious bells tolling every 15 minutes. The melodies played get changed every 2 years and delight the visitors’s ears repeatedly during the day. The carillon definitely contributes in making the inhabitants and tourists feel as if they were immersed in a fairy tale.
Once you get to the top of the tower, you’ll be able to enjoy the stunning view of the city from high up above.
As for what concerns the steps of the staircase, I personally didn’t find them too difficult to climb.
However, there were other visitors painting a little. If you’re not accustomed to climbing many stairs or you’re a bit out of shape, take your time between one step and another to catch your breath for a few minutes.
Opening times: daily 9.30-17.00
Admission fees: 10 euros (26-64 years); 8 euros (6-25); Free (0-5).
3 – Eating a waffle in Markt Square
This is a thing to do not only in Bruges but throughout belgium. After climbing 366 stairs to get to the top of the Belfort Tower, you definitely deserve a delicious waffle to get some energy back. While walking around Bruges, you’ll probably be impressed by the countless number of chocolate, pastry and waffle shops.
A waffle is a typical sweet in Belgium. It is basically a simple dish made from batter or dough that is cooked between two plates which give it the typical square shape and chess-like surface impression. The waffles are then served with melted chocolate, fruit, whipped cream, butter, honey… Literally, with anything sweet and delicious you can think of.
Don’t you worry, guys. You won’t surely get low blood sugar in Bruges!
4 – Visiting Burg Square
At a very short distance from Markt Square, tourists can visit the second most important square in Bruges: Burg Square. It is one of the most ancient areas in Bruges, also known as the administrative centre of the city today. I personally didn’t find it extremely spectacular, especially if compared to The Market Square, but I’d still recommend paying it a short visit.
5 – Exploring Bruges by boat
Are you wondering why Bruges is also known as “the Venice of the North”? Yep, you guess it right! Because of its numerous canals, bridges and, obviously, its river Reie.
When in Bruges, tourists cannot miss the excitement of a boat trip. Indeed, by driving through the tiny canals, you’ll be able to see some of the most beautiful views Bruges offers, something which you wouldn’t otherwise experience if not on a boat.
The boat trip lasts about 30 minutes and its price its very sensible (8 euros).
6 – Taking Bruges’ photos everywhere!
One of the top panoramic spots for photography in Bruges is, with no doubts, the “Brugge Fotoplaats”. From here, but honestly, pretty much everywhere around the city, you’ll be able to shoot amazing photos which are to be printed and hang up on the wall once back home.
At any times, the buildings around Bruges can become anybody’s favourite subject, from the early morning to the darkest of nights, the lights of this romantic medieval city keep changing and contribute in making the atmosphere even more magical.
As I already suggested in one of my previous posts, you could also decide to go on one of the many organised photo tours around Bruges. Any accommodation you’re staying in, will surely be provided with posters or leaflets advertising this kind of activity.
7 – Drinking a beer at the 2BE Beer wall
From the opposite side of the Brugge Fotoplaats, you’ll find one the most famous and visited breweries in Bruges. You will have to drink a beer in Bruges, it’s absolutely one of the things to do
This is an excellent bar where to taste different kind of beers whilst enjoying the nice view on the river. Buy yourselves some bread and cheese and go out onto the terraces to enjoy watching the world go by with a pint in your hand. Isn’t this how happiness looks and tastes like?
Try one of these beer-related tours (click to sign in) – A true immersion in Belgian beer culture!
8 – Visiting the princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaerde (Bejinhof)
If you’ve followed the route given so far, you shouldn’t have gone too far from the city centre. Only a few hundreds meters from it, you’ll be able to visit the Bejinhof, which you ought to have seen on the ferry whilst cruising the canal.
This is one of the most characteristic areas of Bruges, where you’ll find the only preserved beguinage in the city.
This complex of buildings, including a gothic beguinage church and about 30 white houses dating back to the 16th century.
It was home to the beguines: lay religious women who lived in community without taking vows or retiring from the world.
Both in the yard and in the church, the silence reigns and contributes in making this spot even more suggestive and fascinating.
The Bejinhof is surely one of Bruges’s must-do. You can’t miss it!
9 – Relaxing in the Minnewaterpark
Some of the most popular photos of Bruges are taken right in the Minnewaterpark. It’s a magic spot where tourists and inhabitants can enjoy a walk on the side of the canal, completely immersed into nature.
If you’re an amateur or professional photographer, the Minnewaterpark is certainly one of the perfect places to put your passion into practice, experiencing with different angles and framings.
If, instead, photography is not your cup of tea, I’d like to recommend something I would have loved to do, but unfortunately didn’t have enough time at my disposal for it. What am I talking about? The 9km tour around Bruges.
It is simply a track followed by cyclists and runners which surrounds the city and remains separated from the pedestrian paths. If you wish to go for a long walk surrounded by nature around the gorgeous Bruges, this is exactly what you’re looking for.
10 – Getting lost in Bruges’s alleys
Yes, this is probably one of the most important things to do whilst in Bruges: getting lost.
And that’s how I ended up spending my last few hours in Bruges, rambling around the city’s streets, from the Minnewaterpark, through Gentport, to the city centre.
I deliberately decided to walk around the less touristic neighbourhoods and areas and I even came across a deconsecrated church hosting a quite unsettling art exhibition. I literally adore getting lost in a city in order to get a better idea of it and avoid going back home carrying only touristic impressions.
Other activities and things to do in Bruges
Here is a short list of other things to see and do in Bruges. Unfortunately, due to lack of time, I wasn’t able to try them all, so I personally can’t tell you much about it.
- Choco-Story – The Chocolate Museum: you cannot simply have Bruges without a museum entirely dedicated to chocolate.
- You could be interested in a Chocolate Tour (in English with Free Cancellation)
- The Friet Museum: the first and only museum dedicated to potato fries, the second most characteristic product of Belgian cuisine.
- The Beer Museum: just a stone’s throw from the city’s main square, Market Square.
- Photo tour around Bruges: a must-do for passionate photographers visiting Bruges.
Since the very first moment you get to Bruges, the city will leave you speechless.
It is a must-see that has to be visited at a slow pace, preferably in more than one day, so as to savour it in all its entire gorgeousness.