This pretty Belgian city is a perfect destination for a weekend city break. With its picturesque streets (and canals!), an easy-to-stroll (or cycle!) Old Town and all the charm of a classic European city, Bruges is one of those picture-perfect destinations. But thankfully there’s more than meets the eye and there are actually quite a few cool things to do and see.
Shopping in Bruges
With busloads of visitors coming in for the day, and many of them international tourists on whirlwind European trips, Bruges has plenty of shopping options.
- Callebert – A design shop selling home goods and children’s gifts
- 2BE – Bar and shop selling only local Belgian products: beer, chocolates, biscuits, t-shirts, etc. Grab a typical Belgian beer and sit out on the terrace if you want some quality people-watching
Food in Bruges
Because so many people tend to visit Bruges on a day trip or stopover, there are a lot of places catering to lunch guests. Cheap eateries and snack shops are scattered around the city.
- Sapristi – Quick shop offering sandwiches and a soup of the day
- Li O Lait – Coffee shop with a nice atmosphere. Probably the trendiest place I discovered while in Bruges.
- Frietmuseum – One of the more quirky things to do in Bruges, visit the Frietmuseum: a museum dedicated entirely to fries. It walks you through the history and development of fries and is perfect for kids (or adults who want to pretend to be kids).
Tours in Bruges
Probably because the city is quite small, getting around Bruges is actually very easy. That is if you don’t mind getting lost. One of the best ways to get around is by bicycle. Many shops around Bruges’ main square offer bike rentals by the day and you’ll find it easy and safe to get around the city. If you’re looking for a more unique way of getting around, there are always Vespa tours, too! For a bit more of an upscale (and total tourist trap) experience, there’s the option to take a boat tour through Bruges’ canals.
Things To Do in Bruges
- Minnewater Park – Large, central public park in Bruges. Keep an eye out for the public art throughout.
- Windmills – Bruges is home to four windmills—probably the easiest thing to look for when traveling in northern Europe. But if you’re looking for pretty pictures, windmills are a safe bet. You might consider renting a bike for the day and cycling out to the windmills on your own, or else joining one of the many bike tours.
- Cactus Music Festival – The annual indie music festival takes place in the Minnewaterpark. Most festival-goers are Belgian locals but the music acts are international. In fact, there were only a handful of Belgian bands playing at the 2012 Cactus Festival.
- Church of Our Lady – Churches aren’t always the most interesting and can become tiresome after a while, but Bruges’ Church of Our Lady is home to a white marble sculpture by Michelangelo—something you might remember from a recent movie.
Where to Stay
Use HotelsCombined.com to find and compare hotel prices. Bruges accommodation often fills up fast in the summertime so make sure to book early! Bruges is such a popular day trip destination, it’s useful to book a hotel or hostel for the night so you can enjoy the city and avoid the afternoon tourist crowds. Compare hotel prices here.
- Martin’s Brugge — Set just a few steps from the historic bell tower, this modern hotel offers both a restaurant and a bar. It is also walking distance to Bruges’s other most popular attractions.
- Academie Hotel — In the heart of the city, Academie Hotel offers easy access to Bruges’s popular retail and sightseeing areas. Only a short stroll from the Old St. John’s Hospital, it provides modern rooms equipped with a refrigerator, a telephone and a private bathroom.
- Hotel Dukes’ Palace — Hotel Dukes’ Palace offers easy access to Bruges’s popular sightseeing and retail areas. Only a short stroll from Belfort, it provides elegant rooms equipped with a mini bar, a marble bathroom and free wireless internet access.
- Novotel Bruges Center — Strategically located in the heart of the city, this 3-star hotel makes for an ideal base in Bruges. It offers complimentary Wi-Fi, a playground and a seasonal swimming pool.