City Guide to Bruges, Belgium

Author: | Last Updated: 12 Jan 2018

Why should you visit the small town of Bruges in Belgium? Well, first and foremost because it is one of the most enchanting cities you will find in Europe. With its canals winding through the historic centre, and its streets packed with old world charm, Bruges should definitely be on your bucketlist.

Best time of year to visit:

The best time of year to visit Bruges is during spring. Nothing beats walking along the canals, breathing in crisp and cool spring air, marvelling at the charming cobbled streets and colourful buildings of the main square whilst snacking away at a cone of hot, fluffy french fries, topped with one of their specialty sauces.

Belfry Tower

Let’s start with the most iconic building in Bruges, iconic not just for its striking appearance and medieval features, but for its prominence in the film ‘In Bruges’, starring Colin Farrell. The tower plays a role in a pivotal, dramatic scene in the film and is so prominent in the beautiful, main square that it commands attention. But don’t just look at it, to really get the most out of the tower you have to scale its 366 stairs to the top. Once you reach the peak, you are met with a spectacular view of the whole city of Bruges, and the row of famous colourful houses in the central square directly below.

Markt Square

Next up on your list should be Markt square, and since the Belfry tower is located here you can do them both together. The first thing you’ll notice is the wonderfully bizarre colourful houses that stand side by side creating a satisfying rainbow effect in the square. After taking numerous photos of the houses, it is worth walking around and soaking up the atmosphere, perhaps stopping off for a coffee in one of the bars or if you’re there around lunch time, the next recommendation will suit you perfectly.

Try the fries

It is almost impossible to talk about Belgium without bringing up either chocolate or beer. However, this is not all Belgians are known for, they are also responsible for some of the best waffles and fries around. Contrary to what you might think though, the best place to go for fries isn’t at a restaurant, instead, try one of the many street food vans dotted around the market square. An order of fries will no doubt warm you up on a cool afternoon, but the real joy of the experience is choosing what sauce to have on top of them from a wide selection.

Bruges Beer Experience Museum

At some point during your trip, you will have to see what all the fuss is about when it comes to the world-renowned Belgian beer. While tasting it should be a priority, it is also worth going to one of the beer museums in the city to get a deeper understanding of Belgium’s history with beer and why they are so good at making it. The Bruges Beer Experience museum comes highly recommended; just a stone’s throw from Markt square, this fully interactive museum will answer all the questions you’ve ever had about beer and can be a great way to spend an afternoon.

Walk along the canals

After a heavy lunch full of Belgian gastronomical delights, it would be wise to take a brisk walk by the canal. Bruges can seem like a labyrinth of narrow streets and bridges going in no particular direction, and this is one of its most endearing qualities to those who visit. Walking by the canal you will see houses with gardens touching the water and gargoyles guarding the old bridges.

The lake of Love

Eventually after getting lost in the streets of Bruges you will stumble upon what locals affectionately call the lake of love and lovers’ bridge. Bruges, by virtue of being a very charming, quiet and visually appealing town, can be considered quite romantic. So it makes sense that these areas exist, not only are they great to wander around and relax with a loved one, they are home to many swans which lend a graceful air to the lake.

Chocolate Museum

Following in the theme of love and romanticism, what trip to Belgium would be complete without that irresistibly decadent Belgian chocolate? Not only does Bruges have some of the prettiest chocolatiers around which will let you choose from a wide selection of sweets and treats, there is also a great little museum dedicated to the stuff called Choco-story. The museum provides lots of free samples, which is never a bad thing, and offers demonstrations of how chocolate is made along with explanations of how they make it.

Take a boat tour

Like Venice, Bruges is well known for its canals and so one of the more memorable things you could do on a visit here would be to take a boat ride around the town. This is one of those things that has the potential to make any trip better, relaxing in a boat as you glide around the picturesque centre with more photo opportunities than you know what to do with, this should definitely be a strong consideration.

Church of Our Lady

Whether you enjoy entering churches or not, this should be a stop on your visit to Bruges, if only just to see its majestic exterior. This church, dating back to the 13th century, is the tallest structure in the city and also claims the second tallest brickwork tower in the world. If that isn’t enough to convince you to visit, the church is home to very valuable works of art, including many paintings from Michaelangelo.

Burg Square

Last on this list, but by no means list, is Burg square – a square in which there are several architectural styles on display like gothic, renaissance and neo-classicist. Burg square is home to one of the most beautiful buildings in Bruges, the gothic town hall known as Stadhuis which has been around since 1376. This building holds key historical significance for the city of Bruges and was once the building from which the city was governed.

City: Bruges

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