With its cobblestone streets, romantic canals and outdoor cafés, Bruges oozes with fairy-tale charm. This beautiful Flemish city, located in northwest Belgium is just a quick train ride from Brussels. While you could easily visit Bruges on a day trip, I recommend spending at least 2 days here to fully explore the quaint Old Town.
The charming city in Belgium can actually be spelled a few different ways. The French way of spelling is Bruges whereas the Dutch spell it Brugge. Find out everything you need to know about visiting, including all the best things to do in Bruges, Belgium in this complete guide to the city.
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Bruges, Belgium Map: Where is the City Located?
Bruges is located in the northwestern part of Belgium near the English Channel. Brugge is the capital city of the province of West Flanders and is actually the largest city in the area despite feeling quite small within the Old Town.
The city of Bruges is mostly known for its’ picturesque canals and large 83 meter high tower called the Belfry which offers panoramic views over the city.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN BRUGES, BELGIUM
Wander Around Markt Square & Climb the Belfry of Bruges
There are two main squares located in the heart of Bruges Old Town: the more famous Markt Square and the smaller Burg Square. The horseshoe shaped Markt Square is easy to locate due to its most famous landmark, the impressive 13th century Belfry of Bruges, the Belfort. Climbing to the top of the Belfry is one of the best things to do in Bruges.
To reach the top, visitors can trek up 366 stairs to enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of Bruges. The tower soars 83 meters above Markt Square and plays a melodic tune from its’ carillon of 47 bells.
Tickets cost €12 per adult to climb to the top of the Belfry and you can find all of the information on the official Visit Bruges website.
The historic Markt Square is filled with gorgeous medieval guild houses, horse-drawn carriages and bustling cafés. During the week you will find small market stalls set up selling fresh fruits, goods and flowers. The Markt Square is situated in the heart of Bruges and is the perfect starting or ending point for a walk around the UNESCO World Heritage town.
Take a Canal Tour Through the Water Ways of Bruges
In Bruges, a fun way to explore and get a feel for the city is by water-way. Therefore one of the best things to do in Bruges is to take a canal tour of this medieval city. There are 5 locations throughout Bruges which serve as embarkation points for the canal tours. I joined one of the open air boats parked directly next to St. John’s Hospital and purchased my ticket on the spot.
Canal Tour Tip: You can easily purchase your ticket with the boat companies once you arrive and do not need a reservation. However, I would recommend pre-purchasing a canal tour if you are visiting on the weekend.
The canal tours last 30 minutes and cost €10 for an adult ticket. During the tour you will pass by all of Bruges famous landmarks as well as some of the quieter canals.
You’ll begin the tour by cruising through the Minnewater Lake, or Lake of Love, where you’ll spot many swans in the lake or on land. Then you’ll sail back around, passing the St. John’s Hospital which was a functioning hospital up until 1978. Now it serves as a museum.
Zipping along the picturesque canals you’ll head towards the famous Rozenhoedkaai photo spot with stunning views of the extravagant bell-tower Belfort. Lastly, you’ll cruise by the impressive Church of Our Lady. A large gothic landmark, built in the late Middle Ages, containing the Madonna and Child sculpture by Michelangelo.
I highly enjoyed our canal tour through this idyllic town and would recommend taking a tour when visiting. Just be sure to watch your head when the boat goes under some of the low bridges!
Admire Rozenhoedkaai, the Quay of the Rosary
Rozenhoedkaai is one of the best viewpoints in Bruges and is located where the Groenerei & Dijver canals meet. This iconic spot is widely photographed and truly is one of the most beautiful canal views in Bruges.
There is a boat tour that departs from this location and it is easily found by typing either Rozenhoedkaai or Brugge Fotoplaats into your GPS. From this corner on the canal, visitors can see the towering Belfry, stunning architecture and the Wollestraat bridge. Visiting this famous photo spot is one of the best things to do in Bruges, Belgium.
Visit De Halve Maan Brewery for a Tour and Beer Tasting
De Halve Maan (The Half Moon) brewery is the only remaining family run brewery in Bruges that is still operating and brewing beer daily. The brewery, which began brewing beer in 1856, has been run by six generations of a family from Bruges who have continued to produce top quality brews for decades.
During your brewery tour you will first enjoy a 45 minute tour of the brewery. Your guide will educate you on the brewing process and show you the steps used to produce their famous beers. After the guided tour through the brewery you will be able to visit their rooftop some panoramic views of the city.
The daily guided tours cost €12 per person (€6 children 6-12 & free for children under 6) and run every hour in English, Dutch, French and German. You will need to purchase your ticket online and print it or have an e-ticket on your phone. Tours are limited to only 20 people so be sure to reserve your spot in advance.
The brewery tour of De Halve Maan is one of the best things to do in Bruges, Belgium and is a fun way to spend the afternoon. The cost includes the tour of the brewery and a pint of their most famous brew the Brugse Zot. This delicious golden-blonde beer has a unique taste with a subtle fruity flavor.
You can also visit the brewery for a pint even if you don’t take a tour of the brewery.
Relax in Burg Square
Nearby Markt Square is the equally impressive Burg Square, both of which are pedestrian only areas. Burg Square is filled with a variety of architectural designs, including neo-classical, renaissance and gothic. The most impressive though is the large, ornate Town Hall or Staduis which dates back to the 13th century.
Burg Square in Bruges is the perfect place to relax after a day exploring the city. Sit down for a delicious dinner at Craenenburg Cafe-Brasserie and on a clear night you can enjoy their outdoor seating.
Get a Belgium Waffle from a Street Vendor
It goes without saying that Belgium is home to some of the best waffles in the world. The delicious waffles are guaranteed to be fluffy and cooked to perfection. The classic way to eat a Belgium waffle is either plain or with a drizzle of chocolate. However, if you are craving something a little extravagant you can expect to find a wide array of toppings at most of the shops around town.
You absolutely have to try the delectable waffles while you are in Bruges. There are plenty of small shops, cafes and store fronts around Bruges whipping up waffles but the best ones can be found out of these yellow colored vans.
» Must Read: The Best Things to Do & See in Brussels, Belgium
Eat the Chocolate in Bruges, Belgium
In addition to indulging in the delicious waffles you should also try sampling Belgium’s creamy and homemade chocolates. Inside the chocolaterie shops you will find a variety of different sizes, types and flavors of chocolates perfect for snacking while wandering around the charming town.
One of my favorite chocolate shops in Bruges is Chocolatier Dumon which is conveniently located near Markt Square. Here you can buy prepackaged chocolates or select your own. The delicious chocolates also make great gifts or souvenirs to take home to your friends or family!
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How to Get to Bruges, Belgium
Since Bruges is well connected to most cities within Belgium it is a popular destination to visit. The most common and easiest way to get to Bruges is by taking the one hour journey by train from Brussels.
Train from Bruxelles Centraal Station to Bruges
Trains run from the Brussels (Bruxelles Centraal) station to Bruges (Brugge) four times an hour starting at 5:45 AM on either platform 2 or 4. You can purchase your train ticket online or at the station and it costs €14,30 for a standard adult one way ticket. If you are staying overnight in Brussels the last train heads back to Centraal station at 11:23 PM.
» Book your Train: You can find the train times from Brussels to Bruges and purchase your train ticket HERE.
Train from Bruxelles-Midi/Brussels-Zuid (Zuidstation) to Bruges
There are four train departure times from the Bruxelles-Midi station in Brussels to Bruges. The cost is the same price of €14,30 as it is for departures from the Bruxelles-Centraal Station. The journey also takes approximately one hour.
Train from Bruxelles-Nord/Brussels-Noord to Bruges
There are three departure times from Bruxelles-Nord to Bruges with a journey time of around 1hr 10 min. The cost is €14,30 for a one way standard ticket.
Train from Brussels Zaventem Airport to Bruges
There are three trains every hour that run from the Brussels airport to Bruges starting at 5:15 AM. Of these three trains only one is direct and the other two will require you to change trains. You can also take a train from the airport to Brussels Centraal and pick up another train there. The bus from the Zaventem airport to Bruges takes 1hr 35 min and costs €21,20 for a standard adult one-way ticket.
How to Get from Brussels Charleroi Airport to Bruges
The low cost airline RyanAir flies into the Charleroi Airport which is located about 45 minutes outside of Brussels main city center. Therefore you will need to first reach one of the train stations in Brussels to continue your journey to Bruges.
From the Charleroi Airport you can take the Flibco shuttle bus to the Bruxelles-Midi/Brussels-Zuid station. The buses depart every 60 minutes, cost €14,70 one-way and take around 50 minutes to reach Brussels.
Once you have reached the Bruxelles-Midi/Brussels-Zuid station you can purchase your train ticket to continue your journey to Bruges.
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