Spring: The climate is becoming warmer and the city is overflowing with beautiful Belgian flora
Summer: Temperatures can reach as high as 26˚ during July and August making it an excellent time to stay
Autumn: A romantic and mysterious time to visit as temperatures begin to drop and leaves start to fall
Winter: The winter climate is at its chilliest in January and February so wrap up warm whilst wandering around the Christmas markets
Image: Bruges Snow by Tanya Hart
The great thing about Bruges is that many of the city’s main attractions are within walking distance in the city centre. With various museums from art to chocolate, as well as a tranquil and picturesque canal system, tourists are able to discover this beautiful city at their own pace. Traditional Belgian bars can be found dotted around the city, while day trips to other big cities in the country are just a short train ride away.
Belfry of Bruges: Standing in the centre of the city, this historic bell tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Bruges.
Groeningemuseum: Home to six centuries of Flemish and Belgian art with paintings from various Renaissance, Baroque, Realistic and Neo-classical styles.
Sint-Salvator Cathedral: The main cathedral in the city that also houses a variety of works of art and a superb organ.
Choco-Story: A fun museum dedicated to everything you need to know about chocolate from its early history to health benefits.
Rozenhoedkaai: One of the most picturesque areas of Bruges (perfect for a stunning photo opportunity) with the attractive view of the canal and Belfry Tower.
The Kruispoort: Also known as the Gate of the Holy Cross, this is one of the city’s gates dating back to the early 15th century.
The Provinciaal Hof: Located on Markt Square, this gothic-style building is the government HQ.
The Groenerei: Meaning the ‘green canal’, this is the most romantic canal in Bruges, lined with trees, 17th century mansions and the cathedral tower.
Church of our Lady: Dating as far back as the 13th century, the 122 metre-high tower of this magnificent church is the tallest structure in the city.
It may not be the wildest city in the world with nightclubs being few and far between, but there is still a lively night scene around Bruges. The huge selection of pubs along the city’s maze of narrow streets is hard to beat, meaning there are plenty of places to sit in cosy surroundings sipping on a pint or two of traditional Belgian beer.
Blekerstraat: Has a range of traditional old pubs to try a variety of Belgian beers
Breidelstraat: Home to a cluster of trendier places in the south of the city
Eiermarkt: A younger clientele are attracted to the many bars here
Langestraat: The student area of the city that offers a more vibrant atmosphere
‘t Zand: A small square with several live music venues and bars
Day Trips from Bruges:
If you’re planning on visiting Bruges for a few days don’t just stay in the city. You may want to consider one of the many day trips available to see even more of Belgium. Discover beaches in Knokke or museums and zoos in Antwerp for a memorable day out.
Knokke: This seaside resort in the north east of the country is famous for its beaches making it the perfect place to spend a day in the summer. The town also has an impressive dike system, as well as a variety of restaurants and shops.
Travel Time: 20 minutes
Brussels: The country’s capital is well worth visiting and anyone travelling on the Eurostar will pass through the city on their way to and from Bruges. Wander around the Grand Place, take a look in some of the city’s museums (from chocolate to comic strips) or marvel at the iconic Atomium.
Travel Time: 1 hour
Antwerp: For a range of museums such as the Royal Museum of Fine Arts and the Plantin-Moretus Museum, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Antwerp. The city is also home to one of the oldest zoos in the world, as well as various churches and cathedrals.
Travel Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Ghent: As the largest city of the East Flanders province, Ghent is a busy part of the country with a port and university. The city is home to impressive medieval buildings such as Saint Bavo Cathedral and various museums of art, while around two million people visit the Ghent festival every July.
Travel Time: 30 minutes
Images: Belfry Tower by Keith Bellvay on Flickr / The Kruispoort by Taco Witte / Sint-Salvator Cathedral by David Huang / Knokke Beach by David van der Mark / Grand Place, Brussels by Christopher John SSF / Museum in Antwerp by Rick Ligthelm / Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent by Reinout van Rees
From huge department stores and pretty boutiques to some of the most exciting markets in Europe, Bruges is sure to meet all your shopping needs. Many famous brands can be found for anyone looking to update their wardrobe, while the Christmas markets are always a breathtaking sight and a hotchpotch of colour and smells.
- Steenstraat: A busy shopping street with famous clothing stores such as Zara and Mango
- Katelijnestraat: A dream for chocoholics, this street is home to various chocolate shops including Sukerbuyc - one of the city’s oldest confectioners
- Geldmuntstraat: Another popular street featuring upmarket shops and boutiques
- Wednesday Market: Every Wednesday from 8am to 1pm, the Grote Markt sells everything from handmade goods to local produce
- Christmas Market: A festive and joyful atmosphere can be found here with the wide variety of stalls, an ice rink in the centre and lots of tasty food and drink to warm you up
Part of the fun of any trip to Bruges is experiencing some of the Belgian cuisine in the city, which tends to have French and Flemish influences. Food may be quite expensive but a big steaming pot of mussels served with French fries and mayonnaise is a real treat. Of course no visit to Bruges is complete without sampling some traditional Belgian chocolate that can be found throughout the city. Good quality wine is a nice accompaniment to any meal but the national drink of the country is, without a doubt, beer.
Popular Bruges Restaurants:
De Karmeliet: A restaurant with three Michelin stars serving a variety of seafood and meat
Bistro du Phare: Situated by the canal with a huge choice of meat, fish, salads and pasta
Restaurant Couvert: Contemporary cuisine in a 17th century building with a warm, cosy atmosphere
Chagall: A relaxed seafood restaurant where mussels and chips is a favourite dish
Image: Mussels, Chips and Beer by Colin Cameron
Belgium residents are often pretty laid back but it’s important to remember to dress and act respectively when visiting cathedrals and churches. Handshakes are common when meeting a man for the first time, along with three kisses on alternating cheeks when interacting with a woman. It’s always handy to learn a few phrases before you go to really impress the locals.
Hello / Good Morning - Hallo / Goedemorgen
Could I have the bill, please? - Mag ik afrekenen, alstublieft?
Do you speak English? - Spreek je Engels? or spreekt u Engels?
Dos and Don’ts
DO be careful of your personal belongings around the main tourist areas
DON’T wander around alone at night away from the city centre
DO pack a pair of comfortable shoes to wear when walking along the quaint cobbled streets
DO try the traditional dishes in the city such as moules frites (mussels and French fries) or sample a pint of the local beer, Brugse Zot
DO shop around for the best quality chocolate shops as these are definitely worth paying a little bit extra for
DON’T get your languages confused. The main language in Bruges is Flemish (or Dutch), while just an hour away in Brussels, around 80% of people speak French
The standard service charge in most restaurants is 16%, but if you’ve experienced good service, it’s common to leave a few extra euros for the waiter. When service is not included, 10% of the total bill is a reasonable amount to give. When travelling by taxi, simply round up the fare to the nearest euro.
The compact, historic district of Bruges means that it’s easily accessible on foot. The two central squares, Markt and the Burg are easy to get to and many of the main tourist attractions can be found in the city centre. Traffic in the city has been reduced in recent years so Bruges is a great city for walking. Bikes are also available to rent for the whole day if you want to travel at a faster pace.