This beautiful city in Belgium has so much on offer. So, here’s my favourite 11 best things to do in Bruges.
1. Choco Story Chocolate Museum
Located in the centre of the city, Choco Story Chocolate Museum has to be high on the list of things to do in Bruges. Especially if you’re a chocoholic – Belgian chocolate is some of the best in the world!
The museum takes you back to when the Aztec civilisations first drank a spicy cocoa drink. Followed by the evolution of chocolate over the centuries, right up to the amazing choices and flavours we have now.
Even if you’re not a chocolate lover there’s an interesting collection of chocolate artifacts, including moulds and vintage chocolate boxes. As well as a chocolate making demo and taster session!
The sights, smells and flavours in this unique museum definitely stimulate your senses and you can’t help but become immersed in the fascinating history of chocolate.
The museum is open every day from 10am to 5pm. (Last entry 4pm) Entrance fee is €11 per adult, children (2-11 years) €6.50.
This is a popular tourist attraction so I recommend Choco-Story Chocolate Museum Tour to get your tickets in advance. (This seems to work out cheaper too.)
2. Bruges City Hall
The historical Bruges City Hall is located on Burg Square in the centre of the city. Bruges has been governed from here for over 600 years.
Built between 1376 and 1421, it was one of the first grand town halls in the Low Countries and is said to be Belgium’s oldest buildings.
This stunning Gothic style property has to be one of Bruges most beautiful buildings and a must-see of things to do in Bruges.
The town hall’s front facade features Gothic windows and weapons of the cities and villages that were under Bruges’ administrative rule.
However, it’s best known for its ornate Gothic hall which is accessed via a large staircase in the entrance hall. Here you will find beautiful detailed murals that illustrate events from Bruges history.
Open every day from 9.30am to 5pm. Entrance fee is 13-25 years €6 and 26+ €7.(Under 13s free)
For a fun way to see Bruges, a Guided Rickshaw Tour will take you to some of the best spots including City Hall.
3. Belfry Of Bruges
This stunning, Medieval bell tower stands proudly on the market square in the centre of Bruges. One of the city’s most prominent symbols it stands 83m high and is protected as a World Heritage Site.
In the past, the bells of the tower rang out to tell the city dwellers the time, as well announcing different special events and also sounded as a fire alarm for the city.
Today there are 47 bells that ring every 15 minutes and together weigh about 27 tonnes. They are amazing to hear, especially if you happen to be at the top for one of the ‘on the hour’ chimes!
It’s possible to climb to the top of the tower, up a narrow staircase of about 366 steps. It maybe a little challenging but you are rewarded with spectacular, panoramic views across the city once you get there.
There are several exhibition rooms on the way up, where you can step out of the stairwell and learn about the history of the Belfry. As well as take a breath!
The belfry is open every day from 9am – 6pm (Saturday 9am -8pm). Entrance fee is €14 per adult, 6 to 25 years €12, under 6 free.
For an inexpensive and fun way to learn about the history of Bruges I would recommend the Bruges: City Sightseeing Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour.
4. Take A Canal Cruise
A canal cruise is a ‘must’ of things to do in Bruges as there is nothing like viewing this beautiful historic city from its waterways.
These canals were an important part of the City’s success and travelling along them offers an insight into the history of Bruges.
There are five different jetties around the City where you can jump one of these 30 minute boat rides. All the tour companies follow the same route.
So hop aboard, relax and enjoy the sights as you glide smoothly along the water. In addition, there is a commentary that points out places of importance.
For a guided canal trip combined with a walking tour of Bruges the Boat Cruise and Guided Walking Tour will make sure you don’t miss anything of interest in the City.
5. Shop The Markets
Traditional markets are a massive part of the Flemish heritage and with plenty to choose from this a must of things to do in Bruges. Here are some of the markets on offer.
Every Saturday you will find a large, bustling market taking place in Zand Square. Selling everything you can think of and with cafes and restaurants around its perimeter, its a great spot to shop.
If you are a fish lover, then you will love the Vismarkt (fish market) in the Magdalena Quarter. Open Tuesday to Saturday, it offers THE freshest seafood and becomes an open-air tapas bar with fish-based snacks and live concerts every Friday evening!
For some great local produce, the Sunday morning market on Veemarkt Square is perfect. With over 80 stalls selling local cheeses, homemade jams, Bruges Sausages and lots of other delicacies this is foodie heaven.
If you are looking for a souvenir or something a little different, the Dijver Folklore Market in the Old Town runs every Saturday and Sunday. Goods sold here are either a handmade recognised art form/craft or have to be over 50 years old.
Finally, Wednesday mornings on the Square in front of the beautiful Bruges Belfry, a flower and food market takes place. With the delicious food aromas and rows of colourful flowers, this market gives you a sensory overload of the best kind!
6. Enjoy A Waffle
You can’t visit Belgium without trying their famous waffles and for me this was one of the best things to do in Bruges!
Although Bruges is a relatively small city you will still find plenty of waffle shops tempting you in to try this local delicacy.
Belgian waffles are usually thicker than American ones and have extra deep pockets. All the better for filling with whatever delicious topping you choose!
Locals traditionally eat their waffles with a little butter and sugar and maybe some fruit. However, a swirl of whipped cream and sprinkle of sliced strawberries is a popular topping with tourists.
Some of the favoured waffle shops in Bruges are Chez Albert, House of Waffles, Fred’s and Lizzie’s Wafels.
If you really enjoy your waffles and fancy having a go at making them yourself, Bruges: 1.5-Hour Waffle Workshop is a fun activity.
7. Stroll The Gift Shops
If you’re looking for souvenirs or gifts, then you’ll find lots of choice in this city. Easy to explore on foot, the main shopping streets run between the main square and the old city gates.
To start with, there are numerous chocolatiers throughout the city offering their world renowned chocolate. As well as more than 80 lace shops selling the famous beautiful Bruges lace.
In addition, you will find many shops selling local crafts like Quartier Nicole. This quirky little shop promotes traditional Flemish crafts and you’re sure to find something a little different here.
In the Old Town you have the working brewery De Halve Maan where you can purchase bottles of local beer. A great gift for your beer drinking friends.
There are also plenty of individual, hip, little boutiques and cosy coffee shops to stop at. So I can recommend strolling the gift shops as an enjoyable activity in the city of Bruges.
8. Take A Horse And Cart Ride
Taking a horse and carriage ride through the cobblestoned streets, over the ancient bridges and along the canals is a perfect way to see Bruges. Although not cheap it has to be up there on the list of things to do in Bruges.
The carriages leave from the main Market Square, (Wednesdays they are at Burg Square) where you will see them lined up like taxis. Just hop on an available one and pay the driver direct.
Costing approximately €60 per carriage and seating up to 5 people, it’s obviously cheaper the more of you that share a ride. Also, be aware that the drivers usually expect a tip at the end.
The trip lasts for about half and hour and the driver will give you information about the places you pass as you sit back, relax and enjoy.
We were assured that the horses well-being is of utmost importance and we did stop to give the horses a drink and a rest during the ride. Furthermore, the carriage rides do not take place during high temperatures in the summer.
If you fancy a guided tour that includes a carriage ride, the Private Walking and Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour is a good option.
9. Hop On A City Tour Bus
Not quite as romantic as a horse and carriage ride, but still a great way to see the city. City tour buses will take you on a 50 minute tour around all main highlights of bruges. As well as some of the lesser known hidden gems.
You can’t miss these plush, brightly coloured mini buses that can be found on the main Market Square.
Just hop on and purchase your tickets, which cost approximately €20 per adult, and enjoy the ride.
The roof of the bus folds right back so you can still enjoy the sunshine during the warmer weather. Each passenger also receives a headset for a commentary (in 16 different languages) as you drive through the the city.
This is a great way to see the city, especially if you are short on time.
10. Lovers Bridge
Located in Minnewater Park in the south of the city, Lovers Bridge offers stunning views over Lake Minnewater, also known as the Lake of Love.
Legend has it that if you cross this bridge with your beloved, you will enjoy eternal love with them.
Hence, it’s usually quite busy with people trying to get the perfect romantic selfie as they cross the bridge with their partner.
This beautiful and romantic area is certainly worth seeing, especially if you can get there early or later in the day and beat the crowds.
For a fun way to see the city, including Lover’s Bridge, Bruges: E-Bike Rental and Trip Tips is highly recommended.
Whilst visiting Lover’s Bridge, don’t miss nearby Minnewater, a small rectangular lake that also has a romantic story.
Local legend tells the tragic love story of Minna and Stromberg, often called the Romeo and Juliet of Bruges. Minna is said to have died in the arms of her lover Stromberg at the edge of Minnewater lake.
From this legend arose the belief that eternal love will befall any couples passing over the Minnewater bridge together.
You can also enjoy the beautiful surroundings, cross the Minnewater Bridge or explore the adjacent, peaceful Minnewater park.
So even if you are not a romantic, this a beautiful spot to visit away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Where To Stay In Bruges
A bed and breakfast nestled in the centre of Bruges, The Notary features private parking, free WiFi, an infinity pool and garden.
The property is practically located near Basilica of the Holy Blood and Bruges Concert Hall. Featuring luggage storage space, this property also provides guests with a sun terrace. The bed and breakfast has parking on-site, a hot tub and a lift.
The units at the bed and breakfast come with a seating area, a flat-screen TV with streaming services, a safety deposit box and a private bathroom with a shower, bathrobes and slippers.
A minibar is also available, as well as a coffee machine and a kettle.
Centrally situated along a tranquil canal, close to the major tourist attractions of the area, the hotel is ideal for a sightseeing stay in Brugge.
The spacious rooms offer all modern comforts to ensure that your stay is relaxing and memorable. In the mornings you can enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast in the Orangerie, overlooking the rose garden.
The bar is the ideal place to relax and sample different kind of Belgian beers after a long day of exploring on foot, or on bikes, available to hire from reception.
The hotel offers access to the internet so you can keep in contact with family, friends and colleagues.
900 yards from the Market Square in Bruges, Snuffel Youth Hostel is located in a modern-style building with an interior garden and terrace. Free WiFi access is available. The hostel has a bar, where guests can try various types of Belgian beer.
Snuffel Youth Hostel offers rooms and a shared living area. Guests can also use the facilities in the shared kitchen.
The hostel has a multipurpose room where monthly activities take place.
A luggage storage is also available in this hostel. If you want to explore the city by bike, you can rent them from here.
For more places to stay in Bruges, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.