BRUGES: A Guide to the Most Popular Things to Do

Explore the enchanting city of Bruges, Belgium, and indulge in delectable treats. From moules-frites to the renowned beer wall, beer aficionados can find a delightful experience like no other. Enjoy delicious chocolates and waffles, purchase handmade lace and tapestries and explore historical landmarks such as Burg Square or Saint John’s Hospital.

Take a stroll or explore the beauty of the city on horseback. Enjoy a delightful canal cruise or explore the majestic Belfry Tower. Explore the breathtaking sight at Rozenhoedkaai or visit Historium Bruges for a memorable historical experience.

However you choose to spend your time in this city, you are sure to have an unforgettable time experiencing all the things to do in Bruges!

Canals in Bruges
Canals in Bruges

Short Summary

  • Explore Bruges’ vibrant Market Square and take a canal cruise to discover hidden gems.

  • Climb the Belfry of Bruges for an awe-inspiring experience, or visit Burg Square for stunning architecture and refreshments.

  • Enjoy local traditions such as handmade lace and tapestries, chocolate, waffles and beer.

  • Use your Bruges City Card to save more on your visit.

Explore the Market Square

Market Square in Bruges
Market Square in Bruges

Market Square is the vibrant heart of Bruges, with a long and storied history as a bustling marketplace. Surrounded by magnificent medieval buildings, delicious eateries, unique stores, and iconic structures, it’s a great starting point for exploring the city. The most awe-inspiring structures in Market Square are the magnificent medieval Belfry Tower & Cloth Hall and the stunning Provincial Palace, a Neo-Gothic building from the late 19th century. Additionally, visitors can explore the fascinating Historium Bruges and Huis Boechoute, the oldest house on the square with a flat roof. Market Square also plays host to the weekly market on Wednesday mornings and the magical Christmas market in winter.

When visiting Market Square, there are many enjoyable activities to choose from. Take a horse-drawn carriage tour for a truly unique and memorable experience, or savor some delicious frites, indulge in some tasty chocolate, take in the sights while people-watching, or even climb the Belfry Tower for a stunning view. For the most stunning view of the city, opt to visit the Belfry Tower when it first opens to beat the crowds. No matter what you choose to do, Market Square is sure to provide a memorable experience.

Take a Canal Cruise

A boat tour on the canals in Bruges
A boat tour on the canals in Bruges

Exploring Bruges by canal is a great way to experience the city and take in more of it than you ever could by walking. There are numerous boat tours in Bruges you can join. Adults pay only 12 EUR and there are discounts available for kids over 6 years old. Younger children may enter free of charge. The canal tours in Bruges are a delightful 30 minutes long, running from March to November, and offer a unique opportunity to explore the city’s history and discover hidden gems that you can’t access by land.

The boat tours are a great way to take in the picturesque canals of Bruges, which offer a perfect backdrop for your photos. The boat tour is also a great way to explore the city in a truly unique way, as you’ll see the many historic landmarks, such as the Belfry of Bruges and Burg Square, as well as the charming streets and alleys of Bruges.

The boat tour is an unforgettable experience that you won’t want to miss!

Visit Rozenhoedkaai

Photo take from the Rozenhoedkaai, which is popular with Instagrammers!
Photo take from the Rozenhoedkaai, which is popular with Instagrammers!

Rozenhoedkaai is an enchanting quay in Bruges where the Groenerei and Dijver canals come together, surrounded by beautiful gothic buildings and offering a truly breathtaking view. It’s an idyllic spot that you won’t want to miss! The most picturesque light for photography can be found at Rozenhoedkaai in the morning or at the golden hour of sunset.

The evening is the perfect time to enjoy the beauty of Rozenhoedkaai without the crowds. At Rozenhoedkaai, you can embark on a delightful boat ride to take in the stunning views of Bruges from the canals, and it’s the perfect place to begin your exploration of the city!

Near Rozenhoedkaai, you’ll find the charming Huidenvettersplein town square, full of delightful restaurants and shops. Plus, the nearby Fish Market (Vismarkt) is a must-see and sure to be a memorable experience.

Exploring Rozenhoedkaai and its surrounding attractions is a great way to get a feel of the city and learn more about its history and culture. So don’t forget to take your camera along and capture some beautiful memories!

Climb the Belfry of Bruges

bruges, belfry, belgium
The Belfry of Bruges

The Belfry of Bruges is an awe-inspiring medieval bell tower that stands tall with its 366 steps. It is an incredible landmark overflowing with history. It boasts a treasury room with wrought iron doors from 1300, a clockwork mechanism and even a carillon drum dating back to 1748.

The Belfry of Bruges is open all week during the high season, from 9 AM to 8 PM. In winter, it is only open on weekends. An amazing experience awaits those who ascend the Belfry of Bruges, as from the top you can marvel at the stunning panoramic views of the city.

Belfry of Bruges from Grote Markt
Belfry of Bruges from Grote Markt

The Belfry of Bruges can comfortably host up to 70 people, and is a remarkable symbol of the rich history of medieval architecture. Admission to the Belfry of Bruges is only €10-12 per person, providing a unique insight into the past.

If you prefer to take in the beauty of Bruges without the climb up the Belfry, a great way to do it is to find a spot with a great view.

Have a Historical Experience at Historium Bruges

The Historium Bruges offers an incredible and immersive journey into the ‘Golden Age’ of Bruges at the end of the 14th – beginning of the 15th century. With modern VR technology, special effects, and music, visitors can be transported back in time to medieval Bruges in a truly unique and unforgettable way.

Visitors to Historium Bruges can take a thrilling 1-hour journey through seven historically themed rooms, enjoy an 8-minute virtual reality experience, and ascend the tower that stands 114 feet high. The optimal ticket option is the Time Traveller Ticket, which offers an incredible Virtual Reality Experience.

Additionally, the Duvelorium is an amazing beer bar with stunning views of Market Square from the balcony – a must-see experience!

Visit Burg Square

bruges, market square, city
Burg Square in Bruges

The Burg Square is Bruges’ central plaza, filled with stunning and historic buildings like the City Hall, the Church of Our Lady, and the Palace of the Liberty of Bruges. It is the perfect place to explore medieval Bruges, as it is surrounded by impressive Gothic and Neo-classical architecture and a historic Town Hall that dates back to 1376.

Bruges City Hall
Bruges City Hall

Visitors to Burg Square shouldn’t miss out on the City Hall Museum, which showcases incredible artifacts from the city’s history as well as a ground-floor gallery of local art. To refuel after all the exploring, visitors can enjoy the delicious waffles at Chez Albert or indulge in the exquisite Belgian chocolate at Chocoladehuisje.

See the Basilica of the Holy Blood

A view of the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Belgium, with its UNESCO World Heritage Site status
A view of the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Belgium, with its UNESCO World Heritage Site status

The Basilica of the Holy Blood is an awe-inspiring Roman Catholic basilica located in Bruges, Belgium, and has been a part of the city’s landscape since the 12th century. The Basilica of the Holy Blood is composed of two awe-inspiring sections – the upper church, which boasts Neo-Gothic architecture and houses the revered relic of the holy blood, and the lower chapel, which has maintained its Romanesque features.

The relic is an awe-inspiring vial said to contain Christ’s blood, which was brought to the basilica from the holy land after the crusades in the 12th century. Visiting the Holy Blood Chapel and Treasury Room is also a great experience, offering visitors a chance to view the relic and other religious artifacts for a small fee of 2.5 EUR.

The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a must-see for those visiting Bruges and is a remarkable testament to medieval architecture, making it an important part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Stroll Blinde Ezelstraat

A view of Blinde Ezelstraat in Bruges, Belgium
A view of Blinde Ezelstraat in Bruges, Belgium

Blinde Ezelstraat is a stunningly picturesque narrow street located in the lovely city of Bruges. This medieval street is located just a few steps away from the bustling Market Square, and is a great place to explore the city’s history and culture. One legend suggests that it originated from an Inn called ‘in de Blinde Ezel’ located in the area. Apparently, the nearby market (now Vismarkt) used donkeys to power their mills and the donkeys were fitted with blinkers to prevent them from getting dizzy from all the turning. Hence, the name ‘the blind donkey’!

Blinde Ezelstraat is lined with quaint shops, food stalls, and a selection of unique restaurants and cafes. The winding streets offer a great opportunity to take a leisurely stroll and admire the scenic canals, old town, and charming cobblestone pavements.

Visiting Blinde Ezelstraat in the evening is the perfect way to appreciate the beauty of the area without the hustle and bustle of day tourists. This is a great opportunity to unwind after a day of exploring the city center and visiting the attractions like Jan Van Eyck Square and the De Halve Maan Brewery.

Cross the St. Boniface Bridge

Boniface Bridge Bruges
Boniface Bridge, Bruges

The St. Boniface Bridge is a romantic bridge that spans the Reie Canal, offering tourists beautiful views of the city. Constructed in 1910, it’s one of the youngest bridges in Bruges and is an iconic part of the city’s commitment to progress and development.

From the west side of the St. Boniface Bridge, visitors can admire the charming old buildings that line the canal. Plus, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Church of Our Lady and Gruuthusemuseum buildings. It’s truly a sight to behold!

The facade of the Gruuthuse Museum is also home to the smallest Gothic window in Europe, which is a must-see for any visitor to Bruges. Taking a stroll across the St. Boniface Bridge is a great way to explore the scenic canals and discover the beauty of Bruges.

Visit the Church of Our Lady

Church of our Lady, Bruges
Church of our Lady, Bruges

The Church of Our Lady is an awe-inspiring medieval church located in Bruges, Belgium. It is home to a wealth of incredible artworks and features, including crypts, tombs, paintings, and Michelangelo’s breathtaking marble Madonna sculpture. The brick tower of the church is also a remarkable sight, soaring to 115.5 meters high and is believed to be the second-tallest church tower in the world.

The Church of Our Lady is open daily from 9 AM to 5.30 PM and from 1.30 PM to 5.30 PM on Sundays, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Plus, admission to the church is free, so you can explore the beautiful architecture and artworks without any cost.

The most breathtaking view of the Church of Our Lady can be seen from the back when approaching it from the Bonifacius Bridge. This is a must-visit for anyone visiting Bruges and is sure to be a memorable experience.

Explore the Bruges Beguinage

Beguinage in Bruges
Beguinage in Bruges

The Bruges Beguinage is a remarkable place with a long and inspiring history. The city of Maastricht was founded in 1245. It was home to beguines – lay women who dedicated their lives to God and believed in living in the world. Today, the Bruges Beguinage exudes a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere, with white-washed houses encircling a stunning green space in the center. It continues to be a place of refuge and home for nuns and unmarried women, providing a safe and supportive environment. The Bruges Beguinage is open daily from 6.30 AM to 6.30 PM and is free to enter, offering a wonderful opportunity to explore this tranquil site.

The church in the Bruges Beguinage is a special and meaningful place. It is a tranquil and peaceful place, perfect for prayer and reflection. Here, religious services are held multiple times a day, and it is often filled with nuns. Visitors should be mindful of their voices and behaviour, ensuring a respectful experience. Exploring the Bruges Beguinage provides a unique insight into the history and culture of Belgium, making it one of the top Bruges attractions worth visiting.

Enjoy Minnewater

The serene lake in Minnewater Park in Bruges

The Minnewater is a serene lake in Bruges that radiates a sense of peace and tranquility. It is located in the picturesque park in downtown Bruges and can easily be accessed by taking a train to the station and then taking a leisurely stroll to the historic centre.

Along the lake, visitors can admire the majestic Kasteel Minnewater which has been transformed into a delightful restaurant, as well as the Powder Tower which marks the end of the lake and the beginning of the Minnewaterpark.

There are a variety of activities to do at Minnewater, such as taking a stroll over Lover’s Bridge for stunning river views or indulging in some delicious waffles. Exploring the west side of the lake is the perfect way to experience the beauty of Minnewater.

Take a Horse-drawn Carriage Ride

A horse-drawn carriage ride is the perfect way to experience the main landmarks and highlights of Bruges in a relaxed and enjoyable manner. Horse-drawn carriages can be found parked at the Market Square in Bruges, offering a unique opportunity to experience the city’s timeless charm. Experience the joy of a horse-drawn carriage tour in Bruges for an affordable price of around 60 EUR.

Alternatively, for those looking for a more adventurous way to explore Bruges, a highly-rated rickshaw tour with a local guide is a great alternative to a horse-drawn carriage ride. A rickshaw tour offers the opportunity to discover some of the city’s hidden gems, including its iconic windmills.

With a horse-drawn carriage ride or a rickshaw tour, visitors can explore the medieval streets, picturesque canals, and scenic canals of Bruges in style. Whether a horse-drawn carriage tour, a boat ride, or a canal boat tour, Bruges has something for everyone.

Admire Art at the Groeninge Museum

The Groeninge Museum is a vibrant and captivating art museum in Bruges that simply can’t be missed! Located in the heart of the city, this museum is a treasure trove of Flemish masterpieces from over six centuries, featuring works by renowned artists such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.

Take a look at the “Madonna with Canon Joris Van der Paele”, a beautiful painting created by Jan van Eyck. Don’t miss out on the incredible “Moreel Triptych” from Hans Memling too!

The Groeninge Museum is open every day of the week, except Mondays, from 9.30 AM to 5 PM – a perfect opportunity to discover the museum’s amazing collection!

Visit Saint John’s Hospital

A view of Saint John's Hospital in Bruges, Belgium

Saint John’s Hospital is one of the oldest hospitals in Europe, having been established in the 12th century. Visitors to this remarkable healthcare institution can marvel at the medieval wards, the beautiful church, the tranquil chapel, the historic pharmacy, and the awe-inspiring Diksmuide attic with its impressive roof support structures.

The museum is also home to an awe-inspiring selection of works from Hans Memling, which is sure to delight any art enthusiast. It is open every day of the week except Mondays, from 9.30 AM to 5 PM!

See the Windmills

You’ll be delighted to know that there are four beautiful traditional windmills in Bruges, located along the canal at Park Kruisvest. The most venerable windmill in Bruges is the Sint-Janshuismolen (Sint-Janshuis mill), which was constructed in 1770. It is the only one of the four mills still standing in its original spot and can be visited inside, offering a unique opportunity to explore its history and charm.

Explorers to Bruges can also marvel at the Koeleweimill (Coelewey mill), De Nieuwe Papegaai (the New Parrot), and Bonne Chiere windmill, all of which are sure to take your breath away! The windmills are just a short 15-20 minute walk away from the Markt, making it a great spot for exploration.

You can make the most of your visit by taking a rickshaw tour, e-scooter tour, or bike ride to really take in the sights. From medieval buildings to scenic canals, boat tours, and vibrant cobblestone streets, there is always something new to discover.

A visit to the windmills of Bruges is well worth the visit and you won’t regret it.

Buy Handmade Lace & Tapestries

A shop window with handmade lace in Bruges, Belgium

In addition to the delicious chocolate, waffles, and beer, Bruges is also known for its handmade lace and tapestries. These exquisite pieces of art are a testament to the centuries-old tradition of lace-making in the area. To ensure you’re getting genuine lace in Bruges, seek out shops that specialize in handmade lace and inquire with the shopkeeper about the lace’s provenance and how it was made. When shopping for handmade lace in Brussels, be sure to look for exquisite designs and top-notch materials for the best results.

The Lace Center in Brussels is a delightful museum and shop that celebrates the incredible artistry of handmade lace and its fascinating history. At the Lace Center in Bruges, you can discover the fascinating history and production of handmade lace, witness demonstrations of the craft, and purchase authentic lace pieces. It’s a truly unique and enriching experience!

Shopping for handmade lace and tapestries in Bruges is an opportunity to support local artisans and contribute to the preservation of the centuries-old tradition of lace-making in the area. It’s a wonderful way to show your appreciation for the craftsmanship and skill of these talented artisans.

Indulge in Chocolate, Waffles & Beer

Chocolates in Bruges
Chocolates in Bruges

Absolutely Bruges offers a variety of thrilling local tours and workshops for beer, chocolate, and waffles (and whipped cream, of course!). From the Choco Story Chocolate Museum, where visitors can learn about the history of chocolate and even have a tasting session, to the Bruges in Choc’ festival with its creative chocolate bars and seminars on chocolate pairings, there’s something for everyone with a sweet tooth.

To experience the most exquisite chocolate, visit The Old Chocolate House, and for the most delicious Belgian waffles, head to Chez Albert. Beer fans can’t miss De Halve Maan Brewery and beer wall at 2be. For modules-frites, a scrumptious pairing of mussels and fries, visit @Tattie’s.

Beer Wall at 2Be
Beer Wall at 2Be

For beer lovers, the Bruges Beer Festival brings together 80 of the world’s best breweries for a weekend of fun and celebration each spring or summer. You can sample some of the finest beers around and enjoy the food truck options featuring both local and international flavors. There are also plenty of stores offering a wide selection of delicious treats throughout the city center, and you can find the renowned beer wall at 2Be.

Beer Experience and museum in Bruges
Beer Experience and Museum in Bruges

There is also a fantastic Beer Museum called the Bruges Beer Experience which is both fun, interactive and educational. Good combo, right?

The museum provides information about the raw ingredients of beer, the brewing process, food pairing, and the importance of beer in Bruges (not that it is more important than anywhere else in Belgium!). And it is conveniently located right around the corner from the Belfry, so you can easily find it. Just be careful driving afterward, as you get to taste three beers while you are in there!


Bruges truly is a magically charming destination to explore, with its cobblestone streets lined with stories of centuries past. Visiting Bruges provides visitors with an unforgettable journey of exploring the city’s historical sites, captivating attractions, tranquil scenery and idyllic atmosphere. With enchanting canals, captivating monuments, awe-inspiring cathedrals, and an abundance of activities like canal cruises, horse-drawn carriage rides and food sampling experiences, exploring Bruges truly becomes an unparalleled experience.

The medieval architecture and ancient monuments of this idyllic city, combined with its many opportunities for adventure, culture and exploration, make it an ideal destination for anyone looking for a unique and enjoyable trip. Whether travelling solo or with family, there’s something for every traveller in Bruges.

Take a journey to the magical city of Bruges; immerse yourself in its world-renowned atmosphere, indulge in delectable cuisine, admire the intricate artwork, explore the stunning churches and merciful monasteries and embark upon a memorable adventure full of sights and sounds which will last a lifetime. You won’t regret it!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Bruges best known for?

Bruges is renowned for its incredibly well-preserved medieval centre, with its famous cobbled streets and stunning canals. As a result, it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site, allowing visitors to explore the beauty of this historic city.

Bruges is an ideal destination for travellers, who can take their time discovering all the city has to offer.

How many days do you need in Bruges?

It’s best to spend at least two days in Bruges if you want to see everything. One day is not enough to truly experience its romantic canals, cobblestoned streets, and medieval architecture. With more time on your hands, you will be able to make the most of your stay and experience all the activities and attractions packed into this small city.

Is Brussels or Bruges nicer?

Visitors to Belgium are often divided between visiting Brussels and Bruges; both offer unique attractions and experiences. People seeking a big city atmosphere and a range of activities will find themselves drawn more towards Brussels, however, those after a more intimate and tranquil setting will be won over by Bruges.

Each city has its own charms that make them an interesting destination, so it ultimately comes down to preference.

What is Bruges best known for?

Bruges is a picturesque town known for its pristine canals, cobblestone streets, and UNESCO-recognized city center. It’s an enchanting destination that provides a glimpse into Belgium’s rich medieval history and an unforgettable experience.

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