12 Best Things to Do in Bruges, Belgium: Top Attractions to Visit

by Emil Backup
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Are you looking to visit Bruges in the near future? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Bruges. These timeless sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for a memorable vacation experience.

Amidst Europe’s treasures, the charming city of Bruges unfolds like a medieval fairy tale. It beckons travelers with its cobblestone streets, picturesque canals, and splendid architecture. This enchanting city, often overshadowed by the vibrant energy of Brussels and Antwerp, is a sanctuary of tranquility and timeless beauty, whispering tales of history and romance. With a wealth of things to do in Bruges, your journey here promises to be an unforgettable adventure amidst this idyllic setting.

Bruges is a mosaic of experiences, from the Basilica of the Holy Blood to the Torture Museum. It offers a journey through time and culture for every traveler. Whether you are a history buff, a culinary explorer, or a wandering soul seeking beauty, Bruges has a myriad of treasures to discover.

Sail through the city’s serene canals and marvel at the gothic splendor that defines Bruges. Or, ascend the iconic Belfry Tower for a breathtaking panorama of this medieval masterpiece. Afterwards, taste the diversity of Belgian beers at 2be Beer Wall.

And for the sweet-toothed wanderer, Chocolatier Dumon is a realm of decadent delights, crafting the finest Belgian chocolates. Whether it’s the romantic whispers of The Lovers’ Bridge and Lake of Love or the festive sparkle of Bruges Markt during the holiday season, Bruges promises to captivate your heart and ignite your wanderlust. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Bruges, Belgium.

The best things to do in Bruges Belgium right now.
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Best Places to Visit in Bruges, Belgium

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Bruges? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this enchanting vacation spot in Belgium. So keep reading to discover all these unique Bruges places to visit.

Are you looking to immerse yourself in a tapestry of cultural experiences, from savoring exquisite Belgian chocolates to exploring centuries-old museums and art galleries? Or would you prefer leisurely walks and boat tours along the city’s charming canals? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Bruges can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Bruges that you should know about.

1. Belfry of Bruges

In the heart of the city, the Belfry of Bruges stands as a symbol of heritage and medieval craftsmanship. It offers a glimpse into the city’s illustrious past. Climbing the 366 steps of this iconic tower is one of the coolest activities in Bruges. This rewards visitors with panoramic views of the city’s red rooftops and charming landscapes. The carillon within, consisting of 47 melodious bells, adds a musical charm to the experience. It echoes the rhythms of history through the city streets.

The Belfry not only serves as a beacon of Bruges’ historical richness but also as a testament to the architectural prowess of the medieval era. It’s a place where every brick seems to whisper tales of yore, and the view from the top is like a canvas painted with the city’s vibrant hues and intricate patterns. For those seeking to delve deeper into the city’s essence, the Belfry is a gateway to the soul of this medieval jewel.

Exploring the enchanting Belfry of Bruges is one of the best things to do in Bruges, Belgium.
Exploring the enchanting Belfry of Bruges is one of the best things to do in Bruges, Belgium.

2. Markt Square

Markt Square is the vibrant heart of Bruges, a place pulsating with life and echoing the laughter and chatter of locals and tourists alike. A visit to the square is one of the best things to do in Bruges to feel the city’s pulse and to immerse oneself in its lively atmosphere. Surrounded by colorful buildings and historic structures, the square is a kaleidoscope of cultures, flavors, and experiences.

Here, horse-drawn carriages clatter on the cobblestones, and the aroma of delicious Belgian waffles wafts through the air. This invites all to indulge in the city’s culinary delights. The square is not just a hub of activity but also a canvas depicting Bruges’ rich history and architectural elegance. The statues, the Provincial Court, and other landmarks around the square narrate tales of the city’s glorious past and its vibrant present.

For anyone keen on experiencing the essence of Bruges, roaming the enchanting Markt Square is a delightful journey through the city’s soul. It offers a blend of cultural richness and modern vibrancy.  

Immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of Markt Square, one of the best things to do in Bruges, Belgium.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of Markt Square, one of the best things to do in Bruges, Belgium.

3. Burg Square

Burg Square is a treasure trove of Bruges attractions, each more enchanting than the last. It’s a place where every cobblestone and every façade seems to whisper secrets of bygone eras. For those seeking the best places in Bruges, Burg Square offers a rich tapestry of history, architecture, and cultural allure.

The square is home to the stunning Basilica of the Holy Blood, where a revered relic is gracefully housed. It’s a place of serene spirituality and breathtaking beauty, where visitors can reflect and marvel at the intricate details of the architecture. Nearby, the Old Civil Registry flaunts its Renaissance elegance, a testament to the artistic brilliance of the period.

Thinking of where to go in Bruges for a multifaceted experience? Whether it’s the allure of historical richness or the beauty of architectural masterpieces, Burg Square provides all these experiences. It makes it a must-visit locale in the enchanting city of Bruges. This is a place where the past and present coalesce. It offers a timeless charm to all who wander its historic grounds.

Experience the historic charm of Burg Square, Bruges. | Photo credits: visitbruges.be

4. Church of Our Lady

In the heart of Bruges, the Church of Our Lady stands as a beacon of architectural splendor and historical richness. Witnessing the church is not just among the unique things to do in Bruges. It’s a journey through time, where every stone and every artifact has a tale to tell.

The church houses the extraordinary sculpture “Madonna and Child,” created by the renowned artist Michelangelo. This masterpiece draws admirers from around the globe, eager to witness the delicate beauty and profound emotion captured in marble.

Beyond its artistic treasures, the church is an architectural gem, showcasing the elegance of Gothic design. Its towering spire reaches to the heavens, a symbol of the city’s spiritual and cultural heritage.

The Church of Our Lady is more than just a sight. It’s an experience, a moment of connection with the sublime beauty and profound history of this enchanting city.

Marvel at the architectural splendor of the Church of Our Lady, a gem in Bruges.

5. Groeningemuseum

Groeningemuseum is a treasure trove for art lovers and is undoubtedly one of the cool destinations in Bruges to immerse oneself in the rich tapestry of Flemish art. This museum is a gateway to the artistic heritage of the region, showcasing a diverse collection that spans several centuries.

From the vibrant works of the Flemish Primitives to the bold expressions of contemporary artists, every piece in this museum invites viewers to explore the depths of human creativity and the evolution of artistic expression. It’s a place where the brush strokes of the masters whisper the secrets of bygone eras.

Visitors often find themselves lost in the intricate details and vivid colors of the artworks, each telling a unique story of its time. It’s a fun thing to do in Bruges that you should definitely try. It’s a sanctuary for the soul, a place where art and history intertwine, offering a glimpse into the cultural soul of this medieval city.

Dive into art history at the Groeningemuseum, Bruges.
Dive into art history at the Groeningemuseum, Bruges.

6. St. John’s Hospital

St. John’s Hospital, one of the oldest surviving hospital buildings in Europe, offers a fascinating journey through the medical practices of the past. This historic site is more than just a relic. It’s a testament to the enduring human spirit and the advancements in medical science.

Seeking Bruges things to do that are out of the ordinary? Exploring the ancient wards and apothecary of this hospital provides a rare glimpse into the lives of the patients and the medical staff who once walked its halls. The old medical instruments and artistic representations of surgeries paint a vivid picture of healthcare during the medieval times.

The hospital is also home to a collection of Hans Memling’s paintings, adding an artistic flair to the historical exploration. It’s not merely a destination. It’s a journey through time, a place where every corner holds a story, waiting to be discovered.

Explore the centuries-old St. John's Hospital, a testament to Bruges' rich history.
Explore the centuries-old St. John’s Hospital, a testament to Bruges’ rich history.

7. Basilica of the Holy Blood

In the heart of Bruges lies the Basilica of the Holy Blood, a place shrouded in mystery and reverence. This dual-chapel structure, with its lower chapel exhibiting a Romanesque style and the upper chapel flaunting a Gothic Revival style, is a must-see in Bruges for anyone with a penchant for architectural beauty and historical significance.

Curious about where to visit in Bruges for a spiritual experience like no other? The Basilica of the Holy Blood is your dream destination. The basilica is renowned for housing a revered relic believed to be the blood of Christ. Visitors from around the world flock here to witness this sacred artifact, and on certain days, you even have the opportunity to venerate it.

This isn’t just a visit. It’s an experience, a chance to connect with the spiritual essence of the city and to reflect on the profound mysteries of faith. The intricate details of the interior, coupled with the solemn atmosphere, make it a unique and unforgettable part of your journey through Bruges.

Divine serenity at the Basilica of the Holy Blood.
Divine serenity at the Basilica of the Holy Blood.

8. Choco-Story Museum

For those with a sweet tooth and a curiosity for the origins of one of the world’s favorite treats, the Choco-Story Museum is one of the coolest things to do in Bruges. It’s not just a museum. It’s a journey through the delicious world of chocolate, from its ancient beginnings to its current global love affair.

Visitors are welcomed into a realm where the rich aroma of cocoa envelops the senses, and the intricate process of chocolate making is unveiled. It’s a place where the history of chocolate is intertwined with interactive exhibits and tantalizing tastings.

This museum is a celebration of chocolate in all its forms. It offers a deeper appreciation for this beloved confectionery. Whether you’re a chocolate connoisseur or simply a lover of sweet indulgences, the Choco-Story Museum promises a delightful and enlightening experience. This makes it a highlight of your Bruges adventure.

Journey into the deliciously decadent world of chocolate at the Choco-Story Museum, where history, culture, and indulgence collide.
Journey into the deliciously decadent world of chocolate at the Choco-Story Museum, where history, culture, and indulgence collide.

9. Minnewater Park

Minnewater Park is a serene escape, a place where the natural beauty of Bruges shines in all its glory, making it one of the best places to go in Bruges. The tranquil lake, known as the ‘Lake of Love’, is the centerpiece of this picturesque park, surrounded by lush greenery and charming walking paths.

Here, every step brings a new discovery, from the graceful swans gliding on the lake to the historic Minnewater Bridge arching over the water. It’s a place to slow down, to breathe in the fresh air and to soak in the peaceful ambiance.

The legends and love stories associated with Minnewater Park add a layer of mystique to this scenic locale, inviting visitors to imagine the tales of yore as they stroll through the park. Whether you’re seeking solitude, romance, or simply a beautiful place to unwind, Minnewater Park is a must-visit spot in Bruges. It offers a refreshing contrast to the bustling city life. Is visiting this park among the top things to do in Bruges, Belgium? 100%!

Exploring the serene beauty of Minnewater Park, where nature's tranquility meets Bruges' historic charm.
Exploring the serene beauty of Minnewater Park, where nature’s tranquility meets Bruges’ historic charm.

10. Beguinage

If you’re seeking a peaceful retreat, the Beguinage offers a serene sanctuary, a hidden gem among the many unique places in Bruges. This historic complex, with its whitewashed houses and calming courtyard, transports visitors to a bygone era, where simplicity and tranquility reigned.

The Beguinage was once home to beguines, lay religious women who lived in a community without taking monastic vows. Today, it serves as a monastery for Benedictine nuns, maintaining its spiritual ambiance and inviting reflection.

Visitors are welcomed to stroll through the serene grounds, to sit in quiet contemplation by the calming pond, and to explore the small, yet informative museum, learning about the beguines’ exceptional way of life. The timeless charm of the Beguinage makes a visit to this place among the best things to do in Bruges, a place where the hustle and bustle of the modern world seem to fade away, leaving only peace and serenity in its wake.

A tranquil retreat into history at the Beguinage, a testament to the spiritual lives of the Beguines.
A tranquil retreat into history at the Beguinage, a testament to the spiritual lives of the Beguines.

11. De Halve Maan Brewery

When considering what to do in Bruges, a visit to De Halve Maan Brewery is a must for those keen to explore the city’s rich beer culture. Located in the heart of Bruges, this historic brewery has been crafting exquisite beers since 1856 and stands as a testament to the city’s brewing heritage.

De Halve Maan Brewery is not just a place to savor exceptional brews. It’s a journey through the evolution of beer-making in Bruges. Visitors can witness the traditional brewing methods intertwined with modern techniques, all while nestled in a building steeped in history and charm.

The brewery offers a fascinating insight into the meticulous crafting process, from selecting quality ingredients to the final bottling. Each tour concludes with a tasting session where visitors can relish the distinct flavors of Bruges. This includes the renowned Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik.

Exploring De Halve Maan Brewery is more than just a sensory delight. It’s a walk through the pages of Bruges’ brewing history. This makes it one of Bruges places to visit for beer aficionados and history buffs alike.

Immerse in the rich tradition of Belgian brewing at De Halve Maan Brewery, where every sip tells a story.
Immerse in the rich tradition of Belgian brewing at De Halve Maan Brewery, where every sip tells a story.

12. St. Salvator’s Cathedral 

In the picturesque city of Bruges, the St. Salvator’s Cathedral stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and architectural prowess. This cathedral, a beacon of Bruges attractions, is not just a place of worship but a repository of art and history, with its impressive collection of Flemish paintings and intricate tapestries.

The cathedral’s towering spire pierces the sky, serving as a landmark for those navigating the city’s charming cobblestone streets. Inside, the harmonious blend of various architectural styles speaks volumes about the city’s evolution through the centuries. It’s a place where every stone, every painting has a story to tell.

Visitors seeking unique things to do in Bruges will find solace in the cathedral’s serene ambiance, enriched by the soft melodies of the organ, echoing through the ancient walls. It’s not just a visit; it’s an experience, a journey through time and art.

St. Salvator’s Cathedral offers a glimpse into the city’s soul and a taste of its enduring charm.

St. Salvator's Cathedral stands tall as a beacon of timeless architectural grandeur and spiritual resilience
St. Salvator’s Cathedral stands tall as a beacon of timeless architectural grandeur and spiritual resilience. | Photo credits: visitbruges.be

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Bruges

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Bruges? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Bruges:

Is Bruges worth visiting?

Yes, Bruges, Belgium, is definitely worth visiting. Known for its picturesque canals, historic architecture, and charming cobbled streets, it’s often called the “Venice of the North.” Bruges offers a unique blend of medieval charm, world-class chocolate, and Belgian beer. This makes it a delightful and romantic European destination.

What is Bruges famous for?

Yes, Bruges, Belgium, is definitely worth visiting. Known for its picturesque canals, historic architecture, and charming cobbled streets, it’s often called the “Venice of the North.” Bruges offers a unique blend of medieval charm, world-class chocolate, and Belgian beer. This makes it a delightful and romantic European destination.

How many days do you need to explore Bruges?

To explore the main attractions and savor the charm of Bruges, 2 to 3 days are typically enough. This allows you to visit historic sites like the Belfry, explore the canal network, enjoy Belgian cuisine, and even take a day trip to nearby destinations like Ghent or Brussels if desired.

Is Bruges expensive to visit?

Bruges can be relatively expensive, particularly during the peak tourist season. Accommodation, dining, and some attractions may come at premium prices. However, you can find budget-friendly options, especially if you plan ahead, eat at local eateries, and consider visiting during the shoulder seasons for a more affordable experience.

Is it better to go to Brussels or Bruges?

Choosing between Brussels and Bruges depends on your preferences. Brussels, the bustling capital, offers diverse attractions, vibrant nightlife, and extensive culinary options. In contrast, Bruges enchants with its medieval charm, serene canals, and quaint cobblestone streets. For a tranquil, picturesque experience, choose Bruges; for dynamic city life and varied experiences, Brussels is the go-to.

What is the best time to visit Bruges?

The best time to visit Bruges is late spring to early fall, specifically from May to September, when the weather is pleasantly warm, and the city is vibrant with blooming flowers. This period sees more tourists, so for fewer crowds and cooler temperatures, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of April or October.

Closing Thoughts on Exploring Bruges

Bruges, with its cobblestone streets, whimsical canals, and medieval charm, is a city that seems to have leapt out of the pages of a fairy tale. Every corner of this enchanting city whispers tales of its rich history and invites visitors to step back in time. Whether it’s the allure of the historic Belfry, the tranquility of Minnewater Park, or the decadence of Belgian chocolates, Bruges offers a myriad of experiences waiting to be discovered.

For those yearning to explore unique places in Bruges, the city is a treasure trove of hidden gems and iconic landmarks, each with its own story to tell. The myriad of activities and sights make Bruges a must-see destination, promising a journey filled with wonder, discovery, and indulgence.

Embark on your own Bruges adventure and uncover the myriad of secrets this magical city holds. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, or simply a wanderer at heart, Bruges beckons with open arms, ready to enchant you with its timeless beauty and charm.

Best things to do in Bruges Belgium for all types of travelers.
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