Recently my sister has spent a weekend in Bruges, Belgium. This city is one of those places that grabs you and will be in your hearth forever. From stunning buildings from the Middle Ages to impressive churches, museums and lots of delicious restaurants. This city has it all!
It’s the ultimate weekend getaway if you are from the Netherlands, Germany or France! Even if you can only do Bruges in one day, you’ll get plenty done in this compact UNESCO-heritage listed city center.
In this guide, I will show my must-see recommendations, but also my things to see, what to eat, and some recommended hotels. Here’s all you can get up to when you have a weekend in Bruges, Belgium!
About Bruges Belgium
Apart from knowing what to do and what to see in Bruges, it’s also useful to know some of the basics of the country. What money do they use, how expensive is it to visit and what are the best times to visit?
Money and Prices
The currency in the Bruges is Euro. In a country like Belgium where the standard of living is high, vacationing is not cheap. This is especially true in a small town like Bruges, which depends on tourism. But this doesn’t mean the trip has to be expensive.
Double rooms in Bruges go for as little as $31, but the average price is $292. 3-star hotels are available from $107 and 4-star hotels from $147. (of course, prices vary)
Eating out in Bruges is the most expensive part of the trip. Meal prices range from 15 to 20 euros, more if you eat in the city center. There are, however, some local establishments that have good dishes for the budget traveler willing to walk away from the square.
Most Belgians people are bilingual (Flemish and French) and also speak English very well (Some smaller towns in the countryside maybe not as good, but you should be able to have a basic conversation). It is however considered very polite to know a few words in the local language, no matter where you are in the world. So here are a few simple words that you can be useful for you.
- Hello/hi | Hallo/hoi
- Thank you | Dank je wel
- Bye | Dag/Doei
- Sorry | Sorry (same, but good to know)
- Good morning | Goede morgen
- Cheers | Proost
- Bon appétit | Eet smakelijk
Best times to visit Bruges
Whether you are planning to visit in summer or winter, the country has its charms all year-round.
In my personal opinion, the best time to visit Bruges is from June to August, when the weather is mild, and the trees are green. On average the weather year-round is characterized as chilly and damp – summer temps usually don’t climb higher than the 70s.
Spring and fall are considered shoulder seasons that see fewer tourists and cooler temperatures, with average highs hovering in the 50s.
In the winter, temperatures drop but don’t reach freezing, and the city offers a variety of holiday events, including its famous Christmas markets.
LANGUAGE | The official language in Bruges is Flemish, which is almost the same language as Dutch. When we are in Belgium, we tend to think that in this country everyone speaks French, and if somebody doesn’t, we think that it is because of the famous rivalry between Flemish and French-speaking people.
TIME ZONE | GMT/UTC +1
ELECTRICITY | Type C two-prong plug. Electrical power in the Netherlands and in most of Western Europe runs on a cycle of 50hz, and a voltage of 230 Volt, alternating current.
CURRENCY | Euro (€).
TIPPING | Like in most of Europe, tipping isn’t generally expected. However, it’s polite to leave extra change or round up.
WEATHER | Keep an eye on the weather report, as mother nature can be finicky in Belgium. Even in summer, there is a possibility that you might need a jacket and (Most likely) an umbrella.
The capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country, and the seventh-largest city of the country by population. About a 2-hour drive from Amsterdam and about one hour from Brussels.
There is an average of 69 trains a day between Bruges and Brussels, leaving approximately every 15 minutes. Tickets are available from €14.80 each way, buy a ticket & hop on. A weekend return costs €15.80.
Where to Stay in Bruges?
Since there is so much to see and do in the city, I advise you to stay the night at least! So underneath are a couple of great hotels! For convenience, I have listed hotels that are located in the city center.
Hotel Marcel | My sister stayed at Hotel Marcel and had a really enjoyable time. Great location and fair pricing.
Hotel Novotel Brugge Centrum | This 3-star hotel is a 10-minute walk from the medieval Belfry of Bruges, 11 minutes on foot from Markt plaza and 3 km from Boudewijn Seapark.
Hotel Navarra Brugge | This beautiful and charming 4-star hotel is located in a 1600s building is a 5-minute walk from the town center Markt and its restaurants.
Die Swaene Hotel | Die Swaene is located right at one of Bruges’ canals, featuring a swimming pool and elegant accommodations with free WiFi.
Things to do in Bruges
Underneath are just some of the best things to do when in Bruges!
A great way to get to know a city is by doing a walking tour. There are quite a few different walking tours offered in Bruges – historical ones, night tour, a food tour and many more. The most popular company is Legends Tours. underneath are just a couple of tours that they offer:
Historical Tour | Free
Bruges by Night | Free
Gastronomic Tour A Taste of Bruges | Free
Belgian Beer Tasting @ Bauhaus | €12
Best of Bruges: History, Chocolate & Beer Tour | €45
Made in Bruges: Chocolate & Beer Tour | €29
Historical tour: Every day at 9:45, 10:30, 11:30 and 14.00. (Also available in Spanish and French during some hours/days)
Food tour: Every day except Monday at 11:30
Meeting point for all tours: Grote Markt, in front of the statue.
The Markt of Bruges | Markt
This large market square in the city center is home to some gorgeous buildings, including the Belfry. The market has been car-free since 1995, it makes for great people-watching, whether from the view of a horse-drawn carriage or sitting at one of the many market side cafes.
Belfry of Bruges
The Belfry of Bruges is a medieval bell tower in the center of Bruges, Belgium. One of the city’s most prominent symbols, the belfry formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger. A narrow, steep staircase of 366 steps, leads to the top of the 83-meter-high building, offering some pretty amazing city views.
Church of Our Lady Bruges + Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child
This is a very cool, ancient church. It is free to enter the main church area, however, to see the “museum” part of the church, including the famous Madonna & Child, there is a fee of €3,00. You have to get your tickets next door, then present the ticket inside the church. The fee is so worth it!
They have many paintings, reliquaries, tombs, and mosaics, but the Michelangelo Madonna & Child is worth the fee all by itself. It is gorgeous and does not disappoint.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
Worth a visit free to get into church but it is € 4,00 to go in the small museum. You go up lovely winding steps to the chapel. The relic of the Holy Blood is one display until 11 am. No pictures are allowed in that part of the Chapel.
You can reach De Brugse Vismarkt by passing through the Town Hall and de Brugse Vrij. The name literally stands for Bruges Fish Market, and that’s because this is the prime spot for trading and buying fish during weekdays, and has been so since 1745. Don’t forget to explore the area, I really enjoyed the vibe here.
This little piece of world heritage was once the home of the beguines, emancipated lay-women who nevertheless led a pious and celibate life. Today the beguinage is inhabited by nuns of the Order of St. Benedict and several Bruges women who have decided to remain unmarried. In the Beguine’s house, you can still get a good idea of what day-to-day life was like in the 17th century.
The Sint-Janshuis Mill, built in the year 1770 and still occupying its original site, is the only mill still grinding flour and the only mill open to visitors. Cost just € 4.00 to entree, which is great if you have never seen a mill from the inside.
Minnewater park by the Lake of Love
Tucked away at the southern end of Bruges is the beautiful area known as “Minnewater”. The centerpiece is the “Lake of Love” and” Lovers Bridge”. Simply said it is a lovely park, home to some beautiful swans. If you walk over the bridge located in the park and kiss your loved one, it will become eternal love.
Bruges is home to many large, small and unique museums. Underneath are just a couple that you could check out.
Folklore Museum | A fascinating insight into Belgian life in the past. Homes, schools, trades and past times all beautifully displayed with authentic artifacts everywhere. It costs €4 to visit. This is also a great example of one of the top things to do in Bruges when it is raining, as must of it is inside.
Balstraat 43, Bruges 8000, Belgium
Open: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
Bruges also has a chocolate museum! You won’t just learn about the history of chocolate and cacao there, but also witness a chocolate-making demonstration, as well as receive a free sample to taste. What’s more to ask?
Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 10 am – 5 pm
Speaking of food…
What to Eat in Bruges?
Eating out in Bruges is the most expensive part of the trip. Meal prices range from 15 to 20 euros, more if you eat in the city center. There are, however, some local establishments that have good dishes for the budget traveler willing to walk five minutes from the square. Underneath you won’t find restaurants to eat at, but mostly just the best places to have a ‘snack attack”.
Firstly you can not leave Belgium without having to try Frites (fries) Flemish fries are an institution, and should not be lacking from any weekend trip to Belgium. You can find Frites stalls splattered throughout the city and only costs a couple of euros.
The second things that you have to eat in Bruges are Belgian waffles. Simply mouthwatering delicious. Whether it is with chocolate, strawberries, blueberries bananas, they are simply amazing. Lizzies Waffles are the best waffles in Bruges and should not be missed. The shop is fairly small but very cozy and comfortable. The waffles are made after your order is taken so they are very fresh. Many different toppings are available.
Since this list already consists of bad food, we might as well continue with Belgian Chocolates aka BonBons. A bonbon is a sweet or small confection, especially a small bun coated in chocolate. But what it also is, is delicious. One of the oldest chocolatiers, you’ll find at the Katelijnestraat: Sukerbuyc. Prices start from €4.40 for 100g bonbons. Make a selection and simply enjoy it. There are over 50 chocolatiers, so if you can fins Sukerbuyc, then there are plenty of other amazing ones to see and try.
Lastly, Aux Merveilleux De Fred Bruges is a super popular bakery located just off the Markt square, the windows of this delightful little place allow you to see not only the goodies on offer, but watch them being made right in front of you. Snapping up an Instagram photo of the magnificent chandelier is a must!
In my opinion, this is everything you need to see in Bruges.
What are your best tips for things to do in Bruges in one day? Let me know in the comments below.
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