A surprise weekend for Iban’s Birthday and Valentine’s, we took a trip to Brugge. The Eurostar makes this trip so easy! You will probably have a couple of minutes panicking about which connection train to get from Brussels (or maybe that was just us), though everything will be ok.
A chocolate & beer lovers heaven – perfect for us! Brugge is a great place to visit all year round, we went in early Feb so temperatures were around 6-8 degrees in the day, just make sure you pack a few layers. Prepare to eat more chocolate within 72hours than ever before, drink strong beer that hits you with the first sip, and to fall in love with the medieval charm of this small city.
We found that 3 days, 2 nights was the perfect amount of time to explore without rushing, you could definitely do it in 2 days if you are pushed for time. Shay did a fair amount of research before heading there, so we knew those off-the-beaten-track spots to tick off the list.
Getting around by foot is easy, everything seems to be about 10-15mins walk and it doesn’t seem possible to get lost! Plenty of bikes to rent if you fancy a cycle or you can go old school with a horse and cart, though a good wonder around & just seeing what you come across is definitely the way to do it.
So here’s our Top 13 things to do, a mix of exploring / eating / drinking. Let us know what you think, have you got any recommendations you would add to the list?
Things to do in Bruges
1. The Markt
Hard to miss and one of the most touristy spots in Brugge, the Markt is one of the city’s community squares & features a set of impressive buildings, a great mix of modern & historic architecture with plenty of photo opportunities. We recommend getting up early one morning and heading there to avoid the crowds.
2. The Old Chocolate House
Within a few minutes of arriving, you’ll want to get hot chocolate & waffles. Shay found this place through Tripadvisor, we tried a few and certainly put this tea room top of the list! With a chocolate shop downstairs & quaint tea room upstairs, its a perfect place to begin the over-indulgence. A huge selection to choose from & you make the hot chocolate yourself, it’s really fun! P.S – can you spot the flying horse!?
3. Basilica of the Holy Blood
The Basilica is based in another community square nearby and is definitely worth a visit. Tucked away in a corner of the square, its dark grey stone walls stand out amongst the other buildings. Inside the Basilica is nothing short of stunning, with large stained glass windows and intricately painted walls, though another must see resides in the Basilica – a golden casket containing a blood-soaked cloth that claims to be the blood of Christ. There is a mass each day which you can attend, they take out the artifact and walk with it around the church. Make sure you also check out the chapel below the Basilica, a large wooden door on the left that looks shut, a lot of people miss it. This Romanesque chapel is a replica of the church of Jerusalem.
4. The secret garden
A tiny garden in a derelict house, we stumbled upon this place whilst wondering around & it’s one you have to visit just for its uniqueness! With different herbs & fruits, the garden will take you approximately 10 seconds to explore, though also provides you with a great photo spot & just something very different that not many people know about.
5. De Halve Mann beer brewery
A great beer tour ending with a free beer next to a cosy fireplace! Tucked down a secret allyway, this tour takes you through the history of one of the oldest breweries in Brugge. It’s a really well preserved place, and much larger than you think, so prepare to climb a few steps… the view is worth it. We loved how eco-friendly De Halve Mann is, even an underground beer tube network to reduce pollution & lorrys on the streets!
6. The gardens behind Our Lady’s church
We did go inside, though our favourite spot here was the tranquil gardens located behind the Church. It seemed like something from a fairytale scene, complete with a mini bridge over the canal. This is another place to get up early & head to if you want to take some clear photos before the tourists arrive!
The first night we ended up taking a much longer than planned nap (2½ hours!). This meant we weren’t ready for dinner till around 22:15. Living in London, we thought this would be absolutely fine, of course there will be places open… We started looking at a few restaurants, only to find that pretty much everywhere stopped serving at 21:30 each day of the week. This even included Burger King! We resorted to a Kebab trailer in the middle of the square… Shay took a long time to be convinced. In fairness, the chips weren’t that bad.
Learning from our mistakes, the second night we called up to book a table at the traditional Pieter Porbous, away from the tourist spots… it was amazing! We went for the Ribeye beef and it was some of the best we have ever had! We would highly recommend this spot.
8. Boat tour
A must do in Brugge, the boat tours are a city wide operation like Venice, so you don’t have to wonder around trying to figure out which boats are the cheapest / offer the best tours as they all do the same for the same price. The tours allow you to see parts of the canal from a perspective you wouldn’t see on foot & teach you about historic parts of the city. Surprisingly cheap, which adds to the attractiveness! Another one we would say to get up and do early if you prefer a more private tour, if it’s during peak hours you will find yourself leg to leg with another tourist.
9. The Begijnhof gardens & Minnewater
We have combined 2 in 1 here as they are right next to each other, though Begijnhof gardens was definitely our favourite. Both very quiet and tranquil spots, they allow you to escape from the crowds and get some fresh air whilst taking a nice stroll. Begijnhof gardens has an interesting history and when the sun is in the right spot, shinning through the trees and onto the daffodils it feels quite magical.
10, 11, 12 & 13 – Beer, Beer, Beer!
Rather than take up the whole post with beer spots, we have combined all our favourite drinking joints into the final part. There are so many places to have a beer in Brugge, and hundreds of beers to choose from! Unless you are a beer connesseuer, it’s more a case of ordering and hoping for the best, you soon get a feel for what you like!
We aimed to avoid the tourists spots and go with the locals. Cellar bars are our top pics by a mile, you can’t beat their buzz, cosy atmospheres and awesome architecture. This was our favourite part of the trip… enjoy! We recommend ‘Le Trappiste’, ‘t’ Poatersgat’, ‘Comptoir Des Arts’ and ‘2be’.
A few final shots including where we stayed & me running away after throwing a pile of leaves at Iban!
There you have it, our top 13 places to visit in Brugge! We hope you enjoyed reading! Please get in touch & let us know the places you love to visit in Europe, the more undiscovered / off the beaten track the better!
Shay & Iban 🇧🇪👬