BRUGES TRAVEL GUIDE

A pocket-sized European city with a big heart, the quaint city of Bruges is a real-life fairytale destination. As one of the most well-preserved medieval cities in Western Europe, visiting Bruges is a chance to travel back in time. In fact, the historic centre of Bruges is so historically significant that it has been appointed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Full of quaint charm and a fairytale aesthetic, Bruges is an intimate city that doesn’t try to do too much. Known affectionately as the Venice of the North, its 80 bridges frame the meandering canals which intertwine with the winding cobbled streets. Discover pockets of green throughout the city, from small hidden gardens to the larger grassy expanse which surrounds this Belgian city.

The beating heart of Bruges lies in the Markt Square, flanked by gorgeous Flemish architecture and overlooked by the towering Belfry. Architecture and aesthetics aside, the food and drink specialities of Bruges include fries, waffles, chocolate and beer – need I say more?

Whether you’re visiting for the architecture and ambience, the canals and culture, or the waffles and windmills, unearth the beguiling city in this Bruges travel guide.

Contents

This page contains affiliate links.

How to get to Bruges

If travelling from the UK, the easiest way to get to Bruges is by Eurostar from London to Brussels. Alternatively, travelling by plane is the most convenient option for those travelling from further afield.

Jessie in Markt Square
Sunset Bruges
Church of our Lady

How to get around Bruges

Bruges is a wonderfully compact city. Being so small is part of its charming, fairytale appeal. Plus, it also makes Bruges a great option for solo travellers, as there’s no need to navigate any complex public transport systems.

Best time to visit Bruges

Note that most attractions are closed on Mondays and that a lot of restaurants don’t open until the latter part of the week. There are still plenty of options for dining out, but you’ll need to book in advance to guarantee a spot. This does mean it’s generally a little quieter from Monday to Wednesday. Personally, I think it’s worth the more limited dining options for a more peaceful experience of the city.

Spring

One of the key shoulder seasons, spring is a wonderful time to visit Bruges. The city becomes adorned with colourful flowers in every nook and cranny. European cities don’t get much prettier than Bruges in spring. If you’re visiting in spring, be sure to stop by Beguinage, as it will be covered in a blanket of white and yellow daffodils. Aim for late spring to benefit from fairer weather.

Summer

As you’d expect, summer is the most popular time to visit Bruges. The weather is at its best, although still mild and not scorching. Temperatures tend to hover around 19/20 degrees Celsius and rain is less likely – although still pack an umbrella! The warmer weather does mean a lot of tourists. As Bruges is such a small city, the high volume of tourists is, unfortunately, very noticeable.

Autumn

Another shoulder season, autumn is a wonderful time to visit if you’d prefer to avoid the droves of tourists that the summer months attract. As the leaves turn golden brown, the city takes on a cosy charm. Be sure to visit parks like Minnewater to get the full autumnal experience. If you’re visiting in late autumn, be aware that the weather will be chilly and rain quite likely. So pack accordingly!

Winter

The main reason that people visit Bruges in winter is due to the delightful Christmas markets. Wander the pretty wooden chalets, go for a skate on the ice rink, and indulge in traditional street food and drink. It is the best way to get in the festive spirit. As you can imagine, the weather will be cold. If you’re lucky, you may get to see Bruges covered in a glistening blanket of snow for the ultimate postcard-perfect visit.

 Bruges highlights

Historic centre

The historic centre of Bruges is one of the city’s main appeals. In fact, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, owing to its layout being the same as it was in the Middle Ages. The mediaeval centre is a hub of gothic architecture and quaint streets, all with a lively city feel.

Be sure to wander the historic centre on foot, along hidden streets and romantic bridges. The canals wend their way around the cobbled streets which are lined with recognisable Flanders architecture. Go shopping, indulge in a traditional Belgian waffle, or pause for a moment in one of the many cafes or bistros.

Explore by canal

A visit to Bruges would not be complete with a journey along the canals. Gain a different perspective on the historic centre by seeing it from the calming waters. There are plenty of canal boat tours available throughout Bruges, with insightful commentary that brings the city to life.

Try to go relatively early, when they open at around 10am to avoid long queues. I recommend picking one up from the jetty at Rozenhoedkaai, as you can enjoy an alfresco drink in the area afterwards. Seeking out the hidden pockets of Bruges via the waterways is an absolute must.

Bruges breweries

It’s no secret that Belgium is famous for its beer. What better excuse to get seven pints deep, all in the name of ‘soaking up the culture’! Bruges has three working breweries: De Halve Maan, Bourgogne des Flandres, and Fort Lapin. For a popular guided tour, head to De Halve Maan to learn more about the process of creating their award-winning beers.

A tour would not be complete without a tasting, so make sure you leave time – and room – for this. If you still haven’t had your fill of beer, you’ll find beer infused dishes in many of the restaurants. Sound like a dream come true? Book a table at Cambrinus, which offers entire menus prepared with beer (and the longest beer menu you’ll ever see).

Sign up

Sign up to be kept in the loop with the latest post, adventure stories, tips and giveaways. Plus, get my FREE downloadable list of essential travel resources when you subscribe.

Frequently asked questions

How long to spend in Bruges?

Three nights and two full days is a good amount of time to spend in Bruges. Given its small size, you may run out of things to do if you spend longer there. An alternative option is to add on another night and spend your third day in pretty Ghent, which is just a half hour train ride away.

Is Bruges overwhelmed with tourists?

Due to its small size, the city can feel overwhelmed with tourists during peak times. My recommendation? Do not miss out on an early morning stroll around the city, before the crowds descend. It’s the best time to see the unspoiled streets and remarkable beauty of Bruges in all its glory.

Is Bruges a good destination for solo travellers?

Bruges is an excellent destination for solo travellers. In fact, I often recommend it as a great starting point for anyone new to the world of solo travel. You don’t need to navigate any complex public transport systems, English is widely spoken, and it’s a very safe city with low crime rates.

Is Bruges expensive?

Bruges is a relatively expensive city, especially when it comes to food and drink. Just be sure to eat away from the tourist areas (definitely don’t eat on the Market Square) and the prices will be less inflated.

How many Michelin star restaurants in Bruges?

There are currently two Michelin star restaurants in Bruges: Zet’Joe by Geert Van Hecke and Sans Cravate. Bruges is also home to two Bib Gourmand restaurants and 15 other Michelin recommended eateries. There are some exceptional restaurants in Bruges by exciting, innovative chefs. If you love a spot of fine dining, you’ll find plenty of options in Bruges. Just make sure that you book ahead of time.

Are there Christmas Markets in Bruges?

The main Christmas market takes place in the central Markt, where there is also a tempting ice rink. A second Christmas market takes place in the Simon Stevinplein square. Wander the cosy wooden chalets, indulge in delicious home-made treats, and do a spot of Christmas shopping. It’s guaranteed to be an unbeatable festive atmosphere.

What are the food and drink specialities in Bruges?

Belgium is famous for waffles, chocolate, beer and fries – all the healthy treats in life! It follows that all of Belgium’s specialities can be found and sampled in Bruges. 

Luxury accommodation picks

From luxurious five star hotels to quirky boutique establishments, there are plenty of luxury hotels in Bruges to choose from. Whether you’re after a sumptuous spa, canal views or a fine dining restaurant, here are some of my favourite hotel picks.

Relais Chateaux Bedroom

HOTEL HERITAGE

A five star hotel in an elegant, 19th century building right in the heart of Bruges.

Hotel Dukes Palace

HOTEL DUKES’ PALACE

A grand hotel in a 15th century palace with spa, fitness centre and terrace.

Hotel Van Cleef Bruges

HOTEL VAN CLEEF

Blends the classic with the contemporary and occupies a canalside position.

Die Swaene Hotel Pink Suite

HOTEL DIE SWAENE

A gorgeous boutique hotel with palatial rooms and an indoor swimming pool.

Top Bruges restaurants

Whether you’re after fine dining and a Michelin-starred experience or something a little more laid-back, here are a handful of the top restaurants in Bruges.

Sans Cravate

SANS CRAVATE

A modern Michelin-star restaurant with Scandi interiors and impeccable cuisine.

Bierbrasserie Cambrinus

CAMBRINUS

One for the beer lovers with beer infused dishes and a wide selection of beers.

TOU.GOU

Michelin-recommended restaurant with a wholesome menu and French flavours.

Thats Toast

THAT’S TOAST!

For delicious all-day breakfast options based around – you guessed it – toast!

Bruges landmarks & attractions

From fascinating museums and iconic landmarks to green spaces and beautiful gardens, discover the best things to see and do in Bruges.

Belfry Tower
BELFRY
TOWER

If you can face the 366 steps, you’ll be rewarded with unbeatable views of the city and beyond.

Historium Bruges

HISTORIUM
BRUGGE

Discover the city’s history and go back in time with this interactive virtual reality exhibition.

Minnewater Park

MINNEWATER PARK

Wander around the Lake of Love and escape the crowds in pretty Minnewater Park.

Basilica of the Holy Blood

BASILICA OF THE HOLY BLOOD

Nestled in Burg Square, this beautiful church is a haven of peace and tranquillity.

Bruges travel inspiration

Planning a trip to Bruges? Have a read of these Bruges travel articles to help you plan your visit.

Hotel De Orangerie Luxury Hotel Bruges

15 best luxury hotels in Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is the ultimate European fairytale destination, with its mediaeval centre, Flemish architecture and pretty canals. Picking between Bruges hotels can make or break your trip to the Belgian city – which is precisely why

Beautiful Bruges

20 best things to do in Bruges, Belgium

Marvel at a fairytale setting in Bruges, Belgium, with chocolate box houses (and experiences!), relaxation with friends over a craft beer or two, and a myriad of historical sites to keep you enthralled. There are

Subscribe to my newsletter & get access to my free travel resources

Sign up to be kept in the loop with the latest posts, adventure stories, tips and giveaways. Plus, get my FREE downloadable list of essential travel resources when you subscribe.