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What to Do in Bruges (and so much more)

If you’re wondering what to do in Bruges, this post has all the best tips for activities, restaurants and more.

Bruges is beautiful. Every street you walk on is covered in cobblestones, and every corner you turn is charming and picturesque. This is the place to for all your fairy-tale dreams.

In this post, you’ll everything you need to know about visiting this charming place from what to do in Bruges to how to get there and more.

This post is part of a five part City Guide series as I explore Europe as a brand ambassador for Bonwi. It contains affiliate links. Learn more.


How to Get to Bruges

It’s easy to get to Bruges from surrounding major cities by train. If you are in Belgium like in Brussels or Antwerp, you can get tickets last minute at the train station to go to Bruges. If you are in another country such as the Netherlands, then book your train tickets ahead of time on NS International or consider getting a Eurail pass that lets you travel between multiple countries on your own time.

Tip: When you’re at the train station trying to figure out which platform the next train departs, Bruges is on the routes headed to Oostende or Blankenberge so look out for those.

If you only have one day to visit Bruges, there are one-day bus tours from Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris.


How to Get to Your Hotel From Bruges Station

If you only have a backpack on you, then you can walk or rent a bike as soon as you exit the train station.The historic city centre also known as the UNESCO World Heritage portion of Bruges is only 1.7 mi² (4.3 km²) so walking or biking won’t take long.

Tip: Download an offline map of Bruges on Google Maps before you get there, and save your hotel on it by starring it. You won’t be able to get real-time directions, but you’ll still be able to use it as a map with GPS.

If you have a suitcase, then you may want to take a taxi (~€11) because the cobblestone streets will make it really difficult to use. A cheaper option (€3) is to take any bus that says “Centrum”, which will take you to “Markt”, the very center of the city.

Tip: If you’re going to take the bus, keep €3 on you to easily pay on the bus. If you don’t have change though, you can also at the ticket booth right outside the bus stop.


Where to Stay in Bruges

Want to know everything about Bruges from how to get there to where to eat? Check out this complete guide to Bruges made from my four-day weekend there. Enjoy this beautiful fairytale town!
Markt at Dusk | Taken with my Sony A6000

Since Bruges is small and nearly everything you’ll want to see and do is within a 20 minute walk, any place you choose to stay will be in a good location.

Because of this, I chose where to stay based on the maximum amount of rewards Bonwi would give me from booking through their site. My hotel in Bruges cost $690 for three nights, and I got $250 in rewards back! That’s almost 40% of the hotel cost put right back into my pocket to use for a night or two of hotel in the future. If you want a similar deal, book your hotel in Bruges via Bonwi.

Tip: Get $15 of rewards on Bonwi just for signing up through Bonwi.


How to Get Around Bruges

Walk

As I noted above, the historic city centre is only 1.7 mi² (4.3 km²) so walking is an easy and effective way to get around. This is the best way to take in all the charming details of Bruges on foot.

If you want a local to bring you around, check out this two hour walking tour in Bruges for less than $15 (as of 02/10/17).

Bike

If you want to act like a local, explore the city quickly, or go outside the city center too see the non-touristy parts of Bruges, then renting a bike is a good option. I rented a bike for two days from Hotel Koffieboontjes for €25 (€15 for one day). It’s located at Hallestraat 4.

Tip For Those Living in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, France or the UK: You can sign up for the Blue Bike, which has locations all over Belgium (something I would’ve done if I had known about it earlier). You have to sign up for a year long membership for €10, and then pay the daily rental fee, which for Bruges is €1 the first 24 hours, then €3 for every day after. Get your Blue Bike at the Bruges train station.

If you want to explore Bruges by bike but don’t want to do it on your own, try a bike tour.

Taxi

Taxis within city center are €7 plus tax. Taxis to/from the train station are about €11 depending on your location. We took a cab to dinner because we were short on time and had our hotel call it for us, but this is unnecessary if you plan enough time for walking.


Where to Eat in Bruges

Bruges is quite touristy so naturally, it’s full of tourist traps. Eat at these places I went to, and know that you’ll have a phenomenal meal worth every Euro.

Tanuki

Want to know everything about Bruges from how to get there to where to eat? Check out this complete guide to Bruges made from my four-day weekend there. Enjoy this beautiful fairytale town! Tanuki bruges belgium
Taken with a Sony A6000

Don’t expect a spoon with your miso soup here because it’s an authentic Japanese restaurant, and as the Japanese do, you should drink your soup like you would a cup of tea. To get the best bang for your buck, go during lunch. Their lunch sets include an pre-appetizer, appetizer, soup, main dish with rice, and dessert (~€30). If you’re only here once, get the sashimi set.

Note: This recommendation came from Maryke Serruys, the owner of Den Gouden Harynck, a Michelin star restaurant in Bruges. She also recommended going to De Refter, Rock Fort, and Mo Jo, but I didn’t have a chance to check them out. Please let me know if you go!

Tanuki
Oude Gentweg 1
www.tanuki.be/en

Patisserie Academie

Want to know everything about Bruges from how to get there to where to eat? Check out this complete guide to Bruges made from my four-day weekend there. Enjoy this beautiful fairytale town! Tanuki bruges belgium
Taken with a Sony A6000

Think classics with a twist when it comes to the pastries at Patisserie Academie like the éclair with bananas and a chocolate shell or the bûche mokka, and taste the talent of a chef who once worked at a 3-star Michelin restaurant. You can come here for breakfast and get coffee with a croissant or quiche, stop by later in the afternoon for tea and a pastry, or both. It’s that good that you’ll want to try as much as possible.

Tip: It gets busy in the morning until around 12:00PM so you may be able to call and make a reservation. I’m not 100% on this, but I saw a table with a ‘Reserved’ card on it.

Note: Two pastries, a coffee, and a tea cost us €17,50.

Patisserie Academie
Academiestraat 4
www.patisserieacademie.be/

Den Gouden Harynck

Want to know everything about Bruges from how to get there to where to eat? Check out this complete guide to Bruges made from my four-day weekend there. Enjoy this beautiful fairytale town! den gouden harynck bruges belgium
Taken with a Sony A6000

Den Gouden Harynck is a restaurant in Bruges that represents its one Michelin star right. Everything from the table setting to the high quality of the ingredients make this a five-star experience. What differentiates this Michelin restaurant from others is that even though it’s Michelin rated, the sommelier, hostess, and servers all have a light and jovial air about them, which makes the dining experience pleasant, not stuffy or pretentious.

Tip: Get the Barbara wine from Italy for about €50. It’s full-bodied wine on the drier side– my favorite style of wine!

Den Gouden Harynck
Groeninge 25
https://www.goudenharynck.be/

Cambrinus

Want to know everything about Bruges from how to get there to where to eat? Check out this complete guide to Bruges made from my four-day weekend there. Enjoy this beautiful fairytale town! cambrinus bruges belgium
Taken with a Sony A6000

Cambrinus is a bar with over 400 beers and a Belgian restaurant that serves traditional foods like Flemish stew and cheese croquettes. You won’t see any locals here as it’s quite popular with tourists, but it’s far from a tourist trap. If you want to try a bit of everything, check out the Menu van de Brouwer (Brewer’s Menu) but keep in mind the note below.

Tip: If you want to eat here, make a reservation a week in advance, or go at an off hour. At peak time, there are no tables for walk-ins unless there happens to be a seat or two at the bar.

Note: I have mixed feelings about the food even though I like the place. I ordered the Menu van de Brouwer but thought the meat in the Flemish stew (main course) was dry even though it was ladened with sauce. If the meat were juicer, then I’d have appreciated the sweet and flavorful sauce more. I liked the breading on the cheese croquettes and how light they were despite being fried. The crème brulée was good, but it’s not somethng I would order on its own. This 3-course menu is a lot of food so if you want to try these items out, consider splitting this with someone.

Cambrinus
Philipstockstraat 19
www.cambrinus.eu/english.htm


Where to Drink in Bruges

De Struise Brouwers Shop

Want to know everything about Bruges from how to get there to where to eat? Check out this complete guide to Bruges made from my four-day weekend there. Enjoy this beautiful fairytale town! de struise brouwers bruges belgium
Taken with a Sony A6000

De Struise is a small brewery in Belgium that makes beers with lots of flavor. They have a shop that’s small in size but certainly not lacking in beers. They have over 600 beers, and it seems like all of them have really well designed labels. It’s only open from 12:30 – 17:30 Thursday to Saturday so make time for this brewery’s selective hours.

Tip: Cash only.

De Struise Brouwers
Burg 15 / 2

Cambrinus

Named after the legendary King of Beer of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, this bar has over 400 beers to choose from, which makes the menu as big as an encyclopedia.

Tip: Order La Corne (short for La Corne du Bois des Pendus), and pretend you’re a viking drinking out of this horn shaped glass. I don’t actually know if vikings drank out of horn shaped glasses, but it looks similar to the horns on their hat… so… yah…

Cambrinus
Philipstockstraat 19
www.cambrinus.eu/english.htm

Retsin’s Lucifernum

Retsin’s Lucifernum is an old bar run by a self-proclaimed vampire. Besides the candle-lit, richly decorate interior, the main reasons to go here are for the live Latin music and rum cocktails.

Retsin’s Lucifernum
Twijnstraat 6


What to Do in Bruges

Want to know everything about Bruges from how to get there to where to eat? Check out this complete guide to Bruges made from my four-day weekend there. Enjoy this beautiful fairytale town! walking around bruges belgium
Taken with a Sony A6000

Walk Around

The best thing to do in Bruges is to simply walk around. During the day or at night, get lost in the cobblestone streets and find yourself in amazement with this adorable place!

Drink Beer

There was a beer festival going on the weekend that I went, but I feel like every bar is basically a beer festival with so many great beers. Check out De Halve Maan Brewery, and take a tour of this family-run brewery.

Rent a Bike

Renting a bike is a great idea if you want to get out of city centre and bike on the cycle routes along canals and rivers. If I had known about this earlier, I would’ve biked to Damme, a historic village just so I could bike under the tree tunnel.

As noted above, I rented a bike for two days from Hotel Koffieboontjes for €25 (€15 for one day), which is located at Hallestraat 4.

Tip For Those Living in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, France or the UK: You can sign up for the Blue Bike, which has locations all over Belgium (something I would’ve done if I had known about it earlier). You have to sign up for a year long membership for €10, and then pay the daily rental fee, which for Bruges is €1 the first 24 hours, then €3 for every day after. Get your Blue Bike at the Bruges train station.

See Sheep Roaming Wild

There are flocks of sheep roaming wild at the Hof de jonge park. Go watch them hang out and eat grass– you know, sheep stuff.

Take a Canal Cruise

Experience getting a different vantage point of Bruges by taking a canal cruise. 

Get a Panoramic View of Bruges

Check out Bruges from above by climbing the Belfry tower. Go in the morning to beat the crowds, and get a standstill feel of the city.

Become a Chocoholic

Bruges is full of chocolate shops. Try Dumon Chocolatier for smooth and rich chocolates or the Chocolate Line for exotic and unique chocolate creations.

Go to Museums

There’s a wide range of museums in Bruges such as the Groeningemuseum, Torture Museum, Sint-Janshospitaal, Chocolate Museum, and even a Salvador Dali Exhibition. You won’t be short of museums to choose from when it’s raining outside, which happens quite often in Bruges.

Eat Fries

Fries are so popular here that there’s event a museum dedicated to the Belgian potato. Check out Frituur Bosrand, which serves fries with cheese on top– yum!


What to Pack for Bruges

Camera

There’s no way you can go to Bruges without taking photos. It’s so picturesque that naturally every photo you take will look like a postcard!

For traveling, I recommend the Sony A6000, which is the camera I have. It’s lightweight, portable, and takes magnificent photos. For example, the photo above was taken around 11PM without a tripod. I used to have a Nikon D90, but at 2 lbs (1 kg), it wasn’t easy to throw in my head, and after a few hours of walking, I could feel the weight of the camera.

If you get are using the Sony A6000 just for personal use or on your travels, then the kit lens works great. The only additional accessory I advise getting for the lens is a UV filter. Here’s some accessories I bought for my camera, but again, are not necessary to have.

Sneakers

Bruges is full of cobblestone streets, and you can’t get a break from them anywhere. Since the best way to explore this city is by foot, you must wear sneakers to be comfortable and forget about wearing heels of any type. I personally love my Nike Tanjun sneakers because they’re functional but trendy.

If you want a local to take you around for two hours, check out this walking tour. It’s less than $15 a person (as of 02/08/17).

Daypack or Crossbody Purse

Between shopping, eating chocolate and fries, and taking photos, you’ll want to keep your hands free at all times. That’s why I recommend carrying a daypack or a crossbody purse. I would opt for the daypack over the purse because it can potentially carry more things like an umbrella, camera, and water bottle.

The Everest Junior Backpack is the daypack I’ve had and used weekly for two years is really inexpensive, but if you want something trendier, try out the Fjallraven Kanken Mini Daypack.

Portable Charger

I talk about this Anker PowerCore+ Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger in most of my posts because it’s the one thing I use the most at home or abroad. I got this lipstick sized charger at least three years ago and have used it 3+ times a week. It still works great and holds 1.5x charges for my iPhone. You can also use it to charge your mirrorless camera.

What to Pack for Bruges in the Winter

what to pack for Bruges Belgium all year round sony a6000 camera
Taken with Sony A6000

I went to Bruges in January, the coldest time of the year. I wore comfortable boots, a winter jacket, gloves, fluffy circle scarf, and wool socks. Since you’ll be outdoors most of the day walking around, make sure to bundle up like me! Temperatures range from from 43ºF (6ºC) during the day to 32ºF (0ºC) at night.

What to Pack for Bruges in the Spring

March is the driest month of the year in Bruges, but it still rains about 8 days of the month so bringing an umbrella is still a good idea. Wear a jacket suitable for temperatures averaging from 48ºF (9ºC) during the day to 37ºF (3ºC) at night.

What to Pack for Bruges in the Summer

June is the sunniest time of the year in Bruges while August is the hottest, but it’s still fairly cool at an average of 68ºF (20ºC) during the day to 54ºF (12ºC) at night. Jeans and a long-sleeve shirt should be suitable for daytime, but for nighttime, pack a light jacket.

There’s tons of mosquitoes in the summer so bring mosquito repellent if you’re prone to getting bit. My favorite mosquito spray is the Avon mosquito repellent. It’s the only one that actually works for me, is DEET free, and doesn’t leave a weird chemical residue/smell.

Tip: This is the most crowded time of the year other than Christmas. To beat the crowds, go in the winter or fall.

What to Pack for Bruges in the Fall

October and November are the rainiest times of the year so you will definitely need an umbrella, and perhaps even a rain jacket.

Also, October’s temperatures range from 54ºF (12ºC) during the day to 42ºF (6ºC) at night so dress warm.


Helpful Local Tips for Bruges

what to pack for Bruges Belgium all year round sony a6000 camera
Taken with a Sony A6000

These are tips I learned from a local while exploring Bruges:

  • Stay away from the bars and restaurants right on the market to avoid the most touristy spots.
  • Christmas is the most crowded time of the year. I’ve heard from other travelers as well  that it is impossible to move from the train station all the way to center, which makes me think of Times Square— not pleasant. Summers are also crowded so opt for the middle of the week over the weekend, but in general, to avoid crowds, go in the winter.
  • Some companies in Bruges take a break in winter sometime in January to March. If you’re going to Bruges during these times, check to see if where you want to go (i.e. a restaurant or brewery tour) is open.
  • Many people like to go to Bruges for a day-trip but then you miss epic nighttime floodlit scenes like in the photo above. Stay at least one night, but if you really don’t have the time for it, check out these day trips from Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris.

I hope this post helps you with planning your whole trip to Bruges! If it’s not for awhile, make sure to Pin or bookmark it, and comment below if you have any questions.

Thanks for stopping by! xo.

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