Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Bruges

  • Published 2021/10/07

Many people worldwide deem the Flemish city of Bruges, Belgium, as one of the most outstanding and beautiful cities you can visit.

Up to this day, its streets are lined with Gothic buildings and structures made in styles prevalent from centuries ago.

Apart from its long history evident in the architecture you see all around, the city also takes importance in preserving and sharing its long history and heritage.

Witness how breathtaking this city is by visiting it on vacation and learning more about Bruge life’s important aspects the locals want to share and preserve.

Here are some of the best things to do in Bruges, Belgium:

Ride Along the City Canals

View of the City canals

Sean Pavone /

Known as the Venice of Belgium, Bruges features a lot of canals.

So, if you want to experience seeing the incredible architecture that you can lay your eyes on, know that the best way to do so is by riding a boat along the city canals.

Apart from the most exciting and exciting way to do so, it’s also surprisingly the most convenient way to get around.

View of the City canals

Catarina Belova /

A lot of tour companies offer boat rides along the Bruges city anals. Most of them will only last half an hour and move along the waterways between Jan van Eyck Square and Minnewater.

Often, commentary about the points of interest will be provided by a guide who rides the boat along with you.

Don’t miss out on experiencing this while in Bruges.

View of the City canals

Alex Stemmers /

Check Out Church of Our Lady

Another impressive church that you can find in this Belgian city is the Church of Our Lady.

Again, you don’t have to belong to the Christian faith to appreciate this place.

Apart from its historical value from being a long-standing church, it also houses a masterpiece made by a world-renowned artist.

View of Church of Our Lady

Olena Z /

Built in the 1200s, this building serves as the home of the sculpture called “Madonna and Child,” made by the famous Renaissance artist Michelangelo.

Apart from its awe-inspiring majesty, the said sculpture has the distinction of being the only Michaelangelo piece that is outside Italy.

Apart from this fantastic piece of art, the church also houses many other impressive works.

Check out this fantastic point of interest during your vacation to Bruges.

Take a Stroll Right by Minnewater

View of Minnewater and a Building

Dmitry Rukhlenko /

For people who seek respite in the company of nature after a long day of museum-hopping, head over to the area surrounding Minnewater.

Here, apart from a tranquil green space, you can find a beautiful lake, a great view of old houses, and an impressive castle.

Additionally, you can find a bridge hovering over the lake, which many call the “Lovers Bridge.”

It’s a quiet and relaxing spot where you can hang out and take a break with your travel companions.

Learn About a Special Artistic Craft at Rococo Lace Store

Lacemaking has been an important craft for the people of Bruges.

Up to this day, around 20 shops specializing in this intricate art form exist in the city.

While in Bruges, check out the Rococo Lace Store.

Established in 1833, you can find a wide collection of traditional and contemporary lace designs here.

They all reflect the refined skills of lacemakers that work here.

Not only can you shop for wonderful lace pieces here, but you can also see how lacemakers create them.

Children and adults alike can go to the shop’s showroom and see master lacemakers at work.

Climb to the Top of Belfry of Bruges

View of Belfry of Bruges

Dmitry Rukhlenko /

When you visit Bruges, you must head over to Belfry of Bruges, a breathtaking tower dominating the city skyline.

Arguably the most popular attraction around, you can find the Belfry in the southern part of the Markt.

If you want to explore the Belfry, head to the Halle, the building below it.

View of Belfry of Bruges

cge2010 /

The said building was initially built in 1249, and since then, it has been expanded twice – in the 1300s and the 1500s.

Within the Halle, you can find an enclosed courtyard and a balcony.

As for the Belfry itself, the tower’s construction started in 1282 and ended in 1482.

It stands 83 meters high, and it houses 47 bells.

View of Belfry of Bruges

Irina Crick /

You can reach the top of this gorgeous tower after climbing a total of 366 steps.

All of it is worth the effort as you can find a gorgeous view of the city below from the top of the Belfry.

On your way to the top, you can also explore the old Treasure Room, which houses important, historical civic documents.

Start your journey in Bruges in the most amazing way possible by visiting the Belfry.

Explore and Hang Out at Market Square

View of Market Square

cge2010 /

You don’t have to walk too far from the Belfry to find an amazing hangout spot.

Right outside it is the Market Square or Markt.

Many people deem this place an important part of any visit to this Belgian city.

It is littered with amazing shops, cafes, and attractions that you can discover.

View of Market Square

Catarina Belova /

Many use it as a home point or meeting place for their travel group.

A wide array of gorgeous old buildings surround this place, so you will see a fantastic city view from all directions.

Apart from appreciating the architecture of the buildings found here, you can also catch a weekend market at this square.

This has been going on since the year 985, so definitely check it out when you have the chance.

Find Respite at Hof de Jonghe

While the city features several grand squares that you can explore, one area provides a more relaxing vibe where you can stroll peacefully.

Apart from that, you can even find a part that serves as the home to sheep.

This attraction is Hof de Jonghe.

You can find it in the northern part of Old Town, and it welcomes you with a tranquil spot filled with greenery and lifely sheep.

It’s a great place where you can stop and take a break after hours of walking around.

Visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood

View of Basilica of the Holy Blood

Felix Lipov /

Whether or not you are religious, it’s interesting to visit a place that claims it houses Jesus Christ’s blood.

The Basilica of the Holy Blood allegedly houses Christ’s blood that Joseph of Arimathea collected.

He is said to have brought it to the country all the way from the Holy Land.

Inside Basilica of the Holy Blood

Pecold /

If you’re a Christian tourist, you will definitely feel a deep religious connection with this place.

But even if you’re not one to believe in a religion, this basilica remains at the top of any itinerary you should have for Bruges.

While the basilica’s building seems simple, its decorations and historical worth are impressive, making it a must-visit while in Bruges.

Discover the Wonders Within Sint – Janshospitaal

View of Sint - Janshospitaal

cge2010 /

After going to the Church of Our Lady, move next door to the Sint-Janshospitaal or St. John’s Hospital.

‌‌Founded in the 1100s, this place is the oldest building in the city.

It features interesting decor and architecture, and in modern times, it now houses an exhibit of documents and tools used in this hospital throughout history.

View of Sint - Janshospitaal

b-hide the scene /

The said exhibits are more specifically displayed within what used to be the wards of the ancient hospital.

Apart from this exhibit, you can also find the Memling Museum and St. Ursula’s Reliquary within the compound.

Additionally, if you’re lucky, you can also catch a free harp concert when you visit here.

Take a Step Back in Time at St. Donatian’s Church Ruins

Another place that can help you “step back in time” in Bruges is St. Donatian’s Church Ruins.

However, you can find this in a peculiar place.

Through the years, many significant buildings in the city saw their fall.

One of them is this church.

However, you can still visit its ruins standing underneath the Bruges branch of The Crowne Plaza hotel.

While at the hotel, ask to view the church ruins in the basement, and the staff can lead you to it.

Once there, you can find the remnants of this historic building, which was built back in 950 AD.

Learn About Works of Art at Groeningemuseum

View of Groeningemuseum

Michael Mulkens /

A lot of museums stand within the city of Bruges.

One art museum you should go to while on holiday here is the Groeningemuseum.

‌‌If you love and appreciate art, don’t hesitate to visit this place.

View of Groeningemuseum

MDart10 /

It features a lot of historical Flemish artwork that a lot of people will find amazing.

However, for those looking for something more different, this museum also has a gallery featuring gory and morbid historical artworks.

It’s a fantastic place that should be included in your must-visit list.

Discover Local History at Historium

If you want to know more about the background of Bruges, head over to Historium.

Here, you will not simply get a glimpse of what the city was like in the past – you will experience it through VR.

The museum will “take you back” to several points in Bruges’ history, including its golden age.

View of Historium

Ale Grutta foto /

One of the historical experiences featured here focuses on the“Virgin and Child” painting at its forefront.

Jan Van Eyck, a painter from this city, made this piece all those centuries ago.

Apart from that, you can find several other historical experiences here that you should try.

By coming here, you can learn about Bruges’ pasts in a fun and interesting way, all thanks to technology.

Head Over to the Windmills

View of Sint Janshuysmill


Another relaxing thing to do while in this city is taking a stroll and heading towards Bruges’ windmills.

In the city, you can find four old, charming windmills still standing near an old medieval moat and gates.

One of the windmills – the Sint Janshuysmill – has been standing there and doing what it’s supposed to do since the 1770s. Meanwhile, two other mills house museums within them.

View of Sint Janshuysmill

Yury Dmitrienko /

However, what most tourists like about heading towards the windmills is the peacefulness of the walk going there.

If you want something more to do other than just seeing the windmills, you can bring some food with you and have a picnic in the vicinity, too.

Make Belgian Chocolate at the Chocolate Making Workshop

Belgium’s chocolates are known worldwide as some of the best tasting ones ever produced.

‌‌Some may even argue that it’s the most delicious one people can try.

So, when visiting this amazing country, you need to buy and eat some of the most delicious chocolate confections available.

In fact, you can go even further and take the experience to another level.

In Bruges, you can take part in a fun and exciting workshop where you can make your own delicious Belgian chocolate creations.

You can let your creative side out and express yourself in the form of chocolate making.

At the workshop, you will get everything you need to make two types of chocolate confections: Pralines and Mediants.

After the class, you also receive a box of Belgian chocolates that you can take home with you (or eat on the way, if you can’t resist it).

Apart from chocolates, workshops for making Belgian waffles are also available, and those you can take part in with your kids.

Consider adding these fun activities to your Bruges vacation itinerary.

Hang Out at De Halve Maan

If you want to learn how Belgians brew their craft beer, why not stop by De Halve Maan?

This brewery has been operating since 1856, and it has a long history of producing the amazing drink many from around the world love.

Courtyard in De Halve Maan

tatif55 /

The people running De Halve Maan have not stopped in their mission and dedication of making the best beers around.

Now, they also let tourists go on a tour that will explain the process of brewing their drinks.

It’s a great place to learn or just hang out with friends while enjoying a nice tall glass of beer.

Final Thoughts

With traces of its long history still visible today, going to Bruges feels like stepping back in time.

Learn about the city’s heritage, discover the many art forms and handicrafts that were prevalent here, and appreciate the beauty of this medieval city.

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