A picture-perfect destination with astounding architecture, Bruges is a cultural melting pot brimming with old-world charm. Located to the northwest of Belgium, this beautiful city boasts more than its fair share of flawlessly preserved medieval buildings and iconic Gothic landmarks – and all just a 25-minute drive from the port of Zeebrugge.
Whether it’s taking a stroll along the cobbled streets, enjoying world-famous waffles in one of its squares or discovering its stunning parks, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Bruges. Got 48 hours to spare? Read our guide to a weekend in beautiful Bruges.
Morning: Breakfast and The Belfry
To truly soak up the history of this medieval city, take a trip to the iconic Markt square, home to the 83-metre Belfry tower. If you’re feeling energetic, you can even climb the 366 steps to the top for wonderful views of the square below. Because this tourist attraction is so popular, heading here first thing will help you avoid the crowds, and you can reward your efforts with Bruges waffles for breakfast afterwards from one of the many restaurants that line the square. Once you’ve finished exploring the beautiful cobbled streets around Markt, head inside the square’s Historium Brugge to find yourself transported back in time to the 15th century. After receiving a fascinating insight into the city’s history, it should hopefully be around midday. That means it’s about time to sample a local speciality at the Grand Beer Café on the museum’s second floor, which also has an outdoor terrace for unrivalled panoramas.
Lunchtime: A Quick Bite before Dumon Chocolatier
We’d suggest only stopping for a light lunch in one of the cafés or restaurants on Sint-Jakobstraat just off the Markt, but don’t worry – it’s worth saving room for the indulgence coming next. A short walk northeast will take you to Dumon Chocolatier. A must for true chocoholics, this family-run establishment uses only the finest ingredients, deftly crafting high quality, award-winning treats in a myriad of tasty combinations. The state-of-the-art Dumon workshop is eco-friendly, so at least that’s one less thing to feel guilty about.
Afternoon Onwards: Burg Square
Bordered by cafés and bars, the nearby Burg Square is home to the Basilica of the Holy Blood, a striking 12th Century chapel which holds a much-revered church relic, as well as the Stadhuis (City Hall) and the canal can be found just a few steps to the south. The square is the perfect place to sit back and take in the city, and is especially beautiful at night. Finish your evening with a meal and drinks at one of the many local establishments.
Morning: Bruges Canal Tour
Spend your last morning in Bruges taking in the city’s legendary landmarks from a whole new perspective. Sailing along the Dijver canal, a boat tour will take you past the Belfry tower and other gothic structures as you learn all there is to know about the history of this Belgian city. Take your pick from five different departure points, with one each at the piazzas of Markt and Burg squares.
Lunch: Brewery Tour and The Lake of Love
Often considered as one of Belgium’s greatest exports, no trip to Bruges should be without a visit to one of the city’s famous breweries. Still active now, the Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan is a family-run establishment, and offers tours of the brewery, guiding you through the beer-making process and teaching you all about the history of beer in Bruges. Be sure to sample the many different brews included with the tour, and the cobbled courtyard is the perfect place to stop for a hearty lunch afterwards. Once you’ve had your fill, head a few minutes south to Minnewaterpark. Surrounded by trees and lush greenery, this park is something of an oasis from the city and home to the Lake of Love – an exceptionally romantic spot to share with a partner.
Afternoon: Art and Architecture
A short stroll from Minnewaterpark will take you past a plethora of shops and restaurants and on to the Church of Our Lady. A perfect example of Flemish craftsmanship, it’s the tallest structure in the city, and holds a sublime collection of paintings and sculptures within its walls – with Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges taking pride of place at the centre of the southern aisle altarpiece. The nearby Groeningemuseum is also a must for art lovers. With a specialist selection of masterpieces dating as far back as the 15th century, it’s considered as one of Belgium’s premier art museums.
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