Is Bruges worth visiting in 2023? Absolutely! Visiting Bruges, Belgium feels like stepping back in to time. Unlike other famous European destinations such as London and Paris, Bruges is a small medieval town, filled with picturesque canals, Flemish style architecture, and cobblestone streets.
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Is Bruges Worth Visiting?
Bruges is truly a must visit place in Belgium and is a great addition for your next trip to Europe. Having travelled to many places throughout Europe, I felt that Bruges was such a relaxing yet beautiful atmosphere. While many people only visit Bruges as a day trip, I’d highly recommend staying at least 2 days in Bruges to really explore everything Bruges has to offer.
15 Best Things To Do In Bruges
Bruges is definitely worth visiting as there are so many amazing things to do there. Below is a list of the top 15 things to do in Bruges, Belgium.
1. Take a Canal Tour
The best thing to do in Bruges is to take a canal tour. The canal tour takes you through the historic, and picturesque canals in Bruges, and is a unique way of seeing the city. The tour also includes commentary on the history of Bruges.
Canal tours last for 30 minutes and run between 10am-6pm daily (the last boats leave around 5:30pm). There is no need to book in advance, you simply buy a ticket at the ticket stand where you’ll board the boat.
In high season, the tours can be busy in the afternoons so I’d recommend going first thing in the morning to avoid a line.
2. Take a Brewery Tour at De Halve Maan Brewery
Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan (De Halve Maan Brewery in English) is the oldest brewery in Bruges, and has been brewing beer for almost 500 years! Belgium is famous for it’s beer, and De Halve Maan Brewery is definitely worth checking out.
The brewery tour takes you through the brewery and tells you about the history of beer in Bruges. The best part is that it takes you up to the rooftop where you will get a view of Bruges from above.
It is important to note that there are several stairs throughout the tour, and so I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone with mobility difficulties, however you can still go to the restaurant and try a beer even without doing the official tour!
They offer a Classic Tour (45 minutes + 1 beer) or an XL tour (90 minutes + 3 beers). We did the Classic Tour and thought it was the perfect amount of time, but if you are interested in beer/brewing, the longer tour might be a great option.
You can book tickets online in advance directly through Halve Maan Brewery, or once you arrive in Bruges, you can stop by the brewery and buy your tickets for a later time. Tours only run at scheduled times and they do fill up, so I’d recommend buying in advance.
3. Grote Markt and Burg Square
Grote Market and Burg Square is a must stop on any trip to Bruges, Belgium. This is the main square of Bruges and where you will see the beautiful Flemish style architecture. There are several restaurants, shops, museums, and sites like the Belfry tower in this area.
Keep in mind, that the restaurants here will charge a bit more as it is a touristy area. If you are looking for good food at a better price, I’d recommend going down some of the side streets and checking out some of those restaurants.
4. Climb the Belfry Tower
The Belfry Tower is a highlight of Bruges, and definitely worth seeing. You can choose to climb the Belfry Tower, but there are around 366 steps to get to the top! However, you can get some great views over the medieval city from here.
5. Try a Belgium Waffle
Belgium Waffles are world famous, and for a good reason! These fluffy, delicious waffles are typically topped with a variety of fresh fruits. There is a lot of great food to try while in Bruges, but the Belgium Waffles are truly a must!
6. Minnewater Lake
Minnewater Lake, popularly known as the Lake of Love, is a picturesque park full of swans. It is arguably the most romantic place in all of Bruges. When we got to Bruges, this is the first place we came after getting off the train, and instantly felt like we were in fairytale because it is such beautiful place.
Over the lake, you’ll find Lover’s bridge. Local legend is that if you cross lover’s bridge with your significant other, that it will seal your love as being everlasting.
7. Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady is a magnificently stunning church in Bruges. This church took over two centuries to complete, and was finished in the 15th century. It also is the home to the famous sculpture Madonna and Child by Michelangelo.
8. Basilica of the Holy Blood
The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a church located in Burg Square of Bruges. The Basilica is home to an important relic of Christianity, a cloth that contains the blood of Christ. The Chapel of the Holy Blood is free to enter and see the relic, and they additionally have a small museum that costs 5 euros.
The history behind this relic is that Thierry of Alsace went on the Second Crusade in 1147, and brought back the famous relic. He placed the relic in the church he had built, the Saint Basil Chapel. Later, in the 13th century the upper level of the chapel was renamed the Chapel of the Holy Blood.
9. Historium Brugge
Historium Brugge is a fun interactive museum in the center of Bruges. We followed the interactive Historium Story, which takes you through a series of rooms and uses special effects to take you through a story of medieval Bruges!
It’s a great activity for both kids and adults, and at the end of the story there is a balcony with a great view of Markt Square!
10. Groeninge Museum
Groeninge museum is a great place to check out if you are an art lover. Built on the site of the medieval Eekhout Abbey. The museum is home to a collection of famous Belgian and Flemish paintings, including those from Jan van Eyck and the Marcel Broodthaers.
11. Belgium Beer Tasting along the Canals
Along the canal, you’ll find Brewery Bourgogne des Flandres, another Bruges Brewery! They offer a great tasting flight of different Belgium beers, but the best part is truly the view along the canals.
Belgium is famous for it’s beer, and it is definitely worth a try. Another option is to take a beer tasting tour like this one.
12. Rosary Quay
Looking for the spot in Bruges that you see all over Instagram? You’re looking for Rosary Quay! This area used to be where rosaries were sold, hence the name. Photographers and anyone looking to get a great picturesque view of Bruges will definitely want to check out this view point.
13. Visit a Market
Bruges has several markets on various days of the week. We visited over a long weekend, and stopped by a cute vintage market selling vintage items and handmade crafts. On other days, there are flower markets, food markets, and of course if you come during Christmas time there are Christmas markets! To see an updated schedule, see the Visit Bruges website.
14. Bike Ride to Damme and see the Windmills
Damme is a small village located around 7km from Bruges. The Maerlant Bicycle Trail connects Bruges to Damme, and will go past lovely scenery, including the windmills of Bruges. Bikes can be rented in Bruges, and this makes for a perfect afternoon activity, especially on a sunny summer day!
🚴 Looking to explore Bruges by bike? Check out these Bruges Bike Tours!
15. Take a Day Trip to Ghent
If you have an afternoon to spare in Bruges, why not take a 20 minute train ride over to another famous Belgium town, the town of Ghent? Ghent is a university town and is larger and a bit less touristy than Bruges.
A highlight of visiting Ghent is the Gravesteen Castle, which was a medieval castle built in the 1100’s and previous residence to the counts of Flanders. Another great option is to join a walking tour of Ghent to explore all that the city has to offer.
What Is Bruges Known For?
Bruges is known as being the Venice of the North, due to it’s beautiful canals. In the 15th century, Bruges was built up to become a powerful port city by international merchants. The historical significance of Bruges is why it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Today, many of the buildings are several hundred years old, yet beautifully maintained. The city truly gives you the feeling of stepping back in time.
Best Time To Visit Bruges
Bruges can be visited all year round, however I personally found late spring/early summer to be an ideal time to visit. May and June can have lower crowds compared to July and August, and are full of spring flowers and warmer weather. Similarly, September would make a great time to visit, as the weather is still warm yet with less crowds.
Climate wise, Bruges is a bit colder than other parts of Europe and can have more rainy days. In summer, the average temps are around 59-70 degrees F with an average 9 days of rain vs winter which sees average temps of 35-48 degrees F with an average 1 days of rain.
Although Bruges may be a bit chilly in December, the holiday season is also a magical time to visit the medieval city’s Christmas markets.
How Many Days In Bruges Is Enough?
Many people visit Bruges as a daytrip from larger cities such as Paris, Brussels, or Amsterdam, but personally I don’t recommend this. Bruges is magical at night time when the crowds leave and is a relaxing and beautiful addition to any trip to Europe. If possible, I’d recommend a long weekend of 2-3 nights in Bruges.
Want to see how to plan a perfect 2 days in Bruges? Check out this 2 day Bruges itinerary.
Is It Better to Go to Bruges or Brussels?
Bruges is better if you are looking for a picturesque medieval town. Bruges is known for it’s beautiful canals, stunning architecture, and charming cobblestone streets. Brussels is much larger and is best for those looking for a lively city to explore, full of international culture, museums, and nightlife.
What Is So Special About Bruges?
Bruges is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe. Many of the buildings date back to the 13th and 14th centuries, including the impressive Belfry in Markt Square. Walking through the medieval cobblestone streets feels like stepping back in time and it is an incredible place to visit.
Where to Stay in Bruges
📍Budget Friendly Option – Hotel Academie Bruges
I can’t say enough good things about Hotel Academie Bruges. It’s located an easy 10 minute walk from the train station and is in a perfect central location for exploring Bruges. We stayed here on a recent anniversary trip and loved it. The rooms are clean and modern, and the staff is so friendly.
📍Luxury Option – Hotel Dukes’ Palace
Looking for a 5 star hotel option in Bruges? Hotel Dukes’ Palace is the perfect luxury option! Located in the center of Bruges, this beautiful luxury hotel is perfect for a weekend in Bruges.
How To Get Around Bruges
One great thing about Bruges is that you will not need a car to get around. Bruges is a small, medieval town and part of the magic of Bruges is walking around and taking in the beauty of the city.
The train and bus stations are also within walking distance, and most hotels you can reach in an easy 10-15 minute walk from the train station. Additionally, Bruges does have taxis and a bus that can take you from the the train station to the center of town.
Conclusion: Is Bruges Worth Visiting In 2023?
So, is Bruges worth visiting? A thousand times yes! When you picture your next European trip, if you dream of going to a fairytale town with picturesque cobblestone streets and beautiful building, Bruges should be on your list.
Not only does Bruges feel like stepping into a fairytale, but it is a wonderful change of pace from larger cities such as Paris, Brussels, or London. Bruges, Belgium is definitely worth visiting!