Panoramic view of the historic city center of Bruges

Things to do in  Bruges

Cobblestone for days

Bruges (or Brugge) is one of Europe’s loveliest cities, with its network of canals, its classical Flemish architecture, and its spectacular Market Square (Markt)—little wonder that its historic center has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Easily accessible from Brussels, Bruges is small enough to see in a weekend but enchanting enough to linger in. Add in traditional restaurants serving Belgian beer, a handful of museums, tempting chocolate shops, and cozy Christmas markets in the festive season, and it’s clear why the city has a special appeal.

Top 15 attractions in Bruges

Minnewater (Lake of Love)

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Surrounded by a park that’s long been known as a romantic place for a stroll, Minnewater—also known as the Lake of Love—is a great place for anyone looking for some quiet time in nature. Swans are a common site on the lake, and the traditional Belgian brick houses around it make the park particularly photogenic.More

Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde (Begijnhof)

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Bruges’ Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde is one of the most famous and best preserved of Belgium’s UNESCO-listed Beguinages. One of the town’s most-visited attractions, it offers a glimpse into the European Beguine movement of the Middle Ages.More

Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk)

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The brick spire of the Church of Our Lady is visible across the city. Home to several important artworks, including Michelangelo’s marble Madonna and Child, the restored interior of the church is a must-visit for fans of European architecture.More

Burg Square

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Burg Square sits on the former site of a castle, which was originally built to protect the area from invading Vikings and Normans (and remained the seat of the Counts of Flanders for more than 500 years). The castle is now gone, but the charming public square that replaced it, the Burg, has been the heart of Bruges ever since.More

Historic Centre of Bruges (Historisch Centrum van Brugge)

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Bruges often tops the list of Europe’s most picturesque cities, and its Historic Center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, abounds with photo opportunities. A warren of cobbled lanes and scenic canals opens out onto grand medieval squares framed by colorful old buildings and dramatic Gothic facades.More

Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig-Bloedbasiliek)

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Standing next to city hall on Burg Square, the Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig-Bloedbasiliek) is a highlight of Bruges’ historical center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church dates back to the 12th century and houses one of the city’s most sacred relics: a vial believed to contain the blood of Jesus Christ.More

Belfry of Bruges (Belfort van Brugge)

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Dominating the Bruges skyline at a height of 272 feet (83 meters, this striking Gothic belfry (known as the Belfort stands proud over Markt Square as one of the city’s most cherished landmarks. This 13th-century tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, drawing tourists with its historic galleries and panoramic views from the top.More

De Halve Maan Brewery

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The only brewery still working in Bruges’ city center, Brouwerij De Halve Maan has been operated by the same family since 1856. It’s believed, however, to have been in operation for much longer: The first recorded mention of the brewery dates from 1546, when Bruges was home to more than 30 breweries.More

Bruges City Hall (Stadhuis van Brugge)

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Bruges City Hall (Stadhuis van Brugge) is Belgium’s oldest building and arguably Bruges’ most beautiful. Constructed between 1376 and 1420, the flamboyant, Gothic-style building was one of the first grand town halls in the Low Countries. The city has been governed from this building for more than 700 years.More

Sint-Janshospitaal (Saint John’s Hospital)

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Note: Sint-Janshospitaal is temporarily closed. Dating back to the 12th century, Sint-Janshospitaal (or Saint John’s Hospital) housed the sick for more than 800 years. Today, it’s one of the oldest surviving hospitals in Europe—and it’s open to the public. Lucky visitors can tour the chapel, explore the collection of artwork and vintage medical supplies, and even wander medieval wards where monks and nuns did their best to nurture patients.More
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Duvelorium

Duvelorium

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Located inside the Historium Brugge building in the center of Bruges, the Duvelorium Grand Beer Café offers a relaxing space to have a drink and a bite following a Historium tour. Belgian-beer aficionados will want to spend some time at the bar, which is open to the general public and offers excellent people watching and Market Square views.More

Market Square (Markt)

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The medieval-style Markt (Market Square) is the setting for Bruges’ most photogenic landmarks, including the belfry (Belfort) and the Provinciaal Hof. At its center stands a statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, who played leading roles in the Flemish resistance against the French in the 1302 Battle of the Golden Spurs.More

Bruges Beer Museum (Brugs Biermuseum)

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Also known as the Bruges Beer Experience, this innovative exhibition in the heart of Bruges immerses guests in Belgian beer culture through interactive tours and an on-site tasting bar. Opened in 2014, the museum uses modern technology to bring Belgium’s brewing history to life, making it a top spot for young families and beer lovers alike.More

Choco-Story, the Chocolate Museum

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A museum devoted to all things chocolate Bruges’ Choco-Story is a must-visit for anyone with a sweet tooth. Learn how Belgian chocolate is made—and then sample some freshly made treats before you leave.More
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Canals of Bruges (Brugse Reien)

Canals of Bruges (Brugse Reien)

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With its maze of cobbled streets and squares, striking old buildings, and network of scenic canals, the UNESCO-listed Historic Centre of Bruges is undeniably picturesque. A boat trip down the romantic canals of Bruges is at the top of the bucket list for many Belgium visitors, and there’s no better way to experience this beautiful city than from the water.More

Top activities in Bruges

Bruges Walking Tour

Bruges Walking Tour

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The 10 Tastings of Bruges With Locals: Private Food Tour
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Belgian Chocolate Workshop in Bruges
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The Waffles 'n Beer Workshop
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The Waffles 'n Beer Workshop

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Guided boat trip and walk

Guided boat trip and walk

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Chocolate Workshop at Choco-Story Brugge
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Bruges Waffle Workshop

Bruges Waffle Workshop

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Discover Bruges by bike!

Discover Bruges by bike!

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BeerWalk Bruges (English guide)
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All about Bruges

When to visit

Bruges looks lovely all year round, but the city is especially charming with a fresh coat of snowfall and frozen-over canals. Bruges’ cozy taverns and indulgent chocolate shops seem tailor-made for winter, and its Christmas markets illuminate the festive season. But if you’d rather escape the cold weather than luxuriate in it, the early autumn shoulder season lets you soak up the warmth (and take advantage of Flanders’ Open Monuments Day in September) with fewer crowds to navigate than in the summer high season.

Getting around

Bruges is served by the Bruges Train Station, which connects it to other nearby destinations like Brussels, Ghent, and Antwerp. Numerous bus lines operate in the city itself and link the station to central Bruges, while canal boat tours offer another perspective on the Venice of the North. That said, Bruges very much exists on a walkable scale, and exploring the city on foot (or by bicycle) is an excellent way to see its sights.

Traveler tips

Bruges’ Belfry—the UNESCO-listed medieval tower that overlooks the Markt—is far and away its top attraction. Given its enviable views, it’s no surprise that there can be a long wait to ascend. For your best shot, arrive right when it opens to beat the crowds. Alternatively, head to the nearby Historium Brugge museum, whose own tower offers similarly appealing views.

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Tours
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People Also Ask

What is Bruges best known for?

Bruges is best known for its medieval architecture, including its sky-high Belfry, which has earned the city a UNESCO World Heritage designation. The charming city is also renowned for its picturesque canals, delicious chocolate shops, cozy restaurants, Christmas markets, and other festive events.

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Is Bruges worth visiting?

Yes, Bruges is absolutely worth visiting. Nicknamed “The Venice of the North,” it is reputed to be one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, and its accessible scale makes it easy to explore. Book a canal boat tour to soak up its charm and see the best of its medieval architecture.

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How many days do you need in Bruges?

Even if you have just one day, that’s enough time to see Bruges: Many visitors come on day trips from nearby hubs like Brussels and Ghent, and the city’s approachable scale makes it easy to explore. That said, it’s worth spending at least a weekend in Bruges to avoid rushing through its attractions.

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Is Bruges a walkable city?

Yes, Bruges is very walkable thanks to its approachable scale. Exploring on foot is one of the best ways to soak up the city’s ambiance and admire its architecture. That said, buses are available to transport visitors around town, and canal boats are another popular way to see Bruges.

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What is the best month to visit Bruges?

Bruges is renowned for its Christmas markets and festive decorations, and December is a lovely time to soak up its seasonal spirit. Alternatively, shoulder-season months like May and September offer more comfortable weather for sightseeing and not quite as many crowds as you’ll encounter during the summer high season.

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Which is better to visit, Bruges or Brussels?

Brussels and Bruges are both worth visiting, and they offer two very different experiences. If you prefer an ultra-urban and dynamic capital with endless cultural attractions, head to Brussels. For a charming escape in a smaller city whose quaint canals are a major attraction, plan a trip to Bruges.

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