Bruges is one of those places that you see a photo of and you’re like “I need to go there”. At least this is how things happened with me. I was the midst of my Holland trip, when I came across this beautiful Belgian town and I knew I had to see it with my own eyes. So let’s talk about how to spend the perfect weekend in Bruges.
My friend and I booked a Flixbus from Rotterdam and before we knew it, we were on our way to one of the prettiest medieval towns in Europe. We arrived at Bruges Bargeplein bus stop (which is most probably where you’d arrive as well, if you’re coming by bus). Getting to the city centre took less than 20 minutes by foot and it was a nice stroll along the river.
You can also take a train to Bruges. The walk from the train station to the main part of the city takes around 20 minutes as well, or you can alternatively take a bus.
Where to stay in Bruges?
When choosing a place to stay in Bruges, we were looking for the most budget-friendly option. This is why we decided to book a night at the St. Christopher’s Inn Hostel.
This place was, hands down, the cleanest hostel I’ve ever stayed in, and the beds were super comfortable. They also have a 24-hour reception, as well as a super nice bar where you can enjoy some food and drinks.
St’ Christopher’s Inn Hostel would definitely be my number one recommendation for a place to stay in Bruges. And if you’re not a fan of sharing a room with 5+ other strangers, they also offer private rooms for reasonable prices.
AirBnb is another option for finding accommodation. Even though Bruges is very compact, still make sure the place you’re staying in is within a walking distance from the city centre – it will make your life a lot easier.
And if none of these options are satisfying enough for you, then head over to Booking.com, select your criteria and look for the best option for you.
Now let’s get onto the good stuff and find out the best way to spend a weekend in Bruges!
Things to do in Bruges in a weekend
Explore Bruges’ city centre
Bruges is stunning, to say the least. Every corner just looks like out of an old medieval fairytale. There are countless beautiful places that need to be discovered , so take a stroll around Bruges’ city centre and soak in the atmosphere around you.
The city is considered one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Europe, as most of its medieval architecture has remained intact throughout centuries. Bruges’ historic city centre has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
Check out the colourful market square, climb the Belfry tower, pay a visit to the Church of Our Lady, walk along the river… Despite its small size, Bruges is packed with sights worth checking out. Everything you need to see located in very close proximity, so exploring on foot has never been easier.
Take a boat along the canals
Next on the list of the best things to do on a weekend in Bruges is to explore the city’s beauty by boat.
There are several pick-up points along the canals, and the tour usually takes around half an hour. Cruising around on a boat lets you see Bruges from a whole different, and it’s something you shouldn’t miss out on. The prices are around 8 euros/person.
The boat guides also entertain their passengers throughout the whole tour with historical information about the city, giving you insights on the most important buildings, interesting facts and more.
Try to avoid the crowds by getting a boat first thing in the morning! This way after you’re finished you’d already be familiar with all the important spots, and you’ll have the opportunity to explore them on foot right after.
Join a free walking tour
There are quite a few different walking tours offered in Bruges – historical ones, night tour, food tour etc. We decided to go on the historical walking tour and food walking tour by Legends of Bruges.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – to me free walking tours are the best way to get to know a new place. First off, you learn a ton of new interesting information and historical facts by a local. Secondly, you get to meet and talk to other travellers while wandering the city for 1,5 – 2 hours. And thirdly, you can tip as much as you want, so you’re not obliged to any prices!
We did both tours in the same day, and it was a very pleasant, informative and interesting experience. The historical tour took us to a lot of places in the city centre, and the guide did an amazing job at providing the ‘boring’ information about the history of Bruges in a funny way.
The food tour was not only delicious, but also very enriching in terms of getting to know the Belgian cuisine. We tasted the best local waffles, some local beer, chocolate, pralines and more. You won’t be leaving with an empty stomach, I promise you that!
The timetable for the tours we visited is:
Historical tour: Every day at 9:45, 10:30, 11:30 and 14h. (Also available in Spanish and French during some hours/days)
Food tour: Every day except Monday at 11:30
Meeting point for all tours: Grote Markt, in front of the statue.
Try Belgian waffles and Belgian chips
Belgium is famous for its traditional waffles. As a matter of fact, there are two types of waffles you can/should try – Brussels waffles and Liège waffles.
Brussels waffles are the thing most people imagine when they hear Belgian waffles – crispy on the outside, soft and light on the inside.
Liège waffles, however, are made out of thicker batter, and are therefore richer and ‘heavier’. The main difference to me was that I could probably eat 10 of the Brussels waffles, but not more than 1 or 2 of the Liège ones, because of how rich they are.
We got to try both types during our free walking food tour!
On another note, did you know, that the “French fries” we all know weren’t really invented by the French. They were actually a Belgian creation. At least according to our Belgian tour guide. “Chips” is a much more preferred term when ordering this potato goodness, especially in Belgium (they’re not very happy with the term French fries).
True Belgian chips are also prepared in a different way from what you’d normally experience. They are being fried twice – first at a lower temperature so they get soft on the inside, and then on a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time, until they are gold and crispy on the outside. The Belgian also love having them with some mayonnaise on the side. Yumm!
Visit a museum
Next on the list of things to do in Bruges is for all the museum lovers. And speaking of fries, the one and only fries museum in the world is conveniently located in Bruges! You can learn all about the history of French (or Belgian) fries at Frietmuseum.
Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 10am – 5pm
Another interesting place is the Torture museum. Located in one of the oldest European prisons, this museum showcases a collection of instruments for torture from centuries ago, and informs about the significance of torture throughout history.
Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 10:30am – 6:30pm
If you are a fan of art, Groeningemuseum might be the one for you. The museum houses an impressive collection of 6 centuries of Belgian and Flemish paintings by local artists.
Opening hours: Tue – Sun: 9:30am – 5pm
Bruges also has a Chocolate museum! You won’t just learn about the history of chocolate and cacao there, but also witness a chocolate making demonstration, as well as receive a free sample to taste. What’s more to ask?
Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 10am – 5pm
Taste the local beer
Bruges is also very often associated with its beer production and export. At one point throughout history, during the 15th century, the city was home to over 50 breweries. Nowadays, there are ‘only’ 3 left – Bourgogne des Flandres, Fort Lapin and De Halve Maan.
According to locals, Bruges is the city where the best beer is being produced. I am not a big fan of this beverage, so you’ll have to decide this for yourself.
De Halve Maan is a family-owned brewery, which has been running in Bruges since 1856. They offer daily tours where you will be shown around the brewery, explained the whole beer brewing process, and you’ll be able to try some of their beer.
Bruges is also home to the Bruges Beer Festival – a weekend, when the whole city centre is transformed into a big bar, and visitors have the chance to taste over 400 beers from 80 different breweries.
There is so much beer history going on here, so it would be a pity not to try it, even if you’re not a fan (like me).
Enjoy Luc Vanlaere’s Free Harp Concert
Something very unique about Bruges is the harp concerts by the harpist-composer Luc Vanlaere that take place all-year-round in the centre of Bruges. The concert has a duration of around 35-40 minutes, and the entry is free of charge. Donations are accepted, but not obligatory.
This artists loves sharing his work for free, especially with people, who otherwise couldn’t afford to experience something like this.
The hundreds of positive reviews on Tripadvisor for Luc’s concertshould be more than enough to persuade you to check out this magical concert and create another unforgettable memory in Bruges.
When? – Tuesday to Saturday at 15h, 17h and 18:30h
Where? – Congresscentre Oud St Jan Mariastraat 38
Chill at the Minnewater park by the Lake of Love
Another must-see in Bruges is the Minnewater park and the nearby Lake of Love. Whether you’d like to go for a stroll, just chill on a bench or admire the beauty around you from the Lovers Bridge, this is the perfect spot to do that.
The Lake of Love got its name from a local legend, and it’s believed that if you walk over the bridge with your loved one, your love will remain forever. I can’t confirm whether this is true or not, but the Minnewater is certainly one of the most romantic spots in Bruges.
All year round you can find swans swimming around the lake – the swan has turned into one of the symbols of the city. According to our tour guide there used to be one black swan as well, but then it was decided it didn’t quite fit in, so they removed it, sadly.
Nevertheless, the Minnewaterpark is still extremely magical. Just as we were walking past, a couple was riding a boat in the lake of love and a marriage proposal happened in front of our eyes. Everyone around started cheering and clapping, and honestly, my heart was just melting at this point. So the legend might be true after all!
Spend the night out
Bruges’ nightlife is definitely something to experience. The city is constantly bursting with tourists, which means the bars are full of people from all over the world, who are usually very open for new acquaintances.
The town centre is buzzing with bars to choose from, offering tons of choices of good local beer.
My friend and I spent the night at Bauhaus – the bar of the hostel we stayed in, and it was such a great time! There was live music, we talked to tons of people, and the next day we even went out to discover more of Bruges with some of them.
You never know where a good night out in Bruges might take you!
Do you have some more recommendations for things to do in Bruges? Share them in the comments!
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