Welcome to Bruges
Bruges is fast becoming one of the most popular cities in Europe for a short break and our Bruges guide is dedicated to helping you discover why that is. Most of the city’s medieval architecture is still intact, making it a great place to visit for history and culture. Its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site means that the history is protected, hence making it even more special to see. An abundance of theatres, museums, galleries and concert halls are available for you to explore, along with a great shopping district filled with boutiques, local produce and exciting flea markets.
Getting to Bruges is easy via plane, train or ferry and once you get to the city the extensive bus routes are great for getting you around. Walking and cycling is probably the easiest way to see the centre as the narrow winding paths are no place for cars, and taking a canal cruise along the numerous water-ways is a great activity for the whole family. Food in Bruges is delicious, with Belgian chocolates and waffles on every corner and wonderful pubs for you to try a ‘proper’ Belgian beer, the best are listed in this guide to Bruges. Michelangelo’s Madonna With Child sculpture, believed to be the only one outside of Italy, is a must visit if art and culture are your thing. There’s also the 13th century belfry from which you can enjoy magnificent panoramic views across Bruges. For everything you need to know about this wonderful city, just explore our in-depth guide to Bruges.
Must do's by day
Walk the film set of ‘In Bruges’
Be amazed by Michelangelo’s Madonna With child
Experience a traditional Belgian Markt
Must do's by night
See beautiful Bruges by night on a canal cruise
Taste some local Belgian beer
Enjoy a late night dinner in Market Square
Travelling to Bruges
Bruges is easily accessible from the UK thanks to a great range of options in terms of transport. Whether going by plane, train or ferry, visitors to the city can enjoy a comfortable and organised journey.
Rail is a great way to travel to Bruges thanks to our great Eurostar packages which only take four hours to get you from London to Bruges’ Centrum-Station. Convenient and great value for money, as well as travelling ins style and comfort.
Travelling by ferry means that visitors can begin their holiday as soon as they board. With our 3 or 4 night mini-cruises, you get a comfortable room, delicious food and evening entertainment, with great connection transport waiting at the other side.
Brussels’ National Airport is only one hour away by road and has great transport links to Bruges. There is also Ostend Bruges Airport which is nearer, but does not have as good connections back to the city. The flight is only 1 hour 30 minutes.
Getting Around in Bruges
Due to the narrow streets and well preserved ancient road, driving cars in the centre of Bruges is frowned upon, although still allowed. It is much preferred that you enjoy the city on bike or foot, or make use of the vast lines of buses that run throughout the region.
Bruges has an extensive web of bus lines providing access to the city centre and the suburbs and to towns and villages in the region around the city. Free public transport is available for those who park their cars in the main railway station car park.
In common with many cities in the region, there are thousands of cyclists in the city of Bruges. With narrow streets and lots to see, cycling is an easy and environmentally friendly way to see this beautiful city.
If you can’t get your hands on a bike or don’t fancy navigating the narrow streets on two wheels, walking around is the best way to travel. This way you don’t miss anything and you don’t get caught up in the traffic.
Getting To Bruges
Bruges is easily accessible from the UK due to a great range of options in terms of transport. Whether going by plane, train or ferry, visitors to the city can enjoy a comfortable and organised journey. Train is a popular way to travel thanks to our great Eurostar packages, where you can leave London in your comfortable seat, arrive in Brussels in less than two hours, and thanks to brilliant connecting trains, be in Bruges two hours later. Flying is obviously another fast way to reach Bruges, as flights from London take around an hour and a half with an hours transfer once you land. Ferry trips to Bruges are also a great way of getting there and also means you get to begin your holiday as soon as you step on board.
By RailRail is a popular way to travel to Bruges thanks to Eurostar packages which only take only four hours to get you from London to Bruges’ Centrum-Station. Convenient and great value for money, as well as travelling in style and comfort, travelling via rail can also show you the beautiful surroundings as you travel through the cities to Bruges, and allows you to see as much as possible whilst on your trip.
By AirBrussels’ National Airport is only one hour away by road and has great transport links to Bruges. Most international flights land here and with 109 gates it’s a very busy place. The National Airport Railway is under the airport building and takes about 45 minutes to Bruges. There is also Ostend Bruges Airport which is nearer, but does not have as good connections back to the city. The flight is only 1 hour 30 minutes.
By FerryTravelling by ferry means that visitors can begin their holiday as soon as they board. With our 3 or 4 night mini-cruises, you get a comfortable room, delicious food and evening entertainment, with great connection transport waiting at the other side. The ferry port is only half an hour by coach to get to the centre of Bruges so you can be exploring the sights and sampling the cuisine in no time.
Getting Around Bruges
Due to the narrow streets and well preserved ancient road, driving cars in the centre of Bruges is frowned upon, although still allowed. It is much preferred that you enjoy the city on bike or foot, or make use of the vast lines of buses that run throughout the region. There are very good public transport services that can take you to all of the major sights and most places in the region, so even if you’re not staying in the centre, there’s easy ways to get there.
By BusBruges has an extensive web of bus lines providing access to the city centre and the suburbs and to towns and villages in the region around the city. Free public transport is available for those who park their cars in the main railway station car park as driving in the centre is not the best idea due to the narrow streets and busy bus routes. Buy a Jump Card so you can use any form of public transport with one ticket. If you’re hopping on and off 5 times or less it costs as little as 7 Euros.
By BikeIn common with many cities in the region, there are thousands of cyclists in the city of Bruges. With narrow streets and lots to see, cycling is an easy and environmentally friendly way to see this beautiful city. If you can’t take your own bike with you don’t worry, as there are numerous cycle hire points where for a very reasonable price you can hire the bike for an hour, a half day or the full 24 hours.
By FootIf you can’t get your hands on a bike or don’t fancy navigating the narrow streets on two wheels, walking around is the best way to travel. This way you don’t miss anything and you don’t get caught up in the traffic. The streets are filled with hidden shops, tasty street food stalls and exciting little finds that you may miss if you were not on foot. The winding canals are a pleasure to wander around, and the cleanliness and historic beauty of the whole city is delightful.
Shopping in Bruges
Bruges isn’t a high fashion city or one you’d necessarily visit for an expansive shopping trip, yet what it does offer in retail options makes it just that little more special. The traditional chocolate shops and speciality beer stores are very common due to the country’s history but that’s not all it has to offer. Weekly flea markets are definitely something to experience if you can. Join the locals in searching for hidden gems and bargain souvenirs or simply sit back and enjoy the homemade tasty treats. There are some department stores around but if you prefer the quaint boutiques and ample local produce then you’ll love Bruges’ shopping scene.
Top 5 Specialist Shops in Bruges
The Bottle Shop, Wollestraat
A wealth of beer, bottles and glasses with many of the hundreds of beers on offer being Belgian, including Lambic and Gueuze beers, and lots of highly individual glasses that go with them.
Brugs Diamanthuis, Katelijnestraat 43
Using a diamond polishing technique attributed to the mid-15th century, this shop keeps alive the tradition and offers a large selection of quality diamonds and diamond jewellery.
Diksmuids Boterhuis, Geldmuntstraat 23
Aromatic shop with hams and sausages hanging from the ceiling, and Belgian and French cheeses and breads
L'Heroine, Noordzandstraat 32
The best selection of Belgian fashion is found at this small but excellent store, stocking a range of great Belgian designers.
Spegelaere, Ezelstraat 92
Bruges' ‘Best Kept Secret’, all chocolates are made on site with the house special being a bunch of grapes made from marzipan covered in black chocolate.
Top 5 Must Visits in Bruges
Iki, Katelijnestraat 131
This is a wonderful little boutique selling good-vintage clothing and accessories from the 1920's to 1970's. Perfect as unique gifts or a special souvenir of your trip.
De Striep, Katelijnestratt 42
This amazing tardis-like store specialises in comic strips, mainly in Belgian and French but some in English too
Yannick De Hondt, St. Salvatorskerkhof 9
An abstract store that sells stylish antiques with a mix of 15th- to 18th- century European and Japanese furniture and African art.
If it’s the right time of year, the Bruges Christmas Market is something not to be missed. Songs, stalls, a brilliant atmosphere and delicious festive food.
Chocolatier, Depla Pol, Mariastraat 20
This shop sells some of the city's finest hand-made chocolates, particularly truffles, florentines and marzipan, lovely for taking back for the family and friends.
Eating Out in Bruges
Traditional Belgian cuisine is high on the list of priorities in the majority of Bruges’ restaurants. However, thanks to recent years of increased visitors, the diversity in Bruges’ dishes has improved and there is now a very vibrant and varied choice available on what you can eat when you dine out. As well as the speciality frites and mussels, there are now restaurants from Japan, China, Morocco, India and many more countries. You can try something different every night, or enjoy the best of Belgium’s national dishes.
Top 5 Most Popular Restaurants in Bruges
Den Dyver, Dijver 5 City Centre
Not only are the seasonal dishes at this elegant restaurant individually paired with beers, they're also cooked in Belgium's favourite nectar.
Bistro de Schaar, Hooistraat 2 St Anna
An out-of-the-way, good-value restaurant located just below street level. In fine weather there's also a large terrace across the road next to the canal lock to enjoy this Mediterranean-Belgian fusion.
Tanuki, Oude Gentweg 1 City Centre
Minimalist, cute and classic, this is the only Japanese restaurant of note in Bruges, with a great range of snacks and full meals to suit everyone
De Koetse, Oude Burg 31 Simon Stevinplein
Popular with the locals, this Markt restaurant serves fantastic mussels and frites, specialties in Belgium, and the interesting eel in spinach sauce.
De Stove, Kleine St Amandsstraat 4 City Centre
Just 20 seats keep this gem intimate. Fish caught daily is the house specialty, but meat-based dishes on the monthly changing menu include the likes of wild boar fillet on oyster mushrooms.
Top 5 Restaurants for a Special Occasion
De Karmeliet, Langestraat 19 City Centre
Intricate compositions such as Zeeland oysters, poached quail eggs, caviar and potato mousseline have earned this restaurant a trio of Michelin stars.
't Huidevettershuis, Huidenvettersplein 10, 8000, Bruges
Sublime fine dining, hidden by the canal behind the Bascilica of the Holy Blood, the superb steak, frites and bearnaise sauce here are worth the five minute walk from Markt Square.
Hertog Jan, Torhoutsesteenweg 479 West
This suburban restaurant is the current talk of gourmet circles around Europe. Expect French cuisine such as Limousin lamb and Bresse dove and a mix of traditional Belgian dishes.
Ryad, Hoogstraat 32 City Centre
Bruges' dining scene has been boosted by the influx of many new cuisines including this intimate Moroccan haunt. Couscous and tagines are its forte, and the décor's deliciously dark.
Bistro de Eetkamer, Eekhoutstraat 6 City Centre
This petite restaurant is hailed as one of Bruges' more impressive eateries. The seasonal menu is mainly Belgian-based but the chefs give it a satisfying modern twist
Nightlife in Bruges
Bruges’ nightlife is one of culture, atmosphere and enjoying the best things about the city. It’s not a place full of drunken crowds or full-volume music, instead it boasts wonderful historic architecture made even more beautiful by the illuminated streets, bars and live music venues full of character and tradition, romantic trips around the city by horse and carriage or candle-lit cruise, and many other authentic, Belgian treats that make Bruges unique. There are of course theatres, cinema and concert halls where you can spend the evening enjoying culture and entertainment, and the friendly locals are there to make sure you have a great place for a night-cap on your return.
Top 10 Bruges Nightlife
Belfry Tower, Markt Square
This medieval belltower is the high point of the historical centre of Bruges and one of the city's most prominent symbols. At night, the views from its tower, which stands at 270, are magnificent.
Canal Boat Tour, City Centre
Well-known for its numerous winding canals, an evening cruise through the waterways is a romantic and beautiful way to spend a clear evening.
Horse & Carriage Ride, City Centre
Another great way to enjoy the night time scenery is by taking a romantic ride in a horse and carriage. Be whisked down the narrow streets, down by the glistening canals and through the atmospheric Markt Square.
Not only do you get to see the best of Bruges by night this way, but you also get to learn about the vast history and culture that lies behind the beautiful exterior.
See stunning Bruges from above with an evening hot-air balloon ride. Head off just before dusk and watch the sun set over the gorgeous buildings and shimmering canals.
The Bottle Shop
Visit the bottle shop to sample their selection of no less than 700 different beers that they have on-site. Perfect for a evening tipple.
Kinepolis, Koning Albert I laan 200 8000
Head to the cinema to enjoy the latest big hits or something alternative from the Belgian cinema scene.
Concertgebouw, 't Zand 34
This is an international music and performing arts centre showing music, music theatre and contemporary dance and artistic disciplines for you to enjoy a cultured evening.
Bruges Royal City Theatre, Vlamingstraat 29
Enjoy an evening of beautiful performances, well-loved story lines or brilliant contemporary dance shows at one of the best preserved theatres in Europe.
Est Wijnbar, Noordzandstraat 34 City
With live jazz, blues, boogie or folk music every night this quaint little wine bar and terrace is perfect for a relaxing evening after a bright, sunny day.
Bars in Bruges
If you love beer, Bruges is the perfect place for you. Unlike other European cities, Bruges isn’t full of night time crowds stumbling out of noisy clubs, or queues of people waiting outside the burger van. Instead it is filled with refined beer havens with specialty drinks and a pride in their produce. Belgium is well known for its beer, and Bruges makes the most of this historical skill. There are a few cocktail bars and at least one ‘club’, but it’s much more catered for those who want atmosphere, character and good old tradition.
Top 10 Bruges Bars
Brugs Beertje, Kemelstraat 5
A quaint and cosy pub serving around 250 bottles of different beers and mentioned as a ‘Mecca’ for beer-lovers by previous visitors.
De Bierboom, Langestraat 73
For atmosphere, value & personal touch look no further than De Bierboom. Not the biggest range of beers but always a unique selection and surprising specials.
Café Rose Red, Cordoeanierstreet 18
If you’re searching for an escape from the crowds than this charming and atmospheric café bar is just off the main street, serving beers, wines and all with delightful service.
T' Brugsch Bieratelier, Wijingaardstraat 13
A very intimate bar perfect for trying craft beer and local ales, squeeze in for a friendly atmosphere and one of the nicest bars in Bruges.
Le Trappiste, Kuipersstraat 33
A specialist bar for the best of Belgian beer, the converted medieval cellars offer a fantastic setting to socialise and taste the local brew.
Cambrinus, Philipstockstraat 19
In a building dating back to 1699, this beer haven is founded on the history of Cambrinus – The King of Beer. Taste some of the produce dedicated to the man the Belgians believe invented beer.
Hotel Heritage, Niklaas Desparsstraat 11
For an evening of fine wines, the best champagne and signature cocktails, head to the luxurious Hotel Heritage.
Café Vlissinghe, Blekersstraat 2
The oldest pub in the whole of Bruges and one of the oldest in the world, this traditional pub has been sevring continuosly since 1515.
Pieter Pourbus, Pieter Pourbusstraat 1
With open fires and original features, this cosy pub is just the treat after a long day of exploring and shopping for souvenirs.
The Druid’s Cellar, St-Amandsstraat 11
Beer, whiskey, spirits and wine, any drink you can think of is served here. One of the most varied bars in Bruges and one of the most characterful.
Attractions in Bruges
The variety of attractions in Bruges makes it a wonderful city to visit, although a short break may not seem like enough time to enjoy all of the wonderful things available. From historic museums to chocolate tours, dolphinariums to beautiful, picturesque lakes, Bruges’ diversity is something to behold. If you only do one thing whilst you’re there, make sure you head to The Church of our Lady, where the Michelangelo statue, Madonna and Child resides, rumoured to be the only piece of his outside of Italy.
Top 10 Bruges Attractions
De Halve Maan Brewery, Walplein 26
Take a 45 minute guided tour and discover the secret to great beer, as well as amazing views from the top of the building.
Basilica of the Holy Blood, Burg 13
Indulge in some real history, as this chapel contains a phial that reputedly contains Christ's blood brought back from the Crusades.
Stadhuis (Town Hall), Burg 11
The Bruges Town Hall was built in 1376. Go inside to see the 19th century Gothic Chamber and the painted figures that shed light on the city’s incredible past.
Belfry, Markt 7
This 13th Century belltower is not only magnificent to look at but gives visitors the most amazing panoramic views over Bruges.
Groeninge Museum, Dijver 12
Home of the Flemish Primitives from the 15th century, this museum includes works of Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus,and Hieronymous Bosch.
Minnewater Lake, Off Wijngaardplein
Looking for a scenic place to take a romantic daytime or evening stroll? This stunning lake offers nature lovers a perfect setting regardless of the season or time of year.
The Markt, Markt
This is a nifty square in the centre of town surrounded by hundreds of gift shops and tourist nooks. The main highlight is a store where you can buy a beer glass from each Belgian brewery.
Church of our Lady, Vrouwekerkhof Zuid
This church features a 122m spire and what is claimed to be the only Michelangelo statue to have left Italy in his lifetime, Madonna and Child.
Choco-Story, Wijnzakstraat 2
Visit this tasty museum and find out why Belgian chocolate is some of the best in the world.
Boudewijn Theme Park, Southern suburbs at De Baeckestraat 12
Where theme park rides and dolphin shows reign supreme. Water takes centre stage here, whether you’re talking the Orca-themed water slide, pirate ship, or daily show within the indoor Dolfinarium.