Home Bruges 10 things to do and see in Bruges

10 things to do and see in Bruges

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Bruges in 1, 2 or 3 days

Bruges, in Belgium, is a charming medieval town with its brick houses, towers and old bridges. You will feel that ancient atmosphere walking on the cobbled streets or taking a boat trip through the canals. Bruges has many beautiful corners and postcard views but also many attractions, art treasures and monuments.
The beautiful old town, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is developed around two medieval places: the Burg and the Markt. Here you can find famous sites such as the charming shops of laces, the precious art collections, the Beguinage, the romantic Lake of Love. On this page we suggest you 10 things to do and see during your visit to Bruges.

If you are looking for a hotel in Bruges, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 220 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Markt in Bruges

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The Grote Markt, or Market Square, was the commercial centre during the Middle Ages.

The Markt in Bruges
The Markt in Bruges

Today is the heart of the city and one of its major tourist attractions.
The Markt has houses with pointy spires, restaurants and cafes and general markets dating back to 1200 (the Hallen). The Belfort, the bell tower symbol of Bruges and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is placed in the old town.
It has an impressive clock mechanism, a 47-bell carillonoperated manually, and which offers a beautiful view over the city and the surroundings. In the square there is also the neo-gothic Provincial Palace, and the postal building (red brick building). The statues in the center of Markt depict Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, heroes of the Flemish revolt against the French occupation (Battle of the Golden Spurs, 1302).

Where: old city
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: Belfort is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm . Never January 1, Ascension Day and 25 December.
Tickets: € 8; reduced € 6. Children under 6 don’t pay. Free with the Brugge City Card.

The Burg of Bruges

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The Burg is one of the main squares of Bruges. Once here stood the fortified castle (burg) built to protect the town from the attacks of the Vikings, and the San Donatian’s church, the main sacred building of Bruges.

The Burg of Bruges
The Burg of Bruges

The square was the administrative and religious heart of Bruges. You will admire the fourteenth-century Gothic Town Hall (Stadhuis), one of the oldest in the Netherlands, with spiers, towers and the decorated façade.
The Gothic Hall (1400) is a masterpiece, with its wall paintings of the late nineteenth century illustrating the most important events of the history of Bruges. Next to City Hall is the former Civil Registry Renaissance which houses the Historical Museum of the Brugse Vrij.

Where: old town centre
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: The Town Hall is open every day from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. Closed: 1/01, on Ascension Day (afternoon) and 25/12.
Tickets: The ticket price is € 4 (full); € 3 (reduced); Free with Brugge City Card.

Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges

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Since eight centuries, the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges houses a fabric piece used by Joseph of Arimathea to dry the blood of Christ after the crucifixion.

Basilica of the Holy Blood in BrugesThe sacred relic is contained in a rock crystal bottle placed inside a small glass topped with a golden crown. The Basilica of the Holy Blood is made up of two distinct parts: the lower chapel of St. Basil (XII century) with no decoration, which houses the relics of the greek theologian, and the upper chapel of the Holy Blood in Gothic style (XV century), with frescoes and beautiful stained glass windows. Here, one of the side chapels preserves the relic of the Precious Blood.
Outside the basilica, the small museum houses the shrine in which is placed the vial during the procession of the Holy Blood, and other treasures belonging to the church.

Where: old town centre
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours:
The Basilica and the museum are open from 1/04 to 30/09 every day from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm and 2:00 to 5:00 pm ; from 1/10 to 31/03 every day except Wednesday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and 2:00 to 5:00 pm.
Veneration of the Relic: from 1/04 to 30/09 every day from 11:30 am to 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm ; from 1/10 to 31/03 every day from 11:30 am to 12:00 pm ; Mon, Tues. and Th. 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.; fri., sat. and Sun. 2:00 – 4: 00 pm . Every day except Mondays.
Tickets: Museum entrance € 2. Free with Brugge City Card.

The Begijnhof in Bruges

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A protective wall and an eighteenth-century gate (strictly closed after 6:30 pm) preserve the tranquillity and peace of the Begijnhof “De Wijngaard”, a group of white houses around a garden, once inhabited the nuns of the Order of St. Benedict.

The Begijnhof in Bruges
The Begijnhof in Bruges

Margaret of Constantinople, Countess of Flanders, found in 1245 the Begijnhof in order to bring together the beguines of the city. The small community of lay sisters had a life of prayer and work, asceticism and charitable activities. One of the houses has been converted into a museum to give visitors an idea of the life style of the beguines. In 1584, a fire destroyed the thirteenth-century church. Rebuilt in 1609, it was later renovated in the late Baroque style.

Where: Outside the Old City. Wijngaardstraat (north of Minnewater)
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: Begijnhof: daily 6:30 am to 6:30 pm . Museum: Monday- Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm ; Sunday 2:30 to 5:00 pm.
Tickets: Begijnhof: free entrance . Museum: € 2. Free entrance with Brugge City Card.

The Groening Museum in Bruges

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The Museum of Groening offers a rich collection of works of art from the fifteenth to the twentieth century, mainly focusing on artists who lived and worked in Bruges. Exposure Purpose: to provide an interesting overview of six centuries of art in the southern Netherlands.

The Groening Museum in Bruges
The Groening Museum in Bruges

A magnificent collection of paintings by the so-called Flemish Primitives is the core of the permanent exhibition and above all one of the best collections of medieval art in Europe.
The museum has, in fact, some masterpieces of Jan Van Eyck ( “Madonna with Canon George Van der Paele” and the portrait of his wife “Margareta Van Eyck”); Hans Memling (“Triptych Moreel”); Gerard David (“Judgment of Cambyses”); and Hugo van der Goes (“Death of the Virgin”). Interesting is the section about the paintings of Renaissance and Baroque periods (Jan Provoost, Pieter Pourbus, Jacob van Oost, Jan Antoon Garremijn), and the neo-classical masterpieces of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Where: Dijver 12, Old Town centre
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm . Closed: Mondays (except Easter Monday and White Monday), 1 January, Ascension Day (afternoon), 25 December.
Tickets: Full € 8; reduced € 6; free for children up to 11 years. Free with Brugge City Card.

The Memling Museum in Bruges

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The old hospital complex of St. John (XII sec.), once shelter for the sick, poor and pilgrims of Bruges, now houses the Memling museum, the hospital museum and the old pharmacy. Furniture, objects, archives and medical instruments, tells the old history of the hospital and the charitable work of the sisters and brothers of the Congregation of the Sint-Janshospitaal .

The Memling Museum in Bruges
The Memling Museum in Bruges

The pride of the complex is, however, the hospital chapel with six works of one of the most famous masters of Flemish painting, Hans Memling. Among the masterpieces there are: the Shrine of St Ursula, the wooden chest containing the relics of the saint; the ‘St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist Altarpiece’ (also known as “Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine”), created in 1479 and painted for the high altar of the church of the hospital. The other works are: “Diptych with Our Blessed Virgin and Maarten van Nieuwenhoven”, “The Adoration of the Magi”, “The lament of Christ” and “Sibylla Sambetha”.

Where: Mariastraat 38, Old Town Centre
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm . Closed: Mondays (except Easter Monday and White Monday), 1 January, Ascension Day (afternoon), 25 December.
Tickets: Full € 8; reduced € 6; free for children up to 11 years. Free with Brugge City Card.

Minnewater Lake in Bruges

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One of the most distinctive and popular places of Bruges is the Minnewater Lake, close to the Begijnhof , surrounded by a beautiful park and crossed by a picturesque bridge dated back to 1720.

Minnewater Lake in Bruges
Minnewater Lake in Bruges

Romantic place for couples in love, lovely retreat for those looking for tranquillity, this oasis of peace and beauty is also known as “Lake of Love” (minne in Dutch means love). In the past the lake was used as a river port and water reservoir for the surrounding channels. This function gave the name to the lake.

In addition to the charm and the magic landscape, the Minnewater is also famous for hosting a large colony of swans. The presence of beautiful birds on the banks of the lake is linked to an ancient legend. It is said that in 1488, the population of Bruges executed one of the city’s administrators belonging to the court of Maximilian of Austria. Since the family crest of the unlucky guy had the effigy of a white swan, the Emperor punished the citizens forcing them to populate the lake of swans.

The Church of Michelangelo in Bruges

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The Church of Our Lady known also as “Church of Michelangelo” overlook the skyline of Bruges.

The Church of Michelangelo in Bruges
The Church of Michelangelo in Bruges

Built in the Gothic style between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk is an outstanding example of the skill and expertise of the local artisans.
However it is the rich collection of art treasures inside that makes the church famous. First of all, the “Madonna of Bruges” by Michelangelo, in Carrara marble sculpture of extraordinary beauty located behind a bullet-proof glass, in the right aisle.
The small statue of the Virgin Mary with Jesus was bought in 1506 from Mouscron family, rich merchants of Bruges fabrics, to adorn the family tomb in the Church of Our Lady. Only work of Michelangelo in the Netherlands, the sculpture has the feature to be the only one to have left Italy as the great artist was still alive. Worthy of mention, the bronze sculptures of the tombs of Charles Bold and his daughter, Mary of Burgundy (chorus), a Gerard David Transfiguration (1520), one of Bernard Passion of Orley, and a Virgin of the Seven Sorrows of Bruges at Isenbrandt.

Where: Mariastraat, Old Town Centre
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: The church and the museum are open from Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm ; Sunday from 1:30 to 5:00 pm . Museum Closed: January 1st, Ascension Day (afternoon) and 25 December. Currently there are some restoration works, this means that some areas may not be always accessible.
Tickets: Adults € 4; reduced € 3; free for children up to 5 years. Free entrance with Brugge City Card.

Things to eat in Bruges

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In Bruges there are two “food” museums: the chocolate and the chips museum , so this should advise you about the two most representative products of the local gastronomy.

Things to eat in Bruges
Things to eat in Bruges

Along with the beer and the Moules et frites (mussels and fries), they will be always present on each menu that you will taste in Bruges.
The Flemish gastronomy is a successful mix of French and Belgian dishes. Among the seafood you can find shrimps (crevettes) and eels while among the meat dishes there are mixed boiled meat (hochebot) and pork mijoter and carbonade (bovine) with beer . Forget the wine and choose the beer between 1,000 available labels in Belgium! For the sweet moments, you have to choose among the dozens of chocolatiers in which the masters at work are often already visible from the windows.

Where to sleep in Bruges

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Bruges has an excellent offer of hotels, hostels and apartments with medium-high prices.

Where to sleep in Bruges
Where to sleep in Bruges

In the old town centre prices of 3-star hotel are about 60 euro per night
With about 80-100 euro per night instead there is a wide selection also in the central Market Square (Markt). To find lower prices you have to look for some accommodation out of the center, especially in the station area, which is about 20 minutes walk from down town centre
If you are looking for a hotel in Bruges, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 220 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com