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What to do in Bruges – Buildings, Holy Blood and Beer

Updated on July 29, 2013
Bruges on a crisp winter day
Bruges on a crisp winter day | Source

What to do in Bruges:The Ultimate Guide

You’ll probably want to have an idea of what to do in Bruges before you arrive in this beauitful historic city. (For the first part of this story please see how to get to Bruges by clicking here – Getting the Coach from London to Bruges.) It doesn’t take long to get from the coast of France to Bruges and once there the main sights and attractions are concentrated within a fairly small area, making it a really easy and enjoyable place to explore.

The Belfort
The Belfort | Source

What to do in Bruges? Visit these places:

The Belfort

The Belfort (or Belfry) is a great place to start getting acquainted with Bruges. This tower is a stunning example of Gothic architecture, and stands at 83 metres high. Why not climb the 366 steps to the top? It will give you the most amazing panoramic views across the city. On the way up you will come across a treasury room, an impressive clock mechanism and a carillon of 47 bells which ring every 15 minutes.
Admission - Daily (closed Mondays) 9.30am – 5pm last tickets sold at 4.15pm

Church Of Our Lady

You can’t miss this building – its spire is 122 metres tall! Although you can’t climb this one, inside you’ll find a brilliant collection of art including Michelangelo’s ‘Madonna and Child’ which is for Bruges what the Mona Lisa is to The Louvre. It’s also one of the few Michelangelo sculptures to reside outside of Italy during his lifetime and subsequently the locals are very proud of it.
Admission - (9.30am-5pm Tues-Fri) (9.30am-4.20pm Sat) and (1.30pm-5pm Sun).

Basilica of the Holy Blood

Built in 1949, the Basilica houses a piece of cloth that apparently has some spots of Jesus’ blood on it. The cloth is a centrepiece of a huge procession held annually on the 17th of May, where the locals get dressed up in medieval style and play flutes in celebration across the town.
Admission - Daily 9.30am-12pm, 2pm-6pm

Halve Mann Brewery

The Halve Mann Brewery is a traditional brewery dating back to 1546 and it is the only remaining brewery in the centre of Bruges. If you are a beer lover and looking at what to do in Bruges then this is a must. Embark on a guided tour here to learn about the production process and the history of the brewery. Most importantly though, at the end of it you can quench your thirst with a taste test. The tour last 45 minutes and is also a great place to have lunch.
Admission - Monday-Friday 11am-4pm/ Sat-Sun11am-5pm. Tours operate every hour.

Choco Story – The Chocolate Museum

From beer lovers to chocoholics, this is the museum for all things chocolate. Learn all about it and enjoy some demonstrations before inevitably ending up in the gift shop.
Admission - Daily 10am- 5pm.

Minnewaterpark (Lake of Love)

The name says it all. This is a very romantic spot to the south complete with swans and boat cruises. In the summer open air concerts take place regularly here. Catch a horse drawn carriage back into town.


Lace Centre

Dedicated to Bruges' best-known industry, this museum is housed in restored 15th-century alms-houses and offers lace-making demonstrations most afternoons. The adjacent Jerusalem Church is also worth a visit with its fine stained glass.
Admission – Weekdays - 10 am-12 noon and 2-6 pm. Saturdays - 10am-12 noon and 2-5 pm. Closed: Sundays and public holidays.

Groeninge Museum

Bruges’ prized collection of art is housed here dating back from the 14th century to the 20th century. Interesting for both casual and avid art lovers alike.
Admission - 9.30am-5pm Tues-Sun.

The Hospitaalmuseum & St Janshospitaal

This is home to a handful of masterpieces by Hans Memling, one of the early Flemish Primitives. Don’t miss Memling’s reliquary of St Ursula – it comprises a miniature wooden Gothic church painted with the story of St Ursula. The attention to detail is stunning.
Admission - 9.30am-5pm Tue-Sun

St. Saviour’s Cathedral

St Saviour’s Cathedral is Bruges' oldest parish church (12th-15th century). Here you’ll find numerous fine paintings as well as silver and gold artefacts.
Admission: Sunday-Friday 2 pm-5 pm.

Bruge city guides on Amazon:

What else to do in Bruges? Eat!

You will not be left hungry in Bruges. Treat yourself at one of the many chocolatiers throughout the city, but keep in mind you can still get amazing Belgian chocolate at the supermarket for half the price. Try the Belgian waffles covered in chocolate or Belgian fries (French fries originated here). There are two stalls in the town centre that serve fries with just about every topping you can think of. There are plenty of other food outlets too – whether you’re looking for a civilised, romantic restaurant or a relaxed and affordable pasta/kebab/falafel place, you’re spoilt for choice in Bruges.

Belgium beer at 't Brugs Beertje’ bar
Belgium beer at 't Brugs Beertje’ bar | Source

What else to do in Bruges? Drink beer!

Want to try out as many of the Belgian beers as possible – including all the flavoured beers, ridiculously high strength beer and even chocolate beer? Then after you’ve toured the Halve Mann Brewery, head down to ‘t Brugs Beertje’ on Kemelstraat. Open 4pm-1am, this bar serves over 300 different types of beer so the menu is understandably overwhelming. Thankfully the staff are used to dumbstruck tourists and are on hand to help you make your selection.


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    • lemonkerdz profile image

      lemonkerdz 4 years ago from LIMA, PERU

      I,m in bruges right now enjoying the fantastic scenery and the comfort of what must be one of the best hotels around here the hotel orangerie.

      Anyone interested in photography, beer or/and archetecture, this is the place to come winter or summer.

      Off to try another beer so bye for now........

    • worldtravelexpert profile image

      Kirsty Stuart 5 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks JSParker - I'm glad you found it useful. Because Bruges is so compact you could perhaps do just 24 hours here? You'd still feel like you've seen the place and taken in the atmosphere, I'm sure. Your trip sounds great. Thanks for commenting.

    • JSParker profile image

      JSParker 5 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      The chocolate and lace museums alone are enough to make me want to visit Bruges. I'm thinking we could fit in Brussels and Bruges as well as Amsterdam. Then I thought about a foray up into least to Copenhagen. But that's all before heading south to Italy and Greece. It's a matter of how much we can do without driving ourselves crazy! I know we have to pace ourselves and have some down time.

      Still I've heard of Bruges for a long time and it would give us more depth to the Benelux part of our trip.

      This hub was an excellent introduction to Bruges.