Day 1 in Bruges
Welcome to Bruges! Upon arrival, you will go through customs and
immigration. Should you opt to purchase
a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit
immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check
in and do not give in to jet lag! There
is so much for you to see and do.
Begin your afternoon with lunch in Markt Square, the main square of the city featuring many historic buildings, shops, and restaurants. The vibe in the square is relaxed, and the views of the gorgeous old-world buildings are priceless. After exploring the square, we recommend you check out the Belfry, a classic and most famous Bruges activity, where you can climb 366 steps to the top. It is not for the faint of heart, but if you can hack it, you`ll be rewarded with stunning views of the whole town.
Right around the corner is Burg Square where you`ll find the grand city hall built in 1376. Check out the inside while you`re here (it`s the oldest city hall in the region), and if you`re lucky enough to be around when there`s a market happening, take some time to explore the stalls and sample delicious local products.
Burg square is also home to the Basilica of the Holy Blood which is world famous for one very special item – it is in this church that you can find a relic that supposedly contains the blood of Jesus Christ. While the church is gorgeous and worth seeing any time of day, it is only during certain hours that you are able to see the relic for yourself. Make sure to check their website before you visit.
Continue on to Rozenhoedkaai to snap a shot of this beautiful postcard view of Bruges. And from here you can hop on a boat to take a scenic float through the canals of Bruges. The town is often called `The Venice of the North,` and for good reason. The canals give the city such a romantic feel, so make sure to book a tour and learn some history of the area. Trips are about a half hour long and offer a fun way to learn some history of the city. It`s also a great way to get a unique view of the houses and architecture along the canal.
As the evening approaches, find a restaurant to stop in for dinner to enjoy some local favorites like beef stew with beer and steamed mussels with crispy frietjes (fries). There are a lot of restaurants to choose from in Bruges, though do take note that it`s not the most budget-friendly destination.
Complete your night enjoying what Bruges is known best for, Beer! Most of the action takes place around the Old Town, where a gamut of traditional-style bars sell an amazing selection of local brews.
Day 2 in Bruges
Start the day off early with breakfast
at the hub of the city, Markt Square. This is a great spot
to relax and watch the city wakeup. Then spend some time `getting lost.` Stroll
through the local park, meander through the medieval streets and
criss-crossed canals while admiring the medieval Gothic architecture - a great
way to get acquainted with Bruges. You`ll also discover the many nice shops in
the area offering handmade products that are locally produced. This is also an
optimal time to sample some of that world famous Belgian chocolate, or maybe
grab a quick snack of fries.
At lunch time, head over to the Old Chocolate House, an amazingly cozy shop with a little café area up top. This is the perfect place to enjoy some delicious waffles and giant mugs of incredible hot chocolate.
Just down the street from the old Chocolate House, stop in the beautiful Church of Our Lady, an iconic sight of Bruges, and a real must see. The highlight of the church (and why many flock here in droves) is its Madonna and Child sculpture by Michaelangelo. In fact, it was the only sculpture of Michaelangelo`s that left Italy during his lifetime.
From here, you are just a short walk away from the de Halve Maan Brewery, a brewery and beer museum. We highly recommend a brewery tour of the beer making process where you`ll learn a history and see how the city`s most famous product is made. The tours start at the exact turn of the hour, be at least fifteen minutes early as there is a maximum amount of people that can join. At the end of your tour, you`ll be rewarded with a glass of Bruges Zot to enjoy.
Next, take a stroll of Minnewaterpark (aka Bruges` Lake of Love), known as one of the most romantic spots in Bruges. With the sun slowly setting and all the swans gliding past on this small, rectangular lake, you`ll quickly realize why this city has a reputation for romance.
End your afternoon at the Beguinage, home to Benedictine nuns, and a sliver of tranquility with beautiful gardens for you to admire. During spring, golden daffodils sprout up in the grass, creating the most beautiful scene in an already perfect setting.
As night approaches, grab a seat at one of the outdoor beer gardens. Relax and unwind from a busy day of sightseeing before heading back to your hotel for a restful night sleep.
Alternatively, enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride around the city at night. And make sure to enjoy a night stroll around Bruges. The area around the Rozenhoedkaai is especially atmospheric around this time. It`s also the perfect time to enjoy the city free of all the day trippers, and it`s truly special to see all the monuments lit up.
Day 3 in Bruges
Spend your last day in Bruges uncovering some of the hidden
treasures. We recommend renting a bike
(or you can walk) through the eastern part of Bruges and check out the beautiful windmills around
the city ramparts. The Eastern section is an area far less frequented by
tourists, which makes it the perfect area to discover a quieter, more tranquil
side of the city.
Along the city ramparts (near Kruispoort, the best preserved of Bruges` city gates), you`ll find Bruges` four remaining windmills. If embarking on this journey from the city center, make sure to take the scenic route and enjoy some time exploring the parishes of Saint Anne and Saint Giles, which are largely residential working class neighborhoods, but still worth a wander thanks to the charming rows of houses and endless curb appeal.
When you find the windmills, take some time to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and park yourself on a bench or soak up some sunshine on the grass. You`ll almost forget that you`re in one of the most popular tourist cities in Europe.
Head back into the city center from here to enjoy some shopping on Laangestraat, which is home to a massive variety of charming boutiques and beautiful storefronts that are well worth stopping for.
For lunch, we recommend Café Vlissinghe, the oldest café in the city. This comfy pub has been feeding residents since as early as 1515. If you were looking for something authentic, this is probably the closest you will get.
Spend the remaining part of your day enjoying some of the museums and attractions of the city, Bruges has many great ones to choose from. If you love art and are interested in seeing some classic work from the Flemish primitives, then you must pay a visit to Groenigemuseum. The detail in some of the pieces here are truly amazing.
Something a bit more fun a quirky is the Frietmuseum - yes, a museum dedicated to fries! You can work up an appetite while learning the history behind Belgium`s favorite snack, potato fries. Trace the journey of the potato fries and learn the history of Belgium`s famous food. This is a great museum for kids and those that have a genuine and intense love for potatoes!
Another great museum worth checking out is St. John`s Hospital (Sint-Janshospitaal). While there are historic displays relating to the buildings past as a hospital, the main reason to come here is for the works of Hans Memling. His exquisite Shrine to St. Ursula is here, along with many other masterworks.
On your last evening in Bruges, enjoy dinner around town. We recommend for making your experience something special by asking a local where their favorite places. This is a guaranteed way to make your experience your own.
Finish off your evening with a sampling of Belgian beers. There is definitely no shortage of great places to grab a drink in Bruges.
Additional Days in Bruges
Should you be able to spend additional
days in Bruges be sure to experience more of the sights outside of the city.
You may want to explore the small town of Damme, just 4.5 miles from Bruges and once the city`s
outer harbor. It`s a scenic trip, the landscapes are picturesque, and the
village of Damme even more so. You can also go there by bike.
Alternatively, check out the monumental beach resort of Ostend, known as queen of the coastal cities resort. The quintessential cosmopolitan 19th century beach resort, full of charming villas that have been classified as official monuments. It is located less than 15 minutes by train.
Your Last Day in Bruges
Depart your hotel for the airport for your return home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer, if so a representative will meet you at the hotel, in time to take you to the airport for your flight out.