According to Animalerts, the medieval city of Bruges is one of the most visited places in Belgium. The historic city has a lot of cultural heritage, which means that tourists from both home and abroad visit the city en masse. It is not for nothing that the historic city center of Bruges is on the UNESCO World Heritage List in its entirety. Anyone who visits the center of Bruges will notice that the city center has managed to retain its appearance to a very large extent. Modern times have merged in a beautiful way with the old buildings, streets and squares. However, Bruges is more than just a collection of beautiful buildings, squares and streets. Above all, it is a city where Burgundian life still occupies an important place. As befits a good Burgundian, you can fully enjoy delicious food and drinks in Bruges. Bruges is a mecca for chocolate lovers. You can buy delicious chocolate products from more than fifty local chocolatiers here!
When compiling the top 10 sights of Bruges, we tried to make a nice mix of various highlights that you can see and experience in the city. We hope to help visitors to Bruges in this way to make their day or longer stay in Bruges a great experience.
Bruges’ Top 10 Things to Do
#1. Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaerde
Several old beguinages can still be admired in Belgium and the Netherlands. In Bruges you can visit one of the most beautiful remaining beguinages. The Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaerdeconsists mainly of white painted small houses from the 17th and 18th centuries. This court can only be reached via the Wijngaardbrug. At house number 1 is a museum where you can see how they used to live in these houses around the 17th century. Today the sisters of the Order of St. Benedict live there. It is located on a beautiful lake (Minnewater) where beautiful white swans swim around. During a visit to the beguinage, tranquility and respect for the privacy of the residents is a must. Admission is only open during the day and admission is free.
Bruges is also known as the “Venice of the North”. This is due to the small canals (called Bruges canals) that run through the city with the most beautiful and romantic bridges over it. A cruise through these “veins” of Bruges, is therefore a very popular attraction. In a boat trip of about half an hour you can admire the most beautiful places of Bruges from a completely different side. Along the way, your guide will tell you about the history of Bruges and the sights you pass by. You can board the bus at five different locations every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the winter period, no boat trips are organized. It is not possible to reserve individual tickets in advance. You can only buy tickets on site.
To be fair, not everyone likes museums. A problem that museums regularly have to deal with is telling a story in an interesting way. That’s her in the Historiumsucceeded. There they managed to process an important part of the history of Bruges, the Golden Age, in a beautiful creative way in an interactive story. The way they do that is so impressive that you feel like you’re there. This time travel takes you to the Bruges of Jan van Eyk; the painter who was active in Bruges in the first half of the fifteenth century. At the end of your visit you can drink a good pint in the Duvelorium or enjoy a beautiful view from the panorama terrace over the most beautiful square in Bruges: the Grote Markt.
#4. Basilica of the Holy Blood
On the beautiful Burg is the Basilica of the Holy Blood. This Roman Catholic basilica is beautifully decorated on the inside. The most important piece is the reliquary of the Holy Blood. Every year, the relic forms the center of the Holy Blood Procession, which is held on Ascension Day. This day it is very busy around and in the basilica. But this special religious building is also a popular attraction in Bruges during the rest of the year. The double chapel was originally built between 1139 and 1149 and has since undergone several restorations and adjustments. This has created a nice mix of architectural styles.
A belfry is a medieval tower that was mainly built in the southern Netherlands, in the area that now mainly falls within Belgium. A belfry is not attached to a church. It functioned within the cities as a sign of the power of the sheriff and aldermen. You can think of a belfry as a sort of medieval status symbol. The belfry of Bruges is one of the most beautiful belfries in existence. This stone belfry was built in the thirteenth century as part of the stone cloth and trade halls that replaced the former wooden halls. Fires and expansions have made the tower look like a mishmash.
For a fee you can climb the 366 steps of the halletoren, as the belfry is called. Once at the top, you will be rewarded with a breathtakingly beautiful view of the city of Bruges and, in clear weather, of the surrounding area. A visit to the belfry is not suitable for people with a physical or visual impairment. There is no elevator.
#6. Groeninge Museum
Bruges has several museums, of which the Groeninge Museum is an absolute highlight. This is the Bruges museum of fine arts. The museum has an extensive collection of Belgian and specifically Flemish paintings. Here you can enjoy six centuries of art history from the Low Countries. The highlights of this art museum are the Flemish Primitives. Works by Hieronymus Bosch, Albert Cuyp, Jan Provoost and Jan van Eyk are on display. In addition to the permanent collection, there is room for temporary exhibitions. These exhibitions are of international allure.
#7. Brewery De Halve Maan
Belgium is known for the delicious beers that are brewed here. Bruges once had dozens of beer breweries. That was in the days when drinking beer was safe from a health perspective than drinking water. Those times are long gone. Now that beer only plays the role of stimulant and delicacy, the number of active breweries within the city limits of Bruges is limited to two: Bourgogne des Flandres and De Halve Maan. Both breweries can be visited. The tour of De Halve Maan Breweryis one of the most popular sights in Bruges. During a visit to the brewery on Waldplein, you will learn everything about the history of this company started by Henri Maes, about the beer brewing process and about De Halve Maan’s beer brands, such as Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik.
A remarkable part of the brewery is the double beer pipeline that opened in 2016 and runs through the city. The 3.2 kilometer long pipeline connects the brewery with the bottling plant located on the Waggelwater. In this way, both the Brugse Zot and the Straffe Hendrik can be transported without having to drive tankers through the city. This is a strong example of how you can make processes greener.
A tour of De Halve Maan Brewery takes about 45 minutes, after which adults can drink a Brugse Zot Blond, Brugse Zot Dubbel or Straffe Hendrik Tripel. This is included in the ticket price.
#8. Museum-Gallery Xpo Salvador Dalí
The Spanish painter Salvador Dalí is considered one of the leading surrealist artists in the world. You don’t have to travel all the way to the Dalí Museum in his former home in the Spanish town of Figueres to enjoy Dalí’s works. You can also do that in the Museum-Gallery Xpo Salvador Dalí, which is located in the center of Bruges. This art museum, dedicated to Dalí, is located in the city halls. You can view famous graphic works and sculptures by Salvador Dalí in a sensational setting that is completely in line with the world of this famous artist.
#9. Large market
The Grote Markt (or simply Markt, which is its official name today) is the oldest and most characteristic square in Bruges. This is where the historic center of Bruges shows itself from its best side: impressive medieval buildings, beautiful Flemish facades and numerous cozy terraces provide the atmospheric image of Bruges that is so often captured in photos. The Markt is more than a thousand years old and has had different faces in its history. Many of the buildings that now surround the Markt date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The hall with the belfry is the oldest existing building on the Grote Markt.
In the center of the square is the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. Inaugurated in 1887, this monument pays tribute to the two folk heroes who were important in 1302 in the Flemish resistance against the French king.
The Market (or Grote Markt) is the starting point of various tours through Bruges. For example, the horse-drawn carriages are ready for a romantic ride through the streets of historic Bruges, you can board the minibus of City Tour Brugge that shows you the most beautiful places in the city in a fifty-minute tour or you can join one of the guided walks through Bruges.
Shopping is one of the most popular activities that visitors to Bruges do during their visit to this West Flemish capital. The Steenstraat is the most important shopping street in Bruges. He is regularly compared with the famous Meir of Antwerp. Unfortunately, the main similarity is that many of the stores are branches of larger chains. Fortunately, there are still some gems to be found among the well-known brands, such as the famous chocolate shop The Chocolate Line of the famous chocolatier Dominique Persoone. The Steenstraat also shows many beautiful facades and forms the connection between the Grote Markt and ‘t Zand. Sights along the Steenstraat are St. Salvator’s Cathedral and Simon Stevinplein.