If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know I’m a sucker for striking architecture, cobbled streets, and the promise of great food. So it’s no surprise that Bruges (Brugge in Dutch) was on my radar for quite some time. Located in northwest Belgium, Bruges is a bigger city with a walkable center and a popular stop for many day-trippers.
Bruges is a canal-based city with dozens of bridges and is one of several places in Europe known as the “Venice of the North”. The entire city center is considered a UNESCO World Heritage! Since this beautiful place was high on my list, I skipped the day trip and chose to spend 2 days exploring more of Bruges.
2 Days in Bruges
I’ll be honest, my original plan for my weekend in Bruges was to photograph the heck out of the city and eat all the waffles, chocolate, and frites (french fries) I can handle. But it turns out that Bruges has so much more to offer than just architecture and food.
In this charming Belgian city, you have an array of cool tours available, famous landmarks, windmills, a lake of love, and hundreds if not thousands (I’m not sure the exact number) of beers to choose from.
If you have limited time and can only do a day trip from Brussels to Bruges, check out these high-rated tours below:
Things to Do in Bruges
TOUR THE CITY | Medieval cities are always full of cool history. Learn more about it in whatever form is the most fun for you. We booked a canal tour where the guide shared interesting facts about the city with a side of humor. You can buy tickets for the tour in person, they’ll be easy to spot near the collection of boats. Here are other great ways to tour Bruges:
CLIMB THE BELFRY | Get the best views of Bruges from above by climbing the 366 steps up the Belfry tower in the center of the city. The tower is one of Bruges’ most prominent landmarks and not one to be missed.
EXPLORE WITH A LOCAL | Get to know Bruges like a local with your own private tour (up to 10p). The guide will show you all the must-sees, places for the best scenic views, and hidden gems from the perspective of a local. You can book that experience here.
SEE THE BASILICA OF THE HOLY BLOOD | The Roman Catholic Basilica of the Holy Blood is a major landmark in the city. You’ll find it almost hidden in a corner of Burg Square. You can tour the inside, but I was just interested in this unique facade!
TRY ALL THE WAFFLES | Before visiting I knew 4 things about Belgium: they are famous for their waffles, chocolate, beer, and french fries. Apparently, they are the inventors of the fry we all love so much today. So don’t skip any of these goodies while in Bruges, unless you don’t like beer (like me).
Starting with waffles, our favorite place in Bruges was The Old Chocolate House. It’s a chocolate shop and tea room that offers a variety of chocolates, hot chocolates, and the most incredible waffles we had in that city.
Test it out yourself and try to find your favorite waffles in all of Bruges. It’ll be fun research! You can even learn to make your own in this 1.5-hour waffle workshop.
CARE FOR A BEER? | As I said before, Belgium is a popular country for beer drinkers. If you or anyone in your group is a beer lover, make sure to do some tastings of the hundreds+ of Belgian beers available.
Jorge did his own tasting at 2be Beer Wall and enjoyed it. They have great outdoor seating and hundreds of beers to choose from. If you’d prefer a guide, this private tour focuses on chocolate and beer for 3 hours of tastings, history, and a 3-course lunch.
VISIT THE LAKE OF LOVE | Zen out at the Lake of Love (Minnewater) and the “Lovers Bridge”. Legend has it that if you walk the bridge and kiss your loved one your love will then be eternal. Yet, I missed the memo on this attraction while in Bruges, so Jorge and I didn’t cross the bridge or do the kiss. Wish us luck.
CHECK OUT THE WINDMILLS | Another good place to lounge and relax is near the famous windmills in Bruges. They are located along the river on the east side of town. These windmills are free to enjoy, and some are open to the public or even have a small museum inside.
DON’T FORGET THE CHOCOLATE | As mentioned, Belgium is also famous for its chocolate. As you walk the streets of Bruges, you’ll have plenty of chocolate shops to choose from. Make sure to stop inside and try everything from the traditional flavors to the downright weirdo flavors! Stock up on them for souvenirs, everyone back home will love you for it.
You can also learn to create your own Belgian chocolates. Master the tricks required to make delicious praline and mendiant chocolates in this 2.5-hour small group workshop.
Best Places to Stay in Bruges
Bruges has some stunning hotels to choose from. We booked Hotel Navarra located in the historic center. It’s housed in an elegant 17th-century mansion and just minutes from the main square. Our stay was wonderful and I highly recommend the hotel. The price is fair and the reviews are great across the board.
Where to Eat in Bruges
Soup– It’s a tiny shop offering a variety of fresh soups in big ol’ bowls. They also have delicious sandwiches to complete the meal. It’s a great spot for lunch but go early because they run out of soups near closing time.
That’s Toast– This was our favorite breakfast restaurant! They have amazing toasts to choose from, tasty lattes, and so much more. It’s one of those places that I wish I could bring home to Chicago and set up somewhere nearby so I can keep visiting.
The Potato Bar– Yes, an entire bar dedicated to potatoes. Now that’s my kinda place! We had a simple dinner here of chicken sandwiches and fries. Both were so good and the price was right if you’re trying to not blow your whole budget on food.
Kottee Kaffee– It’s a small cafe where you’ll find excellent coffee and a classic breakfast. Kottee is highly rated and actually takes the number 1 spot on Tripadvisor for coffee & tea in Bruges.
Hope this guide gave you some ideas on what to do with your 2 days in Bruges. My biggest tip is to make sure you bring an appetite because this city doesn’t play!
INTERESTED IN EXPLORING MORE OF EUROPE? HERE ARE SOME HELPFUL GUIDES
- Germany Road Trip: 9 Places to Visit in Germany
- How to Spend 48 Hours in Paris
- 17 Small Towns in Europe You Must Visit
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