Our trip to Bruges was a wonderful re-introduction to international travel during COVID. We took it easy, slept in, and truly soaked in the experience, rather than running from one thing to the next in an effort to “do everything.” We loved the slower pace of Bruge, rather than the fast pace of our lives back home in D.C. Here are our 10 favorite things we did in Bruges. We can’t wait to do them all again!
10. Visit the Lace Museum (Kantcentrum)
Think lace is dainty? It is. It’s also really difficult to make, and even harder to make well! Belgian lace is the finest in the world, and much of it is still (tediously) hand made. There are three different methods, but the most fascinating was the bobbin method. Watching videos of people making lace this way was like watching a sporting event. Their hands and bobbins were going so fast!
The different patterns are beautiful, and it was interesting to see how lace has changed over the years. Once you visit, you’ll understand why authentic lace is so expensive! Below is a photo of the oldest piece of lace in their collection:
Must read: 8 Things You Forgot to Pack for Europe
9. Walk the Windmills
Bruges is close to the Netherlands, and the locally-spoken language is Dutch, so it makes sense that their architecture is similar to the Netherlands as well–including windmills! There are four large windmills along a well-defined walking path next to a canal. It’s a lovely walk, even on a bit of an overcast day! You can walk right up to most of the windmills, but they weren’t in operation the day we went. This walk just a kilometer or so from the city center is a lovely thing to do to help you fight jet lag on the day you arrive!
8. See Bling at the Diamond Museum (Diamant Museum)
Diamonds are a girls’ best friend, right? Unfortunately, photos are not allowed in this museum, but there is a lot to see here. The museum is very well-organized, taking you from the history of jewelry making (and diamonds, of course) to modern-day cutting and polishing techniques. It’s a lot more involved than you might think! There’s also a gift shop where they sell real diamonds next door, so stop in there on your way out, even just to look.
Visit this museum for FREE: Why You Need to Get the Best of Bruges Deal (and €50 FREE Euros!)
7. Go Chocolate Shopping
If you leave Bruges without taking some chocolate home with you, there’s no proof that you went! There’s no shortage of chocolate shops in Bruges, and honestly, you’ll be hard-pressed to find chocolate that’s less than perfection around here. My favorites are Chocolalino, which is a newer shop in town, and the Old Chocolate House, which is a family-owned shop with a tea room upstairs.
Some shops have samples for you to try, and I love that practically every shop has unique chocolate tins ready to go so that your treats don’t get squished in your luggage. But let’s be real… They’re not making it all the way home before they hit your belly anyway!
Keep eating: Where to Eat in Bruges, Belgium
6. Squeeze into the Historium Tower
The Historium is the visitor center, a history museum, and comes with a virtual reality experience, but it’s also home to a tiny tower that’s too cute not to climb! The staircase gets narrower as you go up, but the narrowest part is the 360-degree balcony at the top! It’s a tight squeeze, but it’s worth it for the view, and it’s only four stories, so it’s a more knee-friendly option for those who aren’t so sure about climbing 366 steps up the nearby Belfry. Take a look!
Stay in a piece of history: Staying at the Grand Hotel Casselbergh Bruges
5. Visit the City Hall (Stadhuis)
Bruges’s Stadhuis, or City Hall, is located just a short walk from the main Market (or Markt) Square, and it’s still the official city hall where they have meetings and everything! It’s absolutely beautiful inside, and there’s a small history museum upstairs by the Great Hall as well. Your ticket also gets you into the adjacent museum, which has changing exhibits.
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Belgium
4. Eat all the Waffles
Finding great waffles in Bruges is one of the easiest (and most delicious) things you can do! The hard part is choosing your toppings. Or, maybe you don’t have to choose! Belgian waffles are served warm, have deep pockets for all those toppings you’re piling on, and they can be eaten at a cafe or walking around and sightseeing. Are they the perfect food? Perhaps!
Essential Info: The Foods You MUST Try in Belgium
3. Take a Canal Boat Tour
This was one of the best things we did, and compared to several of the museums we visited, it was by far the best value! Tours are half an hour and even in the December chill, we had a wonderful time. By canal boat is the best way to see Bruges’s gorgeous architecture, and if your captain is as good as ours, he or she will be cracking jokes in multiple languages!
Read on: What to Know Before You Visit Bruges
2. Climb 366 steps into the Belfort Belfry
If you’re up for the climb, you won’t regret it! The 360-degree view at the top is the best in the city, and the only way to see the entire city at once. Don’t worry, there are several stopping points on the way up. The tower is also a carillon, so you’ll certainly hear the bells either duing your visit or while walking around the town. It’s been standing there since 1240, making it one of the oldest still-standing structures in Bruges.
1. Get Hot Chocolate at the Old Chocolate House
After you climb all those steps, you deserve the most decadent hot chocolate in town–which you can find here. Choose from dark, milk, white, or pink ruby hot chocolate, but that’s only the beginning! Their specialty hot chocolates pair well with their sweet treats, too. Options change seasonally, but waffles are always on the menu (of course). Don’t miss this fun, delicious, sweet experience on your trip!
Keep sipping: Your Guide to the Old Chocolate House, Bruges
Want more? Get all the best Belgium planning resources on my dedicated Belgium Page!
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