Whether you’re looking to escape for a weekend or seeking to tack on another city to your busy European itinerary, the fairy-tale-esque town of Bruges, Belgium is a must-see and is easily digestible in 24-hours!
When looking for a place to stay, we recommend prioritizing distance to the city center. Since Bruges is so compact, staying outside of the city walls can make traveling downtown cumbersome. There are lots of AirBnBs throughout the city, but the cheap ones go fast–so book early!
BUDGET TIP #1: We stayed at Camping Memling, a small but local campsite. It’s a ten minute bike ride to the city walls, or there’s a bus that takes you to the city’s main station.
12:30, Head Downtown
Bruges is compact with a 4km2 area, so don’t be afraid to get lost in the alleys. We slowly made our way into the city from the main station towards oyya for waffles! Not only do they offer a great price (3.50€ for a waffle with chocolate topping), but it wasn’t as busy as the tourist traps in the city center. Once you got your waffle–or ate your first one and purchased a second (we don’t judge)–head over to the main Market Square.
13:00, Revel at the Potato Fry Museum
Visit the Frietmuseum, a new museum dedicated to the history and craft of potato fries. We wrote a review of the museum here, but watch out! It’s smashed with potato puns:
15:00, Hide from Tourists to Get Drinks (you’re on vacation after all)
We slipped away for drinks at De Garre, a bar tucked away from the main market square. Go for a Belgian beer, but watch out if you’re not a beer aficionado——Belgian beer commonly has a higher alcohol content. To find De Garre, look for a tiny alleyway between the shops, it can be hard to find!
16:00, Rent Bikes!
We won’t judge you if you spend the whole weekend eating waffles and frites, but if you’re visiting Bruges in the summer and are not enjoying the canals by bike, you’re doing it wrong. Biking is especially a great option if your hotel is outside of the city and you don’t want to stick to the bus schedule.
BUDGET TIP #2:Where? De Ketting has the best bike rental deal at only 8€ per day (12€ if you keep the bike overnight).
18:00, Grab Dinner
If there is one downside to Bruges, it’s that the average meal is expensive. Most menus offer dishes ranging 15-20€ per plate, so make room in your budget!
BUDGET TIP #3: We prioritized our food budget to enjoy the fruits of Bruges: frites, waffles, and Belgian beer. Thus, instead of eating out, we picked up some tapas and beers and had a picnic at the picturesque Koningen Astridpark.
20:00, Take a Free Walking Tour
As we’ve written previously, Free Walking Tours Are the Sh*t. In Bruges, they offer a variety of free or low cost tours to explore the cities’ medieval and modern history or explore their food culture that you simply show up and tip your guide. We took the evening tour with The Legends of Bruges which brought us through the Grote Markt, past various canals, and out to the outer cross gate, concluding with a free beer. At the end of our tour, our guide quizzed us and Lisa won two free waffles (what a nerd, right?!).
21:30, Night Out
There are plenty of pubs throughout the city where you can cozy up, eat some cheese cubes, and people watch. If you are still feeling up for another beer, head back towards the Frietmuseum to The Monk. We loved this place because not only do they have billiard tables upstairs, but they have samplers where you can try a flight of different brews, which is a rarity in Europe! They even have their own house brews to try.
8:00, Check-out, then check-out the city by bike
In the morning, pick up some pastries (or crepes) and coffee at a bakery and sit by one of the canals.
We spent the rest of the morning zig-zagging around the city, checking on the windmills, canals, alleyways, and ending our ride at Minnewaterpark to the south of the city center. The park is gorgeous with a romantic bridge across the “Lake of Love.” It’s cheesy for sure, but magical. (The park is also near the bike rental shop, making it an easy transfer).
10:00, Visit the Northern Coast
So many travelers come through Bruges and quickly rush off to the next city. Instead, we recommend escaping to the northern coastline for lunch. It’s easily accessible by car (30 min.), by bike (45 min.), or public transport (1 hr.). Other than great seafood, here’s a post giving you reasons why it’s worth it:
Honorable mentions we didn’t get to this time around:
- Take a brewery tour at De Halve Maan Huisbrouwerij or the Bruges Beer Experience
- Check out the Chocolate Museum (but, we’re telling you, the fry museum is WORTH IT).
- Peruse a gallery of some of Salvador Dali’s works
Have you visited Bruges? What did you do and eat? Let me know!