Known as the “Venice of the North,” the enchanting medieval town of Bruges is a true gem of Western Europe.
With plenty of things to do in Bruges, from strolling along its cobblestone streets, cruising its picturesque canals, admiring its stunning architecture and devouring its delicious Belgian chocolate, this UNESCO world heritage city has something for everyone.
Whether you want to explore historical landmarks or unwind with a cold beer at one of its many local pubs, this friendly and welcoming fairytale city will surely capture your heart.
No matter what you plan to see, visiting Bruges for three nights is the perfect European city break.
Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.
Helpful Information About Bruges
How to get to Bruges
From the UK, you can take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Belgium and then change trains to take you from Belgium to Bruges. The total journey is approximately three hours and thirty minutes.
You can fly directly to Belgium from many international destinations and then catch a train to Bruges.
Where to stay in Bruges
On my visit, I stayed in a beautiful canalside heritage hotel called Martin’s Relais.
The boutique hotel near Spieglrei harbour dated back to the 13th century and was designed using five ancient residences.
I loved the theatrical interior styling with its crystal chandeliers, oak stairways and open fireplaces giving the property a luxurious feel.
Best things to do in Bruges in three days
- Cruise along Bruges’ canals
- Climb the Belfry Tower
- See the Basilica of Holy Blood
- Taste Belgium waffles
- Enjoy a Belgium beer flight
- Stroll around Minnewater Lake
- Take a walking tour of Bruges
- Check out the city’s windmills
- Eat traditional ‘moules mariniere’
- Sample Belgium chocolate
Climb the belfry tower for sensational views of Bruges
We began our Bruges city break by exploring Market (Markt) Square, home to the 13th-century Belfry Tower.
The Belfry of Bruges is one of the main landmarks in Bruges, and you can climb the 366 stairs for panoramic city views. The building it rises above is called the Cloth Hall and was the centre of the Bruges clothing trade in the 14th century.
With the Musea Brugge Card, you can visit this and 11 other historic buildings and museums for free for 72 hours in Bruges.
The Markt Square is lined with colourful Flemish buildings housing restaurants and shops. It’s a great place to grab breakfast and coffee. Mostly traffic-free, it is a pleasant place to stroll around.
A weekly Wednesday market occurs in the square throughout the year, and the beautiful Bruges Christmas Market arrives in November and December.
The square is the city’s central point; most guided tours will start here.
Discover Burg Square and its historic landmarks
After photographing the fairytale square, head to Burg Square, which houses some of the city’s most prominent landmarks. Admire the Gothic architecture of the 12th-century Basilica of Holy Blood, Bruges’ oldest building.
Head inside this atmospheric basilica to glimpse the holy vial containing a cloth stained with Christ’s blood brought back from his crucifixion.
Next, marvel at The Palace of Liberty’s ornate white and gold facade, now housing a museum and the Gothic architecture of the 18th-century courthouse.
This beautiful building is now Bruges council offices. Not a bad place to work!
Enjoy Belgian waffles in Bruges
If you are ready for a sweet treat, stop for waffles at Chez Albert, just off the market square and Bruges’ most famous waffle shop. You can choose from various toppings but be prepared to queue as it is a popular place!
Sit in the square, and people watch as you devour one of Belgium’s most popular foods!
Stop off at Bruges’ chocolate shops
We spent our afternoon wandering around the streets and enjoying the beautiful architecture. Of course, we had to visit some of the many Bruges chocolate shops in the city centre, where we tried a selection of samples. Belgian chocolate is delicious!
The Chocolate Line is a good shop to visit and offers an insight into the process of making chocolate featuring flavours from Asia, Brazil and Italy along with regular favourites.
Take a break at Minnewater Lake
After our chocolate feast, we decided to head to Minnewater Lake. This picturesque body of water is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Bruges, providing a peaceful escape from the bustling city streets.
Minnewater Lake is known as the “Lake of Love” due to a local legend that tells the story of two lovers who jumped into the lake rather than be separated. Today, it’s a popular spot for romantic walks and picnics.
The lake is surrounded by lush greenery and historic buildings. At its centre is a triangular-shaped, floating designer school that brings students and visitors out to this leafy area of Bruges. For us, it was the perfect place to relax after a morning of non-stop sightseeing.
Discovering local Belgium dishes away from the crowds
Eager to try a local dish for dinner, we headed down the cobbled streets and found a local restaurant serving the Bruges speciality, Belgium stew. Also on the menu was the local delicacy moules-frites – mussels served with fries.
The stew was delicious, and the atmosphere was authentic, a welcome treat from the “tourist restaurants” serving pizza, pasta, and burgers scattered all around town.
Morning coffee in Bruges
The city is filled with independent coffee shops and cafes, and to start our day off, we headed to one close to our hotel. After refuelling, we began our day of sightseeing in Bruges with a canal cruise.
Take a fairytale cruise along Bruges’ canals
Rozenhoedkaai is the top photography spot in Bruges, with its wide canals and historic buildings. It is such an iconic view in Bruges that Google maps have it tagged as ‘Bruges Photo Point’! It is also one of the many places to catch a canal cruise in Bruges.
Once on board, a trip along the canals reminds you why the city is called “Venice of the North”. It is so charming, cruising along the waterways.
I loved seeing the historic buildings and cute stone bridges from the water and thought it reminded me of Venice.
Bruges is smaller than Venice, but a boat trip around its canals is a must on any trip to Bruges. The journey lasts for around 30 minutes and has commentary in English. Your captain will give you information about the history of Bruges’ surroundings, which adds interest to the boat ride.
Take part in a beer flight and discover delicious Belgium beers
Beer tasting is a big thing in Bruges, and as we had heard about the wide variety of beer in Bruges, we decided to try a “beer flight”.
A “flight” consists of beers ranging from intense and dark to light and fruity flavours for all palates. I am not a beer drinker, but I was prepared to try some fruity options. After all, when in Bruges, it would be rude not to!
We chose to visit Bourgogne des Flandres Brewery is situated along a cobbled street with an outside seating area overlooking the canal.
We chose the six-beer flight option accompanied by a cheese board and tapas meatballs (optional). I discovered two of the lighter, fruitier varieties that were pleasant, and I thought it was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours.
De Halve Maan is another beer lover’s dream. This 16th-century family brewery, owned since 1856, offers a 45-minute tour focusing on beer production.
The journey takes you along passageways and onto the roof for a panoramic city view and finishes with a tasting.
If you want to learn more about the different varieties of beer in Bruges, head to the Beerwall at 2BE. It is a popular tourist attraction in Bruges and has a large area out the back to enjoy a pint or two.
Visit Bruges’ tallest tower at the Church of Our Lady
After our canal cruise, we wandered through the cobbled streets to see the steeple and spire of the 13th-century Church of our Lady.
At 379 ft, this is the tallest building in the city and, remarkably, the third tallest brickwork tower in the world, preceded only by two church towers in Germany.
Sadly on our visit, the church was closed to visitors. Even so, looking up at its tower from the ground was impressive.
Take part in a free walking tour to familiarise yourself with the city
After a leisurely canalside dinner, we chose to do a free Bruges walking tour with Legends Tours.
This 90-minute tour was fun and informative, allowing us to learn more about this historic European city.
I love doing walking tours as they are usually run by locals who give you insider snippets about the destination you are visiting. Things like quiet spots to check out, great restaurants and bars, and general helpful information to make your stay a positive experience.
Join a city sightseeing tour
On our last day, we took the 90-minute City Tour bus, which picked us up in front of the Belfry Tower in Grote Markt and took us around the places of interest in the city.
In hindsight, I would recommend doing this on your first day in Bruges to get your bearings.
The one place we hadn’t visited on foot was the windmills on the city’s outskirts.
Sint-Janshuismill was built in 1770 and is the oldest working windmill in Bruges, still standing in its original position and open to the public. You can enter for free with the Musea Brugge Card.
There are now only four out of the twenty-three mills that were around the city. You can walk to them from the city centre or hire a bike and fully discover the area.
Afterwards, if you have time, there are several museums in Bruges to visit that showcase unique collections.
Groeningemuseum features Flemish artwork from various periods, and Memling Museum showcases works from renowned artist Hans Memling.
If classical art isn’t your thing, check out quirky venues like Frietmuseum (french fries museum), the Torture Museum examining historical instruments used for punishment, or the Choco-Story museum dedicated to all things chocolate; after all, you are in Bruges!
Guided Tours and Experiences in Bruges
My honest opinion of Bruges
What month did I travel? August
How was the weather? It was hot and sunny.
Is Bruges a good place for solo travellers? Yes, it is a compact city and is one of the best places to travel alone in Europe.
Would I recommend the hotel?
Yes. Martin’s Relais was a good base in Bruges, slightly away from the busier part of town.
It was a boutique hotel with a charming interior. The room itself was large, with windows overlooking the canal.
Is Bruges worth visiting for three nights?
Most definitely, although if you are limited in time, you could condense all main activities into two nights.
I loved the architecture, the canals, the beer and chocolate and the ease of walking everywhere. The Eurostar journey is under 4 hours from the UK and so a great place for a European city break.
Bruges is an ideal place to wander around and one of the most beautiful places in Belgium.
Please Pin for Future Travel to Belgium