I highly recommend joining the Legend of Bruges Free Walking Tour. They are highly rated on TripAdvisor! I did use this tour group while in Brugge, they gave me a great history lesson on the city and exposed me to beautiful historical sites. They also offer a Night Tour for those that want to learn more about the darker history and sites of Brugge. As well as a Taste of Brugge Tour, which will show you the delicacies and best beers of Brugge. The best part about this tour is that it is completely free and you can tip the tour guide on what you would pay, if you had to pay for the tour.
1. Belfry Tower
The Belfry is in the center of the town square with the Market and Provincial Court surround the perimeter. In the past, the Belfry was used to house the treasury and municipal archives and a way to spot danger from enemies and fires. Now it is mostly a historical symbol of Brugges with the occasional art galleries being hosted here.
There’s also a guy that plays on the organ of the Belfry and plays really fun and popular music. During Christmas, he’ll come out and play holiday tunes. But if there is a really popular song like Despacito, he will play it on his organ too.
If you are willing to wait in line for a while, you can climb the 366 narrow and steep staircase to get a panorama view of Brugges. I recommend going super early in the morning to beat the line of people.
- Hours: Everyday from 9:30 AM — 6:00 PM
- Cost: 12 Euros.
2. Basilica of the Holy Blood
This chapel was originally built in the 12th Century with Gothic and Romanesque influences for Count Flanders. This chapel may look quite small from the outside, however, inside holds the Blood of Jesus Christ (supposedly). This relic is considered quite important in the Christian world and people all around the world come into see it.
- 9:30 AM–12:30 PM and 2:00 PM–5:30 PM
- Entering the Basilica: Free
- Treasury/Museum Individual: 2.50 Euros
- Everyday after Mass (11:30 AM–12:00 PM and (2:00 PM–4:00 PM)
- Click here for more info on the Basilica.
3. Markt (Market)
This market is in the center of the city and surrounded by beautiful and colorful buildings. During the holidays, the market is lined with Christmas and holiday gifts, foods, tourist trinkets, and even has an ice skating rink.
3. Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady is considered the second tallest building in the world…made out of brick. But it is the tallest building in the city of Brugge. This church has been undergoing construction forever, so parts of the building [when I went] were still covered in scaffolding despite being told the construction was supposed to be done by 2017.
This chapel also has one of Michelangelo’s white marble sculpture of the Madonna and the Child from 1504 which was rescued from the Nazis by the Monument Men.
4. Ten Wijngaerde (aka Beguinage)
In the past, the Beguinage provided a safe haven for single mothers or widowed women. Many of these women then led a pious life with the monastery and became nuns. Currently, it is still maintained and run by female nuns with no men.
This is a beautiful place to visit, away from the horse-drawn carriage streets and the tourist-lined areas. It is still within the walls of Brugge and within walking distance from Old St. John’s Hospital.
As soon as you leave the Beguinage, you’ll walk out to see a beautiful canal and land area filled with swans. This area is a great place to escape and relax the busy tourist town of Brugge.
- UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Open everyday from:
- 6:30 AM — 6:30 PM
5. De Halve Maan Brewery
De Halve Maan is a local brewery in Brugge and a very popular brand of beer in Belgium. They have a range of beers with various amount of alcohol from 6%-11%. A really unique thing about De Halve Maan Brewery that I have never seen before is that they literally have pipes filled with beer running underground the whole city to local pubs.
6. Old St. John Hospital
Old St. John’s Hospital is right next to the Church of Our Lady. This hospital is about 800 years old and considered one of the oldest surviving hospitals in Europe. This hospital has had a very strong history of helping pilgrims, travelers, the poor and the sick.
If you end up visiting the museum, you are able to experience what the hospital and wards looked and felt like back then. They even still have a herb garden that was used to create medicine for the apothecary.
Inside the hospital chapel, there’s a gallery filled with Hans Memling’s work, an important artist of the Flemish Primitive era. It is said, that the artist resided in the hospital due to an illness, it was at this hospital where Memling created some of his most famous works.
- Tuesday–Sunday (9:30 AM–5:00 PM)
- Closed Mondays