The Best Things to Do in Bruges, Belgium

The 15 Best Things to do in Bruges, Belgium

One of the best-preserved cities in Europe, enigmatic Bruges gives you the chance to step back in time and experience what it was like to live in this spirited city centuries ago.

Many of Bruges’ most iconic and impressive landmarks are still around today. From historic churches, ancient breweries, and long-established squares to cobblestone streets, rows of whitewashed houses, and dreamy canals, Bruges is a place you can’t help but fall in love with! 

Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll never be stuck for things to do in Bruges. As well as the typical attractions you’d expect to find in such a cultured city – like castles, museums, and art galleries – Bruges is also home to a number of quirky spots. Skull-covered churches, museums hidden inside hospitals, and parks teeming with fluffy white sheep, are just some of the offbeat things you can expect to see here.

With such a huge choice of things to see and do, it can be almost impossible to know where to begin. To make things easier for you, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Bruges. Add these fun activities and attractions to your Bruges bucket list, and you’re sure to have an amazing time exploring this spellbinding city!

15 Fun and Unique Things to Do In Bruges 

1. Check out the Striking Jeruzalemkerk

Best Things to do in Bruges: Jeruzalemkerk

You’ll find one of the most unique things to do in Bruges at the Jeruzalemkerk. Known as the Jerusalem Church in English, this iconic landmark isn’t just any old church. It’s home to an eye-catching altar dotted with human skulls and other bones. To make this unique feature even more unusual, the altar also has carvings of several ladders and tools.

The Jeruzalemkerk was built in the 15th century by the Adornes family and was modeled on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The church is also home to an effigy of Jesus Christ’s corpse. 

But the most interesting part of the building is a clandestine tomb which is said to contain the heart of Anselm Adornes. It was thought that he was murdered in Scotland, and the heart was brought all the way to Bruges to be kept at the church.

There’s a private chapel inside the church, which is still used by the family for religious purposes today. However, it’s sometimes opened up to the public for art lectures and classical music concerts.

Book a Dark Side of Bruges Evening Tour

2. Go to the ER

Fun Things to do in Bruges: Saint John’s Hospital

You may think it’s best to avoid a trip to the hospital during your vacation, but that’s not the case here. You’ll find some of the best sights in Bruges inside Saint John’s Hospital. This 12th-century hospital has been completely transformed into a fascinating art museum that invites you to discover what early hospital life was like.

The museum still boasts its original timber roof and wooden beams, as well as a spectacular collection of medical instruments and pieces of art from the mid-17th century.

The golden oak reliquary is one of the most impressive parts of the museum. Crafted by Hans Memling, the star of the show tells the tale of Saint Ursula’s marriage to a pagan prince. Ursula and 11,000 virgins were murdered by the King of the Huns as they made their way to Rome. 

Before you leave the museum, make sure you check out the 17-century pharmacy. Here you can see all the unusual treatments they had hundreds of years ago and the herb garden where they used to grow ingredients for remedies.

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3. Get Lost in the Maze at Kasteel van Loppem

Bruges Bucket List: Kasteel van Loppem

When you need a break from the hustle and bustle, head to the city’s outskirts and spend the day at Kasteel van Loppem. Known as Castle Loppem in English, this strong fortress is more of a mansion than a castle and has been one of the top Bruges attractions for years. 

Built in the 19th century, Kasteel van Loppem was the residence of the Belgian king for a short time after the end of WWI. At the same time, it was also used as a command center for the country’s army. 

Fun Things to do in Bruges: Kasteel van Loppem

You’re free to explore the castle and admire the opulent carpets, luxury furniture, ornate fireplaces, and gleaming chandeliers that Belgian royalty once enjoyed. The stunning building is also home to a remarkable artwork collection made up of paintings, sculptures, and sketches.

While the inside of the castle is fascinating, you’ll find the most fun attraction outside. The castle’s grounds are home to a traditional hedge maze that’s trickier than it looks. If you’re looking for things to do in Bruges, this is a must!

4. Discover the History of Flemish Art at the Groeningemuseum

Whether or not you consider yourself to be an art lover, spending a few hours at the Groeningemuseum is one of the best things to do in Bruges. One of the city’s most extraordinary galleries, this art museum gives you the chance to explore Flemish art through the centuries. 

Take a look around, and you’ll discover fascinating pieces between the 14th and 20th centuries. There are works by Flemish primitives, such as Gerard David and Jan van Eyck, neoclassicism art by Joseph Ducq and Joseph Odevaere, as well as modern art by Raoul de Keyser and René Magritte. 

If you’re fascinated by the macabre, you’ll find countless interesting pieces here. The Groeningemuseum is home to a number of gruesome, gory works, such as a 1498 painting that depicts Saint George being tortured while another man is being flayed alive. 

If that’s not quite your thing, the museum offers fantastic views of the nearby market square from its oversized windows. 

Book a Day Trip to Bruges from Brussels

5. Expand Your Palate with Moules-Frites

Bruges Things to do: Moules-Frites

When you need a break from all the Bruges sightseeing, stop by a local restaurant and order a plate of moules-frites. Known as mussels and fries in English, this iconic dish may be simple, but it tastes absolutely divine. As soon as you’ve finished your plate, you’ll want to order another one!

Belgian mussels are much larger than the mussels you’re likely used to. And in Bruges, they’re served separately in a little cauldron with a side of fluffy-on-the-inside and crunchy-on-the-outside fries. You’ll usually get to choose between two sauces – a classic white wine sauce or a thick and creamy vegetable-based sauce.

Oesterput is one of the best places to dig into moules-frites. This sensational seafood restaurant dishes up the most incredible moules-frites between the end of June and the end of March each year. They’ve got a stellar reputation for amazing seafood, and the Zeeland mussels are always huge.

6. See the Blood of Christ

Unique Things to do in Bruges: Heilig-Bloedbasiliek

The Heilig-Bloedbasiliek houses one of the most unusual things to see in Bruges. This small, modest basilica attracts thousands of visitors every year from all over the world, each keen to catch a glimpse of a vial that’s said to contain Christ’s blood.

Crusaders brought the vial over to Bruges, and it’s been in the upper chapel of the church ever since. It’s kept under lock and key most of the time. But if you visit the church at 2 pm, you’ll have the chance to see it with your own eyes. 

The Heilig-Bloedbasiliek, known as the Basilica of the Holy Blood in English, was built in the 15th century in a striking Gothic style. It was elevated from chapel status to basilica status in 1923 and, as well as the noteworthy vial, is also home to many valuable works of art. 

Here you can see a crown that once belonged to Mary of Burgundy, as well as the Great Shrine of the Holy Blood, which was crafted out of silver in 1614 by Jan Crabbe.

7. Say “Cheers!” at the Bruges Beer Festival

Bruges Bucket List: Bruges Beer Festival

One of the most fun things to do in Bruges is to go to the city’s beer festival. During one weekend each spring or summer, the Bruges Beer Festival attracts around 80 individual breweries that come together to show off their best products.

Here you’ll find more than 500 different types of beer to try, including a number of exclusive and rare varieties. Many breweries use the festival as a chance to launch new beers, so if you get there early, you could be the very first person to try some!

Must do things in Bruges: Bruges Beer Festival

Don’t worry about getting hungry. There are loads of food trucks dishing up all kinds of local and international eats throughout the festival, too. Keep an eye out for the raffle stand. Buy yourself a ticket, and you could snap up all kinds of free drinks and beer-related memorabilia.

The dates of the festival seem to change each year. So check the official website to find out exactly when it will take place.

8. Climb to the Top of the Belfort van Brugge

Bruges Things to do: Belfort van Brugge

You’ll find one of the must-do things in Bruges at the Belfort van Brugge. Known as the Belfry of Bruges in English, this phenomenal medieval bell tower stands proudly in the center of the city and looks spectacular from a distance. But for the best experience, head inside the tower and climb the stairs to the top!

The tower stretches 272 feet into the sky and rewards people who make it to the top with fantastic views that stretch all across the city. Before you reap the benefits, you’ve got to make it up 366 stairs, which can get pretty tiring. The stairway can sometimes feel a bit claustrophobic, so it’s best avoided if you’re uncomfortable in small spaces.

Only 70 people are allowed at the top of the tower at a time, so you should be able to snap plenty of people-free pictures. Be sure to take a look at the board at the entrance to the belfry. It tells you when you can hear the tower’s 47 bells chime.

9. Take a Boat Ride Along the Canals

Cool Things to do in Bruges: Boat Ride Along the Canals

Enjoying a peaceful ride along the city’s canals is one of the top Bruges activities. Like a number of other cities in Europe (such as Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Strasbourg), Bruges is fondly known as the Venice of the North in honor of its huge number of waterways that crisscross throughout the city. 

A boat tour allows you to take in much more of the city than you ever could by walking. It also gives you a unique perspective of the area and allows you to visit some parts of Bruges that you can’t get to any other way.

Best Things to do in Bruges: Boat Ride Along the Canals

You’ll find a number of canal tours departing from Huidenvettersplein, most of which last around 30 minutes. This excellent tour combines a boat ride with a walking tour. Led by an experienced local guide, you’ll find out all sorts of fun facts about the city and see achingly-beautiful historic monuments that have stood the test of time. 

Book a Bruges Boat Cruise and Walking Tour

10. Start the Day with a Belgian Waffle

Fun Things to do in Bruges: Belgian Waffle

Waffles for breakfast may not sound that special, but just wait until you try Belgian waffles! Waffles in Bruges are lighter, fluffier, and more decadent than the standard breakfast waffles served in the US. They’ve also got much deeper divots, so they can soak up and hold more of whatever delicious topping you decide to add!

You’ll find food stalls selling freshly-made Belgian waffles all over Bruges. Classic toppings include fresh fruit, Nutella, and whipped cream, although you’ll find loads of interesting variants today, including ice cream and caramel sauce. You can even get savory versions topped with things like bacon, goat cheese, and tomatoes.

Chez Albert is one of the best places for Belgian waffles in Bruges. The most famous waffle shop in the city, there’s always a line here, but the waffles are absolutely worth the wait. This popular hotspot is in the city center, so you can continue sightseeing while snacking!

Book a Bruges Food Tour

11. Walk in the Footsteps of the Movie Stars from ‘In Bruges’

Unique Things to do in Bruges: Footsteps of the Movie Stars from ‘In Bruges’

If you’re a fan of the movie In Bruges, you’ll be excited to hear that a lot of the scenes were actually shot in the city. For one of the coolest things to do in Bruges, grab a leaflet from one of the tourist offices that dot the city and track down the locations where the movie was shot. 

Even if you’ve never seen In Bruges before, it’s still worth visiting the shooting locations. Many scenes in the film were shot at important parts of the city, such as the market square and the belfry. It’s a great way to see the prominent Bruges attractions while brushing up on your movie trivia! 

Some of the other spots covered by the tour include Minnewater Bridge, the Church of Our Lady, the Gruuthusemuseum, Koningin Astrispark, and Restaurant Cafedraal. The tour is completely free to do and everywhere is accessible on foot, making it a top choice if you’re on a tight budget.

12. Count Sheep at Hof de Jonghe

Bruges Things to do: Hof de Jonghe

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll find one of the top things to do in Bruges at the Hof de Jonghe. This serene park is set close to the north end of the city’s Old Town and can be a bit difficult to find. You need to pass through a residential area to get there, which may make you feel like you’re going the wrong way. 

But if you carry on, you’ll eventually be greeted by a wide-open space teeming with sheep! Although it feels like a private farm, this park has been permanently open to the public for more than 40 years. 

A number of sheep call the space home and spend their days lounging in the shade of trees and nibbling grass. If you visit in spring or early summer, you may be lucky enough to see some newborn lambs.

You’ll find a number of benches scattered throughout the park, too, making it a great place for a picnic. 

13. Fill Up On Free Samples at Bruges in Choc’

Best Things to do in Bruges: Bruges in Choc

Spending a few hours at Bruges in Choc’ is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Bruges. This annual chocolate festival takes place each month at the Bruges Markt and attracts a huge number of hungry people, all eager to discover their new favorite sweet treat!

You’ll find countless stalls overflowing with every type of chocolate you can imagine. Almost all the stalls offer free samples, so you can indulge your sweet tooth while you decide which ones to buy. Although it’s certainly a highlight of the event, the festival isn’t all about snacking.

As well as the chocolate stalls, you’ll also find a number of chocolate-themed activities to join in with. There are workshops where you can make your own chocolate bars, presentations about the environmental impact of chocolate-making, and chocolate pairing seminars that teach you what things go well with different types of chocolate.

The dates of the festival change every year, so check the website before you make plans to find out exactly when it takes place. 

14. Travel Back to Medieval Bruges at the Historium

Bruges Bucket List: Historium

If you groan at the thought of visiting a museum, the Historium is guaranteed to change your perspective. One of the best things to do in Bruges, the Historium is a modern and interactive experience that’s part museum and part medieval movie. 

Hidden inside a spectacular neo-gothic building close to the city’s market square, the museum invites you to step back in time to medieval Bruges. To make things a little more interesting, the hour-long tour doesn’t focus on facts and figures. Instead, it uses sophisticated VR technology, remarkable special effects, and catchy tunes to show you what it was really like to live in the city centuries ago.

There are seven themed rooms to explore, as well as a panoramic terrace with superb views and a tower that stands 114 feet high. Make sure you stop by the Historium exhibition before you leave. Here you can see all the work that went into making the museum.

Book a Bruges Historium Story Ticket

15. Test Your Taste Buds with Waterzooi

If you feel like trying something new, stop by a local restaurant and order a bowl of waterzooi. There’s no English translation for this dish because it’s somewhat unique!

Waterzooi is a creamy soup that’s made from eggs, butter, and fish. Some places in Bruges even add beer into the mix. This is Belgium, after all! It sounds like a bizarre combination that you’d want to stay away from but after your first spoonful, you’ll be hooked. 

The one-of-a-kind soup dates back to the Middle Ages and was hugely popular with the rich and powerful. Today you’ll find it served up in all kinds of eateries, from casual restaurants to fine dining venues. 

Nuetnigenough is one of the best places in Bruges for waterzooi. Here you’ll find it served with the most amazing crusty bread that’s still warm from the oven.

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Bruges. What’s your favorite thing to do in Bruges? 

Planning a trip to Belgium? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!



  • Nicola Quinn

    Nicola is a freelance writer with an insatiable hunger for travel. She swapped her home in the UK for the sunny Canary Islands when she was just 11 and she has been based there ever since.

    From crawling on her hands and knees inside pyramids in Egypt to swimming with baby sharks in Bali and searching (fruitlessly!) for the Northern Lights in Iceland, Nicola takes every chance she gets to explore new places.

    The incredible experiences she has around the world fuels her writing and inspires her to plan even more adventures for the future.

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