Bruges is nicknamed the “Venice of the North” because of its many canals. This Gothic and medieval town, like Venice, can be extremely crowded. It’s certainly worth a visit, but prepare yourself for the mass tourism (especially if traveling to Bruges around the Christmas holidays).
Don’t miss it
An afternoon cycling along the canals toward the coast. You’ll pass through many cute towns along the way, including Damme and Sluis. Take your lunch break on the beach — there are plenty of pop-up food and drink vendors.
There are several bike rental shops in town that are reasonably priced. Be sure to ask for a route map, although it is still a bit difficult to follow. We ended up getting lost, and an intended 10-mile back ride turned into 46-miles. More on that story in the travel journal. Needless to say, it was brutal, but the ride along the canals was absolutely enchanting. Mother nature is stunning!
Many travelers climb the Belfry (bell tower) in the town square. And I imagine the views from it are incredible (especially after climbing the bell tower in nearby Ypres, Belgium). A local resident recommended that we, instead, take a brewery tour of De Halve Maan, which has an incredible rooftop view of this picturesque town. The view alone makes the small tour price worth it! Plus, you can enjoy a complimentary beer, Brugse Zot, after the tour. Cha-ching!
Must try food/drink
Chocolate, Belgium waffles, fries, mussels and Brugse Zot beer. Repeat.
How long to stay in Bruges
On my first trip to Bruges in 2016, I stayed for three nights. It was the perfect amount of time to explore the Old Town, while also biking to nearby beaches and towns. Since 2016, I have taken two day trips to Bruges from Ghent, Belgium, which is only a 30-minute train ride. If you can afford to stay the night in Bruges, I highly recommend it!
Here’s a hint
Join a tips-based walking tour on your first day in Bruges. The knowledgeable guides will share the city/country’s history while showing you much of the city center. Most tours stop for a beer at the Bruges Beer Experience Museum. It’s educational and fun — and you never know who you will meet! We ended up chatting it up with a few Germans, who we later visited in Freiburg.
It’s hard not to laugh at the odd name but Snuffel Hostel exceeded all expectations. The decor is artsy, the dorm rooms are huge, the bathrooms are super clean, the lockers are large, and the lively bar was casual! So many great Belgian beers on tap, too. Whether you stay here or not, you can rent bikes from this hostel.
Related: Here are a few more travel guides in Europe:
- Things to do in Ravello
- 5 Days in Barcelona
- Barcelona Travel Tips
- Travel Guide to Galway
- Paris for the First Time
- Visiting Normandy, France