Bruges, Belgium was one of my favorite cities we visited. I fell in love with the medieval architecture, rambling cobblestone streets, chocolate shops, and walkability. Bruges is essentially built in the shape of a circle (since back in the day it was a walled city surrounded by gates and moats). And you can walk from one end to the other in about 30 minutes. We spent about four days here, exploring at our leisure, but its small size and navigability make it possible for you to see a lot even if you don’t have a ton of time.
Day 1: Walking Tour
Walk to Grote Markt Square. Start the day off by climbing the Belfry tower. There are 366 stairs up to the top, so it is pretty physically challenging with tight stairwells (not gonna lie, I felt pretty out of shape). There are little stops along the way where you can learn about the carillon, and the history of the tower, so take these stops as rest breaks. The views are gorgeous from here, especially the view of the squares.
Tip: Lines get long to go up the Belfry, so I would arrive early. They allow only a small number of people to go up at a time and must wait until a certain number come back down in order to let more people through.
Make sure to take in the sights and sounds, the candy colored buildings, and horse-drawn carriages of the Grote Market.
Stop for a snack at Kottee Kaffee. We didn’t get to go here because it was all booked up, but it looks so cute!
Head over to Chez Albert for a sweet treat. There’s usually a line here, but it moves relatively quickly and is surrounded by chocolate shops.
Head over to Burg Square and see Town Hall and the Gothic Room. You can also visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood.
After this, take a stroll to Minnewater Park and watch the swans float around the Lake of Love.
Eat a well deserved dinner at Zwart Huis.
Day 2: Windmills and Night Lights
Breakfast at Sanseveria. Delicious bagels and a humorous tea selection.
Walk to Janshuimolen. There’s actually two windmills (Janshuimolen and Bonne-Chieremolen) here that you can check out.
Take your time wandering back, stopping at chocolate shops for samples, oogling at the lace shops, and exploring every little alley. Every corner you turn, there’s something beautiful.
Stop for coffee at The Gulliver Tree and try their house made chai. We spent a cozy afternoon here reading and people watching.
Take a night stroll. Most of the main sites are flood lit at night so you can still enjoy Bruges’ beauty at night.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Hotel Heritage Relais and Chateaux. I would highly recommend it as it’s about a two minute walk from the main square, yet on a quiet, tucked away street. It is the cutest medieval boutique hotel, and the service is impeccable. They offer free walking tours, Belgian chocolate turn out service nightly, and were great about helping us arrange transfers.