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Trip List by sabrina_ide

First time in Bruges

21 Jan 2011  Tourist office employee
5.0 of 5 bubbles based on 49 votes

So it's your first time in lovely Bruges. Welcome! You'll soon find out that Bruges is a charming historic town and that one of the joys of the city is that there is a museum around each corner, a restaurant on every square, a picturesque photo waiting to be taken in every street and enough shops to fill your suitcase with souvenirs.

People might tell you that part of the Bruges experience is to NOT prepare your trip at all and discover the city as you walk through it. However, I think it's always better to at least have a general idea of what a city has to offer. So, in this list you'll find some of the must sees and dos in Bruges for first time visitors.

Note: of course you can combine this list with other lists I've made.

All prices are 2013 prices.

MIND: I like TA, but I don't always have time to update. So if you spot a mistake, please let me know!

FYI: contact me personally if you wish to receive this list in PDF-format. Easier to print and with a better layout.

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Bruges
  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Shopping, Repeat visitors
  • Appeals to: Business travellers , Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Seniors, Students, Budget travellers , Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. City Tour

    The yellow sightseeing line buses from City Tour can be found on the Market square, the departure point for a 50-minute discovery tour of the main highlights of Bruges. The tour leaves every half an hour. The first bus always leaves at 10h00. The last bus leaves at:

    * January & February: sunset
    * March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October: 18h30
    * November - December: sunset

    MIND: this is not a hop-on & hop-off bus, you stay on the bus. You can easily walk back to all the places you have seen after the bus drops you off at the Market square.

    PRICE: 16 euro for adults | 9,50 euro for children aged 6 to 11 | 25 euro (adults) or 14 euro (children) combi ticket with Historium

  • 2. Canal Boat Tours

    The canal boat tour is a classic must do in Bruges. Even though the boats are at times packed with tourists it is still a wonderful way to discover the city. You will get to places you will never see when just walking around or when taking a minibus tour.

    There are 5 different embarkation points, all located inside the tourist center. To find the embarkation points you can use the tourist map. In TOP QUESTIONS on the forum page you'll find the link for the tourist map.

    The boats run daily between early March and mid-November.

    PRICE: 7,60 euro for adults | 3,40 euro for children aged 4 until 11

    Winter stop, 2013 - 2014
    - Venice of the North (on Huidenvettersplein): open daily until Friday 15 November 2013. Last boats at 17h00. However, when the weather should be bad, chances are this company will close the entire afternoon.
    - Coudenys (on Rozenhoedkaai): open daily until Sunday 17 November 2013. Then, but only when the weather is nice, on weekends until the end of 2013.
    - De Meulemeester (in Wollestraat): open daily until Monday 11 November 2013
    - Gruuthuse: open daily until Sunday 3 November 2013. Then weekends in November and December 2013.
    - Stael (in Katelijnestraat): open daily until Monday 11 November, but only when the weather is nice. Last boats at 16h00.

  • 3. Horse Drawn Carriage Tours

    This is also a classic must do even though you can also see all the places that you'll pass when you just walk around. But still, taking a horse carriage ride with your loved one, friend or family in picturesque Bruges feels very romantic.

    The horse carriages operate each day of the year and you can find them on the Market square (Wednesday morning on the Burg square). The first carriages leave at around 9h00, the last roughly at 18h00 (in July and August till 22h00).

    The ride takes about 30 to 35 min. and will take you from the Market square to the Beguinage and back. There is a short 5-minute stop at the Beguinage, so the horse can rest.

    PRICE: 39 euro per carriage (max. 5 people in one carriage)

  • 4. Belfry (Belfort) and Market Halls (Hallen)
    Belfort, Bruges

    Climb the 366 (one for each day of the year) steps to the top of the Belfry Tower and enjoy a splendid view over Bruges and the surrounding area, while at the same time admiring the 47 carillon bells. In addition you can also view the old treasure chamber, where the city's charters, seal and public funds were kept during the Middle Ages.

    The Belfry has received a three month renovation on the inside in 2012.

    PRICE: 8 euro for adults | 6 euro for people aged 7 until 25 | free for children younger than 6

  • 5. Groeninge Museum
    Groeningemuseum, Bruges

    The Groeninge Museum is the most important museum in Bruges when you want to see the world famous Flemish Primitives paintings, but you can also marvel at
    18th and 19th- century neoclassical top pieces, masterpieces from Flemish Expressionism and quite a bit of postwar modern art.

    PRICE: 8 euro for adults

  • 6. Beguinage (Begijnhof)
    Beguinage (Begijnhof), Bruges

    A beguinage (French) or begijnhof (Dutch) is a collection of small buildings used by Beguines, religious women who chose to serve and worship God. The Beguinage in Bruges is a beautiful, peaceful spot near the famous Minnewater (Lake of Love). Best time to visit the Beguinage is in springtime, when the daffodils blossom.

    PRICE: The entrance to the Beguinage and the church is free. In one of the houses you'll find a very small museum, the adult price is 2 euro.

  • 7. Church of Our Lady (Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk)
    Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk, Bruges

    The 122 meter high brick tower is the second largest brick tower in the world. Together with the Belfry and the tower from the Saint Salvators cathedral it dominates the skyline of Bruges. The church displays a valuable art collection: Michelangelo's world famous Madonna and Child, countless paintings, 13th-century painted sepulchres and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold.

    * Tuesday and Thursday at 9h00
    * Saturday at 17h30
    * Sunday at 11h00

    PRICE: 6 euro for adults (at times reduction rates apply, because of the restoration works)

    The Church of Our Lady is currently undergoing some interior restoration works. Only of the two entrances is open, the one in front of the Memling in Sint-Jan Hospitaalmuseum.

  • 8. Saint Salvators cathedral aka Saint Saviours cathedral
    Holy Savior Cathedral (Sint-Salvatorskathedraal), Bruges

    The oldest traces of this roman-gothic cathedral date back to the 9th century, but it wasn't until the 19th century that this parish church became the town's cathedral, after the St.Donatian's cathedral on Burg square was broken down and a replacement needed to be found. Many treasures from St. Donatian's have moved to St. Salvators. Its rich collection now holds among others a rood loft with organ, Brussels tapestries and paintings of the Flemish Primitives.

    FYI: you can still view remnants of the old cathedral in the basement of the Crowne Plaza hotel on Burg square. You are always free to walk in and ask a receptionist if you can visit the remnants (they now serve as meeting rooms, so you have to check with reception first if you are able to proceed downstairs). It's one of those hidden gems.

    PRICE: free of charge (cathedral and treasury)

    The Saint Salvators cathedral is currently undergoing some interior restoration works.

  • 9. Memling in Sint-Jan Hospitaalmuseum
    Sint-Janshospitaal, Bruges

    History still lives in this 800 year old hospital. Visit the medieval wards where the nuns and monks did their work of mercy and marvel at the impressive collection of archives, art works, medical instruments and six paintings by Hans Memling. Don't forget to visit the magnificent attic and the old pharmacy, which is just around the corner from the museum entrance! The pharmacy closes between 11h45 and 14h00.

    PRICE: 8 euro for adults

  • 10. Gruuthuse museum
    Gruuthusemuseum, Bruges

    Inside a 15th-century city palace you'll find the Gruuthusemuseum. The museum, built by the Lords of Gruuthuse, contains splendid tapestries, a unique prayer chapel, a five-centuries-old kitchen and a collection of objects illustrating everyday life between the 15th and the 19th century, ranging from everyday kitchen ware to superb silverware.

    PRICE: 8 euro for adults | 6 euro for people aged 13 until 25 | free for children younger than 12

    The museum will likely close during the second half of 2014, due to restoration works. An exact date is not yet available.

  • 11. Town Hall (Stadhuis)
    Stadhuis, Bruges

    Bruges' City Hall (1376) on the Burg square is one of the oldest in the Low Countries. This Town Hall was the inspiration for the Town Halls in Brussels, Antwerp, Leuven and Oudenaarde. From this place the city has been governed for more than 600 years. An absolute masterpiece is the Gothic Hall with its late 19th-century murals and polychrome vaulted ceiling.

    PRICE: 4 euro for adults | 3 euro for people aged 13 until 25 | free for children younger than 12, including a visit to the Liberty of Bruges

  • 12. Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan

    Visit brewery De Halve Maan in the historic city centre of Bruges, it's the oldest brewery in town. You can follow a one hour tour which leads all the way to the roof or just enjoy one of their Brugse Zot beers in the pub. You don't necessarily have to follow the tour have a drink in the pub!

    Keep in mind that during the tour you'll encounter several steep and narrow stairs and low ceilings.

    PRICE: 7,50 euro for adults, incl. one beer (or something else in case you don't drink beer)

    CLOSED from Monday until Friday in week 2, 3 and 4 of 2014, meaning they are open on Saturdays and Sundays during these three weeks

  • 13. Choco-Story - The Chocolate Museum

    In the chocolate museum the world of chocolate deliciously comes to life. Follow the sweet cacao trail from the ancient Mayas all the way to the contemporary gift shop. You can discover chocolate art works and pay close attention during the daily demonstrations (all day long).

    PRICE: 7 euro for adults | 6 euro for students | 4 euro for children aged 6 until 11 | free of charge for children younger than 6

    Extra info: there is a combination ticket for:
    - Choco-Story + Diamond Museum: adult price is 12 euro
    - Choco-Story + Lumina Domestica + Belgian Fries Museum, 2 possibilities:
    2 of those museums: 11 euro for adults | 9 for students | 6 euro for children aged 6 until 11 | free of charge for children younger than 6
    all 3 museums: 16 euro for adults | 13 euro for students | 9 euro for children aged 6 until 11 | free of charge for children younger than 6

    CLOSED from Monday 6 January until Friday 17 January 2014

  • 14. Diamond Museum (Diamantmuseum)
    Diamond Museum, Bruges

    Even though Antwerp is considered to be the diamond capital of Belgium, in this museum you will learn that Bruges is actually the oldest diamond center of Europe. There are several diamond cutting demonstrations during the week, be there at least 15 minutes in advance or you'll miss this sparkling and interesting show.

    * Monday to Friday @ 12h15
    * Saturdays, Sundays, Belgian school holidays and every day from 1/4/2014 until 31/10/2014 @ 12h15 and 15h15

    PRICE: 7 euro for adults | 9,50 euro for adults (incl. diamond cutting demo)

    Extra info: there is a combination ticket for:
    - Choco-Story + Diamond Museum: adult price is 12 euro

    CLOSED from Monday 6 January until Friday 17 January 2014

  • 15. Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek)
    Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bruges

    The 12th-century basilica is located on the Burg square and consists of a lower and upper chapel. The Relic of the Holy Blood is kept here. Each year since 1303, on Ascension Day, the relic is carried through the streets of Bruges in the Holy Blood Procession. Ticket sales for this event start in March 2014. Next edition: 29 May 2014.

    * In the upper chapel on
    ...... Friday and Sunday at 11h00
    * In the lower chapel on
    .......Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at 11h00

    The Holy Blood is on display in the upper chapel on the following days:
    ......Monday until Thursday from 11h30 to 12h00 AND 14h00 to 15h00
    ......Friday until Sunday from 11h30 to 12h00 and 14h00 to 16h00

    PRICE: free of charge for basilica | the small museum is 2,00 euro for adults and 1,50 euro for students