Tourist attractions in Bruges

 

Attraction Notes Details & rating
Chocolate museum Choco Story Why go?Bruges is awash with chocolate shops – so it makes sense to find out where it all started.

How to make the best of it?

This is a tall building with lots of stairs, although there are lifts to make it accessible. If you have children, make use of the quiz that involves a sheet and stickers. Sample the chocolate on offer as you go in – no further free samples! Work your way round the history of chocolate and then have a look round the ground floor where you’ll find a whole load of artefacts made from chocolate and a demonstration of an aspect of chocolate making.

As devotees of Belgian chocolates we were a bit disappointed with this. All the history stuff is frankly quite dull, we liked the things made out of chocolate – very clever! But the demonstration was a real let down – when we visited there was a very surly girl making pralines – very monosyllabic and clearly not happy!Mid rating from us – just because this is the capital of chocolate!

€6/4

Open everyday

Frites museum Why go?French fries are actually nothing to do with France, but are a Belgian invention. This museum is devoted to potatoes and chips with a chip shop in the basement! The museum is housed in the Saaihalle, which dates back to 1399. The building is very well preserved and the interior hasn’t been altered – so you can see the size and scale of the rooms of a medieval house.

How to make the best of it?

The first section is history and potato facts, but upstairs it all becomes much more surreal – a film of people playing potatoes as instruments, an exhibition of things to do with chips and chip art. Everything is labeled in 3 languages.

In the basement is the chip shop – use your discount tickets given to you when you buy your ticket – they’ll take all of them even if you just buy one bag of chips!

This was hilarious – and we think it must have been intentional! After all – how much is there to say about chips?? Certainly once you get past the history section; tongues seem firmly stuck in cheeks!Chips were delicious – huge bag and freshly fried.
Basilica of the Holy Blood Why go?The Relic of the Holy Blood is apiece of cloth that is reputed to have been used by Joseph of Arimathea to wipe the blood from the body of Christ. It was brought from the Holy Land following the 2nd crusade in 1150. It is brought out on Fridays when Christians queue up to kiss the crystal container that it is in.

How to make the best of it?

The church has two chapels, with the most interesting being upstairs. This is where the relic is kept. Very ornate and colourful, there is lots to look at in this Gothic chapel. The one downstairs is Romanesque and plain.

During our last visit to Bruges, the relic was out and there was a long, but fast moving queue to touch the container that it is in. This is a very busy chapel with a mixture of tourists and the devoted – who all seem to co-exist happily. The whole interior is a riot of colour, and religious music is playing all the time. Worth a visit – top rating from us. Also – it’s free!Closed Wednesday pm
Church of Our Lady Why go?This church has an amazing collection of art which includes a van Dyck and a statue of the mother with child by Michelangelo.

How to make the best of it?

The Michelangelo is on the right hand side of the church as you look down the nave towards the altar. This isn’t a huge church, so you’ll have time to have a good look round. There’s also an impressive Rococo pulpit designed by a Belgian; Jan Antoon Garemijn.

There is no entrance for visitors during services.

Lovely atmosphere, despite there being lots of visitors. The Mother with Child is smaller than we expected, so took some finding but is very lovely and worth the effort.Great art all around and very impressive tombs.

Top rating from us – and it’s free!

Canal Trip Why go?Bruges is a city of canals, although the only traffic allowed on them now are the strictly controlled tourist boats. This gives you a different view of the city and the guide gives you plenty of information.

How to make the best of it?

Make sure you tell the guide which language you speak – he’ll then deliver his talk in all relevant languages for his boat. There are 5 joining places for the tours – if the first one you see has huge queues, just walk along to the next one – the chances are it will be quieter. It lasts 30 minutes.

The mystery is why Russell who hates open-top buses loved this trip? Anyway – he did, and so did Sue. Great guide who gave masses of information about Bruges past and present. Great views of this very picturesque city.Top rating – a must do when you’re in Bruges!

€6.90/3.20

T-zand Square Why go?You may get dropped here by your coach, although they won’t pick you up from here. This long square has the new Concert Hall at one end, with Tourist Information on the ground floor of this building.

How to make the best of it?

If it is Saturday, there will be a market taking place on the square, but it’s still worth spending some time looking at the fountain and 4 groups of statues around it which represent different aspects of Bruges and Belgium.

You can hire guides or bikes from the tourist office.

The square is 5 mins walk from the train station and very close to the historic centre and shops.

At first, this appears to be just a huge and oddly empty space, but once you realize that it’s a market place, and acts as the gateway to the old city, it all makes more sense. The fountain is great – the statues are striking & thought provoking.Lastly – tourist information – the staff are really helpful, but you need to know what you’re going to ask – it’s a ticket system, so no queuing, but they want to move you through!
Market Square Why go?If you arrive in the city by taxi, you are likely to be brought here.

This is where the Belfry is – not a church or town hall – it’s a symbol of freedom and is very Flemish.

How to make the best of it?

Climb up the tower – but be warned – it is 366 steps! Or just enjoy a coffee or beer in one of the cafes in the square and wait for the carillion which rings a different tune every 15 minutes (but not after 9pm or before 7am!)

Great square – one of those when you know you’re abroad! Sounds odd, but we hope you know what we mean!)We sued this square to get our bearings on our last trip – it’s marked on all the maps (which isn’t true of everywhere!!)

Top rating – although it will be hard to avoid!

Site Oud Sint-Jan Why go?A collection of little shops inside an old building behind the Church of Our Lady. Also a rare find – a public loo!

How to make the best of it?

A range of antiques shops and art galleries to explore, as well as an internet café if you’re looking for one.

Loos were great and cost 50 cents. We walked through here as we navigated our way down some little windy streets on our way from t-Zand to the old town. There looked to be some interesting shops.
Shopping Why go?Really this should read ‘What to buy”! Chocolates, lace and flavoured beer are the stand out souvenirs from Bruges.

How to make the best of it?

There are about 50 chocolate shops in Bruges – from the very old to the newer. You can usually try before you buy. Look along Simon Stevinplein which is off Steenstraat, from Market Square, or try along Woliestraat, also from Market Sq. You should find plenty of lace shops and beer shops whilst looking for the chocolate!

We also recommend resting your weary legs in a café with a waffle – completely different to those terrible offerings in chain restaurants at home!! Or a real hot chocolate – you’ll get hot milk, some grated real chocolate (or sometimes melted) and you have to mix it yourself – great fun!and as for the chocolate shops……!! You can often try samples, but it’s so great selecting your own box of choccies – they’re sold by weight & the shop assistants are really very helpful.
The Burg(Castle Square) Why go?This is Bruges 2nd town square (after Market) a lovely cobbled square where some of the most important buildings in Bruges are.

How to make the best of it?

There is no longer a castle, but the town hall (on the right) has lots of statues to represent the characters who feature in the history of Bruges. On the left are the old Chambers with the 3 bronze statues representing Justice, Moses and Aaron.

In the corner of the square is the Basilica of the Holy Blood.

Another breathtakingly pretty part of Bruges – we really enjoyed looking at all the different architectural styles that are showcased here – even though we don’t know much about it!Make sure that you pass through this square, even if you don’t visit any of the buildings.

Top rating from us.