Bruges Travel Guide

Belgium  
Credit

Courtesy of Westend61/Getty Images/Westend61

Free Things To Do in Bruges

If you have extra time, Markt is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Bruges
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    #1 in Bruges
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Located just south of the De Halve Maan Brewery, Minnewater Lake (which literally means "Lake of Love") is a charming body of water bookended by canals. There are park benches, weeping willows, walking paths and even swans that give the lake a lovely ambience. Some say the canalized lake is best viewed in autumn, when the willow leaves change color.

    Most people agree that the Minnewater Lake is a must-see for its romantic atmosphere and pleasant views. However, some visitors weren't impressed, like this TripAdvisor user who says, "It's a pleasant enough stretch of water with nice paths and seats but I wouldn't fight my way past all the other things in Bruges to go there." Visitors also mention that there are a few good restaurants skirting the lake, one of which sells tasty waffles. 

  • #2
    Historic Centre of Brugge
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    #2 in Bruges
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Since 2000, the Historic Centre of Brugge has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its "outstanding example of a medieval historic settlement, which has maintained its historic fabric as this has evolved over the centuries." Canals or cobblestone paths frame these medieval buildings (and gothic ones too), giving the area an old world feel. These restored buildings once housed merchants selling leather, fish and more. Now, the historic buildings are repurposed as cafés, boutiques and art galleries. One TripAdvisor user exclaims that the Historic Centre of Brugge is a must-see, citing the local food and shops. You'll find this neighborhood right in the center of Bruges, roughly encircled by the Ring Canal. 

  • #4
    Markt
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    Markt
    free
    #4 in Bruges
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Lonely Planet calls the Markt, the "nerve center" of Bruges. And you can see why: Shadowed by medieval buildings, the area is peppered with cafés that spill out into the streets. Horse-drawn carriages also clip-clop through the city square. And did we mention tourists? There are almost always a ton of those too. You'll find it right in the heart of Bruges, within a five or six-minute walk from the Church of Our Lady and the Groeninge Museum.

    One TripAdvisor user describes the Markt like this: "Lovely square ... many historic buildings with loads of small side roads with loads of pubs/bars!" But this user (and many others) recommend bringing plenty of money, saying this is one of the most expensive areas of the small city. 

  • #7
    Beguinage
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    #7 in Bruges
    Churches/Religious Sites, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Beguinage (also called Begijnhof) -- a small commune consisting of modest homes and a church -- dates back to the 13th century.  The Countess of Constantinople, Margaret, founded this campus for the Beguines, who were young women or widows that devoted themselves to charitable work; but they didn't have to take religious vows to do so. Today, Benedictine nuns reside within the whitewashed houses, though visitors can still tour the grounds and a small museum.

    Travelers offer mixed opinions on the merits of visiting the Beguinage. Some say it's overcrowded with loud tourists, and some say it's perfectly serene -- the calmest place in Bruges. Most say you don't need longer than 10 minutes to see it.

  • #9
    Basilica of the Holy Blood
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    #9 in Bruges
    Churches/Religious Sites, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Romanesque-style Basilica of the Holy Blood curiously has an ornate Gothic upper level. But most visitors flock to this chapel to look at a small vial of blood, which is said to have belonged to none-other than Jesus Christ. Every year on Ascension Day (in May or June), the bishop of Bruges accompanies the holy relic through the city streets in the Procession of the Holy Blood.

    Many visitors say that the exterior of the Basilica of the Holy Blood isn't much to look at, but the inside is a different story. One TripAdvisor user says: "It was interesting to see 2 very different styles in one church. The downstairs sanctuary was very simple while upstairs was overwhelmingly gothic, almost too gothic."

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