7 Unique Things to do in Bruges

by Lizzie Davey  |  Updated March 17, 2024

One of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities, Bruges’ fairy tale-like setting provides an enchanting backdrop for a glut of great things to see and do.

A Bruges tour boat passes under a bridge (Photo: City Tours Belgium / Courtesy GetYourGuide)The capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium attracts huge numbers of tourists every year – and it’s easy to see why. The city is quite simply breath-takingly beautiful, with its Historic Centre a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. But there’s more to Bruges than mere good looks – this is a city brimming with great activities and attractions to enjoy. We’ve picked out 7 of the best below.

Take a scenic boat cruise

No trip to Bruges is complete without a boat trip along its picture-postcard canals that are lined with buildings dating back to medieval times. Boats depart from four quays in the city, with all routes taking you along its gorgeous waterways, past ivy-covered facades and under charming bridges as your expert on-board guide regales you with stories and facts about the city’s past, present and future. If you have the time and budget, you can also purchase tickets for combined excursions that include a walking tour as well as a boat tour.

You can book a Bruges boat cruise with a combined walking tour via GetYourGuide

Check out a museum

One of the city’s most prestigious cultural institutions, Groeninge Museum is home to an incredible collection of work spanning six centuries of Belgian visual arts. The museum itself is relatively small, but when it comes to the eminence of its works on display it certainly punches above its weight. Highlights include art by some of the most renowned Flemish painters in history, along with gems of the renaissance and baroque masters, 18th and 19th century neoclassical and realistic works, and a varied selection of post-war modern art.

Dijver 12 / Thurs-Tues 9.30am-5pm Closed Weds

For an altogether different museum experience, the Medieval Torture Museum houses a spine-chilling collection of instruments once used for the purposes of agonising punishment. Located within one of the city’s oldest stone building’s that once served as a prison, the museum is designed to make visitors reflect on the relationship between good and evil during medieval times, and how justice balanced on the border between violence and righteousness. As well as authentic torture contraptions preserved over the centuries, there’s also a recreation of a dungeon and dozens of wax statues wearing the original attire of the people they represent in the past.

Wollestraat 29 / Mon-Sun 10.30am-6.30pm

A terrifying exhibit at the Torture Museum (Photo: Dimitris Kamaras via Flickr / CC BY 2.0 DEED)

Visit a family-run brewery

Among its many claims to fame, Bruges is considered a global hub for beer making. As the only remaining brewery in the city that still creates its produce inside Bruges’ old walls, De Haalve Man harks back to the days before globalisation and the proliferation of macro-breweries that can now be found dotted around the outskirts of town. Not only will you get the chance to sample some of the home brew, you can also take a wander around the on-site museum, which delves into the beer-making process and the history of the craft. And be sure to stick around for your complimentary taster at the end.

Discover the city’s rich chocolate history

For sweet-toothed travellers, visiting Bruges is akin to a pilgrimage thanks to the city’s world-renowned reputation for chocolate. And if you’re interested not just in sampling some of Bruges’s best cocoa-based confectionaries, but also learning about the rich history of chocolate production, then you can combine both at the acclaimed Choco-Story museum. Through a wide range of exhibits, the museum tells the story of chocolate through time, bringing to life its 4,000-year history in words, pictures, and flavours. There’ll also be a chance to observe a chocolate-making demonstration and – the piece de resistance – to sink your teeth into some delectable chocolate samples.

Wijnzakstraat 2 / Mon-Sun 10am-6pm

You can book tickets for Choco-Story via GetYourGuide

The Easter Bunny poses for a photo at Choco-Story (Photo: Choco-Story Brugge / Courtesy GetYourGuide)

Sample Belgium’s national dish

For a quintessentially Belgium food experience, trying Moules Frites is about as good as it gets. Consisting of steamed mussels, typically served in a white wine and garlic sauce and with a generous side of French fries and Dijon mayonnaise, such is its popularity that it’s widely considered Belgium’s national dish. There are bistros and other eateries across the city serving it up for hungry patrons – and since it’s so simple to make there isn’t much variation in quality. But as is the general rule of dining in unfamiliar cities, your best bet is picking an establishment with plenty of locals.

Book at GetYourGuide

A spread of mussels, chips and beer wait to be devoured (Photo: UnorthodoxY via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Escape to an urban park

Though Bruges is characterised by its cobblestone streets and olde-worlde ambience, there are still some green spaces you can escape to. Spread over some 6 kilometres, The Ramparts is a sprawling park featuring ancient towers, medieval gates, and plenty of natural spots to kick back and relax in. A walk around this park takes in the well-preserved windmills at Kruisvest as well, and makes you feel like you’re a million miles away from the busy city centre.