Belgium is one of those year-round destinations in the world, whatever the season, it is a beautiful place to visit.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a unique charm in winter and is often known as the “Venice of the North”. With beautiful canals, spectacular views, intriguing architecture, and an abundance of old-world beauty, Bruges is the city you will instantly fall in love with.

With that being said, let’s explore the list of amazing things to do in Bruges in the winter. So, here we go!

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A Complete Guide to Visiting Bruges in Winter – Things to Do in Bruges in Winter

Table of Contents

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Weather in Bruges in Winter

The beautiful city of Bruges can be visited in any season. However, if we talk about winters in particular, the city blooms up and becomes a paradise for tourists. Snow is common during this time which makes the city more beautiful and the Christmas Markets in Bruges come alive.

So, if you are planning to visit Bruges in winter, make sure to go out and explore the true beauty of the city rather than just sitting inside a blanket. During Christmas time, the temperature is extremely cold. However, this is the best time to plan a trip to Bruges in winter.

Climb the Belfry of Bruges

Watching the city view from up above is an experience that awestruck anyone. Belfry Tower is one such place where you can enjoy astonishing 360-degree views over the city of Bruges.

Belfry dominates the skyline of Bruges and hence, is one of the top tourist sites in the city. There are 366 steps that take you all the way up to the tower. However, it is best to visit the tower as soon as it opens up. Being a busy tourist site, you can experience long queues if you choose to visit late in the morning or evening.

However, standing in the queue is itself an experience to indulge in during the winter season as local musicians keep you entertained with their traditional music and Christmas carols. You can explore the tower at night when it offers an altogether different experience.

Explore Market Square

The Market Square is an iconic tourist site that is also the heart of Bruges. This is the place where Belfry Tower is located. Dotted with stunning buildings and vibrant guild houses, the square is a busy area where you discover the medieval experience.

These guild houses are today converted into restaurants where you can also spend some time relishing the food while enjoying the street views. Market Square is one of the oldest markets in Belgium, with its history dating back to the 10th century.

You can also take part in an iconic carriage ride. Apart from that, you will also get to see the other animals pulling the carriage just the like the old ways. During Christmas time, the best view is the peg puppy wearing the Santa outfit.

You can also plan your visit on a Wednesday as there is a weekly market observed here where you do stalls hopping, selling a wide variety of fresh fruits, flowers, and vegetables.

Witness the Symbol of Eternal Love at Minnewater Lake

In case you are wondering, Minnewater Park, is paradise in Bruges. Also known as the “Lake of Lovers”, this place is a real treat in winter for all nature lovers. You can capture the sight of plenty of swans gliding along the water of a pristine lake. The lake is said to be dated back to the 12th century when the channel was constructed to connect the sea with the old port of Bruges.

Over the stream, there is also a lover bridge which has its own story. It goes like that Minna fell in love with a boy from a neighbouring tribe. However, her father did not approve of their love and set up an arranged marriage for her. As a result, she ran here and died in the arms of her lover.

Cruise the Canals

Is your visit to Bruges even completed without a cruising tour on the timeless canals? Absolutely no! Just wear some extra layers, board a boat, and just enjoy the cruising tour to discover a unique side of Bruges.

On tour, you will get to see the sights of beautiful bridges, gorgeous gardens, and stunning views of the surroundings. It also offers an old-world charm, as the city is well connected by a maze of canals for centuries. The boat tour lasts for 30 minutes and operates from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. You can take the tour from Central Plaza and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Be a Part of Festival Celebrations

The months from late November to early January are the festival season in Bruges. This is the time when you will get to experience the best of Bruges in winter. Light Experience Trail is a prominent choice amongst tourists as well as locals. The annual festival is held between November and January.

Artificial Ice Rink is another popular event that is hosted in the winter season at Minnewater Lake. Not only this, the bar scene in Bruges is also nothing short of an event and experience to be a part of in winter.

Vorst Winter Bar is a popular spot located right by Minnewater Lake, which offers a great view of an artificial skating rink. You can savour local drinks while watching the people showcasing their skating skills on the rink. This is indeed a place to spend an evening while keeping yourself warm with local drinks.

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Visit Gothic Burg Square

Dotted with history and oozing out architectural beauty, Burg Square is another popular public square in Bruges. Located beside the Provincial Court Building, Burg Square is a gorgeous spot to explore and wander around.

The key highlight of the place is the Hall of Bruges which is located next to the Civil Registry building. Now, the most exquisite part of these buildings is the fact that they boast a stunning Gothic style of architecture which is a treat to the eyes. Apart from that, you can also capture buildings with Neo-Classicist and Renaissance styles of architecture.

The square dates back to the 13th century and is majorly known as the home to Gothic buildings. However, what adds up to the charm is the winter season, when you can also spot a beautifully decorated Christmas tree right at the centre of the square.

The Christmas time also witnesses a local weekly market held in Burg Square. Make sure to visit the market and pick some fresh fruits, vegetables, and other offerings. Burg Square is an Instgram-wortht place where you can capture some aesthetic shots of buildings and the local lifestyle.

Explore the Christmas Markets

If it is about what to do in Bruges in winter, then exploring Christmas Markets has to be the top thing to do. Christmas is undoubtedly the best time in winter, and the Christmas Market is the right way to enjoy the season.

Amidst the merry vibe, the city hosts 2 Christmas markets in the heart of the city. Both markets are within walking distance and hence, are easily accessible. Market Square is one prominent place to be a part of the amazing Christmas Market. The market not only gives you an opportunity to go splurge shopping but also to try healthy and delectable options of Belgian food. However, it is crucial to know that the Christmas markets in Bruges aren’t as glitzy and decorative as you will find in other major cities around the world.

The best part of these Christmas Markets is the fact that you don’t just get to soak the Christmas vibe, but also you can also be a part of the Bruges Winter Glow Festival, which happens during the same time. Another Christmas Market is observed a few minutes walk away from Simon Stevinplein Square. This one is relatively smaller yet offers the same vibe and experience for people.

Savour Belgian Chocolates

No visit to Bruges or any other Belgian city is ever completed without a chocolate tour. Belgian chocolates are world-famous, and there is no doubt about it how delectable they are.

Surely, you must have had them before in your home country or any other part of the world. Nevertheless, it can’t be as fulfilling as having them in Belgium itself. So, when visiting Bruges in winter, make sure you make the most out of your tour and enjoy some local Belgian chocolate.

There are chocolate shops on every corner of the city that gives you plenty of options. You can simply find the best chocolate place by simply wandering around the areas like Breidelstraat, Steenstraat, and Katelijnestraat. Some of the popular options are Dumon Chocolatier, BbyB Chocolates, The Chocolate Line, and Oliver’s Chocolate Shop.


Admire the Ancient Masterpieces at Groeninge Museum

Even if you are not an art lover, a visit to Groeninge Museum is a must. It is one of the main museums in Bruges. Groeninge Museum covers a wide display of art dedicated to Renaissance, Flemish Expressionism, Baroque, as well as modern art.

It was designed by Joseph Vierin, a famous architect. The museum is located at an easily accessible location in Eekhout Abbey. It is also one of those places which you can explore with friends and family.

It gives you an insight into the beautiful Belgian visual art as it holds a unique collection of exhibits. The place is also known to hold temporary exhibitions on a regular basis.

Indulge in Belgian Food and Beer

There couldn’t be a better way to beat the chills of the winter season than savouring the delectable Belgian food with a beer in a cosy ambience. There are various options spread over throughout the city when it comes to food and beer.

Zilverpand courtyard is a prominent place where you can find some good options to dine. The food is best accompanied by a wide variety of beer available in the city. The city is known to be one of the best places to enjoy a beer in Belgium. Besides, you can also find a few rare brands as well. So, make sure to try them.

The city also has plenty of bars to hop in and enjoy some drinks. Apart from that, you can also savour hot chocolate as it is also a popular offering in the city.

Visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood

Situated in Burg Square, the Basilica of the Holy Blood is one of the most renowned sacred sites in Bruges. It might not look like a church, yet it is an important place of worship.

Dating back to the 12th century, the Basilica is known to have two chapels – upper and lower. The upper one boasts a stunning neo-Gothic architectural design and is the key highlight of the place. Whereas, the lower chapel has a Romanesque design and is still in its original state.

On display, there is a sacred relic, a vial of the blood of cloth which is believed to contain the blood of Jesus Christ from the time of the crucifixion. Apart from this, the church also has interesting art and tapestries on display.

The church hosts an annual Procession of the Holy Blood, which is taken through the streets of Bruges, wherein the reliquary is used. The reliquary includes 30 kg of silver and gold along with more than 100 precious stones.


Before You Leave for Bruges

Before you set off on your way to Bruges, there are a number of things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. These include what to pack, where to stay and what is the best insurance for your trip to Belgium. All of this is discussed in detail below.

How to Get to Bruges

To get to Bruges from Brussels, you can take a train or a bus. The train is generally the fastest and most convenient option, with direct trains departing regularly from Brussels Midi Station and arriving at Bruges Station in about one hour. You can purchase your train tickets online or at the station, and it’s recommended to book in advance to secure a seat and get better rates. Another option is to take a bus, which takes around 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the traffic. The bus leaves from Brussels North Station and stops at several points in Bruges. You can purchase your bus tickets online or at the station, but keep in mind that the schedules may vary depending on the day of the week and the time of year. Overall, both options are reliable and comfortable, and it’s up to you to decide which one suits your preferences and schedule better.


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What to Pack for Your Trip to Belgium

Belgium is a country with a temperate climate, so it’s best to pack clothes suitable for both warm and cool weather. Depending on the season, you may need to pack a waterproof jacket and comfortable walking shoes. For the summer months, pack lightweight clothing, sunscreen, and a hat. If you plan on visiting religious sites or formal events, bring modest clothing. Belgium is famous for its chocolate and beer, so you may want to leave some extra space in your luggage for souvenirs or gifts. Additionally, be sure to pack any necessary medication and your travel documents, including your passport and visa if required.

For our full list of items that we pack no matter where we go in the world, check out our full packing guides over here.

Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around the Edinburgh, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.

You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here.

What is the Best Travel Insurance for Belgium

I know travel insurance is the least enjoyable thing to purchase and look at when you’re planning a trip, however, you wouldn’t want to be without it in the event that something happened. Accidents can happen anywhere and the extortionate medical bills will ruin your trip if you are not covered.

To ensure you have a stress-free trip with no worries about potential medical bills, make sure you cover yourself when you travel. We can recommend using SafetyWing, a backpacker-friendly and cheap insurance company that provides good coverage and support. It is also nomad-friendly, unlike most other insurance companies, meaning you do not need to worry about being out of your home country for too long.

Get a quote for your travel insurance right here and get covered!

So there you have it, your complete guide to visiting Bruges in winter. If you are visiting this incredible city and have any other questions on what to expect, leave us a comment down below. We love to chat about this stuff! If you have already been, let us know how it was! Let us know in the comments below!

Also, remember to share this with your friends and family that you are going to share this amazing experience with. Sharing is caring and we want to ensure that everyone is fully prepared to maximise their experience completing this stunning walk.

If you are planning a Belgium trip soon then check out our other Belgium content right here. Come and find us on social media to see where we are currently exploring. Tag us in your photos from your stay and we will share them with the rest of our community of explorers and backpackers.

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