Bruges has been on my must-visit list forever! It is the most quaint and romantic place to visit, and especially at Christmas. Bruges at Christmas transforms into a festive fairyland. There are Christmas Markets, fairy lights everywhere, huge trees in the squares, hot chocolate on every corner and every food you can think of, including the famous Bratwurst. So here’s a quick guide of what to see, do and pack in a weekend in Bruges at Christmas. Also if you’ve seen the Colin Farrell film, In Bruges, you’ll be able to spot all the sights while you’re there! If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with Christmas and marking the changes as they pass in our seasonal calendar. We can max out these changes in any business to build an easy marketing strategy, you can read more about Marketing at Christmas here.
A Weekend in Bruges at Christmas
Where to stay in Bruges at Christmas
It is easy to find a great hotel in Bruges and stick to the centre so you’re right in the middle of the action. Most hotels seem to have embraced the festive season so all are perfectly trimmed up for Christmas and in character with the festive season!
It really is walking distance so you shouldn’t really need taxis while you’re there. Our one exception was the journey to / from the train station with bags but it was only 20 minutes to walk it.
We picked the Dukes Palace Hotel which looks like a castle! In keeping with the romance of Bruges, it has flags and turrets and a beautiful tree in the entrance hall and a sweeping staircase.
We were lucky to be upgraded to the Junior Suite which was spacious (biggest bed ever!) and the bathroom had L’Occitane goodies.
We booked with breakfast too which was enormous! It included everything you can possibly imagine from Champagne, to huge blocks of chocolate served with waffles, to hot options and cold meat and ham to go with delicious bread.
The bar also was a super cosy but luxe option where we picked up bar snacks (arancini balls) with red wine.
Where to eat and drink in Bruges at Christmas
The choice is overwhelming as there are cafes, bars, restaurants simply everywhere. We did our research though and realised we might need to book. Also some of the restaurants were actually closed on Saturday and Sunday.
- Fancy Restaurants in Bruges
On Friday night we booked into Lieven in Bruges the week before (recommended by our hotel, guidebook and Michelin) which was heavenly! I had a the Seabass Ceviche starter, followed by the most delicious rump steak dish with a side of salad. We also went head first into the bread and meat appetiser plus shared a bottle of red wine. I think the bill was around 170 euros for two so it was on the pricier end of the scale. BUT it was absolutely delicious and exquisite food.
- Normal Restaurants in Bruges
On the Saturday night we picked Brasserie Mozarthuys restaurant at random near the river instead which was cheaper so you can go as expensive or affordable as you like.
- Food on the go in Bruges
In the daytime we also grabbed Bratwurst from the famous Christmas Markets. Find the main one in Grote Markt which is in the same square as the Belfry Tower. And you can grab chips, waffles, burgers, you name it from the wooden huts! Trust me, in Bruges you will not go hungry!
- Drinks in Bruges
If you’re looking for something special to drink, try the delicious Cherry Beer. We visited The Beer Wall, a specialist bar overlooking the canal in the evening. As you can imagine, it has a wall of beer to choose from and you can sit outside to drink your new local beer. It is quite a quiet, romantic spot even if it is a beer place.
Chocolate in Bruges at Christmas
Chocolate deserve a section of its own because chocolate is EVERYWHERE (there are reportedly 2000 chocolate shops in Belgium.
You can get chocolate truffles, chocolate fountains, chocolate waffles, chocolate ice cream, chocolate lollipops, hot chocolate, blocks of chocolate, chocolate crepes…and all this in every second shop you see.
There’s modern shops, quaint shops, romantic shops, pretty shops, exquisite shops, you name it, there’s a chocolate option for you!
I was desperate to try the famous chocolate seashells and dear god, if I could have filled my suitcase with them, I would be one happy woman! I picked a place next to the canal called Crevin which was a handmade, traditional store. It is worth the trip for these delicious praline chocolates alone!
I also had the best hot chocolate of my life in the square. Just make sure you ask for the Slagroom (whipped cream!).
What to do in Bruges at Christmas
- Sight see
My first tip is just to wander around. The streets are beautiful, the shops are intriguing, the restaurants, bars and cafes are all perfect for a gastro tour!
- The canal
Get a map and make sure you go along the canal too, there’s stunning churches, the famous St Bonifacius Bridge and even more streets to explore.
- Christmas Markets
There’s also the famous Christmas Markets which are full of food and drinks stalls and Christmasssy shops to pick up gifts or trinkets too. They always seem to be full of lights, decorations and plenty of Christmas music too.
- Rainy Day in Bruges
If it is a rainy day, like our first day, then there are museums and buildings to explore. The Belfry of Bruges (you’ll recognise this if you’ve seen the film In Bruges) is a medieval bell tower. I didn’t quite realise what I was getting myself into but it is a very very high tower with a spiral staircase to get to each level. It is a bit tight and claustrophobic – so we only made it halfway.
- Salvador Dali – We also went next door to the Salvador Dali exhibition which had over 300 pieces to see. It probably only takes about an hour to go around and it was pretty thought provoking to discuss over another hot chocolate.
What to wear in Bruges at Christmas
- Warm Clothes – We went at the beginning of December so it was cold. I read up on Bruges fashion and decided that jeans, flat boots, jumpers and a smart coat was the best thing to pack. I also chucked in my leathers and heels for evening.
- Practical Clothes – The weather was so rainy on the first day that I did regret my smart white coat. Most people seemed to be in, what I would call hiking clothes. You know those waterproof numbers with hoods or big puffer coats. So basically casual, casual, casual.
- Comfortable Clothes – Make sure you have flat boots so you can do stacks of walking around beautiful Bruges at Christmas.
- Extras – I couldn’t help popping a little Instagram friendly red dress which was a gift from Chi Chi Clothing to match the fairytale hotel.
Bruges at Christmas How to get there from London
We travelled to Bruges at Christmas on the Eurostar from London St Pancras. It takes about three and a half hours in total with a change in Brussels. The change is pretty easy and efficient so don’t worry about that. Make sure you factor time in on the way back so you don’t miss your train!
Get set for the year with my free 2022 Calendar which you can download here.