Bruges in the summer is one of our favourite places in Europe. Charming all year round, the city’s gingerbread-style houses, quaint cobbled streets, winding canals and horse drawn carriages will never lose their appeal to us backpackers. While the city is popular in the winter time for its Christmas markets, cosy restaurants and magical atmosphere, summer is also a prime time to make the most of what the city has to offer. Think beautiful green spaces, cycle opportunities and beer gardens in abundance. On a hot day, Bruges bursts to life like something out of a Disney fairytale.
With the weather warming up all over Europe, consider Bruges for your next city break for the perfect European trip packed with culture, chocolate, sunshine and beer. Here are the best things to do in Bruges in the summer…
Beer gardens and Pub crawls
If you need one good reason to head to Bruges, aside from the stunning architecture and relaxing atmosphere, the beer is a real winner. You could easily while away the summer days by hopping between the best beer bars in Bruges, sampling a few new Belgian beers and enjoying your old favourites. Bruges’ pubs are packed with character, set in old buildings with wooden beams and creaky floorboards, and a lot of them have beer gardens that are perfect for a hot day. A few of our favourites include the oldest pub in Bruges called Vlissinghe, the famous De Halve Maan Brewery and The Bauhaus which is buzzing at all times of day.
Check out the
Cycle to the windmills
Get outdoors in Bruges and see what the place is known for. Belgium has a rich mill history so make some time to cycle around the Brugge’s famous windmills while the sun is shining. Koeleweimolen is one of the most famous windmills in the city that was used for corn. Then there’s the oldest windmill in the city, Sint-Janshuismolen, that was built in 1770. This is the only windmill in Bruges that’s still standing in its original position so be sure to check it out. It even has a museum inside that’s open to the public (June - September) and it still grinds flour to this day. There are various other windmills in the city to discover too, so hop on two wheels and go searching for them. Want to hire a bike in Bruges? You can rent a bike from the St Christopher’s Inns Hostel
A tour of the canal
Often referred to as ‘the Venice of the North’, Bruges has stunning canals that run through the city with charming bridges to cross over making it even more adorable. You can take a canal tour on a hot day in Bruges to experience the city from a different perspective. The little tourist boats will take you down the narrow waterways, under bridges and will pass through some of the most authentic parts of Bruges. For €10 per person for half an hour on the boat, what better activity can you think of in the summer?
Sheep spotting at Hof de Jonghe park
Want to escape the tourist track and do something a little more local? This small park in Bruges is quite the hidden gem and rather hard to locate. But once you find it you won’t regret it. This beautiful green space is where many sheep come to graze so we recommend to pack some local Belgian beers, find a nice shady spot under the trees and interact with the local animals. Just make sure you don’t feed them. Just a 20 minute walk from the St Christopher’s Inns hostel, you get to walk along the canal for part of the journey and cross the Potterierei Bridge (a popular photo spot in Bruges) to get to the park.
Views from the top of the Belfry
The Belfry Tower is one of Bruges’ most iconic, medieval structures. You won’t be able to miss it once you’re in the city centre, towering right over Markt Square with horses pulling their carriages and clip-clopping past it along the cobbles. For a price of €10-12 you can discover the history of the Belfry Tower at ground level, but for the real Belfry experience you’ll have to climb up high. Take the 366 steps up to the top of the world-heritage protected bell tower for unbeatable panoramic views of Bruges and the surrounding are (don’t worry, there are places to pause along the way). On a clear summer's day you can see for miles past the medieval city.
Enjoy the city’s best ice cream and waffles
There’s no way you can leave Bruges without trying a famous Belgian waffle. If you’re after the best, then make Chez Albert a priority. Chez Albert waffles are renowned amongst Bruges locals and visitors for dishing up the tastiest waffles in the city, topped with all your favourites from whipped cream and strawberries to chocolate (Belgian, of course) and banana.
When it comes to ice cream in Bruges, Gelateria Da Vinci is our top pick. You could stand there for ages deciding on which flavour to choose, with all the classics on offer plus a great sorbet selection and plenty of whackier options such as ferrero rocher, mojito and snickers. Nothing beats an ice cold, creamy treat on a hot day in Bruges.
Picnic by Minnewater Lake
Bruges has plenty of beautiful outdoor space, perfect for a warm day. Stroll or cycle over to Minnewater Park and take in some beautiful summer views of the swan-filled Lake of Love. This tranquil little spot is a welcome break away from Bruges’ peak season crowds. Legend has it, if you walk over ‘Lovers Bridge’ with your partner then you’ll be rewarded with an eternal love for eachother. Pack a picnic from a nearby shop and find a quiet, grassy patch to sit and enjoy - just be sure to mind the swans!
Summer bars, urban beaches and cocktail spots
You’re wrong if you think Bruges is more culture and less nightlife. Bruges has some really funky summer bars and pop-ups where young locals and tourists hang out on warmer evenings. You just need to travel by Uber to get there. The Night 2.0 is a really cool bar and it’s actually Bruges’ oldest pop-up concept. Hosting themed night parties, summer events and boasting a brilliant outdoor urban beach, don’t miss this summer spot for dancing and cocktails. Just a 15 minute drive away from the St Christopher’s Inns hostel, attend one of their Ladies Nights or Singles Nights!