Bruges is the sort of city that lends itself perfectly to a trip at any time of year. Whether it’s summer or winter, morning or evening, the city has a magical air that makes everyone fall in love with it. When planning a trip to Bruges during Christmas time, expect even more charm with Christmas markets, local beer bars, festive window displays and opportunities to indulge on every turn. The fairytale city lends itself brilliantly for festive fun so if you’re planning a weekend trip we’ve got you covered. There are plenty of heart fuzzing things to do in Bruges in December during the lead up to Christmas, these are the ones not to miss...
1 VISIT THE CHRISTMAS MARKETS
December marks the most magical time to visit Bruges because of the world-famous Christmas markets. Grote Square is home to the largest Christmas market in Bruges, the perfect place to get all of your festive feels in the cobbled city until January 1st. Sample market treats at over 20 different stalls offering Christmas treats, glühwein, presents, Belgian frites and much much more. There’s a reason why Bruges is a top destination during the winter. While you enjoy the Christmas atmosphere, enjoy the fairytale backdrop with the colourful, lit up gingerbread-like buildings lining the square. This market even has an ice rink!
Another fantastic Christmas market in Bruges is on Simon Stevin Square. This market is smaller than the one of Grote Square but much less crowded. Let the fumes of hot sausages grilling tempt you, admire the Christmas decorations, buy a few gifts and enjoy that warm, fuzzy feeling you get around this time of the year.
2 SAMPLE BELGIAN BEER
Nothing goes down better in Belgium than a good beer, and there are tons to choose from when in Bruges. Grab a table in one of the city’s cosiest beer bars where you can drink in the warmth of an old, Brugean pub away from the bitter cold. Peruse the countless beers on the menu and ask the waiter if you need a hand at choosing a good one for you (or a little sample taste). Bruges might be small, but you definitely won’t be short of local spots to get your hoppy fix. Head to the Bauhaus bar which is all wooden and cosy inside and boasts a huge selection of all sorts of beers on its menu.
De Garre is another of our favourites. Nestled down a tiny alleyway behind one of the main streets off Grote Square, the tables are all close-knit with a friendly atmosphere and, of course, some of the best beers in the city. Come here to escape the cold and have a good brew in amongst the locals.
3 VISIT THE CHOCOLATE SHOPS
Bruges is the perfect place to buy handmade Belgian chocolates for your loved ones back home. There are plenty of chocolate shops in the city, but be careful because some of the shops claim their chocolate is handmade when it’s not. We’re here to help you out with the best chocolate shops to visit in Bruges where you can buy some of the finest chocolates made by talented chocolatiers. There are some charming chocolate shops around the city that you simply won’t want to miss. That’s your Christmas gifts sorted!
4 DRINK A HOT CHOCOLATE
What’s better than smooth, creamy hot cup of cocoa in the winter? Bruges is the hot chocolate capital of the world so it would be rude not to indulge in one of the city’s best hot chocs while you’re here. To try the best hot choc you’ll ever taste, head to The Old Chocolate House or Chocolaterie Sukerbuyc. The chocolate here that is used to make the delicious hot drink is the finest chocolate you can get in Belgium and beyond. We’ve rounded up the best hot chocolates in the city, check them out...
5 ICE SKATING ON GROTE SQUARE
Glide around Grote Square on one of the most idyllic ice rinks in Belgium. Surrounded by the annual, incredible Christmas Market, don’t miss the opportunity to get your skates on and try your hand on the ice in amongst Bruges’ most famous square, surrounded by the Belfry Tower and the colourful Dutch houses of Grote Markt. Once you’re all skated out (or you’d rather watch than take part) go up to the Historium bar, get a beer and take a seat overlooking the market. It’s the perfect place to people watch and soak in the atmosphere without barging through crowds.
6 BURG SQUARE CHRISTMAS TREE
If you visit most cities at Christmas time, there will almost always be a giant Christmas tree dressed up in thousands of lights to tower over one of its big, famous squares. In Bruges, Burg Square is the place to get your Christmas feels and the perfect photo of the city in all its festive glory. To get the best glimpse of the tree, make your way over there after dark, when the Town Hall and the Belfry Tower both glow in the background and the tree lights switch on. It doesn’t get more festive than that!
7 EAT THE LOCAL HEART WARMING FOOD
When it’s cold outside, all you want to do is eat a hearty warm meal. In Bruges, you have to try the local food and Christmas delicacies if you’re in the city over the festive season. You can find a lot of tasty seasonal food at the markets like tasty hot dogs and frites. But if you’re in search for a traditional sit down meal that won’t break the bank, Ganzespel is a hidden gem located in a Belgian stepped gable house. This homely restaurant serves fantastic steaks and a very Belgian menu.
If you’re in Bruges on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, there are some great restaurant options for a Christmas dinner you won’t forget. Try Pieter Pourbus, a cosy restaurant serving up traditional Flemish dishes such as Belgium Bouillabaisse, a warming fish soup and tasty nibbles such as Belgian croquettes. Assiette Blanche is also a fantastic French-Belgian restaurant in the city, perfect for a family Christmas meal.