Bruges is a city which is renowned for its picturesque canals, its tradition for lace-making and its chocolate box cobbled streets. Bruges’ medieval fairy-tale backdrop makes it a city of romance and a photographer’s dream. However, like any popular city break destination, it can also be a little pricey if you find yourself caught up in the tourist traps. That’s not to say that you can’t experience everything Bruges has to offer whilst still sticking to your budget. Here are a few tips for making the most of your stay in Bruges.
Consider your accommodation options
If you’re planning a city break to Bruges then it’s likely you can find some good deals with flight and accommodation included. There are plenty of hotels and bed and breakfasts for you to research before you go however there are also numerous hostels if you don’t mind the communal aspect. St Christopher’s Inn is a good option for a clean, central and low-budget hostel. Here you’ll find bikes available for hire, you can take a free walking tour and it’s only a ten minute walk from the main market square. Remember, many hostels also offer private rooms if you don’t fancy the communal aspect, and this can work out cheaper than a hotel.
Buy a Bruges City Card
If you’re a fan of sightseeing, museums and art galleries then you might find it more economical to buy a Bruges City Card when you arrive. The card costs around 34-39 for 48-72 hours and allows you free admission or discounted entry to various museums and galleries as well as bus, bike rental and car parking. For free you can enjoy popular attractions such as the Lace Centre, St John’s Hospital, the Church of Our Lady, Groeninge Museum, Bruges Diamond Museum and the Belfry Tower. The Michelangelo masterpiece which sits in the Church of Our Lady is not to be missed – the Madonna and Child sculpture is amazing to see up close.
Simply get lost
Bruges is one of those places where you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money to enjoy it. The beauty of the city is one of the main draws for many visitors and if you get up early enough you can spend some time exploring the cobbled streets and quaint buildings without the crowds. Bruges is often referred to as ‘the Venice of the North’ and when you experience the peace and beauty of the city’s canals it’s easy to see why.
Take a free walking tour
There are plenty of walking tours available in Bruges – some of them you have to pay for, and some are free. Ask at your hotel or the tourist information centre to find out when and where the free ones are leaving and you can enjoy a tour of the sights without breaking the bank. Although it’s possible to find free tours, it’s usually customary to leave a tip at the end if you feel your guide has done a good job. One of the things I liked most about talking a walking tour was to see all the famous sights from the film In Bruges. If you’re a fan of the film, then your tour guide will be happy to point out all the landmarks!
Take a boat trip
Another way to see the city (although slightly pricier), is to take a boat trip. You can pay around 6-10 euro’s for half an hour however it is a unique way to see the city. Gliding under the charming little bridges and seeing the homes of people who live with a canal on their doorstep allows you to see Bruges from a whole new perspective.
Save on your souvenirs
Souvenirs and gifts can be expensive (and often a bit tacky!) To find unusual souvenirs head to Bruges’ Flea Market held every Saturday morning – it’s a bargain hunters dream. They do great food there if you fancy picking up some lunch but you’ll also find an assortment of antiques and second-hand goods.
Experiencing everything Bruges has to offer doesn’t mean it has to cost you the Earth. 2-3 days is probably long enough to spend in the city, although of course there’s no reason why you can’t stay longer. As with any city break, planning ahead helps to ensure you get the best deals. The good thing about Bruges is that it’s quite compact so there’s no need to spend lots of money on travel. With Bruges, the main attraction for many is simply the beauty of the city – as the saying goes, the best things in life are free!
Emma is a 23 year old travel blogger based in the UK. Her passions include writing, photography and, of course, travel! After graduating with a degree in English Lit she went on a backpacking trip around Europe and couldn’t wait to start planning her next trip. Nowadays she tries to get away as much as she can and writes about her travels on her website Inspiring Travel. You can also follow her on Twitter @Emma_090391.