Bruges is truly one of Europe’s most enchanting cities, boasting beautiful medieval architecture and romantic canals. Even if you’re on a tight budget, there’s plenty to do and see in this charming Belgian city. Here are the top free and cheap attractions that Bruges has to offer:
1) Historic Center
There’s no better way to fall in love with Bruges than to do a walking tour of its historical center, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. The Markt (Market Square) is home to a 12th-century belfry, cloth hall, reconstructed medieval houses, and Provincial Court, located on the site of a former medieval water hall. The center of the square also houses a statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck, who were important leaders of the Battle of Golden Spurs of 1302.
The other important square in historic Bruges is Burg, which serves as the city’s administrative center. There, you’ll be able to snap photos of Gothic-style City Hall, The Old Recorders’ House, The Old Country House, and the Provost House, as well as the Basilica of The Holy Blood, which contains a vial of blood that is said to have belonged to Christ.
2) Minnewater Lake
If you’d like to get away from the crowds, head to Minnewater Lake, which translates to the “Lake of Love” in English. There, you’ll you can watch the swans glide across the lake, or find a shady area where you can relax and take a break. The best time of year to visit Minnewater is thought to be in the autumn when the leaves on the willow tress begin to change color and create a truly romantic atmosphere.
3) Chocolate and FrietMuseums
If there are three things that Belgians are proud of, it’s their tasty beer, chocolate, and fries. In Bruges, you’ll find museums dedicated to the latter two that will help you learn more about their historical significance. The Choco-Story Museum is housed in the former Maison de Croon, which dates back to 1480, while the Frietmuseum is housed in The Saaihalle, which was built in the 14th century. Admission to the museums is 7€ and 6€, respectively, or you can buy a combo ticket for both museums for 11€.
4) St. John’s House Mill and the Koelewei Mill
Located about a 15-minute walk away from central Bruges, the St. John’s House Mill and the Koelewei Mill were built in 1770 and 1765, respectively. They still operate as grain mills and both have museums which explain their historical significance. Added bonus: their hilltop location will provide you with stunning views of the city below.