Ah Bruges. Brugge. However you spell it (both ways are fine!) Such a beautiful city! The road less traveled in comparison to it’s neighbor, Brussels- Bruges is packed with gorgeous architecture, delicious food, and you’ll get to experience it all with fewer crowds and a lower chance of being pick-pocketed. That sounded bad. Very, very small chance of theft compared to its big-sister Brussles, I should say.
I had countless people tell me their stories about Brussels and how great of a city it is, which I’m sure is true. But for me, the smaller more local feel that Bruges gave was right up my alley. And, back to the theft, Brussels is infamous for having a bit of a pick-pocketing problem. Not a reason to not go at all, but traveler beware is all I’m saying.
Anyway, here’s my guide to Bruges, beautiful Bruges! One of my favorite trips (so far!) so I hope you give this Belgium city “runner up” a shot.
Getting There- $65
A bus again. How ready I am to never have to get on a long-trip bus again. This cost us $30 there and $35 back, which I think was about average regardless of when you go. My friends and I chose to do another overnight deal where we left late Friday, got in early early Saturday, and then left late Sunday which got us in early early Monday. If you’re doing a bus, that’s the way to do it, because otherwise you’re just wasting precious waffle-eating time.
The way there we took a ferry (just like Dublin…) so the travel time was about 7 hours.
The way back we took the channel/tunnel, which was much more enjoyable and took about 6 hours.
We booked this trip with FlixBus, and it was enjoyable, air conditioned, and there were ample charging ports. Happy girl.
Where to Stay- $25
Charlie Rockets is the place to go! Really! You’ll find a ton of Hostel options, but I really can’t stress how great this hostel was. I guess my friends and I went on a not-very-busy weekend, because even though we payed $25 a person for a 6-person dorm, they placed the four of us in a 4-dorm, so we had it all to ourselves. Hostel heaven.
ALSO- linens were included (not towels though, that’s a charge), the showers were a nice temperature, there’s a bar downstairs that’ll give you not just something to do Saturday night, but a really fun thing to do Saturday night, and you get a free beer with your meal if you eat at the restaurant next door. And the food is really good.
Where to Eat- $85
First, Belgium is known for four things- Beer, Chocolate, Fries, and Waffles. OK.
Sanseveria Bagelsalon is THE. SPOT. You can’t go to Bruges without eating at this incredible little bagel place. A bagel and a mimosa (freshly squeezed oranges, mind you) will cost you about $15 and it’ll be worth every penny. The sweet man who runs the shop is so kind and they even give you an English menu, complete with Belgium etiquette tips. We loved this place so much we ate here both days. Go.
Bocca Pastabar is a great dinner option. $4 will get you a Chinese takeout box filled to the brim with top-notch Spaghetti Bolognese, and it’ll taste amazing after a long day of walking around.
The Old Chocolate House was one of my favorite parts of Brugge. Here you get a LARGE mug of steaming milk, and a locally sourced chocolate assortment of your choosing to make your very own hot chocolate. You can also get a waffle (as I did) and it’ll all cost you about $12. Grab a sticker on your way out, they’re free!
De Garre is a well known bar in Brugges, mainly for their really strong house beer. Like 15% alcohol, and it tastes so good that you won’t notice how drunk you are until you’re three in (that’s where they cap you, by the way. And not just me but everyone. I mean it.) 2 beers will cost you about $12. It’s a little hard to find with maps, but you’ll see an alleyway where it’s marked, and it’s located at the back of it.
Charlie Rockets the restaurant, obviously. Really great pizza, free beer for hostel guests, and a great ~atmosphere~. A big pizza and my free(!) beer cost $10.
Street Carts are where you should go for fries and waffles. Any standalone shop is going to overcharge you, and trust me, the street carts are just as good if not better.
For fries: You have to try the mayonnaise. It’s so weird sounding, I know, but it’s also a huge deal there, and to get the full experience you just have to give it a shot one time. This’ll cost you about $4.
For waffles: Don’t cheap out on the toppings. At least not for your first one (I had three…). Most places will charge you a flat ~$3 for the waffle, and then an extra $1.20 for each topping. My first go I got Nutella, strawberries, and whipped cream, and it cost me $7. The second time I just got bananas and nutella, and it cost me $5.50.
What to Do- $20
Walk through the street markets. I bought a really pretty necklace while I was there, and with some haggling paid $12. My favorite was right off of the river, near the city square.
Take a canal tour. This’ll cost you $8 and you won’t regret skipping a waffle for it! The canals are the most beautiful part of Bruges, and to get to skim along them with the ducks and a cute boat driver (who gives the tour in 4 languages) is an unforgettable experience. If possible, the city is even more breathtaking from the water. That sounded so cheesy but leave me alone it does.
Visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood. The Basilica of the Holy Blood is in Bruges (that’s the Wiki article, pretty neat stuff) and if you go in you get to take in the beautiful stained glass and architecture, and see a vial of what supposedly is Christ’s blood. The general church part is free, and it’s a small donation to see the Holy Blood.
Go to the deck of the Historium Bruges. This spot is located in the main city square, right next to the tower that everybody and their dog will be scrambling up (and paying like $20 to do so). Now yes, their view will be better than yours, but honestly the bar deck of the Bruges Historium did the trick for me. They had heaters out, and it was a solid people-watching spot. And we didn’t have to pay, or wait in line, to do it.
And the Total is… $200!!!
Rounded up a bit, like $3? Anyway, I went to Bruges, Belgium for just under $200 and I was really proud of myself! Big accomplishment!
It’s always so crazy for me to think that what I would usually spend on an American Eagle binge with jeans and some tops that would just get donated a year later, I can go to a completely different country for a weekend. Studying abroad is so neat, and I will now get off of my soap box.
I would recommend Bruges to ANYBODY. It was lovely, the food was incredible, and never once did I feel unsafe or bored.
If you’ve been to Bruges, or anywhere else on a budget, let me know your suggestions! Comment sections are where the magic happens, everybody knows that.