You don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy all the best parts of Bruges. Its compact size and beautiful outdoor areas allow for a lot of free options to keep you busy and happy while you’re visiting this cute medieval city. Whether you’re a budget traveler, or living lavishly, here is a list of my personal highlights that are completely free to enjoy!
Basilica Of The Holy Blood
Look for the little dark, gothic style church next to the town hall, and you will find the Basilica of the Holy Blood, one of the most famous attractions in Bruges. Inside, you can walk through the hallway of stained glass windows, see the beautiful architecture, and visit the presumed blood of Christ (to see the bloody cloth, it costs €2.50, but the church entry is free). Most people don’t realise that there is also a Romanesque style chapel through the doorway to the left of the main entrance, so make sure you visit there too!
’T Apostelientje Lace Shop
This may not sound like an exciting place to pop in to, but if you’re interested in seeing how lace is traditionally made by hand, then it’s worth having a peek inside this shop. The three little rooms are almost like a museum, with old pieces of lace and demonstrations of how it is made, which is an intricate and time consuming process. In the past, lace has been one of Bruges most well known exports and the process and outcome is quite amazing to see.
If you want a change of scenery from the cobblestone streets, stone bridges, peaked houses and stunning canals, then head to the outskirts of town. On the hills where the old city walls used to be, there are four remaining windmills that are beautiful to visit and a great place to have a picnic and watch the sun set over the city. For the most iconic sunset spot in the city though, visit the ledge outside of ’T Klein Venetie restaurant – there you’ll find the best insta-spot in Bruges!
Triennial Art Exhibition
Every three years, artists and architects from around the world create works inspired by a certain theme. This year, it is ““Liquid City” based on the future of Bruges with the rising sea levels. You’ll be able to see a red plastic bubble you can walk inside of; a floating wooden pyramid functioning as a school; a giant whale made of plastic rubbish from the sea; and a small replica of a new buoyant housing system that could be used if Bruges was to become completely underwater. This exhibition will run until September 2018.
In Minnewaterpark you’ll find the Love Lake, which got its name from the tragic romance of a young girl, Minna (hence the name), who fell in love with Stromberg, a warrior from an opposing tribe. When he went to war, Minna’s father tried to force her to marry someone else, which broke her heart and caused her to cry for three days straight until she was weak. Stromberg came home early to find her by the lake, where she died in his arms. This spot is now known as a romantic and beautiful spot to visit, and nearby you’ll find the flocks of white swans that the city is famous for.