Christmas in Bruges

Christmas in Bruges

Christmas in Bruges is so picturesque it’s like stepping into your very own Christmas card.  The medieval town, in the Flemish region of Belgium, is aglow with Christmas lights, markets and gothic churches.  Shops selling the prettiest of Christmas decorations are draped in festive foliage, cobblestone streets echo the clip clop of horse-drawn carriages and chocolate shops abound.  A visit to Bruges in December guarantees to leave you feeling festive.

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Grote Markt, Bruges

The historical heart of Bruges, The Markt, is lined by grand medieval architecture as well as pretty gabled houses painted in festive colours. A perfect Christmas palette!

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Grote Markt, Bruges

The medieval belfry of Bruges, The Belfort, with its bell tower watches over the Grote Markt and is  the subject of a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who wrote in “The Belfry of Bruges”, “Thrice consumed and thrice rebuilded, still it watches o’er the town”.  And it does so beautifully, lit gold, in the dark night.  I’d liked to have climbed the 366 knee-crunching steps to the top of the 83m tower for the best view of the Market Square but sadly no time on this trip.  The belfry features prominently in the film ‘In Bruges‘ and had an added interest for me as I sat on the next table to Colin Farrell, one of the stars of the film, at breakfast earlier this year.  I wished I’d had the nerve to say good morning!

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The Belfry in Grote Markt


How many chocolate shops in Bruges?

There are currently 42 chocolate shops in Bruges (heaven) and I did consider taste testing them all but with only 24 hours in the city I just popped into a few.  The Chocolate Line is a charming little shop where you can see cocoa confections created through a window at the back.  Be warned – not all chocolate is equal – and there’s a lot to choose from in Bruges so my tips are: don’t buy at the first shop you stop at and don’t buy the most expensive – it might not be the best.

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The Line Chocolate Shop

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Chocolatier Dumon, Bruges

The opulent, ornate City Hall of Bruges dominates The Burg. The historic Gothic monument dates back to the late 14th century and the entire square is edged with medieval buildings showing off gothic turrets, towers and corbels.  It’s well worth taking a look inside the town hall at the beautiful vaulted ceiling. Sitting to the left of the 14th-century city hall you’ll see the renaissance architecture of the old Court of Justice.

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Bruges Town Hall

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Vaulted Ceiling Bruges Town Hall


Belgian Beer

Blonde or Brown beer?  Being a brunette I went for the brown beer which was not as sweet as the blonde and which, after a taste test, I decided was stronger too and I felt quite fuzzy by the time I’d finished my glass.  Try for yourself at The De Halve Maan (The Half Moon) which is the only active family brewery in the city.  There’s a lovely outside garden for good weather and inside there’s a lively atmosphere in the brewery pub which also serves food.

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Half Moon Brewery, Bruges

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Bruges Canal

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Medieval Houses

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Sint Salvator Cathedral, Bruges

Bruges Christmas Markets

The spicy aroma of warming ghluwein and refreshing scent of pine filled the air in Markt Square as the swish of skates cutting through the centre-piece ice rink sliced through the night. Wooden chalet-style stalls sold handmade gifts, decorations and local delicacies – the crisp waffles covered in silky Belgian chocolate sauce were to die for.

Bruges is famous for lace-making and local artisans carry the art into their Christmas creations.  Fairytale woodland characters and rustic baubles dangle in the breeze and knitted scarves and hats will keep you cozy.  There are other smaller markets in Bruges but it’s a compact town so they’re within easy walking distance and it’s magical wandering through the town as the lights twinkle against a backdrop of medieval architecture.  In a nutshell Bruges is the perfect way to get that festive feeling and indulge in a little Christmastime magic.

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Grote Markt at Christmas



  1. Great Post We are BIG fans of Brugge, the 4000+ Beers, the great chocolate, and the pots of Mussel’s! We are about 3 hours away in Bonn, Germany and take all our friend’s and family there when they come! If you are coming back next year you sould try Cologne, Germany Xmas Market and the Mideveil Xmas market at the base of St. Michael’s Mountin in Seigburg Germany ~ Both Awesome places!! Not sure if we will still be here, but if we are pop by we can show you around! :) Thanks for sharing love your blog!

    • How lovely to be just 3 hours away from gorgeous Brugge. Love your tips for Colegne and Seigburg Christmas markets – thanks for your lovely comments too :)

  2. Bruges is a place I keep having to take off my itinerary due to time issues. I am going to try to make it there when I am in Belgium in August. Every time I see a picture of it, my eyes melt as cartoon hearts start pouring out of them. It looks like a post card.

    • It’s such a gorgeous city and will be lovely in the sunshine in August. Have a lovely time and I’ll look out for your posts :)

  3. A wonderful post on an enchanting fairy land….I posted on Bruges too only yesterday and it was interesting to see your own selection of gorgeous photographs- it brought back so many fond memories! Thank you for that :)

    • Bruges is beautiful and has a little extra something at Christmas time – would love to go back in summer too :)

  4. How beautiful and very much like a postcard! The shopping looks amazing too… :)

    • Bruges is guaranteed to get you feeling Christmassy – lovely shopping too, of course the chocolate shops were lovely and there were some wonderful delis too. I bought some Raspberry and Champagne New Years jam – Yummy!

  5. Burges is one of my gems …. When living in Dover I went over at least once per month with the Hoverspeed to Ostende and then a short train journey. Stunning place … a truly escape. But I never have been there in December, which I regret now. Went back a couple of years ago and I’m still enchanted by this beautiful town – your post really does justice. Stunning photos … Burges is so pleasant to do shopping in, great food .. and stunning building.
    You have done a stunning job with this post and all the background information. Now I want to go back. Thanks for bringing me back ..
    I wish you and the family only the best for 2014 and a hearty thank you for 2013.

    • Well Viveka what are you waiting for? Don’t you have a retirement travel list – maybe Bruges should be on it. Lovely to have ‘met’ you this year and wishing you happy, healthy times and travels in 2014 and an end to your ‘sorry ass’ troubles!

  6. It seems like a charming city! I hear that all the Belgian cities are very different, but would love to do a tour of all of them someday. Bruges at Christmastime looks picturesque!

    • A tour of Belgium sounds like a great idea! I’d definitely like to visit Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp as well.
      Bruges was so pretty :)

  7. I’ve been to Bruges in the fall and it was wonderful. As a matter of fact, my gravatar photo is from there. I can just imagine how lovely it was at Christmas as the Christmas markets in Europe are all so wonderful. I’m very happy to have discovered your blog. :)

    • Hi Karen, thank you and welcome :) I had such a short time in Bruges so I’d love to go back in warmer weather and explore the canals.

      • Do try to go back when you can spend some time. My husband and I saw the town by carriage, boat and even a bus tour. Each took you different places…it is a beautiful city.

  8. You’ve got me smiling my head off, Suze :) What a lovely Christmassy post to read, while the wind howls outside. I’ll rely on your recommendations for which chocolate shop, I think. 40 how many!!!! I’m sure I’ve still got some choccies somewhere. Might be a bring out the Baileys moment. All the best for 2014!

    • And to you Jo – hope it’s happy, healthy and full of memory making :) Cheers!

  9. Loved Bruges in the spring but I expect it’s even more of a beauty at Christmas time! I’ve done a couple of French Christmas markets but might try and make it out to an original German one next year. Hope you had a lovely Christmas!

    • I went to the Munich Christmas Markets some years ago and can definitely recommend them – absolutely gorgeous. Christmas was lovely thank you and hope yours was too. Here’s to a happy, healthy year in 2014 full of wonderful travel moments!

  10. I visited Bruge in the summer and it was magical then…I can only imagine what it must be like at Christmas! Great post – I felt like I was there (well, almost!!)

    • I’d love to visit in summer and take a boat trip on the canals – summer must be lovely too :)

  11. Hope it wasn’t too busy for you out there? I love the place but can’t cope with the crowds!

  12. It looks so inviting! I recently went to the European Christmas Markets for the first time and was completely mesmerised – the more I’m reading, the more I’m thinking Brussels or Bruges may have to be on next year’s Christmas wish list! Merry Christmas!

    • I’m considering Brussels for next year too. I’ve been to Munich a few years ago and the Christmas markets there are
      excellent. Merry Christmas :)



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