9.30a.m.: Particularly popular and therefore ideally visited early in the morning is the Belfry. Up 366 steps and 83 metres high, you are afforded beautiful panoramic views of the Bruges skyline. This is where the Bruges carillon is accommodated which, just like the other carillons in Belgium, was recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage.
10.30a.m.: With your feet back on terra firma, you are now on the Market Square. A tourist trap? Not at the (heated) pavement cafés where you can see the locals read their newspapers while enjoying a coffee. And on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, you can enjoy a carillon concert for free. Wednesdays, except for the Christmas period, is market day on the Market Square, which makes for a particularly homely atmosphere.
11.00a.m.: The Market Square is within striking distance from the major shopping streets with their well-known brands (Steenstraat and Geldmunstraat/Noordzandstraat). The real speciality shops and artisan shops can be found elsewhere in the city. Discover them here yourself or enquire after the ‘Handmade in Brugge’ map at the tourist information centres.
1.00p.m.: Lunch! The following addresses offer tasty, yet affordable, fare (under EUR 30): Refter, Rock-Fort, Lieven, De Mangerie, Huyze Die Maene, Bhavani, Kwizien Divien, Assiette Blanche, Kok au Vin, Bonte B and Bistro Bruut.
2.00p.m.: Why not venture off the beaten track in the afternoon and explore the quiet St Anna District; our insider tip! Here, you will find the new Lace Museum, the Folklore Museum, the Adornes site, the mills and Bruges’ oldest café Café Vlissinghe, which just celebrated its 500th anniversary, all within spitting distance from each other. A must for anyone who wants to see something extra.
5.00p.m.: You have probably already found out by now why Bruges is called the capital of chocolate. Nowhere else are there so many artisan chocolatiers. Established values like Sweertvaegher, the Chocolate Line, Sukerbuyc, Depla and Spegelaere are recommended, but the choice is obviously wide. Why not take home a little sample to treat yourself and those left behind?
6.30p.m.: Bruges is teeming with culinary talent. No fewer than 40 restaurants that have been labelled by Michelin, GaultMillau and BibGourmand use local produce in a creative way. An overview of the top dining places is here. It is best to book a table in advance!
9.00p.m.: Bruges is not for nothing the romantic hotspot. You can discover the city’s intimate atmosphere, walking at dusk or when the city lights are lit. In fact, the Beguinage, Minnewater [Lake of Lovers], Hof Arents at the Bonifacius Bridge … these cinematic spots have all been backdrops in films like In Bruges, The White Queen and the Bollywood blockbuster Peekay. If you would like to visit the different film locations, ask for the ‘movie map’ at the tourist information centre.
10.30p.m.: End you day at one of the many cosy pubs or bars in Bruges.