14 Adorably Romantic Things to do in Bruges, Belgium in Winter

Romantic things to do in Bruges, Belgium! Celebrate Christmas in Bruges!

Romantic Bruges, Belgium is a lovely old medieval town in Belgium that we’d never heard of until we watched a movie called In Bruges. The movie is oddball and hilarious – totally our style –  and also manages to paint enough of a romantic picture of lovely Bruges to convince my husband to want to spend Christmas there, despite the fact that the film is about two assassins and the most scenic parts of the town are mostly seen in between shootouts.

I wasn’t fully convinced at first, but as it turns out, Jeremy was right: Bruges is lovely and romantic. It’s like a freaking fairytale. We spent nearly a week visiting Bruges in December and fell in love with the town’s adorable medieval canals and charming cobblestone streets! And the delicious Christmas Markets didn’t hurt, either.

Bruges in winter is a romantic destination for couples and a wonderful place to spend Christmas. Here are our picks for the best things do in Bruges in winter for couples.

Psst: Looking for more amazing destinations for winter travel in Europe? Here are some of our favorites.

A horse drawn carriages in front of the Christmas Market in stunning Markt Square in Bruges, Belgium in winter. So ridiculously romantic I can't even STAND it!
A horse drawn carriages in front of the Christmas Market in stunning Markt Square in Bruges, Belgium in winter. So ridiculously romantic I can’t even STAND it!

Take a Romantic Carriage Ride through Bruges

Ah, horse drawn carriage rides: a quintessential romantic thing to do in Bruges.

The Markt Square in Bruges is iconic for more than just it’s stepped gable roofs, stunning Town Hall, towering Belfry, and actual markets. There’s also a constant parade of horses pulling carriages, some of which – if you’re lucky – may also include other animals too, like the world’s cutest pug puppy wearing a tiny Santa outfit, which we are still dying over. He’s our mascot for Bruges: Christmassy and SO FREAKING ADORABLE.

Baby pug puppy or not, a carriage ride through Bruges in winter is an undeniably romantic way to spend some quality time cozied up with bae, plus a super convenient way to see the city! ‘

A 30 minute carriage ride through Brugge costs €39.

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Visit the Bruges Christmas Market

One of the advantages of visiting Bruges in winter are the amazing Christmas Markets! There’s nothing that says romance quite like a authentic European Christmas Market.

You and your honey can share a giant Sauccissor, lady-and-the-tramp style – not because it’s enormous and budget-friendly to do so, but because it’s romantic – and laugh as you cover your shirt with mustard and accuse each other of taking extra-large bites, but like, in a cute way.

PS: you definitely DO want to get the grilled onions on that sausage. Onion breath is, in this case, entirely worth it. 

For dessert, a Liege Waffle with sour cherries and whipped cream is everything you always wanted in a partner waffle.

The Bruges Christmas Market is open until just after New Years.

There is nothing as romantic as Belgian chocolate. Romantic Brugges, Belgium is filled with amazing chocolatiers!
There is nothing as romantic as Belgian chocolate. Romantic Bruges, Belgium is filled with amazing chocolatiers!

Stuff Your Face with Belgian Chocolates…. Romantically

Look, you’re in Belgium, I don’t have to tell you twice to eat as much delicious Belgian chocolate as humanly possible. (But just in case I do … EAT AS MUCH BELGIAN CHOCOLATE AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Get it? I told you twice. Feel free to groan.)

Anyway, stuffing your face with Belgian chocolate is totally romantic, and your partner can either accept that this is who you are now and jump into the pile of candy wrappers, melted chocolate and self-loathing with you, or they can GTFO.

Here are our top recommendations for the best chocolate shops in Bruges, many of which can be found on a stroll down the Breidelstraat:

  • The Chocolate Line | Address: Simon Stevinplein 19 OR Vaartstraat 75, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
  • The Old Chocolate House Address: Mariastraat 1, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
  • Dumon | Address: Eiermarkt 6, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
  • BbyBAddress: Sint-Amandsstraat 39, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
  • Stefs ChocolatierAddress: Breidelstraat 18, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
  • Olivier’s | Address: Sint-Amandsstraat 14, 8000 Brugge, Belgium

For extra romantic-ness, take a Beer & Chocolate tour, like this one. Because nothing is more romantic than booze and chocolate. NOTHING.

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Share a Hot Chocolate, Belgian Style

All the best things to do in Bruges seem to involve chocolate, don’t they? Just like in life.

After 2 weeks in Belgium eating chocolate every single day, we were just starting to think that maybe we’d had enough chocolate to last a lifetime. Well, it turns out we were totally wrong.

Here’s the thing: Belgian Hot Chocolate is on another level, and that level is on the same level as heaven, Beyonce, that baby pug wearing a Santa outfit, etc. 

The Old Chocolate House is an insanely romantic restaurant in Bruges that also happens the best place to go for chocolate “high tea.” Chocolate high tea is exactly what it sounds like, if what you think it sounds like is high tea without tea but with hot chocolate.

You get a bunch of tiny, delicious morsels of yummy treats – many of which have chocolate in them, for maximum chocolate consumption efficiency – and an absolutely enormous mug of hot milk the size of a bowl. Into your massive bowl-mug  is dropped your choice of chocolate from an epic menu. You stir your milk vigorously and it eventually turns into the best giant mug of hot chocolate you’ve ever had in your life.

If you’re feeling like you haven’t got enough sugar to tide you over, you can also order an insanely large waffle.

We recommend sharing everything you order here, because we care about you and we don’t want you to get diabetes and sue us.

Lovers Bridge and its resident swans at Minnewater Park in romantic Brugges, Belgium during the winter.
Lovers Bridge and its resident swans at Minnewater Park in romantic Brugges, Belgium during the winter.

 

Explore Minnewater Park & the Lover’s Bridge

There’s pretty much nothing more romantic than strolling hand in hand over the Bruges Lake of Love on the Lover’s Bridge in Minnewater Park. Minnewater Park is filled with a lake that’s literally called the Lake of Love. Also there’s like, a thousand swans.

Like, Bruges is a romance novel that practically writes itself. Thanks, Bruges! You’re making my job a lot easier!

Of course, every good romantic ~lover’s bridge has a story, and Minnewater is no exception. In this case, the legend tells of beautiful Minna, who fell in love with a warrior of a neighboring tribe. Her father said no and set up an arrange marriage instead, so in classic Disney princess style, Minna ran away into the forest, probably with very dramatic music playing and lots of tears, probably accompanied by her talking animal friends, etc. By the time her lover found her, she was near death, but managed to wait until she was in his arms to finally let go, in true dramatic fashion.  I’m expecting a Disney movie to come out about this story any day now.

Minnewater Park is named for Minna and her doomed love story. It’s said that if you walk over the Lover’s Bridge and kiss your loved one, your love will be eternal. Awww!

There is a much less romantic legend about the massive quantities of swans that also inhabit the Lover’s Bridge, but I can only assume that the more swans that witness your act of eternal love, the better.

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Feed the Swans in the Lake of Love

If we’re assuming that the more swans that witness your act of eternal love, the better, then certainly it doesn’t hurt to endear the hoardes of swans to you and your loved one by bribing them with food. Everyone knows that swans are suckers for bribery.

So, this is totally one of those super romantic things to do in Bruges. Because swans are romantic AF.

Bring some bread to Minnewater Park and instantly become the most popular couple on Lover’s Bridge.

Picturesque Brugges, Belgium is a romantic medieval town that isn't to be missed when visiting Belgium in winter!
Picturesque Brugges, Belgium is a romantic medieval town that isn’t to be missed when visiting Belgium in winter!

Cruise the Canals in Bruges

Old Bruges is intersected at regular intervals by cute little canals, like if Amsterdam and Venice had a baby and it was Belgian and home to a lot of swans (wow, that actually describes Bruges perfectly. New tagline? I’ll contact the tourist bureau, you make the t-shirts). 

The best way to appreciate the canals is to cruise through them on a jaunty little skipper. When touring Bruges in winter, a canal cruise is still one of the most popular things to do, and you’ll see little boats full of bundled up and enthralled tourists cruising by even on the coldest days of the year.

You can find canal cruises all over town, but the most popular one – according to this post about tours in Bruges – is just off the Burg Central Plaza.

Visit the Burg Central Plaza

There’s nothing as romantic as a very old vial of Jesus’ blood. Damn, that just didn’t sound convincing, did it? Fine, so maybe not every suggestion in this list is ENTIRELY romantic.

Burg Central Plaza may not be one of the most romantic spots in Bruges, but it IS home to some of the best things to do in Bruges. The Basilica of the Holy Blood – with the Jesus blood – is here, as well as the gorgeous Town Hall, and a very good waffle truck (waffles are crucial when visiting Belgium).

When you visit Bruges in winter, you’ll a giant Christmas Tree around pretty much every corner, and stunning Burg Central Plaza is no different.

Ice Skating in Markt Square in romantic Brugges, Belgium in the winter.
Ice Skating in Markt Square in romantic Brugges, Belgium in the winter. Sure, those kids don’t look like ice-skating prodigies NOW, but they’ll be racing by you with their little bear chairs in no time.

Hold Hands on the Bruges Ice Skating Rink in Markt Square

Lots of people think ice skating is terribly romantic, and if you’re mildly coordinated, it really is.

Imagine holding hands while serenely ice skating in a classic European market square in front of a towering ancient building, grinning at each other in ecstasy like you’re in an ad for engagement rings or swan food or whatever.

That’s what it’s probably like. I wouldn’t know, because I have enough difficulty standing on my own two feet without falling over, much less sliding around on ice while wobbling on a couple of giant razor blades while 5 year olds whizz backwards past me doing flips, but it sounds romantic, and that’s all that matters.

If you can’t actually muster up the courage to ice skate, just take a selfie in front of the ice skating rink and tell everyone you did. #noshame 

The Bruges Ice Skating Rink is open in winter until just after New Years.

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Climb the Belfry in Markt Square

The Belfry is one of those famous things to do in Bruges that can’t be missed, so I’ll try to make it sound as romantic as possible.

Share a private moment 270 feet in the air in a gorgeous tower that dates back to the 1200s while overlooking the city of Bruges, Belgium.

Just wait until you’re done gasping for air and sweating profusely after the 366 near-vertical steps up to embrace, gaze out appreciably over the city, make out, have a gunfight, or whatever it is you went all the way up there for.

(PS if you haven’t seen In Bruges yet, you probably didn’t get that last reference, so let me remind you that you need to go watch it ASAP.)

Two Belgian beers at Halve Man Brewery, in romantic Brugges, Belgium.
Two Belgian beers at Halve Man Brewery, in romantic Brugges, Belgium.

Enjoy a Belgian Beer by the Fire

You didn’t really think you’d get through a list about romantic things to do in Bruges without us talking about beer, did you? (If you did, you’ve clearly never read our Belgian Beer Guide.

Share a delicious locally brewed Belgian beer and sit gazing into your partner’s eyes by a roaring fire at Half Man Brewery.

The drunker you get, the more hilarious you’ll find the statue just outside of Half Man Brewery.

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Shop for Lace & Antiques

OK, I may have gotten a little carried away and swapped “romantic” with “pretending it’s the 1800’s,” but just go with it.

Pretend it’s the 1800s, and you and your betrothed have nothing but cheap hand-me-down furniture betwixt the two of you (like whatever Ikea was called back then) so you’ve embarked on a lover’s holiday to Bruges to shop for some custom-embroidered lace and a good stately grandfather clock.

Before you know it, you’ll find yourself carried away with adorable little pillows and tiny lace pincushions and probably speaking in an offensively British accent like your entire life is an episode of Downton Abbey. Just us?

Romantic Bruges is known for its lace, so if you want to really dive into the romance of Bruges, pop into one of the quaint little lace shops and just give it a bit of a glance (dammit, my terrible British accent is back). 

Gazing lovingly into each other's eyes or whatever at the Rozenhoedkaai in Bruges, Belgium. This is a fantastic spot for a romantic selfie!
Gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes or whatever at the Rozenhoedkaai in Bruges, Belgium. This is a fantastic spot for a romantic selfie!

 

Take Romantic Selfies

As everyone knows, there is no point in taking a trip to romantic Bruges in winter (or anywhere else, for that matter) if you can’t get a few selfies to make everyone you know jealous.

We’re terrible at selfies, but we found a few spots in Bruges that were so good there were plenty of other people to take a picture for us, which is generally much more flattering when it comes to double chins and whatnot.

Here are the best places to take a romantic selfie in Bruges:

  • Rozenhoedkaai: Where the Dijver Canal and the Groenerei meet, in front of the Dijver Mansions
  • Groenerei Canal as seen from Peerdebrug, the Horse Bridge (on Peerdenstraat): looking towards the Meebrug, the canal is lined with trees and creepers, elegant 17th-century mansions and almshouses, and topped by the cathedral tower.
  • Meestraat Bridge
  • Minnewater Bridge (with the swans! Swan selfies!)
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Find a Private Alcove in Koningin Astridpark

A gazebo, a pond, fountains, and lots of little alcoves: Koningin Astridpark is the quintessential romantic Bruges spot!

Find an alcove and do whatever lovers do in alcoves after drinking a lot of Belgian beer and eating a lot of Belgian chocolate (which, if you’re anything like us, probably involves putting on PJs and watching Netflix). 

All bundled up in Bruges, Belgium! Bruges in the winter can be quite cold, so be sure to bring layers for warmth.
All bundled up in Bruges, Belgium! Bruges in the winter can be quite cold, so be sure to bring layers for warmth.

What to Wear in Bruges in the Winter

Bruges in the winter is cold, and there’s definitely a chance of snow around Christmas. You’ll want to layer up every day. Luckily, winter layering is the perfect vehicle for adorable accessories like scarves and hats! Here are our recommendations for clothing that’s both functional AND super cute to wear in Bruges in the winter.

  • Warm Walking Boots: Do not skimp on your shoes for your trip to Bruges in the winter! This is a walking city and it will be COLD, so you need to have shoes that are up to the task. We recommend boots that can withstand ice or snow, are totally waterproof, and are comfortable enough to walk in for HOURS, especially on uneven cobblestone. Sounds darn near impossible, right? Well, it’s not. We’re OBSESSED with our winter boots (and yes, we both have the same ones. Because we’re kinda gross like that). They’re cute, they’re insanely comfortable, they’re waterproof leather and lined with shearling to keep your toes toasty warm, and they’re extremely lightweight and foldable so you can stuff them in your bag when you travel. Oh, and they have thin and flexible soles that let your feet function as if you were walking around in freezing cold Bruges completely barefoot!  Note: you might find yourself in need of some calf strengthening if you’re not used to barefoot-style soles. We can’t recommend these boots enough. They’re made to last and they’re worth every cent – we wore them for 2 months straight in frigid wintry Europe and never suffered a cold or sore foot! Plus, they’re cute AF. Here are my boots and Jeremy’s boots.
  • Wool Socks: Make sure you don’t just have run-of-the-mill acrylic socks. They won’t keep your feet warm while you’re exploring Bruges! Make sure you get socks with wool blended in, like these or these. Or if you like plain socks, these.
  • Wool Leggings:These super comfy 100% wool leggings function just like long underwear. Except they’re made of soft, super-luxurious wool instead of cheap polyester, and make your legs feel like they’re being hugged by an extremely soft sheep. I wore a pair of these under my pants every single day and they kept me toasty warm (without being too hot)! Jeremy has this pair, too.
  • Wool Undershirt: Laying is crucial when it’s this cold. My favorite way to make sure I stay warm all day is to put a warm layer of wool on before everything else. This is the wool cami I wear, and this is the wool tshirt Jeremy wears.
  • Day Bag: I carried this day bag with me every single day packed with my packable down jacket, an extra pair of gloves, and anything else I needed for the day – a notebook, a water bottle, an endless supply of snacks, whatever. Jeremy carried our camera in this bag along with his packable down jacket and scarf.
  • Warm Hat: A warm hat is an absolute necessity in chilly Bruges. It also doubles as a super cute accessory! You want a hat that will stay on your head even in blustery gusts of wind, so stay away from those wool felt ~travel girl types of hats and stick with reliable beanies. Personally I’m a fan of the ones with poofs on top, like this or this. Jeremy is more of a purist, and likes to wear beanies like this or this.
  • Warm Jacket: I brought 2 jackets with me to Europe: a beautiful camel-colored A-line wool coat like this one that kept me incredibly warm and looked amazing in all of my pictures, and a travel-friendly packable down jacket that I kept stuffed in my daypack in case I needed an extra layer! Jeremy wore a peacoat like this one (or this one, or this one).
  • Scarves: I LOVE a chunky scarf. They’re my favorite accessory! And you will absolutely need a good scarf in Bruges. I’m a big fan of scarves that are big enough to double as blankets, like this one or this one. Infinity scarves are super convenient because they don’t slip off too. I love these because they come with matching hats!
  • Gloves: Don’t go outside in Bruges without gloves on! You will regret it. I love these 100% wool glovesthat work with touchscreens – they look simple, but they get the job done! For colder days, stick a pair of these silk glove liners in your coat pocket just in case.

So it’s not just us, right? Bruges in winter is like, the most romantic place ever. Although we’re still making our way slowly through the 25 most romantic cities in Europe, so maybe one day we’ll find something even more charming and romantic!  We recommend spending several days in Bruges, but here’s a great guide on Bruges in a day.

Psst: Looking for more amazing destinations for winter travel in Europe? Here are some of our favorites.

Hey, we want to hear from you: what’s the most romantic town you’ve ever visited? Drop us a comment below!

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 Bruges, Belgium is the most ridiculously romantic little medieval town in Europe ever. You can barely take a step without being swept off your feet by swans, horse-drawn carriages, chocolate shops, little lace shops, and other insanely cutesy things. Here's our list of the most adorable, things to do in Bruges in winter for couples! #Bruges #Europe #WinterTravel

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Hey, I'm Lia! I'm a Kentucky native living in San Francisco. I'm extremely practical and also entirely addicted to travel, which I'm forever trying to reconcile. If I had a patronus, it would a spreadsheet. Or a llama. Possibly a llama creating a spreadsheet. I'm married to Jeremy and I'm obsessed with him and it's super gross, unless you're us, in which case it's the best.

17 Comment

  1. I fully agree with you… Bruges is an amazing city ! I would recommend a walk through Bruges on winter time (December), feeling the magic of the Christmas season, is one of the best things to do in life 🙂

    1. Lia says: Reply

      We totally agree! That’s the time of year that we went and we loved it.

  2. You guys are adorable. 🙂 Love this post! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Lia says: Reply

      You’re so sweet! Thank you!

  3. Awww so sweet of you guys! Brugge looks very lovely during winter. I guess husband and I needs to go back during the winter. Love your photos, very captivating! 🙂

    1. Lia says: Reply

      Thank you Joy! It really is magical at Christmas time and during the winter. Of course, we’ll have to go back during the summer now to compare 🙂

  4. susansolo says: Reply

    Haha, I totally got your perfect “In Bruges” movie reference. 😉 I watched it right after going to Bruges last year!

    1. Lia says: Reply

      Haha I’m so glad my lame references were appreciated by someone 😛 We watched it the first night that we arrived. It really DOES make Bruges seem like a magical place, against all odds!

  5. Julianne says: Reply

    Your shot of the beer at Halve Man Brewery is making me super nostalgic, and I’ve only been away from Bruges for a month. LOL. Guess I’ve fallen in love…

    1. Lia says: Reply

      Hahaha I have too! I want to go back in the spring or summer next time, though. It’s just the cutest city! Obviously we should go back and embark on a beer tour together 😛

  6. Zoe says: Reply

    Cute photos! I live so close by and I have never been, maybe now is the time as im very inspired!

  7. I’m a Londoner in Asia but haven’t yet made it to Bruges – shame on me. It’s definitely on the list for the future though, but it will be hard to decide which time of year to go. Winter looks cosy but I love a bit of Europe in the Spring… decisions, decisions!

  8. Sarah says: Reply

    Great list of things to do in Bruges this season. Actually considering a trip now (we’re only a couple hours away in the Netherlands). It looks so picturesque – and yes, romantic!

  9. Awesome post! Bruges is my hometown, great to read nice posts about the place I come from!
    Those carriages might be romantic but they’re dangerous though, the locals always curse them cuz they don’t give a F about the pedestrians LOL.
    I’m still doubting wether I find Bruges or Paris the most romantic city.

  10. Aw, these really are all adorably romantic things to do in Bruges! I went their solo this last May as a day trip from Brussels and loved it, so I’m DYING to take my boyfriend back and spend a longer time in this stupidly gorgeous town 🙂

  11. Amy Poulton - Page Traveller says: Reply

    Love Belgium! I’ve still not made it to Bruges, but all this wintery wonderland-ness is calling! Also, that pug is my life.

  12. This looks magical. You had me at beer and chocolate tasting 🙂

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