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: Planning a trip to Belgium? Take a look at our other Belgium posts!
- 25 Weird, Wacky, and Offbeat Museums in Brussels, Belgium
- The Beginner’s Guide to Belgian Beer & Where to Drink Beer in Belgium
- Exploring Brussels, Belgium with the Brussels All-In Discovery Food Tour
- The Brussels Beer and Chocolate Tour
We also have a Podcast episode all about Belgium! Beer made by monks, disembodied hands, chocolate high tea, pugs in Santa costumes, eternally peeing statues, and Jean Claude Van Damme. If it’s weird or delicious, Belgium has it and Lia and Jeremy won’t shut up about it. Listen below or in your favorite Podcast app!
We’ve also got a FREE printable Europe in Winter guide that you can download for your trip! Inside, you’ll find packing lists, travel tips, and two full itineraries for Europe in winter (including Bruges). Enter your email below and we’ll send it to your inbox.
Things to do in Bruges in Winter
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.
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 an 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
The Bruges Christmas Market is open until just after New Years.
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
- BbyB| Address: Sint-Amandsstraat 39, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
- Stefs Chocolatier | Address: 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.
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.
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 arranged 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.
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 hordes 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.
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.
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 backward 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.
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.)
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.
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).
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!)
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).
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. If you’re looking for more details, we’ve got a full Europe in winter packing list guide.
- 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 T-shirt 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 gloves that work with touchscreens – they look simple, but they get the job done! For colder days, stick a pair of these glove liners in your coat pocket just in case.
Where to Stay in Bruges, Belgium
However, there are plenty of other fantastic options on VRBO! Here are a few picks that we’d definitely book ourselves. We recommend booking directly through VRBO because it has fewer fees and more flexible cancellation policies than Airbnb – also, we’re not fans of Airbnb’s unethical track record and lax security.
- This adorable 19th Century House in the middle of Bruges is decorated in a whimsical Victorian style with chandeliers, exposed wood beams, and lots of fun wallpaper and decorative finishes. It also has a great outdoor terrace!
- If you like a little stroll in the morning this charmingly modern apartment is in the historical center of Bruges and also right along the canal, perfect for a morning walk!
- We also love this balcony suite in B&B Bariseele which is a 7-minute walk along the canal to the Grand’Place, ultimate romance points for this place! You can book other rooms in the B&B here.
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 we found a great guide by Travel Passionate about how to visit Bruges in a day. And if you’re willing to brave the cold, make sure to take this Bruges walking tour created by Bel Around the World!
Psst: Looking for more amazing destinations for winter travel in Europe? Here are some of our favorites.
- Two Super-Detailed Winter Europe Itineraries
- 10 Magical Things to do in Bremen, Germany in Winter
- 12 Charming Things to Do in Copenhagen in Winter
- The Perfect 7-Day Norway Itinerary for an Epic Winter Trip
Hey, we want to hear from you: what’s the most romantic place you’ve ever visited? Drop us a comment below!
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