Visiting Bruges with Kids
“What can I visit with my kids in Bruges?”, is a question I get frequently asked. Since I live in the capital city of the province of West Flanders, it makes sense to ask a local!
Bruges, at first glance, resembles a Disney Park, minus the fact that real people, like me, actually live here and we don’t walk around in Mickey Mouse nor Medieval costumes (although I read somewhere on Facebook that the Mayor might propose this).
It is an incredibly easy town to visit with kids. You can wonder around on foot or by bike, by horse drawn carriage, Segway or tourist boats. Important sites are minutes away from each other.
Here is a list I compiled for friends who have visited us through the years and where keen to find out how best to explore Bruges with kids in tow.
TAKE A BOAT TOURS
The easiest and most relaxing way to enjoy the city is by boat. There are various boat tour piers from which you can hop on and let the guide introduce you to the marvels of this city through a 30 minutes gentle boat ride.
To best plan your boat tour, visit http://www.boottochten-brugge.be/en
CLIMB THE BELFRY TOWER
Located on the main square, the Markt, the Belfry represents the most important tower in Bruges which stands 83 metres tall. It houses, amongst others, a carillon with 47 melodious bells. Active kids will enjoy the challenge of climbing the 366 steps to reach the top of the tower, whose efforts will be rewarded with a breath-taking and unforgettable panoramic view of Bruges and its neighbouring villages. On a very clear day, you may even have a glimpse of the North Sea which is located just 20 minutes drive.
To find out about things to see at the Belfry an opening house, visit: https://www.visitbruges.be/en/belfort-belfry
VISIT THE CHOCOLATE MUSEUM – CHOCO STORY Bruges offers some very quirky museums, from the French Fries Museum to the Beer Museum, from the Diamond Museum to the Chocolate one. The latter, is certainly a favourite amongst kids, who, after learning about cocoa beans and the history of cocoa, they will be rewarded with a taste of hand-made Belgian pralines and a deliciously smelling gift shop.
To plan your visit at Choco-Story, visit: http://www.choco-story.be/NL/
HAVE A PIC NIC ALONG THE VEST
Grab a bike and cycle along the Vest. You will have Bruges on one side and the main Canal into the city on the other. Ducks and bunnies will keep you company as well as joggers, kids with scooters and mums pushing prams. Don’t forget to stop at the windmills such as the Bonne Chieremolen and the Sint-Janshuis Mill along the Kruisvest. The Sint-Janshuis Mill, built in 1770 and still occupying its original site, is the only mill still grinding flour and the only mill open to visitors.
Weather permitting, the are plenty of pretty spots to stop for a pic nic ‘sur ‘l’herbre’.
TAKE THE BOAT TO DAMME
For those who have never tried river cruises, this is certainly a lovely introduction to cruising along Flemish canals. Step onto the Lamme Goedzak for a half hour of pleasure from Bruges to the picturesque village of Damme along the tree lined canal which connects Bruges with the Dutch town of Sluis.
For information and reservations, visit http://www.bootdamme-brugge.be/lamme_goedzak/reserveren
HAVE THE BEST WAFFLE IN TOWN
The best waffles i town are prepared and served without doubt by Chez Albert in the Breidelstraat, just off the Mark. You won’t miss it, just look out for the long queues.
It will be hard to choose between the traditional waffles, the one with strawberries and cream, the one with bananas/chocolate/cream! They all taste delicious!
This is a take-away shop with no seating.
To find out more, visit https://www.facebook.com/chezalbert
HAVE THE BEST FRIES IN TOWN
You cannot visit Belgium and leave without having tries its world famous ‘frietjes’. Avoid the stalls on the Markt and head instead to Frituur de Gentpoorte, 10 minutes or so on foot from the Markt and well away from the tourist traps.
Allegedly, the best fries are served at Frituur Bosrand, which is located outside the walls of Bruges in the borough of St. Andries. Easy to reach if you are by car. Expect long queues.
Bosrand: http://www.frituurbosrand.be/, Gentpoortstraat 54, 8000 Brugge, Phone: +32 50 33 70 95
HAVE THE BEST ICE CREAM IN TOWN
Not quite perfect as Italian ice-cream, however close enough. These two ice-cream parlours, Da Vinci and Oyya, are conveniently located opposite each other along the Noordzandstraat. Oyya offers as well waffles and frozen yoghurt.
If you are visiting Bruges in spring, a visit to the Beginage is a must. The site is now the permanent residence of the Nuns of the Order of St. Benedict. You are allowed to wonder around the gardens in silence and in spring the fields are filled with thousands of yellow daffodils, making it for an unmissable photo opportunity.
CHRISTMAS MARKET AND ICE-SKATING RINK
The most magical time to visit Bruges is the pre-holiday season, when the town transforms itself in the prettiest and most romantic town in Europe with all its Flemish townhouses festively decorated and lit up at night like in a fairy tale book.
At dusk, head to the Christmas market stalls for hot chocolate and pancakes and skate on the ice-skating rink on the Markt, without doubt one of the most beautiful historic squares in Europe.
Dolphin lovers should head to the Boudewijn Seamark located in the borough of St Michiels and enjoy shows performed by dolphins and sea lions in the dolphinarium, outdoors in summer and indoors n the winter months.
For information, visit: www.boudewijnseapark.be
HEAD TO THE BEACH
If you are staying long enough in Bruges, and weather permitting, sandy beaches are just 20 minutes drive away. The nearest beaches can be found in the posh town of Knokke, where you can choose any spot on the incredibly long and wide sandy beach or choose to lounge at a private beach club, cocktail in hand. Some clubs are equipped with kids playgrounds and soft play areas.
VISIT THE FOLKLORE MUSEUM (Volkskundemuseum)
Kids will throughly enjoy a visit at the Folks Museum and learn how inhabitants of Bruges used to live in the 19th and 20th century.
Let them wander through the pharmacy, a classroom, a millinery or the grocery shop and learn how ordinary people lived in Bruges more than 100 years ago.
In the inner garden kids can play with authentic old folks games, where, with some luck, they may meet Aristide, the living black cat and mascot of the museum.
For information, visit: https://www.visitbruges.be/en/volkskundemuseum-folklore-museum
WHERE TO STAY
- Katelijne Loft: http://www.passepartout-homes.com/holiday/belgium/katelijne-loft-bruges/342 – self catering duplex apartment located in the old town for up to 4 guests.
- B&B Huyze Weyne: http://bb-huyze-weyne.hotel-in-bruges.com/en/ . Contact Katrien Le Roy, firstname.lastname@example.org. When making a reservation, quote “Passepartout Homes”.
- Hotel De Tuilerieën: http://www.hoteltuilerieen.com/ . Located right at the heart of the old town, the Small Luxury Hotel offers a heated indoor pool, which no doubt your kids will love.
WHERE TO EAT
- Best burgers in town: Ellis Burger http://ellisgourmetburger.be/n
- Italian: Trattoria Trium, Address: Academiestraat 23, 8000 Brugge, Phone: 050 33 30 60
- Pizzeria, Italian, Slow food pizza: Amuni http://www.amuni.be/
- Toasts, salads, breakfast: That’s Toast https://m.facebook.com/thatstoast/
- Brasserie Souffleur: http://www.brasseriesouffleur.be/nl/