Best of Bruges

Bruges on a Budget:

Best Cheap things to do in Bruges

If you're looking to do Bruges on a budget, there are tons of free and cheap things to do in Bruges making it a backpacker's paradise. The city is very easy to get around on foot, public bus, or by bike. Cities in Belgium are relatively close together and are connected by an affordable network of coach buses and trains.

Spending a couple days in Bruges is exactly what we needed after the hustle and bustle of Paris. This small medieval city lies close to the sea and is the capital of the province of West Flanders.

Bruges is a historic canal-based city is known for its medieval city center. Though it was once one of the world’s top port cities, Bruges holds its classic charm and is a wonderful place to spend a few days relaxing.

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

All of the best cheap things to do in Bruges can be accessed by walking, or by boat if you want to explore the canals. However if you’re looking to do Bruges on a Budget we highly recommend the free daily walking tours. There are a few different options offered, day and night, but our favorite was from Legends of Bruges tours. We ended up doing the classic Legends of Bruges tour and loved it so much we went back for the Bruges by Night tour.

Some of the free walking tours we’ve done in Europe have been hit or miss but the ones in Bruges were quite good. As always, if you feel the tour is worth it then feel free to give a donation to the tour guide at the end of the tour. That way they are encouraged to keep giving great tours!

Frequency: Daily
Times: 09:45, 10:30, 11:30, 14:00
Duration: 2 hrs
Meeting Place: Statue in Markt Square (Red Umbrella)

Frequency: Daily
Times: 18:00, 20:00
Duration: 1.5 hrs
Meeting Place: Statue in Markt Square (Red Umbrella)

Frequency: Daily
Times: 18:00, 20:00
Duration: 1.5 hrs
Meeting Place: Statue in Markt Square (Red Umbrella)

2. Wander the Canals and Bridges

Similar to the cities of Amsterdam and Utrecht in the Netherlands, Bruges is a city full of bridges and canals. One of the best free things to do in Bruges is take an early morning stroll wandering through the streets and discovering the narrow canals and bridges. It’s the perfect way to experience the quiet streets of this sleepy city.

Budget Guide Bruges - Canals and Bridges
Budget Guide Bruges - Canals and Bridges
Budget Guide Bruges - Canals and Bridges

Bruges is a city to get lost in. Being that it’s relatively small so you'll easily find your way back to a familar place. The cute cobble stone alleyways with small cafes and shops make walking around a charming experience. Some fun shops we enjoyed stumbling into were:

  • De Witte Pelikaan: A Christmas Winter Wonderland. Make sure you don’t skip on on venturing down the stairs into the basement!
  • Think Twice: A vintage clothing store where you and your friends will have a fun time trying on different finds that through the decades.
  • Aquamarijn: Your typical hippie shop. Indian finds, gem stones, crystals, prayer flags, etc. The store smells of incense and has great energy! A fun visit for small gifts or jewelry.

3. Discover the Almshouses

One of the hidden gems of Bruges are the Almshouses, some of the earliest forms of social welfare housing in Belgium. Established in the 14th century, they were originally built for elderly people and single or widowed women. These houses were typically built by the rich allowing residents to stay for free, but under one condition. The residents were required to pray for the rich families in order to increase their chances of getting into heaven.

Cheap things to do in Bruges - Visit the Almshouses
Bruges on a Budget - Visit the Almshouses

Though you typically wouldn't notice these communities while walking around, discovering their hidden history is one of the great free things to do in Bruges. There are still several Almshouses in Bruges, but nowadays they are residential homes to normal people that don't have to pray for the rich. If you decide to visit, be respectful and don't be too loud as it's meant to be a peaceful residential area.

4. Visit Markt Square

Not only is the Markt Square where the free walking tours being, it’s also a great place to experience the heart of Bruges on a budget. The day after we arrived (a Wednesday), the main square was bustling with a local farmers market in the mid afternoon.

Apparently it’s a weekly ordeal on Wednesdays during the summer months starting in May. This was a great intro to our trip to Bruges because we got an amazing first impression of this beautiful city. We also recommend coming back to this square after sunset because the buildings light up creating a completely different atmosphere.

Bruge on a Budget - Cheap things to do in Bruges - Markt Square

5. Check out the Belfry of Bruges

Walking through the Markt Square, it’s difficult to miss the Belfry of Bruges. This massive medieval bell tower is one the city’s most prominent icons, which has stood for centuries.

Constructed in 1240, it has undergone several reconstructions due to fires. The tower is still open today and visitors can trek up the 366 stairs to the top.

But if you want to climb to the top you’ll need to pay a small fee; €10 if you're under 26, €12 for adults 26+. Though we opted to not pay to silly entrance fee, the first floor of the Belfry is free and still gives a cool viewpoint of Markt Square of Bruges on a budget.

Budget Guide Bruges - Belfry

But if you want to climb to the top you’ll need to pay a small fee; €10 if you're under 26, €12 for adults 26+. Though we opted to not pay to silly entrance fee, the first floor of the Belfry is free and still gives a cool viewpoint of Markt Square of Bruges on a budget.

6. Get a Belgian Waffle

If you’re coming Belgium, you have to get a Belgian waffle. Made hot off the press, you can choose various toppings for them or go with the classic whip cream and chocolate. The portions aren’t huge, but prices start at €3.50 which is why this make our list of cheap things to do in Bruges.

Another cool spot to eat recommended to us is De Garre, a cozy little bar tucked down a side alley. It’s a great place for beer and snacks, with excellent cheese and meat appetizer platters - just check out their reviews.

Bruges on a Budget - Belgian Waffles

7. Stop by Burg Square

Burg Square is home to Bruges City Hall, one of the oldest city halls in the entire region around Belgium and the Netherlands [1]. This gorgeous gothic style building sits in the old center where a castle once fortified the city. Also sitting in Burg Square is a unique relic that lies just on the other side of City Hall, the Basilica of the Holy Blood.

Cheap things to do in Bruges - Burg Square
Cheap things to do in Bruges - Burg Square

8. Visit the Historic Churches

Being a medieval city, Roman Catholism is an important part of Bruges history. There are several long standing churches in the city that have been around for centuries. In fact, one in particular is said to hold the a vial with the blood of Christ. Basilica of the Holy Blood is that church, the vial contains a blood soaked cloth from Joseph of Arimathea after he bathed Jesus’ body following his crucifixion. Though visiting just the Basilica is one of the free things to do in Bruges, entry to the treasury/museum are only €2.50/person.

Budget Guide Bruges - Churches
Budget Guide Bruges - Churches

Church of Our Lady Bruges is a grand cathedral located right next to Bonifacius bridge. It's a great place to find a bit of shade to enjoy the views and tranquility around this quiet little spot. Sint-Walburgakerk was a church we accidentally stumbled across while walking one day. It’s surrounded by houses, but when you see it it’s hard to resist not being invited in just for a peek. The exterior is wonderful but in the interior is jaw dropping.

9. Bruge's Oldest Pub

Another one of the places we learned about on the Free Walking Tour is Herberg Vlissinghe. It's the oldest continuously running pub in Bruges; dating back nearly 500 years.

Originally consisting of two conjoined houses, this establishment has been renovated and restored since it’s original construction.

Though we only made a quick stop here, it’s still a cool piece of history to learn about. If you have the chance, grabbing a pint and enjoying the outside patio is one of the nice free things to do in Bruges on a sunny afternoon.

Bruges Oldest Pub - 600 4x5

10. Go Biking to Damme

One of the great ways to get around Bruges on a budget is by renting a bike for a day; €10 for 4 hours or €13 for the entire day. Our hostel recommended taking a bike to the nearby small town of Damme, roughly 20 minutes by bike. Though this is something we missed, we would definitely suggest this if you have at least a half day to spare and want to get out of the city for a nice lunch.

Bruges on a Budget - Bike to Damme

How to get to Bruges on a Budget

Though most people think the Eurorail trains are the best way to get around Europe, taking a bus is really best option to get to Bruges on a budget. Hands down our favorite bus operator in Europe is Flixbus. They run to most countries and large cities, and are by far the most comfortable buses with the most leg room.

Photo Credit: Flixbus.com
Photo Credit: Flixbus.com
Brussels ↠ Bruges
  • Bus:
    • Cost: €4.99+
    • Time: 1.5 hrs+
  • Train:
    • Cost:  €16.80+
    • Time: ~1 hr
Paris ↠ Bruges
  • Bus:
    • Cost: €10.00+
    • Time: 5 hrs+
  • Train:
    • Cost:  €33.10+
    • Time: ~3 hrs
Amsterdam ↠ Bruges
  • Bus:
    • Cost: €14.99+
    • Time: 4 hrs+
  • Train:
    • Cost:  €40.00+
    • Time: ~3.5 hrs

We also like browsing tickets on CheckMyBus to see the easiest and cheapest options. This website also suggests train tickets, but buses are usually the most cost effective option. Above are rough costs of getting to Bruges from a few close-by European cities. Another good website we like to is Trainline for both bus and train tickets. They also offer a comprehensive search of the quickest/cheapest transport between European cities.

Pro Tip: If you plan on taking trains anywhere in Europe, you will need to book more than a month ahead of time if you want a decent price. Booking train tickets only a few weeks out can sometimes be 3-4x more expensive than a bus. Fortunately, bus tickets remain fairly stable and only increase a modest amount closer to the departure date.

Transportation around Bruges on a Budget

Public transportation in Bruges is very reliable and easy to navigate. However, it's a bit more expensive than other European cities we have been to (€3.00/person). Each bus ticket is only good for one ride, so if you need to switch buses then it will add up pretty quick.

Though public transport is a more eco-friendly way to get around than driving a car, Belgium is very easy to travel by bike. Renting a bike costs roughly €10 for 4 hours or €13 for the entire day. So if you're looking to get a bit of exercise then this is a great way to see a lot inside and outside Bruges.

Budget Lodging in Bruges

From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.

Dorms: €15.00+

Private Rooms: €19.00+

Amenities: Free Wifi, Breakfast available, Bar, 24 Hr Reception, Luggage Storage, Tours/Travel Desk

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: €17.00+

Private Rooms: €25.00+

Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, Bar, Coffee/Tea, Self Catering Facilities, Laundry Facilities, Luggage Storage

Dorms: €17.00+

Private Rooms: €25.00+

Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, Bar, Coffee/Tea, Self Catering Facilities, Laundry Facilities, Luggage Storage

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: €16.90+

Private Rooms: €30.00+

Amenities: Free Wifi, Self Catering Facilities, Laundry Facilities, Luggage Storage, Bar, Coffee/Tea

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Back to Belgium >>

By |2019-11-06T09:13:39-05:00May 24th, 2019|Belgium, Budget Travel, Europe, Travel Guides|0 Comments

Leave A Comment