Wondering what to do in Bruges when it rains? Fear not, this Belgian city is the perfect place to spend cold, rainy days. In fact, we’d say it’s one of the most beautiful winter cities in Europe! Think twinkling fairy lights, Christmas markets, roaring log fires and cosy underground cellars.
So arm yourself with sensible shoes, an umbrella and a positive mental attitude and check out the best things to do in Bruges when it’s raining. Get ready for a food and drink-filled weekend!
Visit an underground beer cellar
Bruges is famous for its Belgian beer and there are plenty of underground cellars to explore during bad weather. Our favourites include T’Poatersgat, an underground bar that you’d easily miss from street level. This place is a candlelit cave that boasts over 200 Belgian beers. But don’t be overwhelmed by the menu, the friendly staff will make recommendations and even give you a little sample if you ask nicely.
Across the road is Comptoir Des Arts, an underground venue that hosts live music. Some evenings are ticketed so checkout the website and get planning before you go.
Around the corner (staggering distance if you will) is Le Trappiste, a specialist beer bar located in an 800-year-old medieval cellar. With 15 beers on tap, 80 bottled and 20 or so guest beers, this venue hosts brews from all over Europe and is the perfect place to spend a night out.
Hunt out the best waffles in Bruges
Lizzie’s Waffles or Tearoom Carp Diem both score highly on TripAdvisor and come complete with cosy cafes where you can shelter from the rain – BUT if you can bear queuing in wet weather, we highly recommend Chez Albert on Breidelstraat. It’s a takeaway waffle shop that serves up warm, fluffy waffles right in front of your eyes. Choose one with whipped cream and chocolate (which is nut-free for anyone with allergies. Phew).
4. Go on a chocolate treasure hunt
If you’re looking for a super fun way to spend a rainy afternoon, go on a self-made chocolate hunt that takes in the top chocolatiers in Bruges. Most shops will offer free samples and plenty of sweet treats to buy. Below we’ve mapped out our favourite chocolatiers, including the award-winning Chocolatier Dumon which is located in a super-cute medieval building.
Climb the Belfry Tower
Work off all that chocolate and climb the 336-step Medieval Belfry tower that watches over the main market square. Yes, the view at the top won’t be at it’s best when it’s pouring with rain but it’s a fun activity and it will help you burn off all those calories (!!). The building is a central feature of the 2008 film In Bruges, starring Collin Firth, so that’s your claim to fame sorted.
Visit De Halfe Man Brewery
De Halfe Man Brewery is the perfect rainy-day activity. The 45-minute tour gives an interesting overview into the history of this family-run brewery, which has been operating for over 5 centuries. Tours include a well-deserved sample in the cosy bar with river views. Beware the Brugse Zot Dubbel – it’s a whopping 7.5%.
Find a roaring fire
You only need to walk into the centre of Bruges and you’ll discover countless cafes and restaurants with open fires. We found the prime spot at Mozarthuys (pictured below) near Bruges History Museum. Request the table right by the fire and snuggle up with a glass of red wine. Heaven.
Hit the shops
Bruges isn’t only about the chocolatiers. It’s actually got a decent shopping centre with loads of women’s clothes stores, including H&M, situated between ‘t Zand and Markt Square. Steenstraat. Geld Montstraat and Jakobstraat are the main retail arteries of the city, with other streets lined with shops leading off from these.
On Wednesday morning, there’s a great food market in the Markt Square, while ‘t Zand Square is a great place to pick up bargain clothes on Saturday. The Fish Market across the canal from Burg Square trades from Tuesday to Saturday and there’s a brilliant flea market on the Dijver Canal at the weekend, but this only runs in summer between March-November.
Visit a museum
There are plenty of museums in Bruges to keep you occupied. Take your pic from one of the below:
If you love art: Gruuthusemuseum is a museum of applied arts in Bruges, located in the medieval Gruuthuse, the house of Louis de Gruuthuse.
If you love history: The Archeological Museum presents the unwritten history of Bruges. Its motto: feel your past beneath your feet. Discover the history of the city through different kinds of search and hands-on activities. A great one for the kids!
If you love chocolate: If you’re STILL after chocolate treats (we don’t blame you), then Choco-Story dips its visitors in the history of cocoa and chocolate.
If you love beer: The Bruges Beer Museum, located on the top floor of the former post office building on the Markt, is a fun place to visit. Using an iPad Mini you will discover the many fascinating facets of beer and the complexities of the brewing process (and that includes tasting!). Price of admission (14 euros) includes a tasting of 15cl of three beers of your choice.
So, there you have it! Lots of fun things to do in Bruges when it’s pouring with rain. Who needs the sunshine, eh?