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Celebrate Christmas in Bruges: 15 Memorable Reasons to Visit

Discover Bruges at Christmas. Experience Bruges at Christmastime. Learn why there is nothing finer than a trip to Bruges during Christmas.
Why visit the quaint Belgian city of Bruges (also known as Brugge) for Christmas? There are so many reasons to spend Christmas in Belgium

Bruges is overrun with tourists during the Spring and Summer high season. Come December, the crowds have departed from this UNESCO heritage town and you can experience Christmas in Bruges with the locals. 

Every year, we spend two weeks celebrating Christmas in a new place in Europe; pretending that we live there for a short while. Here are fifteen reasons I recommend that you get a Belgian rail pass and travel to Bruges to celebrate Christmas.

1. Christmas Markets in Bruges

Let’s start with the obvious reason to visit Bruges...Belgian Christmas Markets.  The Grote Markt in Bruges is covered in a sheet of ice and visitors skate arm in arm under the shadow of the Bruges Belfry.  Unlike German Christmas markets, there are no commemorative mugs but I’ll forgive this one oversight.
15 Reasons to Visit Bruges For Christmas: Bruges Grote Markt at Christmas

2. Admire Bruges' Quaint Architecture

Step gables, ornate brickwork, and fascinating weather vanes will greet you as you stroll the streets of Bruges.
15 Reasons to Visit Bruges For Christmas: Bruges Architecture

3. Bruges Cobbled Streets Are *Not* Overrun by Tourists in December

And did I mention that the streets of Bruges are cobbled?  And not overrun by tourists?  

Bruges is an extremely popular destination in the warm weather months.  Only hardier tourists visit in the winter which means you can enjoy Bruges at Christmastime without the crowds.
15 Reasons to Visit Bruges for Christmas: Empty Cobbled streets

4. Marzipan Logs to Celebrate the Holidays in Bruges

Window shopping is always a treat but what’s more fun is seeing something you like and going inside to taste it first hand.  We simply had to try these colorful marzipan yule logs that we discovered when we visited Bruges for Christmas.
15 Reasons to Visit Bruges for Christmas: Marzipan yule logs

5. Bruges Serene Canals are a Winter Delight

Belgium is one of the ‘low-countries’ and has the canals to prove it. Take advantage of the quiet time of year in December for a canal-side stroll in Bruges.  Duck down a side street and you’ll feel like you have the whole town to yourself.
15 Reasons to Visit Bruges for Christmas: Canals

6. Festive Belgian Chocolates

Belgium is synonymous with chocolate and Bruges chocolate is some of Belgium's finest. We enjoyed browsing the shops and spotting Santa caps and reindeer among the chocolate creations.
Christmas Chocolates in Bruges

7. Bruges Cozy Beer Pubs

Belgium is well known for beer and Bruges has its fair share of Belgian beer pubs.  We tried de Garre (nestled down a tiny alleyway just off the Grote Markt).  de Garre is famous for their house beer which weighs in at about 11% alcohol content so watch out!  

We also visited 't Brugs Bieratelier which had fantastic atmosphere including an old timey cash register. Our favorite part was the fact that they do tasting flights to give folks the opportunity to sample a variety of Belgian beers.  Variety is the spice of life!  

15 Reasons to Visit Bruges for Christmas: Belgian Beer

8. Bruges' Horse-drawn Carriages

As you're walking through the streets of Bruges, you can expect to hear the clip-clop of horse hooves on the cobbled streets. We didn’t take a ride ourselves because it felt a bit touristy but the reindeer antlers on this fellow made me smile. The horse-drawn carriages definitely add to the Christmas spirit in Bruges.
15 Reasons to Visit Bruges for Christmas: Horse-drawn carriage in Bruges

9. Bruges' Irreverent Holiday Window displays

Bruges features some amazing window displays at Christmastime and some are particularly irreverent.  I loved these two angels including one that seemed to have fallen victim to a practical joke. Seems a little breezy, eh?

15 Reasons to Visit Bruges for Christmas: Marzipan angel display in Bruges

10. Bruges' Twinkling Christmas Lights 

Take a stroll at night in Bruges during the Christmas season and you’ll be treated to a display of festive twinkling lights.  'Tis the season.
Christmas lights in Bruges, Belgium

11. Bruges' Backlit Towers

Walking the quiet streets at night, it’s hard to get lost in Bruges.  All the historic towers in this UNESCO heritage town light the night sky.  Use them to triangulate your position and find your way home.
Bruges Belgium at Christmas - Towers Lit at Night

12. Take a Winter Windmill Walk in Bruges

Despite the winter chill in the air, we took a walk around the canal that rings Bruges past a series of old windmills.  It was a charming site to behold and took us back in time.
Windmills in Bruges, Belgium at Christmastime

13. Christmas Swans

Tis the season for swans in Bruges.  We enjoyed watching our feathered friends float along Bruges' signature canals during the holiday season.
Swan in Bruges, Belgium at Christmas

14. Celebrate Christmas Dinner in Bruges

Find a cozy restaurant stationed inside an old gabled canal house in Bruges. 

Indulge in an entire pot of mussels in beer sauce.  Plus, don't forget the frites!

Use The Fork to scope out restaurants and make a reservation online to avoid disappointment.
Christmas Dinner at Bistro de Schilder in Bruges, Belgium

15. Christmas La Chouffe Hats

Belgium is known for beer and especially La Chouffe, a brand known for its red hatted gnome. We were sitting in 't Brugs Bieratelier in Bruges when we noticed the bartender giving out La Chouffe hats!  

There was a small mob trying to get one so he was being rather cautious about handing them out.  However, after the large group left, he handed us two hats.  

I was even more excited when I discovered that the La Chouffe hats had a jingle bell on the end!  We wore them out and about town for the rest of our time in Bruges.  Jingle all the way!

Celebrating Christmas with a La Chouffe Hat in Bruges, Belgium
Is it worth visiting Bruges for Christmas? Clearly I think so. As you can see from the 15 highlights above, Bruges is a fun and festive place to spend the winter holidays. 

Getting to Bruges

What is the best way to get to Bruges for Christmas? Flying into Brussels Airport is a convenient option. You could even consider spending a day on a Brussels layover before hopping on the train to Bruges. Why not break up the trip with a day in Ghent as well?

You'll find that both national and budget carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet fly into Brussels Airport. You can also fly direct to Brussels from New York City, Washington D.C., and Chicago in the United States. 

If you are coming to Belgium from the Netherlands, it takes between 2.5 and 3.5 hours to travel by train from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to SNCB Brugge Station. Schiphol Airport is one of the largest airport hubs in the world. 

Speaking of trains, you can also get to Bruges by rail from many European cities in 2-4 hours. Did you know that you can even get from London to Bruges in under 4 hours via the Chunnel?

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: The Christmas season in Europe is a great time to plan a trip. Here are some of my other favorite Christmas travel destinations beyond Belgium.

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15 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas in Bruges Belgium (aka Brugge)


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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Celebrate Christmas in Bruges: 15 Memorable Reasons to Visit
Celebrate Christmas in Bruges: 15 Memorable Reasons to Visit
Discover Bruges at Christmas. Experience Bruges at Christmastime. Learn why there is nothing finer than a trip to Bruges during Christmas.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog