There are few places more magical than Winter Glow and the Bruges Christmas markets. We just came back from opening weekend and had an amazing time! We visited Bruges Christmas market, as well as Brussels Christmas market and in our opinion Bruges had a better Christmas market and overall “Christmassy” atmosphere. The streets of Bruges are lined with lights, cobblestone streets, fairy tale buildings, and is truly one of the most charming cities in Europe.
In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about visiting the Bruges Christmas market in 2023. As well as, best hotels, restaurants, things to do, and tips!
What dates is the Christmas market open?
The Christmas market opened on November 24, 2023 and runs through January 7, 2024.
Is it open every day?
Yes, the Bruges Christmas markets are open daily.
What time does it open and close each day?
Sunday to Thursday hours: 10 am – 10 pm
Friday and Saturday hours: 10:30 am – 11 pm
Where is it?
Depending on which market you want to visit you can either type “Markt” or “Simon Stevinplein” into the GPS, or just use the map below.
Food & Drinks
Inside the Christmas markets –
Belgium is known for many different delicious foods – from Belgian waffles and chocolate to fries and incredible beers, this country has so much to offer! You can find any of these specialites, plus so many more at the Christmas markets.
We tried a waffle place that served, hands down, the best waffle I’ve ever had in my life (see photo below). Make sure to buy some Belgian hot chocolate, try a Duval or mulled wine, and take some chocolate back home to your friends and family. There are bars inside the Christmas market where you can find cocktails, beer, and wine. Many of the beers come in a returnable cup. You pay a 5 euro deposit and when you return the cup, they will give you your 5 euros back in cash.
The Simon Stevinplein market offers similar things that you can find in The Markt, but it’s a bit smaller.
Outside the The Markt –
There are numerous restaurants that line The Markt. The price is a bit higher than restaurants you may find in the other streets of the city, but the view makes up for it! Who doesn’t want to eat dinner and enjoy a glass of wine in the heart of Bruges, marveling at all the stunning Christmas lights? We did for sure! If you’re in the mood for Italian food, I recommend Pizzeria Da Mario.
We ordered 2 specialty pizzas and 2 glasses of wine for around 40 euros. The service was quick and the food was delicious!
We filled an entire suitcase from all of the shopping we did in Bruges! There are countless things to bring home, especially at Christmas time. In the Bruges Christmas market, you can find handmade goods, meats and cheeses, Christmas decorations, winter clothes, Belgian chocolate, and so much more!
It’s worth wandering around the city to visit the Christmas shops as well. They get super busy during the day, so it’s best to visit at opening time. The best one we found, Kathe Wohlfahrt, looked like it was straight out of a movie! There are two Kathe Wolhlfart stores in Bruges. Some other Christmas shops we found a bit further from the city center and offered 50% off ALL Christmas decorations (this is where our suitcase became 7 kg overweight).
Here’s a list of must-buy things from Bruges:
- Belgian chocolate – Bruges is renowned for its delectable Belgian chocolates, offering a wide array of flavors and textures. These high-quality confections make for perfect gifts or personal treats, showcasing the city’s rich chocolate-making tradition.
- Handmade ceramic house incense holder – These delightful creations not only serve a practical purpose but also add a touch of whimsy to your home. Watch as the fragrant smoke blows out the chimney of the house and it’s SO cute!
- Personalized Christmas ornaments – Commemorate your visit to Bruges with personalized Christmas ornaments that reflect the city’s festive spirit. These charming keepsakes can be customized with your name or special date, creating a lasting memory of your time spent in this enchanting destination.These also make perfect gifts for family members or friends!
- Lace items – Delve into Bruges’ lace-making heritage. From delicate shawls to intricate tablecloths, these handcrafted pieces showcase the city’s commitment to preserving the art of lace-making, making for timeless and elegant souvenirs.
- Beer and beer glasses – Take a bit of Belgium’s beer culture home with you by exploring the diverse selection of local brews. Pair your favorite beer with authentic Belgian beer glasses, a combination that not only enhances the drinking experience but also serves as a tasteful reminder of the country’s beer craftsmanship.
- Belgian waffles – No trip to Bruges is complete without indulging in the irresistible Belgian waffles. If you’re taking waffles home with you, the plain or chocolate covered ones will keep easily!
- Artisan cheeses – For the cheese enthusiasts, Bruges offers a selection of artisanal cheeses that reflect the region’s dairy craftsmanship. Sample unique flavors and textures, and bring home a taste of Belgian cheese excellence to share with friends and family or savor as a personal indulgence.
Where to stay in Bruges
I highly recommend staying in the city center, due to the ease of getting to the Christmas markets by foot. We stayed in Hotel Heritage Bruges and could not recommend it enough! It’s a stunning 5 star hotel (recognized by the Michelin guide), has an amazing restaurant, and the most festive classy Christmas decorations you could ever wish for. The beds are cozy and well decorated, with city views and it’s just a 2 minute walk to the Markt. There are only 22 rooms at Hotel Heritage, so if they are all booked up, here are some other great options also in the city center:
- Hotel de Orangerie (4 stars)
- Hotel De Tuilerieën (4 stars)
- Hotel Van Cleef (4 stars)
- The Notary (5 stars)
Other must-do activities in Bruges at Christmas
We found the Christmas markets to be much more magical after dark. Since it usually gets dark around 5 pm, we decided to spend our days exploring the city and doing some fun activities. Then headed back to our hotel, added some extra layers of clothes, and set off to the Christmas markets once the sun was down.
Christmas shopping in the stores
As mentioned above, the Christmas market is not the only place to buy incredible Christmas decorations. The stores in Bruges are some of the best in the world. We found Kathe Wohlfart to be our favorite, with two levels full of any Christmas decor you could ever dream of.
Take a boat ride
There are 4 main companies who offer boat rides around the canals of Bruges. We went on a rainy day and only one of them was open. We still went and had an amazing time! Even in the rain, we are so glad we got to see Bruges from a different perspective. The ticket price is 7 euros/child and 12 euros/adult. The tour lasts around 45 minutes.
Go on a horse-drawn carriage ride
A ride in a horse carriage is another romantic way to see some highlights of Bruges. Carriage rides leave from the Market Square. Just wait until you see one that’s available, then get on and pay the driver directly. It costs 60 euros/trip with a maximum of 5 people.
Take a brewery tour
This was hands down, one of our favorite things we did in Bruges! I cannot recommend the Brewery De Halve Maan enough! The beer is incredible, the 45 minute tour was super interesting, and at the end of the tour you get a free beer included with your ticket! The offer tours in English, French, and Dutch. The brewery also has a restaurant with lots of delicous food options. The cost is 16 euros/person.
Note: There are 220 steps during the tour, so make sure to wear appropriate shoes.
Go ice skating
There is a floating ice rink with beautiful decor on Minnewater (Lake of love).
- Sunday – Thursday from 11.00 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Friday & Saturday from 11.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.
- Check the website for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s hours
Eat your body weight in Belgian chocolate, waffles, and fries
There are countless Belgain chocolate shops and fry and waffle stalls in Bruges. Try a handful of them and see which ones are your favorite!