For starters, Bruges is a pretty affordable place for budget-conscious travelers. Hotel and B&B rates are relatively affordable, as are meal prices. But there's always an opportunity to save some euros. Here are some ways to save on your trip to Bruges.
Bruges Budget Tips
Information on the Bruges Card
The Bruges Card is a cheapo dream! It’s offered for free (!) upon arrival at most hostels and budget accommodations (including hostels). The card gives you discounts to hot spots like The Chocolate Museum (and the De Halve Maan beer brewery, as well as substantial discounts on guided tours like the Quasimundo nighttime bike tour or canal boat tours. Simply present the card everywhere you go and participating locations will offer you the discount. Because it’s free, you’ve got nothing to lose!
For more information, visit the Bruges Card web site.
First off, we recommend visiting the Bruges tourism office, In & Uit, at its main location on 't Zand square. Simply take a number from one of the office's touch screen machines and soon you'll be getting lots of advice from a friendly advisor.
The tourism office is a great source for plenty of fun, Cheapo-friendly ideas for exploring the city, from bicycle rentals to outdoor concerts to flea markets. When we visited, we chatted with a representative for about 30 minutes, as she happily pointed out free things to do, theater schedules, and bike tours. (We were very impressed and left the office with lots of free literature.)
The main tourism office is open daily from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. In & Uit also has a smaller office at the Bruges train station. Check the web site for more information.
It costs nothing to ramble through the beautiful, cobblestone streets in Bruges. Wander along the canals, stop for a piece of chocolate or a quick beer, and keep exploring. When your feet get tired, stop into one of these places – also free!
Town hall: The entrance hall of this gorgeous building was constructed in the 14th century. Take a few moments to browse the hall’s façade, carved with pristinely kept statues of famous and notable Bruges statespeople and figureheads. Taking in the historic views upstairs (and checking out the impressively ornate ceiling) will only cost a few euros.
Markt Square: You won't be able to miss Markt Square. It's at the center of it all, literally. Market day is Wednesday, though other markets are available in ‘t Zand and Dijver (in front of the Groeninge Museum) on other days. Buy or just browse the wares. Either way, it’s a fabulous – and cheap – way to spend an afternoon. Make sure to check out the stately bell tower. Climbing it will cost €5.
Burg Square: It’s the civic center of Bruges, and another lovely town square just a minute's walk east of Markt Square. Stop here to admire the palace of the first Count of Flanders. During warmer months, free outdoor concerts abound here.
Begijnhof: The museum costs €2, but you don’t pay anything to enter the pretty courtyard, where you can see the quaint homes of the group of Benedictine nuns who reside and tend garden here. This idyllic spot, south of Bruges center, is an excellent respite for the weary tourist.
Picnic Triangle: Also known as the "Golden Triangle," this is your first stop for a day of lounging on a blanket at nearby Astrid Park. This culinary heaven right off Gentpoorstraat is perfect for picking up pastries and a light lunch or simply for browsing the delectable shop windows.
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is the most widely accepted form of student ID and provides discounts on sights, accommodations, food, and transportation. Many museums in Bruges offer admission discounts of 20-50% to ISIC members. Applicants must be working toward a degree at a secondary or post-secondary school and must be at least 12 years of age. The card costs $22 USD and is valid until the end of the year issued. All cardholders have access to a 24-hour emergency helpline. In the United States call 1-800-223-7986 or click onto ISIC's web site.
For non-students 25 years and younger, the International Youth Travel Card, IYTC, also offers many of the same benefits as the ISIC. The card costs US$22 and is valid for one year from the date of issue.
In addition, travelers with student cards, such as ISIC and IYTC, qualify for big discounts from travel agencies. Most flights from budget agencies are on major airlines, though peak season deals might be on less reliable chartered aircraft.
Senior travelers will find some discounts in Bruges, but not as many as in other cities and countries. For the most part, seniors must be EU citizens in order to receive discounts. Members of the AARP get discounts on hotels, airfares and car rentals. They can be reached in the United States at 1-800-424-3410 and via the AARP web site.