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The best things to do in Bruges with kids

My own first visit to Bruges came when I was a teenager, when I was instantly won over by its ridiculously pretty historic streets (and chocolate) – and with so much to do in Bruges with kids, I knew it would be a hit with my daughter too.

A view of the historic red brick houses of Bruges and its belltower seen from the canal - the best things to do in Bruges with kids
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I wasn’t wrong. Visiting for a day trip during our stay in Ghent, we’re heading back to Bruges – or Brugge, to give it its Flemish name – again for Christmas when this chocolate box of a city gets some added winter wonderland magic.

And whether you’re visiting in February rain, summer sun or winter frost, you’ll find so many things to do in Bruges with kids – quirky museums, interactive history, chocolate galore, and some great ways to sightsee, all in a compact centre which is easy for families to get around. Here’s my pick of the best.

The Choco Story chocolate museum

A visit to Belgium without chocolate would be a missed opportunity – and Bruges is home to its own chocolate museum, Choco Story.

Split into three sections, a visit shares the 4,000-year-old history of chocolate, from its origins to its appearance in Europe and the secret of creating the best chocolate, as well as quirky facts such as it once being used as a medicine.

The collection has almost 1,000 items to help learn more, including some Playmobil scenes among the more in-depth information and a kids’ version of the audio guide – plus of course, there’s also the chance to taste some, after seeing how it’s made.

You can watch a demonstration of how chocolate goes from bean to the finished treat: we watched the Choco Story experts transform the raw ingredients into hazelnut praline filled chocolates before getting to taste some of these and some plain chocolate pieces.

There are also child-friendly workshops where kids can get hands on and create your own chocolate concoction – you can also book family workshops.

Buy Choco Story tickets with free cancellation as well as a reserve now, pay later option

Visit the Historium

One of the biggest reasons to visit Bruges with children is its fabulous historic centre – so a visit to the Historium, to learn more about the city’s past, is a fantastic option for families.

Taking you back to one day in 1435, during Bruges’ Golden Age, there are seven themed rooms to take you on a journey through history. And if you think that sounds very dull for kids, it’s actually very family-friendly.

You’ll find videos telling stories as you walk around this history museum, as well as interactive games for kids and dressing up. You can go behind the scenes of the painting of one of Van Eyck’s great works, plus there’s a panoramic view of the Markt, the main market square of Bruges, from the balcony.

Add in an audio guide plus a family trail to follow, as well as the option to upgrade for a VR experience (for children aged 6+) and you won’t be bored. It’s also a great option for a rainy day in Bruges with kids if you visit in winter as we did.

You can buy tickets with free cancellation as well as entry with virtual reality upgrade

Climb the Belfort (Belfry Tower)

Located in the Grand Place, the medieval Belfort – or Belfry Tower – is one of Bruges’ tallest buildings and most prominent landmarks.

The 83 metre structure towers over the rest of the historic city and you can climb the 366 steps to the top of the Belfort for spectacular views over the city’s rooftops and out to the surrounding countryside.

On your way up, you can stop off at the treasury, for a well-earned break and to see where the city’s charters, seals and coffers were held during the Middle Ages. 

A view looking up towards the Belfry in Bruges, one of the city's three historic towers - climbing the Belfort is one of the most memorable things to do in Bruges with kids

If the tower climb is too much for little legs, you can still admire the tower from the outside and listen to the music of the tower’s carillion, which consists of 47 bells.

The carilloneur plays the bells on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11am to midday, and there are usually extra carillion concerts in the evenings during summer.

Entry is included in the 72-hour Musea Brugge card along with 11 other museums and monuments

Follow a walking route

The best way to appreciate Bruges’ pretty streets and history is on foot – you can simply wander around to your heart’s content or try following a walking route or walking tour.

During our visit, the tourist information centre had a booklet with four family trails around the city, pointing out decorations on buildings, eye-catching statues and sharing quirky facts.

The Golden Triangle walk, starting on Blinde Ezelstraat near the Burg takes you past some of the key sites. Follow the route to Burgstraat, Wapenmakersstraat, Academiestraat, Jacob Van Ooststraat and Kuipersstraat to the Eiermarkt, Markt itself and back along Breidelstraat to Burg.

Along the way, look out for the bear on the coat of arms, a statue with the word ‘love’ in 40 different languages, and another statue inspired by a Mozart opera.

You can also find child-friendly guided walking tours of Bruges, including this 90-minute walking tour led by a local.

Or there are a string of self-guided tours you can follow on your phone, including this scavenger hunt taking you to 10 key sites in Bruges and a City Highlights Exploration Game, with a series of challenges.

If you’re visiting with older kids who love history, this self-guided tour of Medieval Bruges introduces you to more of the history as well.

Take a boat along the canals

Another fun way to explore Bruges with children is on a boat cruise around the city’s picturesque canal system, letting you experience the historic city from an entirely different perspective.

View along the Spiegelrei canal in Bruges - a canal boat tour is one of the best ways to see Bruges with kids

On board the family-friendly boat tour, a knowledgeable guide tells you all about the sites you pass and the history of the city as you travel, and they’re usually great at keeping the information simple to keep younger children engaged.

There are several boat departure points around the city offering tours. The cruise lasts around 30 minutes, which is ideal for little ones with shorter attention spans. 

You can also get tickets for a combined boat cruise and walking tour

Take a horse drawn carriage ride

While this is definitely a novelty experience designed for tourists, a ride in a horse-drawn carriage (caleches) is still one of the most memorable ways to explore Bruges with kids.

Even if you don’t suggest it yourself, kids are bound to spot the horses all over the city and beg for a ride anyway, so it’s worth being prepared!

Horse drawn carriage in the Market square in Bruges with bright yellow wheels and the belltower visible in the background - one of the most memorable things to do in Bruges for kids

The carriage rides start from the Grand Place and take you on a relaxing guided tour through the narrow city streets, passing many of Bruges’ most famous landmarks – many of the guides will also share interesting facts and stories about the city (though it varies) and kids may have chance to ride up front with the driver.

Most carriage rides include a stop at either Minnewater Lake or the Windmills so the horses can take a break and you can stretch your legs. Not the cheapest experience though at around 60 Euros for half an hour.

Eat fries at the Frietmuseum

What kid doesn’t love fries? Well, did you know that fries were actually a Belgian invention? And Bruges is even home to the world’s “first and only museum dedicated to potato fries”.

The Frietmuseum is a quirky museum devoted to the history of potatoes and the production of Belgian fries.

Hand holding a plastic container of fries with a fork in and mayonnaise with the blurred streets of Bruges in the background - as well as eating them, the Frietmuseum is a fun place to visit in Bruges with kids

And while this may sound a little boring on paper, there are actually plenty of fun things inside the museum to keep kids of all ages entertained, including a fries cone slide to get down the stairs and unusual potato guns.

After visiting the museum, you can – of course – also grab some fries to eat from the basement fryshop. Trust us, you’re definitely going to be craving some at this point – the entire museum smells of them!

Or if you don’t make it to the Frietmuseum, head to the ‘Frietkot De Markt‘ in the Grand Place to try some of the best potato fries in Brugge.

Buy Frietmuseum tickets with free cancellation, as well as a reserve-now pay-later option

Buy some chocolate

Whether your visit to Choco Story has just whetted your appetite or you’re looking for a delicious souvenir to take home (well, to take away… it might not last until you get home!), there are some great chocolate shops to browse in.

So many, in fact, that you’ll rarely be more than a truffle’s throw away from somewhere to buy a selection, many with a cafe serving hot chocolate as well as Belgian waffles and ice cream.

For some rather more unusual flavours, head to The Chocolate Line where the weirdly wonderful (and still delicious) flavours include wasabi, sake and popping candy. Though not all mixed together.

They also import all their own cacao to make chocolate as well.

Or Olivier’s Chocolate Shop and Bar is a great place to get hot chocolate (dark, milk and white) as well as picking up some chocolates to take away. Adults can get a Belgian beer there to go with the chocolate, which works unexpectedly well.

Visit the windmills of Bruges

Bruges is a city with a long mill history, and in the 16th-17th centuries, there were as many as 25 windmills in the city.

Today, only four remain; Sint-Janshuis mill (or Sint-Janshuismolen), Koeleweimill, Nieuwe Papegaai, and Bonne Chiere, all looking like they’re straight from the pages of a kids storybook.

The mills are located close to each other along the historic ramparts in the northeast of the city, so you can take a stroll along the peaceful canal and visit all four in as little as 10-15 minutes. 

View of the Sintjanhuismolen, one of the windmills on the outskirts of Bruges - one of the most unusual things to see in Bruges with kids

Sint-Janshuismill is the only mill where grain is still ground and is open for the public to step inside and learn about the milling process – much more fun for kids to enjoy learning about milling by seeing the mechanism in operation.

You can also climb to the top for amazing views over the city. The mill is closed during the winter months, apart from a few special opening days.

Entry is included in the 72-hour Musea Brugge card along with 11 other museums and monuments

Wander around the Beguinage

The ‘Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde’ is a part of the city made up of a large tree-filled garden surrounded by small white houses and a church – and a walk through the tranquil garden is one of the best things to do in Bruges with children who need a break from the often crowded city streets.

Dating back to 1245, The Beguinage was originally home to the Beguines, emancipated laywomen who still led a virtuous and celibate life. Today, it is a monastery for the sisters of the Order of St. Benedict. 

View along the canal towards the small arched stone bridge and buildings of the Beguinage - one of the historic sights to see in Bruges with kids

On a visit to the Beguinage, you may even spot some of the Benedictine nuns worshipping in the central courtyard or taking a stroll around the peaceful garden. 

And for a small fee, you can go inside one of the Beguinage houses to see what life was like for those living there during the 17th century. It’s around a 15-minute walk from the centre of Bruges.

Folklore Museum

The Folklore Museum is another interesting place for families to learn about ordinary daily life in Bruges in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Set inside a renovated 17th century home, the museum features an old classroom, a pharmacy, a confectionery shop, a grocery shop, and an authentic bedroom interior. Kids will also love the selection of traditional toys and children’s games you can try for yourselves.

If possible, visit on the first or third Thursday of the month when a ‘spekkenbakker’ (sweetmaker) offers traditional sweet making demonstrations, which is always a huge hit with kids.

Entry is included in the 72-hour Musea Brugge card along with 11 other museums and monuments

Rent a bike to explore the countryside

If you have more than a single day or a weekend in Bruges with kids, it’s easy to get out of the city for a little while and explore some of the wider region as well – Bruges is a fairly small city, so there’s only a certain amount to do for families.

Rent some bikes for a day and head out to see more of the beautiful surrounding countryside. There are many bike paths and quiet roads around Bruges, so there’s no need to worry about traffic. 

View on the Damse Vaart canal in the village of Damme near Bruges, one of the cycling routes to try near Bruges for families

You can cycle from Bruges to Dan Haan or Ostend on the coast, or discover some of the nearby castles and one of the charming villages in the region, such as Damme and Jabbeke.

And if your kids are too young to cycle on their own, you can also rent bikes with child seats.

Minnewater Lake & Park

Another lovely place to escape the busy city centre is the Minnewater; an area in the south of Bruges made up of Minnewater Lake, aka the Lake of Love, and Minnewater Park. 

Start with a walk over Lovers Bridge for some of the best views over the lake. The legend goes that if you cross the Minnewater Bridge with your partner, you’ll share eternal love. 

Lock house on the water at Minnewater Lake near Bruges - a great place to escape the crowds in the city if you're visiting Bruges with children

You can then take a peaceful stroll around the picturesque lake. Don’t miss the Gunpowder Tower and the small Gothic castle.

Next door, Minnewater Park is surrounded by trees and has a playground, pond, fountain, sculptures, and more. Plenty to do to keep the kids occupied for an hour or two.

Christmas in Bruges with kids

If you’re considering visiting Bruges during the winter, you’ll find a string of extra reasons to book a trip around Christmas in Bruges with kids.

As well as two of Belgium’s loveliest Christmas markets – a traditional one on the Markt, and another focused more on crafts and locally produced goods at Simon Stevinplein – there are also a string of activities as part of the Winter Glow festival.

Decorated and illuminated Market square in Bruges, which is lit up each year for Christmas - one of the best times to visit Bruges with kids

Running from late November until early January, Winter Glow includes a Light experience trail past different artworks, the chance to go ice skating on the Minnewater plus a walking trail through the historic centre designed to take you past some of the best lights and decorations, as well as over 500 Christmas trees.

Watch out too for the Star Procession, with more than 100 actors (and sheep!) plus an orchestra re-enacting the Nativity, along with locals enjoying the traditional Christmas dive from the Carmelite Bridge into the chilly canal.

How to travel to Bruges with kids

If you’re planning a trip to Belgium with kids, the best way to travel to Bruges from the UK is by train – the Eurostar runs straight from London to Brussels, where it’s easy to connect to other Belgian cities and towns.

Blue and white sign reading Brugge, the Flemish name for Bruges in Belgium, at the city's railway station - train is the easiest way to get to Bruges with kids but you can also fly to Brussels

There are also regular flights to the country’s international airport in Brussels. There is also an international airport, Ostend-Bruges, but currently there are fewer flight routes.

Fast trains from Brussels to Bruges take under an hour from Brussels Midi, connecting with Eurostar, or you can also travel to Bruges direct in around two hours from the airport.

There are also multiple ferry routes to northern France including Dunkirk, which is an hour from Bruges by car, as well as the Eurotunnel to Calais. Or you can travel by ferry to Ijmuiden, the port for Amsterdam, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne

For more inspiration for family travel in Belgium, check out my top things to do in Ghent with kids, the best things to do in Brussels with kids and things to do in Antwerp with kids

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links – any purchases you make are unaffected but I may receive a small commission

Main image/Belford/canal/carriages/fries/windmill/Beguinage/cycling route/Minnewater/Christmas market courtesy of Depositphotos, all others copyright MummyTravels

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