Nicknamed 'Little Venice', the medieval gem that is Bruges is counted among Belgium's most beautiful cities. Between the museums, the food and the food museums, visitors can really experience this city with all of their senses. There is no rushing around Bruges, but between the little chocolate shops, the historic antique markets and bars just overflowing with Belgian beer, this Medieval fairy-tale city can really add up in the pocket book. For the dedicated penny pincher, there are a few tricks to navigating Bruges in order to shave off some of those stacking prices.
Cheap Belgian Street Food
Bruges as well as most major Belgian cities have a huge street food scene. Not only will visitors find stalls crowding the edges of the city centre in Bruges, but they can get some surprisingly hearty meals at them. Of course, there are more than a few chocolate stalls, but visitors can get real meals from these stalls as well, not just snack foods. The best part of the street food scene in Bruges is that the food rarely costs more than CA $10 and the portions are just ridiculously huge for the money, the exception being chocolate and waffles. For those that want a truly filling meal on one of Belgian's staples, try going for a large cone of fries served with mayo. Their loaded baked potatoes are a popular lunch staple as well, but the most worthwhile treat in terms of money to food ratio is the sausage and onion baguette sandwiches.
Cycle the City
Although many will make you think you need it, avoid those overrated and expensive CA $100 horse carriage rides. Bruges is a relatively simple city and pretty easy to get around. However, for those that have tired from walking it, why not travel the city like most locals do? Bicycle rental places are all over the city and the city streets, which are complicated for cars, are easy for cyclists. Visitors can even take their bikes outside the city down Zeebrugge on the coast for some sandy beachfront. It is a faster and easier way to see the city especially when visitors are trying to save a few dollars on travel expenses.
Get a Brugge City Card
There are so many wonderful museums in Bruges. With the Frietmuseum of Belgian fries, the Choco-Story chocolate museum, the Bruges Diamond Museum and the eclectic art collection within the Groeninge Museum, there is just so much to enjoy. Unfortunately for travellers, all of these museums cost admission fees that add up quickly and the city hosts no free admission days. For those that are going to spend a few days wandering around Bruges, the city pass allows for free admission into 27 museums and other attractions in the city as well as offers a free canal ride. The card is good for 48 or 72 hours and only costs around CA $48. For those that can make the best of this deal through excellent time management, they can save hundreds of dollars with it.
Enjoy a Free Walking Tour
Bruges is a city practically made of tours. You can tour by carriage, by boat, by cycle and by foot. Some of these tours are paid, which generally means it comes with food at some point, while others are completely free. The best place to find free walking tours is to hang around Market Square or in front of the city's hostels. In Brugge is just one such free walking tour that departs from in front of the Charlie Rockets Hostel near the Choco-Story and Frietmuseum. It spans two hours and points out all the historic landmarks, the best bars and where visitors can get the cheapest food. Not all walking tours are so practical, but for those who are visiting for the first time, In Brugge can be a lifesaver.
Bargain Hunt in Flea Markets
Souvenirs in Bruges are both plentiful and expensive. Most of the time, the little trinkets the dwell in street stalls and souvenir stores are quite tacky, but there are other options. For visitors to the city that want to pick up a souvenir or at least do a little affordable shopping, browsing the flea markets of the city is the perfect activity. Every Wednesday and Saturday, the Bruges flea market opens up in De Markt in front of the Belfry. People from all over Belgium gather here to sell their crafts, antiques and other bits and bobs to locals and visitors in Bruges alike. The flea markets are a great place to pick up something you didn't know you needed or get a great deal on souvenirs for friends and family back home.
For travellers in Bruges, one of the most common pieces of advice for seeing the city and doing it for the best price (free!) is to literally get lost. Bruges is a beautiful city with a lot to see, too much for it all to be covered in some travel guide. One of the main draws of Bruges is to walk the cobblestone streets and just gawk at the quaint medieval buildings that are present nearly everywhere. The truly beautiful part? Looking doesn't cost a thing.