A complete guide to Bruges Christmas market 2023 (+ map with all locations, market opening times, where to stay and how to get there).
Christmas time in Belgium is special. Not only because of the fairytale Christmas markets all over the country but because there are two Santa Claus! Just imagine how lucky the kids in Belgium are.
In this country, where there are 3 official languages, it’s no wonder that Christmas is celebrated in two different ways. St. Nicholas’ Day is a more popular holiday in the Flemish part of Belgium. In comparison, Christmas is widely celebrated in the French regions.
The first Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, brings presents to the children on the 6th of December – St. Nicholas’ Day. The second Santa, Père Noël, makes his appearance on 25th December.
So, December is a busy month with a lot of holidays and presents! Having in mind that, it’s high time to add Belgium to your list for a winter break.
The biggest Christmas market in Belgium is in Brussels. Its winter festival includes a parade and a sound and light show! Find everything you need to know about the winter festival in my complete guide to Brussels Christmas market.
Yet, Brussels is not the only must-see place in Belgium in December. The medieval city of Bruges (Brugge) has the perfect fairytale setting for a Christmas village.
Gorgeous gothic architecture, cobbled streets, canals crisscrossing the city, Bruges has it all! Add to this, buildings covered in sparkling lights, gingerbread-style houses and the aroma of fresh waffles and spices. This is what Bruges looks like in December – an idyllic destination for an unforgettable winter city break.
Bruges Christmas market review 2023
The Christmas market in Bruges is on the small end compared to the one in Brussels. However, don’t let this discourage you from visiting! The city looks like it came out of a fairytale in December. In fact, it is one of the most romantic places to visit at Christmas.
The heart of the Christmas market is Markt (Market Square), the city’s main square where the beautiful Belfry tower is. Just a few minutes away, there is another market, at Simon Stevinplein Square. And in Minnewater, you’ll find a festive ice-skating rink and winter bar.
Best Bruges Christmas markets 2023
- Markt (Market Square)
- Simon Stevinplein
- Minnewater (artificial ice skating rink)
Find a map with all festive locations at the end of the article.
When does the Bruges Christmas market start?
The Christmas market usually takes place from the third weekend of November up to the first weekend of January.
Is the Bruges Christmas market open on Sunday?
Yes, it is open till 10 PM on Sundays.
Is the Christmas market open after Christmas?
While most of the Christmas markets in Europe still close a day or two before Christmas, the Bruges Christmas market lasts from November all the way through January.
Bruges Christmas market dates 2023
From 24 November to 7 January
Every day from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Fridays and Saturdays – 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM
24th December – closes at 05:00 PM
25th December – open only in the afternoon
The Markt (Market Square) is the heart of the historic centre. The square is framed by the medieval Belfry of Bruges, the Provincial Palace and guild houses with stepped gables.
In December, the main Christmas village is set here. Festively decorated wooden stalls with gift items, sparkling Christmas trees – all this set against the magnificent backdrop of the Belfry.
Note: the medieval Belfry tower is open for visitors (daily 09:30 AM – 06:00 PM). You can climb the 366 steps to the top for jaw-dropping views of the city.
Markt Christmas Market Opening times
From 24 November to 7 January
A few minutes away from Markt, you’ll find another smaller Christmas market. Simon Stevinplein (Simon Stevin Square) is a charming city square located at the end of the main shopping street Steenstraat.
During the festive season, the linden trees on the square are decorated with twinkling fairy lights. A perfect place to stop and warm yourself with some mulled wine or jenever.
Simon Stevinplein Market Opening times
From 24 November to 7 January
Address: Simon Stevinplein
If you’re travelling with kids, head to Zand Square, one of the city’s largest squares. This new Christmas market (from 2021 onwards) is geared towards families. You’ll find exciting stands with toys and traditional kids carousels.
Zand Market Opening times
From 24 November to 7 January
Address: ‘t Zand
Where to stay in Bruges for the Christmas market
If you’re visiting Bruges for the Christmas markets, stay in the historic centre. It’s walkable and you’ll be close to everything. I handpicked for you the best hotels to stay in Bruges, which are just a short walk from the Christmas villages.
For more options check out my guide to where to stay in Bruges.
Excellent base for the Christmas markets thanks to its central location, next to Burg and the Main Market Square. Rooms feature contemporary luxury blended with historic charm. Don’t miss the wellness centre, housed in the 16th-century cellars.
Why book – a short walk from Markt Square, good breakfast, secure parking on-site
This luxury hotel is set in a unique 15th-century former ducal residence. The elegant rooms feature high ceilings, original features and spacious marble bathrooms. The location is excellent, right in the city centre, but on a quiet side street.
Why book – 5min walk from all Christmas markets, amazing breakfast, secure parking on-site
De Drie Koningen offers trendy and modern apartments, equipped with all the necessary amenities for a relaxing weekend stay.
Why book – 5min walk from Markt Square, private parking on site, honesty bar
What to do in Bruges at Christmas
Looking for unique Christmas toys and decorations? Then, visit De Witte Pelikaan. This shop is heaven for every Christmas lover. And the best part is that it is open throughout the whole year!
The shop offers authentic and unique Christmas decorations, including handmade glassware, angels, baubles and trees.
De Witte Pelikaan
Address: Vlamingstraat 23
Winter Glow Light experience trail
The Light experience trail is part of the Bruges Christmas festivities. The trail is 3.2km long and it takes you past 13 light installations set in the historic city centre. There is an app called Winter Glow Bruges (Winter Gloed), which you can download to follow the path. The trail is available daily from 5 PM until midnight.
Take a horse carriage ride
Explore the picturesque city on a horse carriage ride. It’s a fun and romantic way to discover Bruges. You can hire a horse-drawn carriage from Mark Square. The cost to rent the carriage (up to 5 people) is €50 for a 30min ride.
Go ice skating
Since 2019 you’ll no longer find the ice rink at Markt Square. To follow the sustainable trend the city council replaced it with a new artificial ice skating rink.
You can find the new ice rink at the most romantic spot in Bruges, Minnewater. It’s a beautiful park with a small lake, called Lake of Love and a bridge. To complete the festive atmosphere, there is a large wine bar (Vorst Winter Bar), overlooking the lake!
Waffle and chocolate tasting
What’s better than a delicious hot chocolate on a cold winter day? A hot chocolate with a waffle! And the best place to try this is the House of Waffles. They serve all sorts of waffles with various toppings like ice cream, chocolate, fruits and powdered sugar.
House of Waffles
Address: Wollestraat 31
House of Waffles is an excellent place for waffles, but to try the best hot chocolate in Bruges, head to the Old Chocolate House. It’s a family-run shop with a tea room, where you can also find an extensive assortment of chocolate, handmade biscuits, gingerbread and pralines.
The Old Chocolate House
Address: Mariastraat 1C
Coffee and meringues
Craving for more sweet treats? Then visit Aux Merveilleux de Fred and taste the meringue cakes. They come in two different sizes (one of them is huge). Try the little ones, as you can sample more flavours that way.
Aux Merveilleux de Fred
Address: Eiermarkt 3A
Take a Brewery Tour
Belgium is not only well known for its chocolate, but also for its excellent beer. So, if you’re a beer lover, don’t miss the opportunity to take a brewery tour at De Halve Maan. It’s a family-run authentic brewery in the centre of Bruges with a tradition going back to 1856. It is the home of the famous beers – Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik.
Bruges Christmas market food
The wooden chalets sell all kinds of treats and foods! You’ll find a wide range of cheese and meat delicacies. Nougat, waffles and speculoos (spiced gingerbread shortcrust cookies) are a must-taste for everyone with a sweet tooth. Of course, don’t forget the famous Belgian Fries!
However, wine lovers will be a little disappointed. Although you can find some stalls selling mulled wine, the popular drink here is jenever. It’s a Dutch gin, usually served in small glasses.
Bruges Christmas market map
To help you navigate, I prepared this map with all the markets. You can use it during your trip, you only need internet access.
Find more information about the Christmas market on the official website of Bruges Winter Glow.
How to get to Bruges Christmas markets
It’s a 15min walk from the Central train station in Bruges to the first market at Simon Stevinplein.
I would recommend you to walk if you’re planning to combine the Christmas villages with a day of sightseeing. The first tourist sites are within a short walk from the train station.
Yet, there are several buses or trams you can take if you prefer not to walk. De Lijn public transport company serves the city of Bruges. Use their route planner to see which bus is most convenient for you. As a starting point choose Brugge Station Perron 1 and as an end – Brugge Centrum.
If you’re arriving by car it’s best to leave it on the outskirts of the city. Parking in the Old Town is limited in time and metered, even during the weekends. The most convenient car park is at the Central train station (Chantrellstraat 42-62).
The nearest airports are Ostend-Bruges Airport and Zaventem Airport (near Brussels). You can take a direct train to Bruges from the Zaventem Airport (a 90min journey).
Faqs about visiting the Bruges Christmas market
With 3 Christmas markets set in the beautiful historic city centre, Bruges is a great Christmas destination. You’ll be charmed by the scenic city canals and colourful gingerbread-style houses, decorated with sparkling lights. In addition, you’ll also find an artificial ice rink with a winter bar.
Snow is possible, but rain is more common in December. The weather is mostly cold and wet.