More on Bruges: “Hidden Gems in Bruges – Discover Bruges by bike 1“
Although Bruges is quite small and you can easily walk from North to South in 30 minutes, it is sometimes not so easy to find, apart from the bars on the central square, a really good café, tearoom or coffeebar. There are some really neat places but they are, like in many places, away from the main tourist grid.
Coffee bars have always existed, also in Bruges. Lately the coffee scene is going through a revival and many new coffee bars have opened, where they serve great coffee and more.
Li O Lait, one of the more recent additions to the growing barista culture, away from Starbucks, is a very hip place where it is great to read your newspaper or have a chat with your best friend, over a perfectly prepared coffee. It attracts young and old alike, and you can choose between a bar stool, a table or a sofa, and in summer there is a small terrace in front and an even smaller terrace in the back. If you are hungry, there are always some pastries, one of them the typical Portugese pasteis. It is located in one of the streets that connect the two shopping streets and make a perfect for a stop when out shopping. Also one the menu: breakfast, light bagel lunch, tea and slow coffee.
Vero Caffè, is like Li O Lait, a recent addition to the coffee scene in Bruges. It is a small bar, decorated in light wood touches, with a vintage touch. The focus is on coffee, and some pastries to go with it. You have to be lucky, because the place is quite small, and with its growing popularity often full. It is located close to the central square, on one of the smaller squares, just around the corner from Choco story. In summer you can sit on the small terrace in front enjoying the quiet Bruges.
Brazila, a coffee bar, where you can not only drink coffee but also buy coffee beans to take home. Brazila roasts its own coffee since 1930, and you can choose between a wide variety of roasts but they also sell tea. If you are a fan of high end coffee roasts, this is the place! They serve your coffee, cappuccino or latte with soy milk if you are vegan. There is a small terrace in the front, and it is just around the corner from the central square!
I Love Coffee, a hip, modern espressobar smack in the centre of Bruges, where the owner also roasts his own coffee beans. The coffee bar is quite large, and has an industrial interior design with wooden touches. They have a terrace in the back and some stools in the front. A hip place for a coffee stop when visiting Bruges.
Lizzie’s Wafels, also a newcomer just next to the I Love Coffee. They bake extra large Brussels waffles, which are great to share. A romantic way to discover one of the traditional sweet specialities of Belgium, you can choose between different toppings. A great newcomer since Bruges actually missed a great place for waffles! They also have a very original hot chocolate, you can choose between dark, milk or white chocolate! They only accept cash, no cards whatsoever so better look for a ATM before digging in.
Books and brunch, a coffee bar that is also a perfect place to take a brunch or lunch. You can sit at a table or in a sofa, surrounded by books. The place is close to the Groeninge museum, a must see museum of the Flemish primitives (van Eyck, Memling, Bosch) and not far from the landing from where the boat tours start. They have a large collection of second hand children’s books, so a perfect stop for those with children. You can read the books while having a coffee, and buy them to read at home.
Carpe Diem, a bakery well known in Bruges for their bread and pastries. It is a great stop after visiting the Beguinage in Bruges for an illy coffee. They also serve breakfast, lunch, waffles, pancakes and of course their delicious pastries, in a typical old Flemish living room.
Merveilleux, housed in a beautiful traditional wooden house, in one of the side streets of the shopping street, and decorated in a traditional English high tea style. You come here for an illy coffee or kusmi tea, homemade pastries and lunch. There is a small quiet terrace in front.
De Proeverie, part of the traditional chocolate shop Sukerbuyc, on the other side of the street. The Proeverie is known for its pastries, scones and hot chocolate. You sit in an English style interior, plush and comfortable. Of course they serve their pralines with your coffee.
Le Pain Quotidien, part of a chain started in Belgium, is always a good choice for coffee, tea, breakfast and lunch. They use mainly organic ingredients, and have a good vegetarian and vegan selection. Always a good choice for a healthy and tasty break, and their cheese cake is the best in Bruges!
Their tearoom is located in the centre of Bruges, on the Simon Stevin square, just some steps away from the famous Chocolate Line. It is a huge place, with lots of sitting area inside, a lounging area with sofas, and a beautiful garden terrace in the back, the perfect spot to sit in summer.
Black Bird, a vegan place for coffee, tea, breakfast and lunch, on the Jan van Eyck square, which opened in May 2015. They became fully vegan as of 2021. The decoration is plush and cosy, the black bird theme on cups and menu, the lamps under large bird cages, lots of candles and pillows, a place to sink away and enjoy a tasty pauze. The owners are very kind and welcoming, jumping to your every need. The tables are far enough from each other to have a private or romantic conversation, different from most coffee shops that are a lot more bustling.
Cafuné Espresso Bar is the latest addition to the coffee bar scene in Bruges. It is a bit hidden between the theatre house and the Jan Van Eyck square, but still quite central. They describe themselves as the new specialty coffee spot in the centre of Bruges. Their interior is Scandinavian inspired, and the hosts had barista training at Or coffee roasters (Ghent and Brussels). A place for lovers of real good coffee. And a good alternative if the ones closer to the main square are all full.
Today we passed Kottee Kaffee and noticed it for the first time. Although we take this route regularly, I missed it until today. So we decided to try it out after shopping for shoes. We did not regret it. The place is large and inviting, and we were lucky to still find a free table. Many tables were pre-booked. Others found this place well before we did! We ordered a cappuccino and a Chai Latte, which came with a small piece of cake and a chocolate. They have cakes, and ‘mattetaarten’, one of my favourite pastries, but just after the New Years’ celebrations I decided against it. The owners are very outgoing and easily converse with their customers, a real plus. They open at 8 AM, early enough for breakfast. They also serve light lunches: soup, cheese platter, sandwiches or salads. They are moving to a new location, Ezelstraat 68, we will let you know when they reopen!
Magda’s koffiebar (between Schaarstraat and Stalijzerstraat behind the Astridpark), is a coffee bar out of the ordinary, and houses in the Saint Magdalene’s Church, built in the mid-19th century. If you are looking for a quiet spiritual place to have a pause and a coffee, this is the place. You help yourself to a coffee or tea, take a seat, there is a bookshelf with some books to read, you pay two euros for your coffee, and clean up afterwards. Feel free to use the swing in the church. The church has been redecorated in an eclectic modern style. Open every day, from 11 AM to 6 Pm from April to September, and from 1 to 6 PM from October to December and from 2 to 5 PM from January to March. If you want to eat a pastry with your coffee, one of the best bakeries in town, Schaeverbeke is just opposite the church. Take your pastry with you and have a coffee inside the church. Outside the church you find the statue of ‘Homeless Jesus’ on a bench. During the summer months Magda’s coffee bar transforms into Magda’s summer bar, in the garden of the of the presbytery of the church, just opposite the church entrance.
Patisserie van Mullem opened its doors again, and I am happy they did because we lack places where you can buy good quality pastries. They also re-opened the tearoom where you can stop for breakfast, lunch or a afternoon tea of coffee break with something sweet. A great addition in the centre of Bruges, with a great terrace in summer. The tearoom is open from Wednesday till Saturday. The bakery is also open on Sunday morning.
Pubs to have a great beer and maybe a snack or light dinner, are probably even more difficult to find in Bruges. Bruges is often called “Bruges la morte” (Bruges, the dead one), and in one famous film “Fucking Bruges!”, the main characters get bored out of their head in this city that looks more than a museum than a lively provincial capital. But there is more than meets the eye. The number of good and lively bars is steadily growing, much to the delight of the locals. They are usually hidden away in many of the small streets that make up our city. Here a list of the best bars where good beer, a great atmosphere and bartender and good music come together. Sometimes you can even have great food with it!
’t Risico, our favorite bar in Bruges, located in the Sint-Anna quarter of Bruges, close to the windmills. It is a typical “brown” café, the local watering hole, where people from the neighbourhood come for their nightcap. It is also the perfect place for a simple dinner with a draft beer of a glass of wine. The music is always good and there is always a warm atmosphere with a warm stove in winter, and a great outside garden in summer.
Café Vlissinghe, the oldest pub in Bruges also located in the Sint-Anna quarter, celebrated its 500th birthday in 2015! Yes it exists since 1515! The pub has a great old brown original wooden interior (1869), and has a great garden in the back where it is great to sit in summer. You can even play old folk games like pétanque as well as a Flemish variant “Krulbollen” in the garden, and they have some board and card games available inside. Besides a traditional beer you can have a simple but decent lunch.
De Vino, a bluesy tapas bar, like they describe it on the windows, is a perfect place for an informal but very good dinner of tapas, together with a good glass of wine, or a perfectly made cocktail. The music is a mix of jazz, folk and blues, the pub interior nice and brown, the hostess very hospitable. The cook ( who runs it since April 2014) has a lot of experience in the restaurant business and has found the perfect mix of perfectly made drinks teamed with small freshly prepared dishes brought to you in an informal way. There is always a great buzz, not too loud, but with the music just right for a good chat. For the moment closed for renovations.
De Republiek, another classic in the pub scene of Bruges. The pub is linked to the small adjacent inner city cinema, that programs mostly artsy independent movies, most of them really worth seeing! You can combine a visit to the pub with a movie, but the pub attracts a crowd on all days and hours of the week. In summer the huge garden is one of the best places to have an outside drink in Bruges. The pub has recently been renovated, and has chosen for a less brown less dilapidated interior, but especially the renovation of the menu is a great improvement. On weekend evenings a dj plays live. And they have a daily changing lunch menu.
The Rose Red, is a hotel pub. Hotel pubs are often quite stuffy and dead but this one is an exception. It is a real beer pub, with a very large choice of Belgian beers, their speciality are Trappist beers. The place to taste different Belgian beers, and combine it with some simple tapas. This is also a typical brown bar, with roses hanging from the ceiling .
L’Estaminet, another long standing brown pub in Bruges, next to the Astrid park and famous for its spaghetti dish, a typical pub dish in Belgium. Their spaghetti is oven baked which gives it a cheese crust. In summer the small pub is enlarged with a large pergola. You can choose between a large selection of dishes and drinks, and there is always a cosy sometimes bustling buzz inside. The pub looks out over one of the most beautiful parks of Bruges.
De Stoepa, a bar very close to the train station in Bruges, which attracts many locals in summer because of their very nice garden terrace. The pub inside is a typical brown pub, while the terrace outside has an oriental touch. The menu is a mix of European and Asian dishes. Not far from the Beguinage and the Lake of Love (Minnewater). For dinner you better make reservations in advance.
De Snuffel is a backpacker hostel in Bruges with a bar on the main floor. A great place in summer to sit on sunny the terrace in the back. The prices are very reasonable, and there aren’t many bars in the direct neighbourhood.
De Hollandse Vismijn, is your typical local pub, in the centre of Bruges on the old fishmarket. If you are looking for a place where the locals come, this is it. It used to be a typical political left wing (socialist) café, but is now a maintream pub for everyone. The prices are really very reasonable for the centre, and it is great sitting on their terrace in the summer, looking out over the old fish market.
Groot Vlaenderen, was until recently the only place where you went for a cocktail evening in Bruges. Many pubs serve cocktails and do a good job, but this place made its speciality out of it, and is famous for it in Bruges. You sit in a loungy, plush environment with big chandeliers and sofas, good for an evening out. And the cocktails are really great!
Bar’n, the newcomer in town, also specializes in cocktails. There should be enough place in Bruges for two good cocktail bars! The interior is sturdy with soft female touches, and Oscar ( Scottisch highland cow) on the wall. Great place to take an aperitif before dinner, or have another drink after.
Blend is a winebar (and shop) run by two sommeliers who import wines from all over the world and who also have their own vineyard in Tuscany, Italy. A great place to taste wine in the center of Bruges just behind the theatre house, and just a few steps away from the main square.
Bourgogne des Flandres, is the name of a beer, a brewery and a bar-restaurant. Their homebrewn beer is delicious, and the bar has a great terrace with view over the canals. Great place for a drink stop when walking through Bruges and taste one of our many famous Belgian beers. (I wrote a seperate review on the brewery)
I might have to revise this post in a few months because many new bars are coming to town! We keep you posted!
And here is the first newcomer, actually it is an old time favourite that has been totally renovated and just re-opened again! De Kelk is a pub and music venue in the real meaning of the word. A evening and night place (opening at 3 PM), serving great beers and playing good music, resulting in a good pub atmosphere. They serve draught from large beer tanks above the bar. They plan music events in the future… Check it out!
Paula Mostaert: De Medici sorbetiere, was one of those established coffee bars in Bruges in one of the shopping streets. It has seen different owners over the years, and has recently been transformed into a hotdog restaurant. They serve 6 different hot dogs, with different toppings and salads. The place is small but has several tables on the firsts floor, where you sit a lot more comfortable than downstairs, and where there is a small terrace when the weather allows it. Closed on Sunday and Monday.