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Bruges on Any Budget

From beer pipelines to nun-guided tours, here's how to balance your budget in this Belgian city.

Craft beer

De Halve Maan

De Halve Maan

De Halve Maan ($$$)
This 100-year-old brewery might have relocated to the suburbs had it not built a three-kilometre-long beer pipeline under ancient cobbles to its out-of-town bottler. Take a €9 tour to the steel kettles and rooftop chimney, and enjoy a complimentary half-pint of the cloudy, almost citrusy-sour Brugse Zot blond.

Walplein 26, 32-50-44-42-22, halvemaan.be

 

De Kelk ($)
A young, music-obsessed crew recently gave this art nouveau bar a spit-shine, bringing in reclaimed highway lighting and modern wood stools that get pushed aside when live garage bands take the stage. Prop up the marble-topped antique bar and sip a local small-batch brew like the light, white De Witte Zwaan.

Langestraat 69, 32-487-24-41-03, dekelk.be

Designer chocolate

Depla

Depla

BBYB ($$$)
Michelin-starred chef Bart Desmidt’s mini chocolate bars come as Kit-Kat-shaped segments in colour-coded packs. The shop’s white-brick facade opens into a minimalist space, with the colour guide to the 22 flavours, including passion fruit-basil and crème brulée, displayed on the wall.

Sint-Amandsstraat 39, 32-14-49-02-47, bbyb.be

 

Depla ($)
This confiserie also bucks Bruges’ tradition of twee chocolate-box shops with its sleek glass case displaying pansy-covered pralines and chocolate-flake mousse truffles that are almost too pretty to eat. Friendly staff will talk you through the stacks of bonbons, but don’t miss the fresh-baked goods, like chocolate-dipped Florentines.

Mariastraat 20, 32-50-34-74-12, poldepla.be

Churches

English Convent

English Convent (Photo: Elvir Tabakovic)

Church of Our Lady ($$$)
You can use this Gothic cathedral’s 115-metre tower as a beacon from anywhere in Bruges. The whole building took two centuries to build and the robust Belgian masonry shows why. Inside is a museum with the only Michelangelo sculpture in the Low Countries: the Carrara marble Madonna and Child (tickets are €6).

Mariastraat, 32-50-44-87-11

 

English Convent ($)
Ring the courtyard bell after 2 p.m. (except on Fridays and Sundays) and a resident nun will appear to guide you through this 17th-century abbey’s chapel, free of charge. You’ll hear about the founding sisters who fled England during the Reformation and Thomas More, one of whose vertebra sits in the reliquary.

Carmersstraat 85, 32-50-33-24-24, the-english-convent.be

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