Shopping in Bruges
Bruges is hardly a Mecca for shoppers; the city might have a healthy mixture of independent and high street retailers, but the choice fails to rival that of nearby Brussel or Antwerp and prices are high, thanks to the hordes of tourists visiting the city. There are a range of designer boutiques, high street brands and local markets scattered throughout the city, not to mention numerous chocolatiers selling their delicious wares around the Old Town.
Bruges is also famous for its production of lace goods, which can be found in specialist shops and local markets. There are about 80 lace shops in the city.
The main shopping areas in Bruges are situated between 't Zand and Markt Square, Steenstraat, Geld Montstraat and Jakobstraat are the main retail arteries of the city, with other streets lined with shops leading off from these.
On Wednesday morning, there’s a great food market in the Markt Square, while ‘t Zand Square is a great place to pick up bargain clothes on Saturday. The Fish Market across the canal from Burg Square trades from Tuesday to Saturday and there’s a brilliant flea market on the Dijver Canal at the weekend.
The big chain stores are concentrated on Steenstraat, while Noordzandstraat features numerous boutique outlets.
Opening hours for shopping in Bruges are generally 1000-1800.
Bruges claims to be the world capital of chocolate and it’s hard to argue otherwise. The city is home to a plethora of chocolatiers (good examples include ‘t Kanthuisje at Breidelstraat 5 and Chocoladehuisje at Wollestraat 15), which lure many a sweet-toothed tourist in with their seductive displays. You get a whiff of nostalgia as your chocolate is weighed and packaged, although locals will tell you that the stuff you get in the supermarkets is just as good and a fraction of the price.
For an authentic taste of Bruges, visit the Old Town’s only working brewery, De Halve Maan (Half Moon), where you can pick up bottles of the local brew. An admirable selection of Belgium beer can also be found in the city’s off licenses or at 't Brugs Beertje (Kemelstraat 5).
If you’re looking for souvenirs, don’t miss the fabulous Quartier Bricolé (Langestraat 50). Renovated in 2008, this quirky shop promotes traditional Flemish craftsmanship and sells locally made knickknacks. The city’s markets are also good for arts and crafts, including the lace goods that Bruges is famous for manufacturing.
Sales tax in Bruges is 21% and can be refunded to non-EU citizens by shops affiliated to Global Refund. Participating shops will issue a Global Refund cheque, which should be stamped at customs.