Top Vintage and quirky places to visit when in Bruges

Bruges has to be one of the prettiest cities we have ever visited.  It is compact enough to wander without the need for Transport.  We visited using the Eurostar to Brussels and then by train to Bruges.   On arrival at the station there is probably no need to book a taxi if your hotel is in town as you only need to head towards the spires you can see from the station.  Travel light as you want to save room to fill your bags with chocolate for the return journey.


There are maps placed around Bruges which makes navigation easy, although they are deceiving as the scale makes the city seem much bigger than it is.  You think somewhere is quite a distance only to stumble upon it easily. The belfry, the huge spire in the middle of town where you can climb the 366 steps for a view of the city, makes a good focal point to get your bearings.  (we would suggest climbing it before you start on the chocolate, beer or waffles). Our top places in no particular order were:

1.   Madam Mim, Hoogstraat 29.


This little shop is filled with vintage treasures beautifully displayed by Madam Mim.  It is in a street which has other shops with vintage items but those shops just do not seem to have the same eye for display.  The shop is a lesson in how to make vintage look inviting.  The carefully curated store includes vintage alongside hand crafted items.  We loved browsing the shelves and bought some vintage matchboxes and pretty hand painted handkerchiefs for a euro apiece.

2.  The basilica of the Holy Blood.


The 12th-century basilica is tucked away in the corner of Burg square and consists of a lower and upper chapel. The lower chapel is a dark structure that remains virtually unchanged. The venerated relic, a phial said to contain the blood of Christ  is in the upper chapel, which was rebuilt in the Gothic style during the 16th century and renovated multiple times during the 19th century.   it is not to everyone’s taste but we loved that every surface was decorated and full on OTT.   The phial of blood is brought out at cetrain times only and can be viewed by approaching the altar and paying a donation.

3.  In Bruges


Despite Colin Farrell’s character hating Bruges in the film, “In Bruges”, the town has taken the film to heart.   We spent some time trying to find locations before we realised that if you visit the tourist information centre in the main Markt square, they have a brochure with a map of some of the main locations of the film listed.   You can visit these and tick them off on the map.   And Instagram away… Every photo is a winner with such quaint houses and streets.


4. Vintage books and paper ephemera at The Old curiosity shop


we stumbled upon a tiny shop in one of the side streets, a real treasure trove of vintage postcards, books and papers.   The shopkeeper was lovely and offered to search for a vintage photo album for us from his collection at home if we returned the following day.   The shop was stacked to the rafters with old books and cards from victorian era upwards.   Sadly the shop seemed badly heated and damp so a lot of the items are getting ruined,  this shop appears to be the result of a private collection getting out of hand (we know the feeling).   I do hope people buy a lot of this stuff before the damp and cold renders it useless.   There are some great paper items for scrap booking or crafts and photographs that deserve to be saved.

 5 Nightlife
we searched the internet for ideas for nightlife and came across Retsins lucifernum.  A museum and art gallery by day, home to a “self proclaimed vampire artist “according to some reviews.
We rang the bell with trepidation as we stood outside the scaffolded crumbling grandiose building. We were greeted by a sombre dapper mr retsin dressed in his finery On entering we were encouraged to browse the house which was dimly lit and filled with creative and colourful but disconcerting paintings. The grand building had obviously seen better days but is testament to a lovingly curated collection of strange objects. I don’t think I have ever been quite so scared at an art exhibition. Warning my husband against splitting up at any cost, we descended the cold dark stairs with our breath visible in front of us in the bitter cold of the unheated house with classical music blazing out. I am not going to reveal anymore but suffice to say that I don’t think I will ever have a similar experience to this ever again….. I can’t wait to return.   (ghostly laughs ring out…)
in the day time there are plenty of tea rooms and cake shops to make use of, if you don’t mind being filled with cakes as well as beer and chocolate…
in summary, Bruges is quaint, amazing, tiny enough to wander and big enough to keep you entertained.  Look carefully at the buildings for quirky details such as the Virgin Mary in alcoves on houses and railings and door knockers with swan heads and the mascot bear.  Beers galore (try the cherry flavoured Kriek beer) And stop in any of the tiny bars that are small and cosy as if people have opened their front rooms to visItors, Bruges makes you feel like a local.

3 thoughts on “Top Vintage and quirky places to visit when in Bruges

  1. I watched In Bruges for a 2nd time before I went and couldn’t get that haunting piano theme out of my head when I was there. I did wonder where the hotel they stayed in was – I’ll have to get the brochure and do the walk next time I’m there.


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