Shopping is a delight in Bruges; all types of shoppers are catered for and each shop is housed in a unique building. There are plenty of cafes to refresh yourself, take a break and to use the toilets. Most shops also offer a free gift wrapping service if requested.
Perhaps you love to browse and buy the latest designer fashions and shoes;
You will find many designer shops in the main shopping street Steenstraat that runs from the Market square to the Zand square or the parallel street the Geldmuntstraat, which runs from the Eirenmarkt to the Zand square.
If you like ‘designer’ fashions but not the price tags then there is a large branch of C & A in the ‘Steenstraat’, offering affordable clothing for all the family. This is the Dutch chain that no longer trades in the UK.
For those of you not interested in fashion, there are many charming lace or tapestry shops in the little streets, where they sell an amazing variety of lace products from bookmarks to christening robes. They make a really unique souvenir and are easy to pack and carry home. There is also a Lace museum – see Museums.
If you are a serious souvenir hunter then you are well catered for – everything from T shirts to fridge magnets. These shops also sell post cards (ask for stamps at the same time) and guide books and maps.
The book shops are worth a browse too with a good selection of books in English, or maybe you would like to take a small antique home.
Last but not least of course is CHOCOLATE!! You have to try some Belgian chocolates — they are so special.
They are called ‘pralines’ and are taken seriously here! The chocolate shops are a delight to visit; the chocolates appear in all shapes and sizes and come beautifully gift packaged. At certain times of the year you will find extravagant window displays depicting scenes – all in chocolate! Just remember that pralines have nuts in them (in case of an allergy). Also bear in mind that some of the fillings are made with fresh cream — these may not travel so well and may have to be eaten immediately!!! Some shops sell a cool bag to keep them fresh.
If you want to learn more about the history of chocolate then there is a Chocolate museum (see Museums)
Every Wednesday morning there is a market on the Market square from early morning till around lunchtime. It sells fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs, cheese, eggs, charcuterie (hams etc) and even cooked chickens! It is a very colourful sight in the shadow of the Belfort tower,
On Saturday mornings in the Zand square (and adjoining square) there is a more general market with clothes, shoes, toys as well as food.
If you like browsing for antiques and collectables then head for the Dijver at weekends where stalls set up beside the canal, or your trip may coincide with one of the many 'fairs' or 'rommelmarkts', where people sell and buy trash and treasure. Often they are neighbourhood events with a beer tent, food and live entertainment.