Bruges: a shopping guide
It can be tempting to pack your bags to the brim with chocolates, but Bruges has plenty to offer those after a gift with a twist. The bijou town is also famous for its lacy confections. Swap doilies, frothy curtains and dinky handkerchiefs for saucy smalls from Hunkemöller. Comic book culture is big here: buy hard-to-find editions at De Striep or Den Elder, which sells vintage vinyl too. Don’t miss a browse of concept stores Mais Oui and Boetiek Ruth, which both stock up-and-coming Belgian designers. Short on time? Here are our top picks.
The best gifts to bring back from Bruges
Chocolate lipstick from the Chocolate LineSimon Stevinplein 19, 8000
This little number puts Bruges’ chocoholism to new use. What’s better than a mouth full of chocolate? One that tastes like it, too. Less Willy Wonka, more Wilhelmina, this sweet-treat boutique sells lipsticks made from the finest cocoa butter and origin chocolate. Wear it, smell it or add it to ice-cream, as the city’s most experimental chocolatier helpfully suggests.
Tankards and Kwak Ale from the Bottle ShopWollestraat 13, 8000
Belgians take beer as seriously as the French take Champagne. And, thanks to their fondness for re-fermenting, their brews share similarities with the bubbly French tipple. Familiarise yourself with lip-smacking local favourites at the Bottle Shop – and take home some amber-coloured Kwak Ale, plus a traditional tankard or two. Proost.
Lucullus cheese from De KaasbolleSmedenstraat 11, 8000
Worship at the altar of cheese at De Kaasbolle, which stocks a deliciously whiffy array of dairy treats. Dreamy options include the house-favourite Lucullus, tangy fetas and the cow’s milk Tartarin Cognac, studded with cognac-marinated Turkish raisins. Obliging staff carefully wrap purchases, so that they can journey home safely (and without offending fellow passengers’ nostrils).
Tin Robot bike helmet from Exceller BikesPhilipstockstraat 43, 8000
Add a dash of Euro-flash to your two-wheel commute by investing in a brand-new helmet. Exceller Bikes has an eye-catching stash of bikes, bike gear and accessories. There are plenty of natty numbers to choose from, including the cosmic-cool Tin Robot. Show it off on Bruges’s tranquil canalside paths before you head home.
Speculoos spread from JulietteWollestraat 31, 8000
Cookies: yes. Butter: yes. It was only a matter of time before cookie butter came on the scene. Speculoos spread stars cinnamon-laced Belgian holiday biscuits, crushed up and made spreadable thanks to lashings of delicious butter. Juliette bakery sells a lekkere jar of the stuff – plus original-format cookies galore.
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Image credits: © Alamy; © De Kaasbolle; © Exceller Bikes; © Robbe Boone; © Gagliardi Images - Shutterstock; © Getty; © Eurostar