While perhaps not on par with that of London or Paris, the restaurants in Bruges offer wonderful variety to suit all tastes and budgets. On one end, the scene has Michelin-starred establishments such as De Karmeliet and Den Gouden Harynck, and at the other there are humble shopfront vendors serving up delicious local specialities such as fricadellen and frites (chips or french fries dipped in mayonnaise). Other typical Belgian dishes include moules-frites (mussels and chips), waterzooi (a rich chicken and vegetable stew) and tomate-crevette (a hollowed-out tomato stuffed with prawns and mayonnaise).
Belgian beer is also considered among the best in the world, and local varieties are brewed in a range of styles to pair with certain dishes; waiters will be happy to recommend something.
One important thing to remember about dining in Bruges is always to leave room for dessert. Belgium is well known for its delectable chocolate, often considered the standard by which even Swiss chocolate is measured. Delicate seashell pralines cap off any meal spectacularly. Foodies who have a bit more stamina should be sure to try a light and crispy Belgian waffle, dusted with powdered sugar and served with whipped cream and strawberries.
Though shopping in Bruges isn't quite the luxury sport as found in Brussels or Antwerp, visitors to the city will find plenty of eclectic boutiques, markets and shops to occupy them.
A number of upmarket shops and boutiques are scattered around the city on streets such as Noordzandstraat, Zuidzandstraat and Geldmuntstraat, and around the Markt. Bruges also has a few good markets, including daily markets on the Markt. The Antiques and Flea Market enjoys a picturesque location along the canal on the Dijver, and has a good selection for bargain-hunters.
While not known for fashion, Bruges has a long tradition of lace-making that goes back centuries. While much of it is now machine-made, there are beautiful examples of lacework available in traditional styles, including bloemenwerk, rozenkant and toversesteek.
By far the most popular souvenir from Bruges, though, is chocolate. With more than 40 chocolate shops around the city, visitors will be hard-pressed to leave Bruges without a box of pralines tucked into their luggage.