Bruges has always been one of the most visited places in Belgium, but the movie “In Bruges” with actors Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson most certainly gave it a boost. Directed by Martin McDonagh, “In Bruges” is a black crime/comedy movie set in Bruges. It wasn’t such a big hit in the theaters, but it has acquired a cult status since its release and has become the best known of movies shot in Bruges (not that there are that any). A lot of the “In Bruges” locations are freely accessible places and most of them were already popular before the movie was shot there.
I was invited by Accor Hotels to spend a night in Bruges and as I’d already been to Bruges a couple of times, I thought it would be cool to make this a thematic trip and go in search of as many “In Bruges” locations as I could find. I didn’t expect the hunt to be hard, as I had this handy map from the tourism office of Bruges which marks all the “In Bruges” locations.
Indeed, it wasn’t hard to find the locations, but photographing them was a challenge! It poured two entire days. I ran around with my camera tucked under my rain jacket as if I had something to hide, and swiftly took it out each time I arrived at a spot where one of the movie’s scenes were shot – and shot that spot.
It would have been logical to follow the storyline when creating this list of “In Bruges” locations, so of course I didn’t do that. Instead, I listed the locations in an order that’s logical to walk them in if you’re coming from the train station so you can follow this post as an “In Bruges” tour when you visit the city. This way, I could also avoid giving away too much for those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet, but I can’t promise there aren’t any spoilers!
“In Bruges” locations… in Bruges
1. Minnewater Bridge
Let’s start near the end of the movie, shall we? The bridge at the Minnewater or “Lake of Love” is where you see Harry, Ken and Ray’s boss, arrive in the city to take matters into his own hands.
The Lake of Love got its name because of a local legend that goes back to the time that the Romans fixed their gaze on Gaul. Minna was meant to be wed to a man of her father’s choice, but she loved Stromberg, a warrior from another tribe. When Stromberg left to fight the Romans and Minna couldn’t hold off the wedding any longer, she fled into the woods. When Stromberg returned, he went to look for her, but Minna was exhausted and weakened. She died in his arms. To honor her, Stromberg built a dam in a lake and buried Minna in the dry part, after which he let the water flow again, creating the Minnewater. It is said that if you cross the Minnewater Bridge with your loved one, you two will love each other forever.
2. Gruuthuse Museum, Arentshof and Church of Our Lady
It’s the end of the film “In Bruges”. Ray lies wounded on the ground. He looks up and sees the Church of Our Lady and the Gruuthusemuseum. Right before he got there, he walked through a film set at the inner court of the Gruuthusemuseum, the Arentshof.
The Gruuthusemuseum is dedicated to everyday life in Bruges from the 15th to the 19th century. It’s currently under renovation, so best to keep an eye on the website to know when it will open again.
The Church our Our Lady dates back to the 13th century and holds a sculpture of Madonna and Child by Michelangelo, but there are plenty of other artworks to admire as well.
In the Arentshof you can find The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an artwork by Rik Poot.
O.L.-Vrouwekerkhof-Zuid, Arentshof, Gruuthusestraat
In return for a night out, Ray lets Ken choose what to do for a day. Ken wants to take in the cultural sights and one of the places they go to is the Groeninge Museum. Ray thinks most of the works are rubbish, but he does like Hieronymus Bosch‘s “The Last Judgement”.
The Groeninge Museum offers an overview of the history of Belgian painters, with a large focus on the Flemish Primitives. Check the website for up to date prices and opening times.
4. Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce
The 4-star Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce is the famous hotel in “In Bruges” where Ray and Ken are forced to share a room. The hotel is located by a corner of Rozenhoedkaai, a corner that’s easily one of the most photographed spots in Belgium. My dad even dedicated an entire photography session to it! In the film’s finale (spoiler alert!) Ray jumps from the terrace of this hotel onto one of the canal boats. Not all the hotel scenes were shot at the actual hotel, though. Some were shot on a set that looked less luxurious than the real hotel does.
The Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce is a stylish hotel, decorated with works by artists such as Matisse and Klimt. It often counts celebrities among its guests and has won several awards. Prices start at €195 for one night.
There are various companies offering these tours and they all depart from a different spot in the city. Here’s a list of places where you can embark:
- Huidenvettersplein 13
- Wollestraat 32
- Nieuwstraat 11
- Katelijnestraat 4
The canal tours in Bruges are very popular with tourists. Even with the awful weather during the days I was there, people were going on them, sitting under their umbrellas as the boats are open.
6. Koningin Astridpark
Also known as the “botanieken hof” by the locals or the “botanical garden”, the Koningin Astridpark is the spot where Ray goes to think about his life during the “In Bruges” park scene. Ken follows him there.
The Queen Astrid Park was a cloister garden until the French dissolved all religious communities in 1796. It then became a private property until the city of Bruges bought it in 1850 and turned it into a public park.
I’m surprised you don’t really see it, but it was pouring when I took this photo. I was completely drenched, half hiding under a bunch and quickly snapped two shots hoping one of them would be usable.
The Huidenvettersplein is the spot where the tanners used to work. Now, it’s a touristy square with restaurants.
From Monday to Saturday fresh fish is being sold under the colonnade at the fish market, but there are also craftspeople selling jewelry, paintings, scarves and other small items. The colonnade was specifically built for the fish market, that used to be held in the main market square but had to move because the people complained about the stench.
9. Jerusalem Church
There’s actually no mention of the Jerusalem Church in the movie. The church Ken and Ray visit on their “cultural day out” is the Basilica of the Holy Blood. However, the crew couldn’t film inside the actual Basilica and so the “In Bruges” church scene was shot inside the Jerusalem Church. The church dates back to the 15th century.
10. Jan Van Eyckplein
The square is named after painter Jan Van Eyck, who’s statue was first placed there, then moved to the Burg and then placed back there. When the statue was placed back, several houses on the square were restored as well.
Jan Van Eyckplein
11. ‘t Zwart Huis
12. Restaurant Cafedraal
Ray has a dinner date here with Chloe, a drug dealer. All seems to go well, but when Chloe goes to the bathroom, Ray knocks out a Canadian couple. Restaurant Cafedraal is where the “In Bruges” restaurant scene was shot. It’s a place that serves French-Belgian cuisine and works with local products.
13. Meestraat Bridge, Steenhouwersdrijk, Groenerei and Peerdenstraat
Later in the movie, Ray will run through the Peerdenstraat and along the Groenerei again when he’s being chased by Harry.
14. Market, Belfry and Breidelstraat
In the “In Bruges” tower scene, Ken climbs 366 steps of the Belfry all the way to the top while Ray waits downstairs. The Belfry is not only UNESCO World Heritage for being in the center of Bruges, but it’s also part of the group of Belgian Belfries that is declared as such.
Ken climbs the Belfry again at the end of the movie in the shooting scene with Harry, after having talked to him at the terrace of restaurant De Beurze on the other side of the market square. This scene was actually filmed in a studio as there was not enough space on the actual belfry to film it there.
Check out this post on the belfries of Belgium to learn more about the Belfry of Bruges.
15. Basilica of the Holy Blood
At the Basilica of the Holy Blood – or better, in the Jerusalem Church, as we saw – Ken wants to see where the blood is kept that’s supposed to be Christ’s. As said, the scene inside is actually shot at the Jerusalem Church, but we do get another glimpse of the Basilica when Ray is being chased by Harry at the end of the movie and they cross the Burg square.
There are more streets and spots that show up in “In Bruges”, like the Wijngaardplein and the train station, but not all of them are marked on the map. Then again, this list is a pretty good start for a walking tour, don’t you think?
Where to stay in Bruges
Quite a few “In Bruges” locations, right? And the best thing is that if you do this walk and visit all of these locations, you’ll have seen most of Bruges’ historical center. If you don’t want to rush it and take the time to visit some museums and go chocolate shopping and beer tasting as well, I recommend spending at least one night in the city. I definitely was glad I had my room at the Ibis Brugge Centrum! I was soaked after the first two hours of walking around in the rain and warmed up in my room for a while before heading out again.
The Ibis Brugge Centrum is located in the historical center of Bruges, just a 15-minute walk from the train station. It’s a rather basic hotel, but that can be expected as it’s one of the most budget-friendly hotels in the city. Prices start at around $84 for a night.
I used this map of the “In Bruges” locations and manages to see them all in a couple of hours. However, if you go into the museums and monuments, you can easily spend two days on this route – especially if you also do some chocolate tasting in between.
The train station of Bruges is just a 15-minute walk from the center, but I drove there as there’s a large parking lot next to the station which lets you park for €3.5/24 hours. Even if you stay longer, the cost is never more than €3.5 for 24 hours, so two days of parking there would only cost you €7.
I spent the night at the Ibis Brugge Centrum, located close to the Beguinage and just a couple minutes walking from the Church of Our Lady and other main sites.
Get a free walking itinerary for Bruges
I put together a big bad Bruges walk for you, including sights, activities and yummy places to stop along the way.
I was invited by Accor Hotels to spend the night at the Ibis Brugge Centrum. Know that I’ll always write honestly about all of my travel experiences.