After arriving in Bruges following a 4-hour bus journey from the Netherlands, the first thing I did was start visiting the greatest chocolate shops in Bruges. This is generally reserved for after you’ve visited the obligatory castles and museums, but my trek was for one reason: Belgium chocolate. A buddy I interviewed in India used to work at a Bruges chocolate store, and his previous workplace is still reputed to be the source of the greatest chocolate in Brugge (see below).
The northern city (pronounced brooj and also called Brugge in Flemish) is one of Belgium’s most well-known tourist attractions, noted for its outstanding waffles and French fries, as well as museums and castles on every corner. As waffles and pommes frites are must-tries in Belgium, so is chocolate, which has gained international acclaim owing to a few entrepreneurial national firms. This list does not include any of Bruges’ (many) Neuhaus, Leonidas, Galler, or Godiva stores.
Even though they are undoubtedly the most well-known Belgian chocolate brands, they are far from the greatest. In fact, I believe practically everything they offer is mass-produced garbage, albeit Brussels isn’t much better. So I went out to see which ones they were. I visited 20+ chocolate stores in Brugge (and almost passed out a few times), but I eventually whittled it down to 15 places worth seeing on your trip. These are the winners (I’ve highlighted my three favorites)!
- 1 In Bruges, Belgian Chocolate
- 2 Chocolate Stores in Bruges
- 2.1 *The Chocolate Trail
- 2.2 The Brothers Chocolate
- 2.3 The Chocolatier Pol Depla
- 2.4 The Old Chocolate Factory
- 2.5 Chocolate Kisses
- 2.6 The Chocolate Store & Bar Olivers
- 2.7 Brown Sugar’s Marzipan & Nougat Store
- 2.8 The Chocolate Museum in Bruges
- 2.9 *Bruges, Marcolini
- 2.10 Pralinette
- 2.11 *The Crown of Chocolate
- 2.12 Dumon, the Chocolatier
- 2.13 Chocolates and Joy
- 2.14 Sweet, Sweet Home
- 2.15 Tine & Serge, Truffelhuisje Brugge
- 3 Bruges Chocolate Stores Map
In Bruges, Belgian Chocolate
But first, a little reminder. If you are unfamiliar with Belgian chocolate, which officially refers to any chocolate sold in Belgium, there are a few things you should know before purchasing. To begin with, Bruges’ chocolate stores are often close together and walkable. Strangely, despite their proximity, I discovered more diversity in Brugge than in Brussels. A buddy also suggested I go to Chocolatier M, which is a little outside of the city, but it snowed so heavily every day I was there that I never made it out of Bruges proper.
In the north, where Brugge is located, people speak a version of Dutch known as Flemish, whilst in the south, everyone speaks French. One of the reasons Belgian chocolate has become so well-known is because the renowned Belgian chocolatier Neuhaus (pronounced noy haws) produced the praline in the late 1800s and started selling it in enormous numbers across the world. Pralines are known as bonbons in France and abroad. Yet, I discovered that this is not a widely used phrase in Belgium, especially in French-speaking districts in the south.
Even at the most renowned boutiques, Belgian pralines are virtually always sold by weight. If you simply want a few pralines, the price is usually per piece, with a maximum of 3 or 4 before pricing flips to a weight-based system. Raspberry candy (cuberdon), eggnog (advocaat), manon (fresh cream with pralin), and speculaas are some unusual tastes I discovered at Brugge chocolate shops (spiced cookie).
Another surprise aspect of the Bruges chocolate scene is how bad the majority of the chocolate is. People often want to support tiny family companies when traveling, which I completely endorse, however most chocolate stores in Belgium utilize couverture chocolate. Large chocolate makers make this sort of chocolate from cocoa beans or cocoa mass, resulting in a bland taste and, at best, doubtful cacao provenance.
This chocolate basic material is nearly usually sourced from large businesses, who are more concerned with profit margins than small-holder farmers. Try visiting The Chocolate Line, a tiny bean-to-bar chocolate boutique in Bruges that makes all of its chocolate from cocoa that they import themselves (as opposed to importing the finished chocolate). Further information about them may be found in the Bruges chocolate tour, but no matter which store you visit, remember to be interested!
Belgium’s various chocolate brands and producers have earned the country’s status as a renowned chocolate destination throughout the years. Nonetheless, many manufacturers are capitalizing on this. My rule of thumb is that pralines that arrive in a prepackaged bag will most likely taste like sugar and plastic. Make sure you’re constantly picking flavors you like, and if you can watch them making the fillings for the pralines and truffles, that’s even better. Now for the good stuff: chocolate! All stores are listed approximately in order of appearance as you approach old town.
Chocolate Stores in Bruges
*The Chocolate Trail
This bean to bar chocolate producer has become rightly renowned for their wide array of delectable cocoa-based goods, making them one of the most famous chocolate stores in Bruges. The majority of consumers come for their chocolate bars and bonbons, as well as their allergy-friendly chocolates. Nevertheless, they also offer chocolate messages, personalized chocolates, and gigantic boxes with over 100 bonbons along the rear wall of their store area. For those really huge parties, you know.
Since they make bean to bar chocolates, when you bite into one of their pralines, you can taste the cocoa solids and lipids in the chocolate, as well as the smoothness of the milk. The experience of eating bonbons from here vs other chocolatiers in Bruges was radically different, in a really delightful manner.
Their chocolates are around the same price as those of the other Bruges chocolatiers on our list, but their flavor combinations are some of the most inventive, and their execution is without a doubt the greatest. This is the first place I’ll go in Bruges for chocolate.
19 Simon Stevinplein, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Daily hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (opens at 10:30am on Sun. & Mon.)
The Brothers Chocolate
This was one of the few places I went where there was a queue! Although they do sell bonbons in a variety of bundles, it is evident that this is a place where most customers pick individual flavors to create their own bag. Apart from the bonbons, they sell hot chocolate spoons and other confections, but since they only accept cash, most customers stick to the pralines and truffles.
Their bonbons are unique in that they provide single origin ganache alternatives, despite the fact that they are not a bean to bar chocolate business. Tasting the bonbons I purchased, they are not unduly sweet, but the described tastes and tasting notes, especially in the single origins, are pretty bland. If I wanted a pick-me-up sweet treat, I’d purchase a nut-based bonbon from here, but I wouldn’t travel out of my way for it.
Mariastraat 34, 8000 Brugge, Belgium.
Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Chocolatier Pol Depla
Pol Depla employs the same chocolate source as The Chocolate Brothers (see above), but with one crucial difference: next door, they have a gorgeous waffle and coffee business that utilizes their chocolates and sells pieces from their store. Although I suggest visiting their main store if you have a strong taste for any specific flavors, their waffle shop outlet offers an adequate range and even utilizes their chocolate in their waffle topping. Overall, their flavor variety is decent, but not the best or worst in town.
Located in Mariastraat 20, 8000 Brugge, Belgium.
Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Old Chocolate Factory
The Chocolate House most closely resembles an antique Belgian chocolate house from the 17th or 18th century. The attic is devoted to a hot chocolate business, while the ground level is dedicated to a lengthy line of bonbons. Apart from the praline display, there is a huge selection of molded chocolates, honeys, chocolate-covered sweets, and candied confections.
I had quite high hopes of The Old Chocolate House after the highly professional display of the chocolates (and from the personnel). But I only finished one of the four bonbons I purchased; everything was too sugary and flat, with each taste falling short of expectations. The pralines I sampled were all incredibly sugary, which worked nicely for just one of the tastes. The hot chocolate, on the other hand, smelled delicious.
The address is Mariastraat 1a, 8000 Brugge, Belgium.
Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This was the first chocolate store I managed to sneak into in Bruges. I believed I was home when I saw the handcrafted marzipan slides, trays of truffles, and packs of pre-packaged chocolates. Then I entered a second room filled with bonbons and other various delights, such as candy canes, ale, and hot chocolate spoons, and realized I’d stumbled into a portrayal of tradition.
During a brief talk with the proprietor, I learned that they manufacture their confections from Callebaut couverture, which is probably better than most of the chocolatiers in Brugge. There is room in the rear of the store for perhaps a dozen individuals to sit and enjoy a Belgian waffle or a hot chocolate and some truffles. The truffles are very sweet, with soft cream cores in some and solidified ganaches in others. These taste like candy, but I wouldn’t purchase them again.
Wijngaardstraat 20, 8000 Brugge, BelgiumAddress: Wijngaardstraat 20
Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Chocolate Store & Bar Olivers
Olivers, located just off the main plaza, is well-known for its chocolate letters, bagged chocolate pieces, and bundles of pre-selected pralines, as well as a variety of shaped and molded chocolates. When I was there, the bulk of customers had come for hot chocolate or coffee, which were made in the traditional manner of melting pure chocolate into steamed milk. But it was the massive bonbon assortment, which included several dozen kinds, that drew my attention. The tastes were good, despite the fact that they were rather sugary. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase them.
8000 Brugge, Sint-Amandsstraat 14, Belgium
Daily hours: 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Brown Sugar’s Marzipan & Nougat Store
Brown Sugar, a lesser-known chocolate store in Brugge, provides a large assortment of flavored marzipans and nougats, both chocolate-dipped and plain, as well as a selection of chocolates. Although the store itself is small and there is no seating, there is no lack of chocolate alternatives. I purchased some nougat and some chocolates, both of which were fairly sugary but generally tasty. When I return to the city, I’ll enjoy the best of both worlds at a reduced price by ordering a chocolate-dipped nougat.
Located in Mariastraat 21, 8000 Brugge, Belgium.
Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (open until 8pm Sat. & 7pm Sun.)
The Chocolate Museum in Bruges
This is Brugge’s renowned chocolate museum, which has two storeys of information about chocolate production and its history in Belgium. The bottom level has three rooms with chocolate history printed in Dutch, French, and English, a short movie detailing the history of chocolate, and a room with massive chocolate sculptures. Therefore, you should begin your trip by going upstairs.
The current narrative of chocolate starts on the third level, if you follow the directions on the sheet provided to you when you arrived (along with a chocolate bar). The Brugge chocolate museum covers an astounding amount of known history, starting with Mayan civilizations and cacao, and ending with Europeans spiriting away the good. At the conclusion of the tour, you may observe a demonstration of tempering and molding chocolates on the first level, while personnel pass around various sources of Belcolade brand chocolate pastilles.
To be honest, everything seems to be sponsored by Belcolade, yet their history is rather recent. The museum is not wheelchair accessible. Yet, despite the fact that the top level is primarily devoted to a documentary on how Belcolade makes their chocolate and obtains their cocoa, this is one of the nicest chocolate museums I’ve ever seen. Adult admission is 9.5 EUR.
Wijnzakstraat 2, 8000 Brugge, Belgium.
Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This Brussels-based Maitre Chocolatier is impossible to overlook. Each of their establishments sold 15 different varieties of bonbons in bags or pre-cooked options in boxes along each wall. Their macarons, chocolate spread, and thin chocolate bark are just a few of the items available at the Bruges location I visited.
The bonbons themselves are excellent, with largely distinct tastes and higher-quality chocolate than other Bruges chocolate stores. Nevertheless, not every scent came through clearly, and I’d purchase his caramel and flowery tastes again before any others.
Steenstraat 10, 8000 Bruges, Belgium.
Hours: 1pm-7pm, Friday-Sunday
When I went in the winter, they had chocolate-dipped waffles for sale at the entryway, which was a nice fragrance to come in from the cold. Regrettably, it is when the thrill for me peaked. They sell many of the same molded chocolate goods as other chocolate stores in Brugge, as well as over four dozen unique and imaginative chocolate tastes.
I was underwhelmed with the flavoring quantities in each of their treats after sampling numerous intriguing and different tastes. Some were extremely powerful, while others were quite subtle, and it was really hit or miss, but I’d still return for the various tasting bonbons in a big assortment.
Wollestraat 31, 8000 Brugge, Belgium.
Daily hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
*The Crown of Chocolate
To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for this riverfront business. It seems to be identical to the others, boasting about their handcrafted Belgian chocolates, and they have the required smattering: chocolate bars, nougat pieces, waffles, chocolate sauces, chocolate-dipped fruits and nuts, and a dozen types of bonbons in each sort of chocolate.
Tasting my chocolates as I left, I found the bonbons to be tasty and rich, and while being on the sweet side, I was satisfied with each one I purchased. It was a delightful surprise in and of itself. The caramels are exceptionally wonderful, created in the French cooked sugar technique, with a rich taste that isn’t too sweet.
8000 Brugge, Belgium Huidenvettersplein 13
Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Dumon, the Chocolatier
This is one of Brugge’s most renowned chocolatiers, and the exterior of their store is perhaps one of the most photographed spots in the city. Their bonbon variety is very substantial, maybe two dozen, although their store is one of the smallest in town. It’s worth noting that, unlike the majority of the other stores, none of their flavors are labeled.
You must either request that a family member at the counter choose an option for you or name them all separately (I opted for the latter). But I hope you’re fluent in French or Flemish! The chocolates themselves are OK, with the sweet milk chocolate being my favorite, but nothing spectacular; I don’t get the hoopla.
Eiermarkt 6, 8000 Brugge, Belgium.
Wednesday-Monday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (closes at 5pm Sun.)
Chocolates and Joy
I had great expectations for this exquisite collection of chocolates based on the trendy pink-painted exterior. In truth, I stumbled into this store totally by chance, but most of the bonbons fell flat, with the exception of the Earl Grey, which I would purchase again in a heartbeat.
They do, however, sell beer-shaped chocolates and numerous molded chocolates styled like high heeled shoes. If you’re already here to get one of those lovely kitschy objects, I’d get a bag of mini treats, but I’d get the cookies before the pralines.
Located at Wollestraat 16, 8000 Brugge, Belgium.
10 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesday-Monday
Sweet, Sweet Home
In terms of the sheer quantity of different chocolate items, Home Sweet Home has the most in Bruges. There isn’t much you can’t find here, from sugar-free chocolate bars to chocolate-dipped almonds and boozy truffles. Their range also includes pre-packaged and self-selected bonbons, as well as over a dozen types of nougat.
Along the rear wall, there are multiple dispensers of flavored chocolate-covered nuts, which are offered by the bag, similar to their cookies and caramels. Their liquor-filled chocolate variety, as well as an open-air industrial area, can be found at the far rear. The bonbons themselves are on the sweet side, but the flavors are simple and diverse. If someone gave me a box of these, I’d probably eat the majority of them.
Address: 8000 Brugge, Belgium, Katelijnestraat 34
Daily hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tine & Serge, Truffelhuisje Brugge
The display full with truffles originally pulled me into this business. It’s a terrific marketing strategy, and it’s typical in Belgium, yet it’s still amazingly successful. Within, they keep a smaller selection of bonbons and an assortment of boxed truffles and chocolate-covered goodies. My favorite part is that they also offer phallic and other sexy molded chocolates; if this concerns you, don’t bring your children in.
The proprietor is quite informed about the history of chocolate in Belgium, as well as the significance of Belgian chocolate in the worldwide market. But, I didn’t like for their pralines. All four of the varieties I tested were very sugary and scented with oils or pre-made mixtures, to the point where the look is there but the taste is absolutely missing. I’d return to study more history, but just as a courtesy purchase a penis chocolate.
8000 Brugge, Sint-Amandsstraat 3, Belgium
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday-Tuesday.
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