6 Best Places to Shop in Bruges and the Coast, Belgium

't Apostelientje

In the early 20th century, there were some 47,000 lace makers in Belgium, and 70% of them worked in Bruges. The city has a proud history of lace making, and 't Apostelientje, which was established some three decades ago, sells intricate handmade pieces and beautiful antique lace gems, sometimes even framed.

Chocolaterie Spegelaere

Famed for its charming "chocolate grapes" (marzipan- or praline-filled chocolate balls wired to look like a bunch of grapes), Spegelaere is something of an institution. Despite this, few tourists make it out to the shop, which lies in the edge of the historic center, so grab yourself a "chocolate cobblestone" and congratulate yourself on finding a gem.

Depla Chocolatier

This old-timer has been in the historic center since the late 1950s and remains Bruges's oldest artisanal chocolatier to make its chocolate on the premises. It's especially famed for its chocolate swans, filled with a mix of praline and gruut (herbs more common in brewing beer), and lacy traditional kletskoppen biscuits.

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Artisan jewelers Nicolaas and Natalie craft exquisite rings from their shop-workshop on Ezelstraat, which has become something of a haven for handmade goods in Bruges.

Maud Bekaert

Since medieval times, Bruges has been a center for calligraphy and letters—a tradition carried on in the studio-cum-shop of Maud Bekaert, a talented local artist and calligrapher whose gifts, inscriptions, and letters make for a fine souvenir.

The Chocolate Line

For chocolate filled with unusual flavors like Japanese wasabi or crisp beetroot, head to this self-proclaimed "shock-o-latier," which first opened in Bruges. Try the chocolate lipstick or "chocolate shooter"—a bizarre device created to catapult a cocoa-herb mixture up your nostrils, essentially having you inhale it. The shop here also recently expanded to include a "from tree to bar" exhibition, letting you see the chocolate-making process from start to finish, by gazing over into the open kitchen.