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1 day in bruges

One Day in Bruges (Best Itinerary + Map)

  • December 26, 2023

One day in Bruges walking itinerary that covers all the tourist attractions (+ a map and tips on how to see Bruges on a day trip).

Bruges (Brugge in Dutch) is one of the most picturesque cities in Europe.

It is the perfect medieval fairytale destination for a weekend trip. Located in northwest Belgium, Bruges is the capital of West Flanders. The city is often called the Venice of the North because it’s crisscrossed by canals.

Charming squares with horse-drawn carriages, and picturesque canals lined with Gothic houses. Is there anything more to ask for?

One day in Bruges itinerary

This self-guided walking tour will show you the best of Bruges in 1 day. The itinerary is designed in such a way, that it’s suitable both for day-trippers and overnight visitors.

In fact, it’s an improved version of my Bruges one day itinerary that I followed when I visited the city in December.

Find a map of this Bruges itinerary (with all attractions and restaurants’ websites) at the end of the article.

Already have a hotel booked? See whether your hotel is in a good area in my guide to the best Bruges hotels on the canal .

One day in Bruges (the best day trip itinerary)

  • Start the day with breakfast at That’s Toast!

Visit the Church of Our Lady

  • Admire the facade of the Hospital of St. John
  • See the most picturesque bridge

Explore the Quay of the Rosary

Eat a waffle at house of waffles, admire the architecture at market square.

  • Climb the Belfry
  • Visit the City Hall and Liberty of Bruges
  • See the famous relic in the Basilica of the Holy Blood
  • Finish your one day in Bruges with a beer at ‘t Brugs Beertje

Have breakfast at That’s Toast!

09:00 AM – 10:00 AM Start your day in Bruges with breakfast at That’s Toast! or Li O Lait .

That’s Toast! offers a great variety of savoury and sweet toasts. We tried the Triple Madame and the Triple French toasts. Both were so good, that I regretted we had only 1 day in Bruges and won’t have time for another visit.

That's Toast! breakfast

If you prefer bagels with eggs for breakfast, then Li O Lait is your place.

10:00 AM – 10:30 AM Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) is a 14th-century church. Its tower is the second-highest brick tower in the world (122.3 metres high).

However, the most famous treasure of the church is the artwork Madonna and Child by Michelangelo. It was the artist’s only sculpture that left Italy before Michelangelo’s death.

The entrance is free, but you have to pay to see the Madonna and Child.

Church of Our Lady

Admire the facade of Hospital of St. John

10:30 AM – 10:50 AM The hospital of St. John (Oud Sint-Janshospitaal) is founded in the 12th century. This makes it one of the oldest surviving hospitals in Europe.

In the Middle Ages, it was a place, where nuns and monks were taking care of sick travellers and pilgrims. The exhibition features surgical and medical instruments as well as various religious artifacts.

Don’t visit the museum unless you’re interested in medieval medicine. Nevertheless, don’t miss to see the building from the outside. It’s a gorgeous red brick building with a lovely inner yard.

Hospital of St. John

See the picturesque Bonifacius Bridge

10:50 AM – 11:10 AM Bonifacius Bridge is one of the most picturesque places in the city. Despite its medieval look, the bridge is rather new dating from the early 20th century.

Bonifacius Bridge

11:10 AM – 11:40 AM Cross the bridge and continue towards the Quay of the Rosary (Rozenhoedkaai). Quay of the Rosary is the most photographed place in Bruges. Here the Groenerei and Dijver canals meet, creating a strikingly beautiful and romantic scene.

Quay of the Rosary

12:00 PM – 02:00 PM A trip to Bruges is not complete without waffles. So for a lunch, stop at House of Waffles . They have an extensive menu of waffles ranging from sweet toppings to heavy savoury options. We tried the ones with caramel and chocolate toppings.

House of Waffles

02:00 PM – 02:15 PM Market Square (Markt) is the heart of the Historic centre. A weekly market is held here since 958. The square is dominated by the Belfry tower, surrounded by colourful medieval houses and Gothic buildings.

Provinciaal Hof

Climb the Belfry of Bruges

02:15 PM – 03:00 PM Belfry of Bruges (Belfort van Brugge) is one of the most famous belfries in Belgium. During the Middle Ages, the town archives were kept here.

The top of the tower (83m) is accessible by a steep staircase. Be prepared to climb 366 steps to the top. Nevertheless, the view totally worth the effort.

Belfry of Bruges

Time for chocolate

03:00 PM – 03:30 PM Oliviers Chocolate Shop & Bar is a must for every chocolate lover. It’s a family-owned chocolate shop that offers more than 60 different chocolates and truffles! Don’t miss to try the hazelnut hot chocolate.

For cramique (traditional Belgian bread) and meringue cakes stop at Aux Merveilleux de Fred . It’s a fine bakery with an incredible chandelier.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred

Burg Square

03:40 PM – 03:50 PM Burg Square means castle square in Dutch. The square took his name from the castle that Baldwin I, Count of Flanders built here in the 9th century. It was a military fortress used for defence against the Normans.

Visit the City Hall

03:50 PM – 04:10 PM City Hall (Stadhuis) is the most impressive building on Burg Square. And it’s definitely worth to take a peek inside. It is possible to visit the Gothic hall and Historic hall. The entrance fee also includes access to the Liberty of Bruges.

City Hall

Liberty of Bruges

04:10 PM – 04:25 PM Liberty of Bruges (Brugse Vrije) is the city’s former law court. Today, the building houses the city archives. You can visit only the Renaissance hall where you can see the 16th century Charles V chimneypiece.

Liberty of Bruges

See the famous relic in Basilica of the Holy Blood

04:25 PM – 05:00 PM Basilica of the Holy Blood (Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed) initially served as a chapel of the Count of Flanders. It consists of a lower Romanesque church and an upper Gothic church. The latter houses a piece of cloth said to be soaked in the blood of Jesus Christ.

It’s free to visit the lower chapel, but there is an entrance fee to see the artifact.

Basilica of the Holy Blood

Dinner at Ribs ‘n Beer

For traditional Belgian food visit Gruuthuse Hof or In Den Wittenkop . Try the Flemish stew with fries or the mussels.

However, if you need a break from the Belgian food, go to Ribs ‘n Beer or Paul’s Boutique Brugge . Ribs ‘n Beer is a little out of the Historic Centre, but believe me, it is worth the walk. The “all you can eat ribs” come in two main variations – grilled and slow-cooked (with different sauces).

Ribs 'n Beer

I recommend booking a table in advance for all four restaurants.

Have a beer at ‘t Brugs Beertje

Finish the day with a glass of beer at ‘t Brugs Beertje . It’s an authentic beer pub with an excellent range of beers (over 300). If you like fruit beers, try Kasteel Rouge.

More ideas for your 1 day in Bruges

If you have more time, check out these tourist attractions.

Take a canal boat tour

See this magnificent city from a different angle by taking a boat tour. The canal boats run from March till the end of October. During the winter, the boats run only during the weekends (if the weather is not freezing). The trip lasts about 30min and costs €10 (only cash).

There are several companies to choose from. The starting points are Huidenvettersplein 13, Rozenhoedkaai, Wollestraat 32, Nieuwstraat 11 and Katelijnestraat 4.

Take a rickshaw tour

If you’re not into boats, take a rickshaw tour . It’s a great way to explore the city. Plus, the tour includes places that can’t be reached by boat.

Saint Saviour’s Cathedral

Saint Saviour’s Cathedral (Sint-Salvatorskathedraal) is the city’s oldest parish church. It’s a huge cathedral with beautifully coloured stained glass windows. Also, the church features a rich collection of Flemish paintings.

Saint Saviour's Cathedral

Lake of Love

Lake of Love (Minnewater) is a lovely park area with a lake, willow trees and swans. It’s the most peaceful and serene place in the city. Minnewater is perfect for a stroll or picnics. However, if you’re visiting the city in the winter, you’d better skip it.


If you’re interested in the history of chocolate and the methods of its preparation, then visit the Chocolate Museum. There are free chocolate samples and a chocolate-making demonstration at the end of the tour. Please note that the museum closes at 5 PM.

You can book tickets in advance here .

Torture Museum

Torture Museum (Foltermuseum De Oude Steen) is housed in one of the oldest prisons in Europe! The unique exhibition is quite shocking and intriguing. You can see on display all kinds of torture instruments and devices.

Torture Museum

Getting around in Bruges

You can find a detailed map of the itinerary here .

The historic centre is quite small and walkable. You won’t need public transport at all. You can download a city map here .

How to get to Bruges

Bruges is easily accessible by train from Brussels, Ghent or any major European city. The Central train station is about a 15min walk from the Historic centre. You can check timetables and book tickets online at SNCB official site .

If you’re arriving by car it’s best to leave it on the outskirts of the city. Many shopping streets are car-free during the weekends. The most convenient parking is at the Central train station (Chantrellstraat 42-62).

If you’re arriving from Brussels Airport, there is a direct train from the airport to Bruges. The journey is about 90min and it costs about €20.

Another option is by bus. FlixBus has several direct buses every day from the airport to Bruges. The journey is 2 hours, but the prices start at €5. The bus stops at Bargeplein, which is right next to the Central train station.

If you’re arriving from the Brussels South Charleroi Airport, there is only one direct option. The Flibco shuttle bus takes you directly to Bruges (2h journey).

Day trips from Bruges

If you’re interested in WWI this is a must. There were three major battles here and the city was almost completely destroyed in WWI. 

How to get to Ypres There is no direct train, so I recommend going by car or taking an organized tour.

Great War Flanders Fields Tour is the best option (for an organized tour). What I like about it is that the groups are small and the guide is very knowledgeable. The tour also includes the Menin Gate Memorial and the iconic poppy fields of Flanders.


Ghent is a small medieval city with a gorgeous castle. It’s a perfect destination for a day trip (find more information in my itinerary for a day trip to Ghent ).

How to get to Ghent The fastest way to get there is by train (20min journey). Take a train from Bruges train station to Gent-Sint-Pieters train station. From there you can take the tram (line 1) or walk 2km to the city centre.

It will take you about 50min by car.


Brussels is the capital city of Belgium. Again, it’s easier to get there by train (1h journey). Brussels can be done in a day (for the best experience follow my 1 day itinerary in Brussels ).

However, I would recommend you to stay at least one night. There are some interesting museums to visit and a lot of great restaurants. Plus, it’s a lot bigger than Bruges. 

How to get to Brussels Take a train from Bruges train station to Brussels Central train station. From there it’s a short walk to the historic attractions.

Antwerp is a medieval port city with a stunning cathedral. It’s a 1h 30min journey by train. It’s a better day trip from Brussels, but it can be done from Bruges, too.

If you plan to stay overnight, check out the best hotels in Antwerp city centre .

How to get to Antwerp Take a train from Bruges train station to Antwerp train station. The city centre is within walking distance from there. 

How many days in Bruges

Is one day in bruges enough.

1 day in Bruges is completely enough to explore its historic centre. If you follow this itinerary you can cover the main attractions only in a day.

Nevertheless, it’s worth staying at least one night to see the city at night time. The historic buildings are beautifully illuminated in the evenings. Plus, you can enjoy peaceful tranquillity and long walks along the canals.

If you plan to visit Bruges on a day trip from Brussels, take an early train at around 8 AM. There are trains every 20min and the journey is about an hour.

If you plan a trip around Belgium, divide your time between Brussels and Bruges. For example, stay 2-3 nights in each city. Then from Brussels, you can take a day trip to Antwerp. And you can easily reach Ghent from Bruges.

Best time to visit Bruges

Bruges is a very popular European destination for a weekend or day trip. Plus, the city is especially busy on weekends. Thus, if possible choose the weekdays for your vacation.

For sunny and warm weather, visit the city from May to September. The busiest period is July, August and of course Easter and Christmas.

Winters are not very cold with short daylight hours. During my visit in December, it was almost dark at 4 PM and the sun was rising after 8 AM. Nevertheless, December is a great time to visit Bruges because of the Christmas markets.

Practical information about Bruges

Belgium is a part of the Schengen Agreement (the European border-free area). So you don’t need a Belgium visa, but rather a Schengen visa. If your country is part of the Schengen Agreement, you’ll need only a valid passport or ID card.

The official currency of Belgium is the Euro. Although credit cards (mostly Visa and Mastercard) are widely accepted in Bruges, you’ll need cash. The smaller restaurants and merchants take only cash. Also, American Express is not popular and not accepted in most places.

Belgium has three official languages – French, German, and Dutch. Bruges is located in the Flemish Region of the country (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium). However, most of the people are fluent in English, too.

Belgium operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz. The associated plug types are C and E.

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About the author

The rickshaw tour we took was the perfect way to see the city. Our guide was very knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions!

Hi Hazel, Totally agree with you! The rickshaw tour is the best way to see the city.

I don’t see the “day in Brugge” map you refer to in your article… Where May of find that?

It is right at the beginning of the section – Getting around in Bruges (the first sentence after this title). Here is a direct link to the map , in case you still can’t find it.

Bonjour, hello Milena,

If you had to choose between doing a day in Bruges or doing a day in Ghent, which one would you choose and why? We will be coming from brussels. Thanks in advance!

Hi Christine,

If I had to choose between Ghent and Bruges, I’d definitely choose Bruges. The city is much prettier and more charming than Ghent with many beautiful buildings. In addition, Bruges offers more memorable attractions and the food is better.

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The Ultimate One Day in Bruges Itinerary for a Perfect City Trip

The gorgeous gothic city of Bruges, also known as Brugge in Flemish, looks like it’s stepped out of the pages of a fairy tale, with its medieval buildings and meandering canals. Most of the best things to see in Bruges are within short distance of each other- often within walking distance, so you’ll be able to do a lot in just one day in Bruges!

This 1-day Bruges itinerary was written by Zhen from Greedy Girl Gourmet .

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. Without costing you anything extra, the small commission will help me produce more free content for you. For more information, please refer to my  privacy policy .

Table of Contents

One Day in Bruges Itinerary

Europe gets hot in summer, so my favorite times to visit Bruges are spring or fall when the temperatures are slightly lower but with enough sunlight, allowing you to pack a lot in one day. Let me guide you through this itinerary for spending one day in Bruges!

Morning: Markt Square, Breakfast and Boats

Visit the market square.

I suggest starting your day at the iconic Market Square, where you can:

  • Marvel at the iconic 83-meter-tall Belfry Tower of Bruges (Belfort van Brugge), a UNESCO World Heritage Site tall enough to be seen from most parts of the city. Those who are more fit may want to climb the 366 steps up to the top to hear the bells ring from close-up, as well as get a bird’s eye view of the canals and surrounding buildings. However, note that the number of people allowed to do so is quite limited, so expect to queue for some time. (I highly recommend booking a ticket in advance.)
  • Admire the Provincial Court (Provinciaal Hof): in the 13th century boats could reach this building!
  • Try some of the famous Belgian waffles with a cup of hot chocolate.

If you’re in Bruges on a Wednesday, there has been a weekly market held at Market Square since 1985. You can check out some of the stalls, but it’s mostly fresh produce, so it may only interest those staying somewhere with an attached kitchenette for cooking. Market Square is also the meeting place for free walking tours, which is a fun way to spend a few hours in Bruges and hear some local insights into the city.

Embark on a Boat tour

Bruges is a very walkable city, but one of the best ways to see it is definitely by taking a boat tour through its waterways. Before 2016, you used to be able to see Fidel, the cutest golden retriever, hanging out or sleeping in one of the windows of Côté Canal but, unfortunately, he has since passed on.

However, you may still be lucky enough to see swans gliding by your boat, during the (approximately) 30-minute journey which will take you past many of Bruge’s most famous attractions, between Jan van Eyck Square and the Beguinage. The canals were built as part of the city’s old shipping industry and are now also UNESCO World Heritage sites. Along the way, the boat captains will share many anecdotes and fun facts about the city.

Where and when you can board a boat ride: Huidenvettersplein 13, 8000 Brugge (5 minutes from the Belfry.) The boat rides are available if you visit between early March and mid-November. During other times, their availability will be at the discretion of the boat companies.

Explore Burg Square

Just 3 minutes from Market Square is Burg Square , one of the oldest bits of the city center and where all the important decisions about Bruges are made. Even today, the city administration of Bruges still occupies the imposing, 14th-century Gothic Town Hall.

Here, you can visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig-Bloedbasiliek). The 12th-century church gets its interesting name from a religious artifact that is thought to hold a drop of blood from Jesus Christ. One of the best Gothic buildings in Bruges, the church is also free to enter (although if you want to visit the museum in the church, there is a fee). Admire buildings from every period of Bruges’ history: the medieval town hall, the neoclassical court of justice, or the baroque deanery. For lunch, there are waffle vendors here as well as many cafes and restaurants.

Afternoon: Chocolate museum, art museum and/ or Brewery Tour

Discover the chocolate museum.

As a chocoholic and Asian food blogger, visiting Choco-Story , the Chocolate Museum where you can learn all about the history and process of chocolate-making in Belgium is one of my favorite things to do in Bruges. And, of course, indulge in some of the freshly made sweet treats! I learned enough to make my own Matcha Nama Chocolate when I got back (click through for the recipe).

You can visit the museum alone or combine it with a workshop where you get to make your own chocolates . Together, the museum tour and class will take about 1.5 hours. Even if you don’t take part in a workshop, the tour itself ends with a demo and tasting session, which is included in the price. You will need to climb stairs in the museum, so it may be an issue for the elderly and less mobile. (My Asian travel blog, , focuses on traveling with elderly relatives, so I always take note of how accessible attractions are.)

Visit the Art Museum ( Groeningemuseum )

In the Groeningemuseum you can view six centuries of Flemish and Belgian art, from Flemish Primitive art to 18th and 19th-century pieces and modern artworks. (The historic collections are better than the modern ones though). Audio guides in various languages are available, but the information provided is quite sparse, so Google will be your best friend here. Enjoy seeing works by Jan van Eyck, Hans Mewling, Gerard David, and many other artists.

Depending on how much time you spent at the earlier attractions, you may or may not have time for a Brewery Tour . I’m not a huge fan of beer, but since we’re in Belgium , how can we not visit one of Bruges’ historic breweries? I recommend De Halve Maan Brewery (Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan) where you can sample local Belgian beers (even unfiltered ones) and learn about the brewing process from the past to the present day. The tour lasts for around 45 to 60 minutes.

For those of you who skipped walking to the top of the Belfry, you can also get a good view of the city from the brewery’s roof. The brewery also has a restaurant, so you can have an early dinner here to wash down the beer (the meat stew is great!). Like the Choco-museum, this brewery tour involves climbing steps- some quite narrow and steep- so consider yourself forewarned!

Evening: Stroll along the Quay of the Rosary

Take a stroll along the scenic Rozenhoedkaai (Quay of the Rosary.) Located beside the canal, this is a gorgeous spot where you can practice your photography skills and try to capture the sunset. If you didn’t grab a bite at the brewery’s restaurant, there are many eateries nearby where you can stop for dinner, or maybe grab some traditional Belgian frites (fries) from a local vendor.

Alternatively, you can visit first thing in the morning if you want to avoid the crowds. If you did that, you could visit Minnewater Lake , or the water of love, in the evening instead. This quiet park with over 3000 trees is about 15-20 minutes from the city center and a favorite place for lovers to take a stroll: it is said that despite its association with tragic romance, lovers who cross the bridge together will live happily ever after. Ironically, the lake is said to be named after a young lady Minna, who was in love with a warrior Stromberg but forced by her family to marry someone else. To escape a loveless marriage, she ran away and ended up dying in Stromberg’s arms.

What to Eat in Bruges

Some local specialties to try in Bruges are:

  • moules-frites (mussels and fries): there is even a Fries Museum in Bruges! Poules Moules is a popular place to eat this.
  • carbonade flamande : this Flemish beef stew cooked in beer is the perfect comfort food for winter and my favorite dish of the trip
  • chocolate : be sure to try the city’s own chocolate, the Bruges swan or Brugsch Swaentje.

Where to stay for one day in Bruges

The best place to stay for one day in Bruges would depend on your budget! The city is also close enough to Brussels and Ghent that you could stay at either place or train over. (I’d say yes to a day trip to Brussels but not to Ghent- Bruges is much prettier than Ghent, in my opinion.) If you decide to base yourself in Bruges, I highly recommend staying in the old city center (so much prettier.) Some hotels you can consider include:

The Dog House : if you’re traveling with your pooch or just a dog-lover, this dog-friendly, luxury bed-and-breakfast is perfect for you. Located very close to the center of Bruges- but not right smack in the middle of the madness- it has stylish interiors, an area for your best friend to chill, and an outdoor courtyard.

Grand Hotel Casselbergh Bruges : For those with a larger budget, go for this hotel that has historic charm but modern conveniences, such as a wellness center and hammam.

B&B Huis Koning : situated along Canal Reien, this charming adults-only bed and breakfast makes for a wonderful stay within easy distance of Grote Markt. They only have four rooms (AC-ed!) so you have to act fast!

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visit brugge in one day

The EPIC One Day in Bruges Itinerary for 2024 (& Map!)

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Is it worth spending just one day in Bruges? Is 24 hours enough time to see Bruges?

Coming from someone who looks for any excuse possible to be whisked away to a Belgian city, Bruges easily tops my list of my favorite cities not just in the nation, but in Europe as a whole!

After numerous visits, I’ve found that whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly vacation, the fairytale city of Bruges is the perfect destination. This historic city in Belgium is filled with beautiful architecture and picturesque canals that make it feel like an escape from the world.

Not only have I provided you with the best one day itinerary for Bruges, but also information on the best time to visit, numerous practical tips for your trip, and everything you need to know about where to stay, what to eat, and what to do!

With this ultimate guide in hand, you can be confident you’ll have the best insider tips before stepping foot in this medieval city.

Are you debating between Brussels and Bruges? Read my ultimate guide on how to choose between Bruges and Brussels to help settle your decision.

What Can You Do in Bruges for One Day?

If you only have one day in Bruges, be sure to walk along the canals during the evenings hours

Bruges, Belgium is a quaint little town that shines in all its glory with colorful historic buildings and winding canals.

It would take you weeks to explore the entirety of this city, so we have put together an ultimate one day in Bruges itinerary for those who want to see as much of it as possible even if you’re short on time!

There are many different things on offer when visiting such a beautiful spot, but here are some must-do’s when visiting Bruges as well as meal ideas and so on.

This itinerary starts in the morning and ends on an overnight in Bruges, so you may need to alter the itinerary slightly if you plan on arriving mid-day, or aren’t staying for a full 24 hours.

Just be sure to pay attention to where the attractions are if you decide to do them out of order so you don’t end up retracing your steps!

Morning – One Day in Bruges

These are the best things to do if you only have one day in Bruges

First off, breakfast . Now, if you’re like me, breakfast is a must on a day full of sightseeing and these two breakfast spots are sure to start your day off right.

Head down to Sanseveria Bagelsalon for delicious bagel breakfast sandwiches and coffee for the perfect on-the-go meal, or to Balthasar Brugge for an assortment of both modern and traditional Dutch breakfast dishes.

Depending on which month you visit Bruges, you may have to wait in line for some of the more popular tourist attractions. So, our next stop brings us to Market Square. Get up high by climbing the stairs of the Belfry Tower and witness panoramic views over the city of Bruges’ streets and gothic rooftops.

By doing this earlier in the morning, you’ll be rewarded with far fewer tourists in the tower itself as well as the streets, making for some pretty spectacular photos. On your return, start making your way through Market Square (it’s among the most popular places to visit in Bruges in one day).

Since we don’t recommend eating lunch here as it is almost always overpriced and tourist-quality food (a nice way of saying poor-quality… do NOT try the waffles here), it’s the perfect late morning start to check out the unique shops, architecture, and pick out a few museums you’d like to see! We suggest the Groeninge Museum .

Afternoon- One Day in Bruges

The Belfry Tower must be on your list of things to do during your one day in Bruges

Once you have finished exploring the square, we suggest checking out any museums or art galleries if that’s high on your list. Since you may need to wait in line for a while, you’ll want to make sure you get there early for the quickest entry.

✔️ Pro Tip : do some research before getting to Bruges on the museums and galleries you want to see, and find out when they open and if you can buy your tickets online. This will save you plenty of time during your one day in Bruges from standing in lines for excessively long periods of time!

Next, we’re moving towards Burg Square . Filled with old, vibrant buildings, plenty of shops, and the opportunity to take a horse and buggy ride, this area of the city is sizzling with culture.

After you’ve made your way through this bustling square, make your way over to the Church of our Lady Bruges ! This church is one of the most iconic landmarks in Bruges. The building itself dates back to medieval times when it was first built as a church for worshipers from all over Europe.

Nowadays, people flock here every day to enjoy its rich history while also posing with the statue that has graced its front entrance for over 100 years.

Once you’ve taken in all of these big sights and squares, it’s time for lunch! Looking for traditional Dutch food? Check out De Gastro or Sfeerbistro De Twijfelaar for spectacular Belgian cuisine. Looking for a vegetarian or gluten-free option? Check out Het Visioen !

visit brugge in one day

If you’d rather stick to just the sweet stuff like chocolate and waffles, I hear you. House of Waffles on Wollestraat St. is serving up the best homemade Belgian waffles with all the fixings and toppings you could want. They also have a menu of popular favorites for those looking to explore new flavors!

As for the best chocolate, it wouldn’t be a trip to Bruges without stopping at The Chocolate Line . They show you everything from how the cocoa bean is collected to how the chocolate bar is made, and offer one of the largest varieties of chocolates in the country! It’s easily one of the best things to do in Bruges in one day.

Afterward, be sure to check out the Choco-Story Museum which is dedicated to the world of chocolate.

Evening- One Day in Bruges

The evening hours are a lovely time for a boat ride during your one day in Bruges

Once you’ve had your fill of delicious Belgian favorites, we suggest taking a canal boat ride . They offer an exclusive Bruges experience of both the city, the bridges, and the canals, all while the driver tells you about the history of Bruges and the ancient buildings you’ll be gliding by.

They’re typically only about €10 per adult and €6 per child, and are a fun and exciting way of seeing the city! You won’t feel as though you’re missing out on anything since you’ll be both relaxing and sightseeing at the same time.

Last on our list is the Bruges City Hall . While you can take tours through here, we recommend just photographing the exterior unless you’re a true history enthusiast.

We also suggest visiting around sunset when the windows glow with a beautiful orange light! It’s the prettiest time to see this architecturally stunning building, so you won’t regret saving it for the end of your day.

Now, just because you’re technically done sightseeing, the evening doesn’t need to end there. We suggest heading to dinner at either Réliva , ONE Restaurant , or The Olive Tree Brugge .

While these are some of the top spots in the city, there are dozens of more places to grab a cozy, evening meal at a reasonable price. Just remember to avoid the main squares when deciding on a food spot!

To finish off your evening, hit a couple of local bars (I enjoyed the Halve Maan Brewery ) for a pint or two before walking back to your accommodation. Yes, you may be exhausted from all of the walking and sightseeing, but it really will be worth it.

This is the best time to enjoy an evening surrounded by the locals, which from our experiences, is the best time to truly get to know a new country’s culture. It’s funny the magic of a local pub, isn’t it?

This is our ultimate one day in Bruges itinerary, but if you have more time you’ll be able to see far more museums, find the more authentic souvenir shops , learn more about Bruge’s history with lacemaking, and more!

Map of One Day in Bruges Itinerary

The map below shows the most efficient walking course of our above itinerary, though you may want to do it slightly out of order if you plan on visiting places at the best times for tourist levels and time of day.

How to Get to Bruges

visit brugge in one day

If you’re coming from within Western Europe, it’s likely that the best and most scenic way of getting to Bruges is via the Eurail . The train is fast, affordable, convenient, and easy to use in comparison to flying and the train station is very easy to navigate.

However, if you’re coming from central or Eastern Europe, it will most certainly be faster to fly, and also may save you a little bit of money. Do some research on both before deciding which one is best for you.

If you’re coming from outside of Europe altogether, then you will have to take a plane to enter the Union. Keep in mind that you can choose to fly into other cities, then take the train to Bruges, as well!

Not only can this save you some money, but it can also give you the opportunity to explore some other wonderful European cities.

How to Get Around During Your One Day in Bruges

Walking is the best way to get around during your one day in Bruges

Since you’ll only be spending one day in Bruges, your best option will be to walk pretty much everywhere .

Bruges is extremely walkable , with many of the major attractions and sites within close proximity to one another, so as long as you’ve packed good walking shoes you shouldn’t have any problems.

Other fun ways of getting around include renting bikes or taking a horse and buggy ride (if you’re looking for unique things to do in Bruges!) Bikes are a great option for exploring the city in an efficient manner, while also saving your feet a bit of walking, and are quite affordable.

In fact, this is actually how the majority of locals get around Bruges, so you should fit right in (as long as you stay in the bike paths!)

The horse and buggy ride may not get you to a specific point, but it is a fun way of seeing the city and makes for some very romantic and cute pictures. Our other favorite way of getting around is to take a canal cruise.

Again, you’ll be returned to the same spot that you started, but these boat rides offer you a very unique perspective on the city that you wouldn’t get otherwise!

The canals are absolutely beautiful and you’ll get to see far more of the city since many of the houses sit directly on the banks of the canals with no walkable sidewalks. Thus, by taking the boat ride, you’ll get to experience more of the city than if you were to stay on foot or bicycle the entire time.

What to Eat in Bruges

visit brugge in one day

Of course, you’ve heard of Belgian fries, beer, waffles, chocolate, cheese curds, and so on. But, what about all of the other traditional dishes the Dutch enjoy? Here are a few of our favorites!

✔️ Moules-Frites

One of the most traditional and delicious plates in Belgium are Moules-Frites. Mussels steamed in either white wine or beer and light seasoning are served with a heaping bowl of frites (fries) for soaking up the delicious sauce once the mussels are gone.

✔️ Waterzooi

This traditional Flemish dish dates back to the Middle Ages and is both creamy, savory, and just oh-so-good. Filled with flaky fish chunks, salty butter, and rich egg yolks, this is one of the best comfort foods you can find in Belgium.

✔️ Carbonnades flamandes

This ultimate comfort food is a rich and decadent stew filled with tender meat that has been simmered for hours in Belgian beer in a Dutch crockpot. Also served with a side of frites for dipping, you’re sure to need a nap after this meal.

✔️ Sirop de Liège

This sticky and ultra sweet paste made of just dates, apples, and pears is delicious on bread, with cheese and meats, or slathered on a fluffy Dutch pancake!

✔️ Croquettes aux crevettes grises

Small grey shrimp get covered in a creamy, white bechamel sauce, rolled in crunchy breadcrumbs, and fried for the ultimate Belgian staple!

Where to Stay in Bruges

visit brugge in one day

Whether you’re looking to stay in the center of Market Square surrounded by the hustle and bustle of dozens of shops and restaurants or if you’re a budget traveler looking for a clean and unique accommodation, some of the best places stay in Bruges can be found in the areas below!

✔️ The City Centre

Bustling with life and popular attractions such as the Belfry Tower and the enormous City Hall, Market Square and the surrounding streets are both expensive and beautiful.

If you’re looking to be in the middle of all the action as to save time on exploring and getting from place to place, this is where we suggest staying if you only have 1 day in Bruges.

✔️ Sint-Anna Quarter

This area of the city is in close proximity to the city center (about a 12-minute walk) and is close to multiple popular museums and is located in a quiet neighborhood.

More of a locals spot, this is a unique place to stay with its beautiful, tight network of windy streets, nearby windmills, and medieval architecture.

✔️ Ezelstraat Quarter

Located on the western edge of the city center, this ancient part of the city is over 800 years old! Brimming with both ancient architecture, fascinating museums, and modern bars and restaurants, this is the best area to stay in for budget travelers and couples alike.

You can find cheap accommodations and spend your evenings bar-hopping the night away!

✔️ Magdalena Quarter

Simply full of quaint parks, this is a fantastic area for people traveling with kids. It’s located outside of the city center so you can guarantee some quieter nights, and the cobblestone streets in this part of town are very charming.

Just a 10-minute walk from Market Square, you can be in the middle of the top sights in no time.

✔️ Sint-Gillis Quarter

Close to the beautiful Hof de Jonge park, the Sint-Gilliskerk Catholic Church, and plenty of low-key cafes and breweries, this is a great place to stay if you’re looking for a more off-the-beaten-path accommodation.

Though it is slightly more expensive than some of the other areas in the city, it is good for both families and couples.

Travel Tips for Visiting Bruges

visit brugge in one day

Whether you’re visiting Bruges for one day or one month, these are some of our best insider tips for getting the most out of your experience!

✔️ Beer is Cheaper than Water

Owing to the hundreds of nearby breweries and distilleries, beer is almost always cheaper than water here. Also, since many restaurants will only offer bottled water, you can expect to pay around €3 per bottle versus about the same amount for an entire pitcher of beer.

✔️ There is No Crazy Nightlife Scene

Just because the fun and wild Amsterdam is nearby, doesn’t mean you’re going to get the same experience in Bruges. Instead, you’ll find dozens of cozy bars and the occasional live music spot or two. But, don’t expect to find chaotic street parties and an abubndance of public intoxication.

✔️ Pack Good Walking Shoes

Almost every street in Bruges is made up of broken, warped, and misshapen cobblestones. So, leave your heels at home and pack a nice pair of comfortable shoes that can last a few miles of walking on bumpy terrain instead!

✔️ There’s No Such Thing as “Diet Food”

When in Bruges… indulge! Chocolate, waffles, beers, Belgian fries with curry… you get the picture. Most traditional Belgian meals are rich with meats, gravies, cheese, and salt. So, I would save your diet until you return home.

✔️ You Won’t Pay for Most Attractions

The best attractions in Bruges are, well, all around you! Stroll along the canals, photograph the beautiful buildings, and enjoy an espresso while people-watching in Market Square. These are truly the best way to experience Bruges.

FAQ: One Day in Bruges

In this next section, I’m going to dive into answering all of the essential questions you’ll need to know about before spending a full day in Bruges!

Is 1 Day Enough for Bruges?

Know these tips before deciding if one day in Bruges is enough

If you are visiting Bruges, Belgium for the first time in your life and want to see all of the sights, try all of the foods, and join in all of the activities and festivities… then one day may not be enough.

That being said, in just one day in Bruges you’ll be able to experience the best this gothic city has to offer!

From wandering the windy streets, taking a canal boat tour ride, sampling some Belgian chocolate, stuffing your face with waffles and beer, checking out the incredible town hall, and climbing the iconic Belfry of Bruges Tower, you are sure to have an exciting and magical trip to Bruges even if you only have a little time.

So, we truly believe it depends on you! If you don’t mind missing out on a few of the smaller sights and attractions, then you can definitely visit Bruges for just a day.

But, if you prefer to explore each city you visit to the fullest, then we highly suggest at least two days in Bruges.

How Long Should You Spend in Bruges?

A recommended visit to Bruges would ideally span at least two full days . It’s not a huge city so 3 days may be a lot for some people, so this amount of time allows ample for visiting the iconic attractions such as the Belfry of Bruges and Basilica of the Holy Blood, and meandering through the charming alleys and soaking up the atmosphere without rushing.

With an extra day, you can explore the city at a more leisurely pace, find local eateries, taste more of the rich and savory Belgian cuisine, and even venture into the surrounding countryside or take a boat tour on the canals.

Can You Do Bruges as a Day Trip?

Even if you only have one day, Bruges is absolutely worth visiting

Bruges is a quaint and charming medieval European town with an abundance of canals lined by colorful houses built around them to mimic Venice’s urban design – but on a smaller scale – giving Bruges the nickname, “Venice of the North.”

You’ll find many shops along these narrow cobbled lanes selling goods from Belgian chocolate to Flemish lacework, all of which makes it worth visiting Bruges alone.

The canal-lined streets are perfect for walking, biking, or just taking pictures of this centuries old town. Bruges has preserved its old-world charm (so well that it’s been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site ), so whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or culture connoisseur there is something here for everyone!

Is Bruges or Ghent Better?

visit brugge in one day

In my humble opinion, Bruges is better, but each city has its own distinctive charm. Bruges, with its well-preserved medieval architecture and picturesque canals, feels like stepping back in time. It’s perfect for those who want to experience a fairy-tale ambiance.

Ghent, on the other hand, is vibrant and youthful, thanks to its large student population. It offers a seamless blend of historic charm and contemporary culture, appealing to those who like a bustling city vibe. So, whether Ghent or Bruges is better really depends on your personal preferences!

Can You Do Bruges and Brussels in One Day?

While it’s physically possible to visit Bruges and Brussels in one day, doing so would require an early start and a late finish, resulting in a very rushed experience. Each city is rich with history, culture, and attractions that deserve time to be fully appreciated.

If short on time, a more rewarding approach would be to prioritize what you want to see and do most in one city, preferably starting with Bruges for its smaller, more walkable city center. For those who must visit both, consider the main highlights and plan your schedule efficiently to make the most of your day.

What is the Best Time to Visit Bruges?

This is the best time of the year to visit Bruges if you only have one day

While many folks believe the best time to visit Belgium is in the warmer months of summer (high season for tourists), we typically disagree.

Yes, this is when you’ll find wonderfully warm weather and a hip night scene, but it’s also when you’ll find massive tourist crowds, long wait times at restaurants and attractions, and crowded cobblestone streets.

Instead, we believe the best time to visit Bruges is in the shoulder season months of April and May and late August through September . Bruges is also stunning during the winter holidays and offers plenty of outdoor markets (similar to Grote Markt in Antwerp) worth exploring!

If your goal when visiting Bruges is to see the iconic tulip fields, then your best chance to enjoy them will be in April and May when they are at their peak blooming period.

Believe it or not, they actually don’t usually bloom past the end of May, so if you visit during the height of summer you’ll miss them!

These shoulder season months also coincide with the majority of people still in prime work periods and school is still in session, so you’ll get to enjoy all of what Bruges has to offer with far fewer tourists!

You’ll still experience comfortable weather (though it may be a bit rainy), get to chat with lots of locals, and have little to no wait times at most of the major attractions.

In our experience, the best time to visit Bruges is from April through May !

How Much Does Bruges Cost?

visit brugge in one day

Though slightly more expensive than other popular European cities such as Lisbon or Budapest, Bruges is still quite affordable and can definitely be visited on a budget .

For flights, it’s best to book them as far in advance as possible to get the best deals . Similarly for trains , keep an eye out for when the tickets go on sale (usually between 90-120 days before the departure date ) to save money when booking.

As for accommodations , budget hostels average around 40 euros per person per night . Mid-range hotels average around 90-100 euros per night for double occupancy. And luxury hotels can range anywhere from 150 euros to over 300 euros per night .

However, keep in mind that each of these averages will vary depending on the time of the year that you visit , how many people will be staying in the room , and the area of town that you decide to stay in.

When it comes to meals, you can either spend a little – or a lot – of money. Don’t forget that while Bruges is slightly more off-the-beaten-path than other towns in Belgium, it’s still quite touristy and many of the businesses thrive from the revenue of tourists .

So, avoid eating your meals at sit-down restaurants in the center of Market Square or Burg Square if you’re looking to save some money.

Also, due to meal taxes and gratuity, sit-down meals will be one of your biggest expenses. The average lunch will cost you between €10-15 and dinner will cost you around €15-20 per person.

Whereas an on-the-go waffle with all the toppings you could dream of, Belgian fries, and other popular street foods will only set you back up to €5. If you’re really looking to travel on a budget, avoid the sit-down restaurants in the center of the city .

As for inter-city transportation, bicycles cost around €13 per day for an adult, or about €3-4 per hour if you decide to only keep the bike for an hour or two.

Boat canal rides cost around €10 , and the horse and carriage rides are about €55 per 30 minutes. So, if you’re on a budget, pack some good shoes and be ready to do some walking .

Overall, your meals and your accommodation will be your biggest expenses, so be sure to use this guide to help you save some money if you’re looking to stick to a budget!

What are the Best Things To Do for One Day in Bruges in Winter

visit brugge in one day

If you have the option of visiting Bruges in winter, do it! The medieval city center gets covered in white lights and is absolutely stunning to walk through during the holidays.

Here are some of our favorite things to do in Bruges in winter!

✔️ Drink Mulled Wine

This tasty treat is served all over town from wooden stalls that go up every holiday season.

Enjoy with a hot meal for the ultimate cozy dinner, or grab a glass to walk around with as you stroll the cobblestone streets looking at all of the decorations and beautiful lights.

✔️ Take a Carriage Ride

Looking for a romantic stroll around town? What better way to do it than wrapped up in blankets, sipping hot chocolate (or mulled wine) with your loved one.

Not to mention… this would make one hell of a proposal!

✔️ Shop for Holiday Gifts

Many of the stores around Bruges sell authentic, handmade items around the holidays which make for the perfect holiday gifts for your loved ones back home.

Be sure to leave room in your suitcase for all of your special finds!

✔️ Go Ice Skating

In the wintertime, Bruges holds several ice skating rinks around town making for the ultimate winter activity!

Try your hand at this fun winter sport for the first time, or cruise around the ponds in style with your loved one.

✔️ Visit the Bruges Christmas Markets

Starting in late November, Bruges begins setting up their holiday markets for the Christmas season.

Dozens of stalls sell everything from crafts to artwork, food, jewelry, and everything in between.

Whether you’re looking to shop or simply get into the Christmas spirit, this is the perfect full-day activity for anyone spending 1 day in Bruges in the winter!

What To Do if you have More than One Day in Bruges

visit brugge in one day

For some people, one day in Bruges is plenty of time. But for others (like me), one day was just the beginning! Just in case you find yourself in the same boat on your trip to Bruges, I recommend keeping your itinerary flexible so that you can add or remove time in Bruges if you wish.

If you do decide to extend your stay in Bruges, you’ll have the opportunity to explore more museums, spend some time people-watching, and even join a couple of exciting tours!

Here are some ideas for if you have more than one day in Bruges and want to see as much of the city as possible.

First, if you are traveling to Bruges pretty much solely for the food (I hear ya!), you have to visit the Frietmuseum ! This museum is dedicated to showcasing the history of potatoes and how to make scrumptious Belgian (french) fries.

There are also several chocolate museums (like the ones I mentioned above) as well as endless chocolate shops that offer free tastings, guided tours, and the option to purchase TSA-approved chocolatey treasures!

Also, any art enthusiast should have the Gruuthusemuseum high on their list. This museum boasts extensive collections of impressive works from the 15 th -19 th centuries.

If you have the time, a trip to the scenic Minnewater park and castle is great for families, couples, and those looking to get away from the city. It’s known for its “ lake of love ” and magical ambiance. Another impressive castle to hop on a train and go visit is the Streekhuis Castle Tillegem .

You can also go visit one of the last active windmills in the region called Sint-Janshuismolen . It dates back to the 18 th -century is a real joy to see.

Of course, you can skip adding activities to your days and simply people watch and enjoy the local ambiance. Bruges truly feels like a fairytale land with its stunning medieval architecture and pristine canals.

Spend some time strolling the streets with a coffee in hand for a magical experience you won’t soon forget!

Day Trips to Bruges

visit brugge in one day

Due to Bruge’s location on the far western side of the small country, it can be slightly difficult to get there for just a day trip from neighboring cities outside of Belgium.

While we highly recommend that you do visit, keep in mind the distances that you may need to travel roundtrip in order to make it happen.

We have created a list of the nearby cities that tourists typically visit from and how long it will take for you to get there so you can estimate if it’s a good fit for your itinerary or not.

✔️ Day Trip to Bruges from Ghent

45 minutes roundtrip of traveling by train (highly suggested!)

✔️ Day Trip to Bruges from Brussels

2 hours and 15 minutes roundtrip of traveling by train

✔️ Day Trip to Bruges from Antwerp

3 hours roundtrip of traveling by train

✔️ Day Trip to Bruges from Rotterdam

4 hours roundtrip of traveling by train

✔️ Day Trip to Bruges from Paris

5 hours and 15 minutes roundtrip of traveling by train

✔️ Day Trip to Bruges from Amsterdam

6 hours roundtrip of traveling by train

✔️ Day Trip to Bruges from Dunkirk, France

8 hours roundtrip of traveling by train

Guided Tours in Bruges

The guided tours listed below are just a few of the dozens of exceptional tours available to you during your one day in Bruges!

If you’re limited on time, these tours are a great way of ensuring you squeeze a lot of sightseeing and activities in before it is time to depart.

From authentic food and beer tours to in-depth city walking tours with local guides, there are tons of benefits to joining one of the fun tours below!

Other One Day in a City Articles

Enjoying our one day itineraries? Check out our others from more popular destinations across Europe!

One Day in Paris One Day in Prague One Day in Budapest One Day in Berlin One Day in Porto One Day in Lisbon One Day in Amsterdam One Day in Barcelona One Day in Brussels One Day in Ghent

3 Incredible Day Trips from Brussels

If I had known about these 3 incredible towns in Belgium, I would have spent WAAAY less time in Brussels…

And no, they aren’t Ghent or Antwerp!

visit brugge in one day

Bruges is known for its medieval streets, architecture, and canals and is the perfect place for families, couples, and solo travelers (male and female).

Owing to its perfect balance of small town Europe and medieval charm, we truly believe you’ll have a hard time finding something to complain about here.

With plenty of options when it comes to attractions, activities, and sightseeing, you’re bound to have an exceptional time during your one day in Bruges . We hope this itinerary gives you some ideas for your next visit to this amazing Belgian city!

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Hey there! I'm Emily Concannon, a seasoned globetrotter who has backpacked her way across over a dozen European countries, immersing myself in the diverse cultures, languages, and cuisines of the region.

My passion for travel transcends personal experiences; I've spent years learning how to transform my globetrotting knowledge into personalized itineraries for fellow travelers worldwide.

With a tally of 26 countries (and counting!) under my belt, my day job involves extensive research on different countries which often leads me to booking a new adventure every chance I get!

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Home » Europe » Belgium » What to Do in Bruges in One Day

What to Do in Bruges in One Day

By Author Laura Longwell

Posted on Last updated: November 30, 2023

Bruges is gorgeous. Its medieval streets radiate out from attractive squares, there are cobblestones with horses clomping by, and, everywhere, picturesque and historic buildings invite you to stop for a photo. Exploring Bruges, Belgium, from the water adds a new dimension as the canals pass through historic districts and beside 15th-century mansions.

Person bicycling row of traditional buildings in Bruges.

But Bruges (Brugge) isn’t just about seeing pretty things—there are tours to take, history to be learned, and plenty of beer to be drunk. While the city may be best seen leisurely over two days, it’s possible to see a lot of the city in less time thanks to its compact, walkable nature. If you’re wondering what to do in Bruges in one day, here’s our best list.

Visit Market Square

See the scenery at minnewater lake, learn about history at the beguinage, grab a beer at de halve maan brewery, tour the church of our lady, indulge at the old chocolate house, take a canal cruise, see town hall, visit basilica of the holy blood, see the view at quay of the rosary, browse the beers at 2be, explore the hansa quarter, visit the frietmuseum, see the local windmills, go underground at le trappiste, shop at the christmas market.

There is just something about the buildings in this city. Despite being bombed in World War II, many of its exquisite medieval buildings still stand. As with the canal houses in Lubeck and Amsterdam , we were completely smitten with the architecture.

Market Square with a bell tower on one side.

Market Square is one of the best places to see the brightly-colored step-gabled houses and merchant quarters that are now restaurants and shops. The cobblestoned, mostly pedestrian area is designed for enjoying the city.

A stop at the Market Square is definitely one of the best things to do in Bruges in one day. Grab some frites, pop into a shop for some chocolate, people watch, or climb the 366 steps to the top of the belfry —however you choose to enjoy the Market Square will be great.

Swans swimming in a canal.

Between the Old Town and the train station, Minnewater Lake (which literally means “Lake of Love”) and its accompanying park are great places to see in Bruges. The lake is really more of a wide spot along the canals that snake through the city, and it’s a lovely spot for people watching and enjoying the outdoors.

Minnewater has benches, weeping willows, and lots of swans gliding through the water. The whole atmosphere is quite romantic and makes the lake’s name seem appropriate. We enjoyed watching the painters who had assembled along the banks to capture the scene. If you want to linger, grab a coffee or lunch at one of the outdoor cafes.

To see the city highlights quickly, consider this personalized walking tour with a local .

White buildings with gabled roofs.

Near Minnewater Park, the Beguinage is a peaceful site in town. The Béguines who began living here in 1245 were lay women who dedicated their lives to God without removing themselves from the world. They formed communities–buildings built around green space–where they could meet their spiritual and material needs.

The white houses and buildings currently at the Beguinage date from the 17th century and are inhabited by the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict. The 13 Flemish beguinages have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Whether you have one day in Bruges or one week, a brewery is likely to be on the itinerary. It is Belgium, after all. At one point, the city had more than 50 breweries, but now there’s just one brewery left in the Old Town—De Halve Maan Brewery.

People at tables outside De Halve Mann brewery.

Unlike Cantillon, the brewery I visited in Brussels , De Halve Maan requires guided tours, so it’s a good idea to schedule in advance if you have your heart set on seeing behind the scenes .

On the 45-minute tour, you can see how De Halve Maan has been brewing since 1856 and sample their famous Brugse Zot. If you don’t have time for a tour, head to the outdoor beer garden or the restaurant for lunch. The carbonades flamandes made with Brugse Zot dubel was my favorite.

Underground beer pipeline visible through transparent cover.

The Church of Our Lady is a must-do for art lovers who visit Bruges even for one day. The exterior of the church is striking, featuring the tallest structure in the city and the second tallest brick tower in the world. Inside, visitors will find huge wooden carvings, gilded bronze effigies on the tombs of dukes, and other ornate works.

The real attraction at the Church of Our Lady is Michelangelo’s Madonna with Child (or Madonna of Bruges ). It’s the only one of Michelangelo’s works that left Italy during his lifetime. The statue was carved 1501-1504 and brought to Bruges by a wealthy merchant. To protect it, the statue can only be viewed from 15 feet away, but that’s still close enough to see the mastery.

Religious painting in front of stained glass windows.

Stopping for chocolate is a must on a weekend trip. Our shop of choice is The Old Chocolate House .

This family-run business has made premium chocolate for 20 years. They offer an extensive assortment of chocolate along with handmade biscuits, gingerbread, marzipan, and a selection of pralines. On the ground floor, you can peruse their delicious products.

Hot chocolate and chocolate truffles in cafe

Our favorite part of The Old Chocolate House was upstairs in the cozy tearoom. There are waffles, ice cream, and other desserts to try, but we went straight for the hot chocolate. When it comes to their signature drink, they do not mess around.

The hot chocolate selection is considerable. You can choose from milk, dark, or white chocolate, single origin chocolates from around the world, and more. Then there are add-ins running the gamut from the expected marshmallows and whipped cream to treats like honey, ginger, Grand Marnier, and salted caramel.

We opted for a selection, including the traditional, the Snickers, and the tiramisu hot chocolate. So good!

Boat in a canal with a church in the distance.

Like nearby Ghent , Bruges has fabulous canals that cut through the city. If you’re wondering what to do in Bruges in one day, a canal boat tour should certainly be at the top of your list. All the Medieval and Renaissance buildings, statues, and hidden alleys just take on a different look when you see them from the water. Not to mention that it’s hard to appreciate the picturesque bridges when you’re just standing on top of them.

The 30-minute boat tours provide information on the city’s history and take you to places that streets don’t necessarily go. They are also the perfect way to get an overview of the things to see in Bruges when you have limited time because they cover a large area. Cruising around town was definitely one of our favorite experiences.

Boat cruising in a canal in front of buildings.

A Town Hall may not sound like the most exciting site , but it’s definitely worth a quick look at the outside. The Gothic building, which dates from 1376, is one of the oldest buildings in the Low Countries and is a work of art. Plus, the location is convenient. The Town Hall is on Burg Square adjacent to the Church of the Holy Blood. It would be easy to visit both in under an hour.

Carved stone building with gold statues.

The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a Romanesque and Gothic chapel that dates from the 12th century. From the outside, its design is absolutely striking and made me want to know even more about what’s inside. It turns out that the upper chapel of this beautiful building holds an unusual relic that’s revered to be the blood of Christ.

According to tradition, Joseph of Arimathea wiped blood from the body of Christ after the crucifixion, and the cloth ultimately made its way to Bruges where it’s now located in a gold, jewel-encrusted vial in the chapel. Whether you’re a believer, a skeptic, or merely curious, the Basilica of the Holy Blood makes an interesting stop on 1 day or a weekend in Bruges.

Boat cruising a canal between two buildings.

The Quay of the Rosary (Rozenhoedkaai) is one place you definitely cannot miss . In fact, this bend in the canal is a magnet and you may find yourself there without knowing that it’s the most photographed area of the city. At least that’s what happened to us.

It’s hard not to be drawn to the postcard-perfect spot in the heart of the city. Unique buildings and the serene canals become one as happy visitors glide by in tour boats. It’s stunning. Don’t miss it.

Wall of beer bottles and glasses.

Opposite the Quay of the Rosary, just behind the trees is one of the best places to relax in the city— 2be . Visit their beer wall, which is like an encyclopedia of Belgian beer. Then grab something from the bar and head to the outdoor terrace overlooking the canal for some of the city’s best views. But go early because it closes by 7:30pm on weeknights and 8:00pm on weekends.

Statue of Jan Van Eyck beside medieval merchant houses.

From the 13th to the 15th century, Bruges was a bustling trade city thanks to its coastal location on many European trade routes. As part of the seafaring merchants of the Hanseatic League, the city’s wealth grew and many international merchants built mansions in the area that’s now known as the Hansa Quarter.

Not far from the Market Square (but much quieter), the Hansa Quarter is a great place to walk along the canal, have lunch, and admire the architecture of the former mansions and Hansa buildings, including the Old Toll House that dates from 1477.

Buildings with step-gabled roofs

Pop culture museums tend to go one of two ways—cool or goofy. Luckily, the museum honoring one of Belgium’s (and, heck, the world’s) favorite foods is the former. The quirky Frietmuseum has exhibits on the history of the fry from the cultivation of potatoes to the advent of the fried delicious snack. As a bonus, you get to eat at the end!

Windmill on a hill.

In the past, we always associated windmills with the Netherlands, but after seeing a beautiful one in Bremen, Germany , and more in Sicily and Greece, we’ve realized that they’re all over. And we love them everywhere we go. That’s why we were so happy to find that there is a series of windmills just a few minutes’ walk from the city center.

In the 16th century, as many as 23 windmills were once part of the city walls. Four stand today on Kruisvest Street, each on its own hill, and two are even still operational. Next to the windmills is a great park where you can feed and photograph sheep.

People in underground bar with a vaulted ceiling.

This unique beer bar is located in a 13th-century cellar with amazing vaulted ceilings. Even if it weren’t a great destination for beer lovers (it is), it would be worth stopping in for the aesthetics alone.

Le Trappiste has nearly 200 beers from around Europe, including many of the world’s Trappist beers, as the bar’s name suggests. You’ll find rare offerings, microbrews, and plenty of Belgian specialties. There was even a cider available for me, as the non-beer drinker in the group. At less than a 5-minute walk from Market Square, Le Trappiste should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Bruges.

People shopping at vendors at a Christmas market.

In the winter, the Bruges Christmas market is the place to be. Dozens of stalls selling food and gifts open up in Market Square and several other locations throughout the city.

You’ll find mulled wine, hot waffles, ornaments, and decorations all set against the backdrop of this fairy tale city . There’s even an ice skating rink and arcade games. We visited eight Christmas markets in Belgium , and Bruges was one of our favorites.

How to Get Here

Boat full of people cruising in a canal beside historic buildings.

Brussels and Bruges are only about an hour apart by train, so it is possible to do a day trip to Bruges from Brussels . However, we would really recommend spending the night to experience the city’s nightlife and the calm that comes after some of the day trippers depart. Trains costs about €20-30 each way, depending on class of service. The train station is a little over a mile from the historic center.

Trains between Bruges and Ghent cost about €10-20 each way, and the journey takes 22-40 minutes, depending on the specific train. Some people try to visit both cities in one day, but we really recommend taking a day for each rather than experiencing only a small part of both. If your time is short and you’re trying to choose between Bruges or Ghent, take a look at our comparison of the cities here .

Where to Eat

French fries in front of a building in Bruges market square

With hundreds of Belgian beers, Cambrinus is a perfect stop for beer pilgrims. The beer menu is massive, and all the staff are very knowledgeable and can help you find something to your liking. The food at this brasserie is also excellent, from the Belgian specialties to the Italian offerings.

Park Restaurant is one of the most romantic restaurants in the city. Set in an intimate mansion house, this fine dining establishment serves perfectly-cooked steaks and seafood and specializes in wine pairings.

Row of restaurants in former canal houses

Where to Stay

Hotel Van Cleef –A small luxury boutique hotel overlooking a canal, Hotel Van Cleef is one of the best places to stay. No detail is overlooked, the service is exemplary, and the surroundings are at once palatial and intimate. Check prices and book a room

Hotel De Castillion –Just five minutes from Market Square, Hotel De Castillion offers excellently-appointed rooms in an 16th-century bishop’s palace. In this small, family-run hotel, no two rooms are the same, but they are all gorgeous. Check prices and book a room

Hotel Botaniek –Set in an 18th-century mansion, Hotel Botaniek offers nine charming rooms in the city center. With a good breakfast and welcoming staff, it’s an affordable option close to everything. Check prices and book a room

visit brugge in one day

Laura Longwell is an award-winning travel blogger and photographer. Since founding Travel Addicts in 2008, she has written hundreds of articles that help over 3 million people a year get the most out of their travel. In that time, she has visited nearly 60 countries on 5 continents, often returning to favorite destinations over and over again. She has a deep love of history, uncovering unexpected attractions, and trying all the good food a place has to offer.

In addition to Travel Addicts, Laura runs a site about her hometown of Philadelphia—Guide to Philly—which chronicles unique things to do and places to see around southeastern Pennsylvania. Her travel tips and advice appear across the web.

What to Do in Bruges in One Day

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Thursday 13th of October 2022

After reading your post, I can't wait to visit this beautiful city when our cruise ship docks in Zeebrugge. Is it possible to see all the things you list in Brugge in 6-7 hours? We would not do the brewery tour, but I can't think of anything else I would want to miss! Thanks for all this great info.

Laura Longwell

Friday 14th of October 2022

I would probably skip the walk to the windmill, but, otherwise, I think you'd be good with that amount of time. The center is quite compact.

Monday 28th of March 2022

I really enjoy your travel tips and your blogs. Without a doubt, you have one of the best sites out there!

Ankita & Mohit

Thursday 6th of June 2019

Thanks for this post, Laura! We're visiting Ghent and Bruges this weekend and your post is going to be a great help. Maybe we'll do the canal trip in Bruges instead of Ghent - don't fancy doing it in both cities.

That would be our recommendation. We recently did the one in Bruges again, and it's gorgeous even if the weather isn't. Have a wonderful time :)

Friday 19th of January 2018

Bruges might be one of the most photogenic cities I've ever visited! It's so beautiful!

I think it might be the first place I've ever visited just because I thought it was pretty. Luckily, I wasn't wrong :)

Jessica @ Independent Travel Cats

I have never been to Bruges (or Belgium for that matter) and it looks like such a beautiful city. But as you say there are also other great things to see and do as well. I love historical architecture so would love to just see and visit some of the medieval buildings!


A One Day in Bruges Itinerary You’ll Want to Steal

By: Author Sophie Nadeau

Posted on Last updated: 9th March 2023

Categories Belgium , Itineraries

Last Updated on 9th March 2023 by Sophie Nadeau

Small and compact, the Flemish city of Bruges is characterised by its red brick buildings, medieval architecture, and winding canals. Easy to explore on foot, you’ll be pleased to know that you can see most of the city in under 24 hours. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to spend one day in Bruges .

Please note that Bruges is known in Brugge in Flemish. While I would highly recommend visiting the city in of itself over the course of a few days so as to truly soak up all of the attractions, Bruges can also be seen as an easy day trip from Brussels.

Bruges travel tips Belgium

Is 1 day enough for Bruges?

Things to know before visiting bruges, the best time to spend one day in bruges, snap a photo of the quay of the rosary, basilica of the holy blood, blinde ezelstraat, climb the belfry, market square (grote markt), have lunch at that’s toast, canal cruise, head to de halve maan brewery, have dinner, drinks at le trappiste, where to stay in bruges, what to wear when exploring europe.

I would say YES, one day is more than enough for Bruges. The city is small, compact, and all of the major attractions are within a few minutes walk of one another.

This, added to the fact that the Belgian city is very touristic, means that you’ll likely see everything you want to see in the space of a day before heading off to another city! You can even do both Bruges and Ghent in one day if you’re really pressed for time, and we actually suggest this in our Belgium itinerary !

This itinerary for 1 day in Bruges is quite intensive and will involve a fair amount of walking. As such, I suggest wearing comfortable shoes such as cute trainers or ankle boots. I don’t recommend wearing any sort of high heel as there are plenty of cobble stones and the two don’t mix well.

The local language spoken in Bruges is Flemish, which is a dialect of Dutch. However, don’t be too worried as Bruges is a very touristic city and so most people working in the tourist industry will have a fantastic level of English.

For even more information about the Belgian city, be sure to check out our guide to the best things to do in Bruges . And for an insider look at the city, be sure to check out our article about the best-kept secrets of Bruges .

The best time to visit the city is from April to June and in September and October when the weather is at its best but the crowds are not too great.

As with many other highly frequented destinations in Europe, you should also be wary for pickpockets. Bruges uses the Euro and, while many places accept cards, some smaller independent businesses remain cash only.

bruges canals

How to spend one day in Bruges

One of the most important things to know before visiting Bruges is that it gets very busy as the city is one of the most popular destinations in Europe.

As such, I would highly recommend heading the the Quay of the Rosary (known as the Rozenhoedkaai in Flemish) first thing in the morning so that you can snap your photos without having to wait in too many crowds!

quay of the rosary bruges

Located in the iconic Burg Square, the Basilica of the Holy Blood (known as Heilig-Bloedbasiliek in Flemish) is named for a religious relic which is alleged to contain a drop of holy blood that was collected by Joseph of Arimathea.

The ecclesiastical building itself was constructed in the 12th-century and is now considered to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the city. In a city where almost everything will cost you a fair bit, it’s worth noting that the Basilica itself is free to enter!

Please note that part of the church has now be transformed into a museum, which costs €6 to enter. After leaving the Basilica of the Holy Blood, you’ll want to continue your one day in Bruges by heading down the Blinde Ezelstraat.

basilica of the holy blood

Steps away from Burg Square, one of the most narrow and charming streets in Bruges can be found in the form of Blinde Ezelstraat. Literally translated into English as the ‘Blind Donkey Street,’ the cobbled lane features several impressive brick buildings and an archway of the City Hall building. It’s one of the best places to visit in the city and is well-placed to visit the next stop on our tour.

Blinde Ezelstraat Bruges

For one of the best bird’s eye views of Bruges that the city has to offer, then I would highly recommend climbing the Belfry. The tower stands at a height of 83 metres and, thanks to the fact that the Belfry (known as Belfort van Brugge in Flemish) can be seen from all over Bruges, it has since become a symbol of the Belgian city.

In order to get to the top, you’ll have to walk over 300 steps (366 steps to be precise). From the top, you can see the moated canal that rings its way around the city, as well as all of the other iconic attractions that Bruges has to offer.

Good to know: It’s best to visit the Belfry earlier in the day as this is one of the top attractions in Bruges, and so can get pretty busy later on, even though tickets are limited. As tickets are limited for the tower, then you’ll want to buy them in advance.

bruges belfry belgium

The main market and city square of Bruges is the Grote Markt, which lies in the shadow of the Bruges Belfry. If you happen to be visiting Bruges during Christmas time, then the Grote Markt is where the annual Bruges Christmas Market is held.

bruges grote markt belgium

One of the best brunch and lunch spots in town is That’s Toast (address Dweersstraat 4, 8000 Brugge, Belgium). As you can imagine from the name, the café serves up delicious dishes based around bread.

There is indoor seating, as well as a lovely little terrace out the back which is best enjoyed on a sunny day. There are vegan and vegetarian options on the menu, as well as speciality coffee.

Unfortunately the restaurant doesn’t take reservations and is instead first come first served. However, the café runs continuously during opening times and so I recommend avoiding peak lunch hours (between 12 and 2 PM) if possible.

thats toast bruges belgium

After you’ve had a bite to eat, then I recommend escaping the crowds for an hour or so and heading into Minnewater for a little down time- the rest of this 1 day itinerary is pretty packed! Literally translated into English as the ‘love of Lake park,’ this green space features giant chess boards, and even a historic castle.

Minnewater Kasteel has since been transformed into a restaurant and is located in the centre of the park. Though Minnewater is located a short walk away from the city centre, it’s ideally located for heading to the next spot on our one day in Bruges itinerary.

Minnewater Bruges Belgium

Known as Ten Wijngaerde in Flemish, the term ‘Beguinage’ comes from the French words ‘béguinage’, which is used to denote a housing complex which was constructed so as to house beguines.

These were religious women who lived together as part of a community but didn’t have to take any vows or retire from the world. The beguinage of Bruges was founded in 1245 and women voluntarily practiced a life of religious devotion, though they were free to leave at any time.

Today, the complex comprises of a central green space courtyard (though you’re not allowed on the grass) , a simple church, and 30 houses that were constructed in the 1500s. Be sure to be quiet and respectful when visiting as people still live there today.

Ten Wijngaerde

Of course, no itinerary for Bruges would be complete without heading out on a canal tour. There are five landing stages where the various visits depart from and tours last for around half an hour.

In this time, a captain will guide you through the iconic Bruges canals, which were originally constructed to serve as shipping lanes for the city and are now classed as UNESCO world heritage sites. Book your Bruges boat tour and guided walking tour here in advance.

I’ve left this tour until later in the day as this will allow you to enjoy all of the beer samples on offer without getting so tired that you can’t enjoy the rest of this Bruges itinerary. The Halve Maan Brewery is a little touristic, but offers one of the best immersive beer experiences in Bruges.

The tour itself takes visitors around the brewery and teaches you about the beer making process, as well as the history of beer in Belgium. The price of every tour ticket includes a complimentary beer. There’s also a souvenir shop where you can buy beer to take home with you.

De Halve Maan Brewery

One thing you should know is that dinner in Bruges does not come cheap, especially if you’re looking for a finer dining experience or indeed wish to go somewhere with a particular romantic ambiance. Some of the top places to eat in Bruges include ONE Restaurant (Arsenaalstraat 55), Bistro Bruut (Meestraat 9), and Je Restaurant (Langestraat 83).

End your one day in Bruges the right way by having drinks at Le Trappiste (address: Kuipersstraat 33, 8000 Brugge, Belgium). Though a little touristic, this bar is recommended on pretty much every Bruges itinerary, and for good reason!

Le Trappiste bar is set against the backdrop of an 800 year old cellar, meaning that it’s completely underground. As well as just over two dozen draught beers, there are plenty of bottled beers on the menu. It’s also possible to buy food. For more information about beer, be sure to check out our beginner’s guide to beer in Belgium .

Visiting Bierhuis De Klomp, The Oldest Bar in Delft, The Netherlands

As a very popular city (one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe), you’ll want to plan ahead and book your accommodation well in advance when it comes to visiting Bruges.

Another option if you want to save money could be to stay in Ghent or Brussels and see Bruges as a day trip. Otherwise, here are some of the best places to stay in Bruges based on location and web-reviews:

Snuffel Hostel: Just a ten minute walk away from the Belfry, this hostel offers a variety of different rooms including mixed and female only dorms. Other amenities include free Wi-Fi, breakfast, and baggage storage. Check prices and availability now.

Hotel Academie Bruges: A four-star hotel which is fairly affordable is Hotel Academie Bruges. Situated in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Quarter, colourful rooms are situated a stone’s throw away from all the major attractions in town. Check prices and availability now.

Hotel Dukes’ Palace: For the crème de la crème of Bruges accommodation, consider staying in the five-star Hotel Dukes’ Palace. Situated against the backdrop of a 15th-century palace, amenities include a spa and hot tub. Check prices and availability now.

In the summer, you can’t go wrong by pairing a cute midi dress with classic white tennis shoes for a laid-back smart casual look that’s just as chic for walking around a city’s cobbled lanes as it is for wandering coastal paths. I love this dress and have it in several colour ways. In terms of tennis shoes, this is my go-to shoe.

When it comes to winter in Europe, most places (with the exception of a few islands) can get pretty cold and so warm layers is a must. I find that cute ankle boots like these ones are the perfect mix of practical meets cute.

Shoulder seasons (spring and summer) in Europe tend to come with a mix of rainy and sunny days and so, again, layers are a must. Trench coats and sneakers are the best uniform to explore the continent in.

Finally, a cross-body bag like these ones is a must. I personally use a crossbody bag  by this brand  and love its shape, size, and versatility. As well as being convenient and compact, it’s one of the safest ways to transport your valuables, all the while looking chic. I also recommend bringing along a travel adapter  like this one  so you can charge all of your electronics during your stay!

Enjoyed reading about how to spend one day in Bruges? Pin this article now, read it again later:

best of bruges/ A One Day in Bruges Itinerary for bruges europe travel

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A Francophile at heart, she runs when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She splits her time between Paris and London and travels as much as she can! Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.

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Paula Berger

Friday 25th of August 2023

Hi! We are visiting Bruges in May from Wisconsin. Our plan is 2 days in Bruges and one in Ghent. Do you think we could do 1 and a half days in Bruges and take the train to Ghent for the other half? We are taking the train to London after our time in Belgium. Thank you!

Sophie Nadeau

Tuesday 29th of August 2023

Hello! That sounds like a great plan and I am sure you will love Belgium! You could even dedicate one day to each of the cities (i.e. one full day in Bruges and one full day in Ghent instead as Bruges can be pretty busy and is often a little less so).


Friday 28th of July 2023

Thank you very informative indeed. We are going shortly staying one night. We are going by car(diesel) do I need to pay for ulez zone?

Thursday 10th of August 2023

I visited by train so am unsure about the requirements. I recommend either contacting your hotel ahead of time or alternatively checking your vehicle registration plate against the official LEZ website:

Ghent or Bruges: Bruges Pretty Street

The Perfect One Day in Bruges Itinerary

Beautiful Bruges, with its fairytale architecture, lovely canals, and tasty treats (see: frites, chocolate, beer), is a delightful small European city–and whether you’re taking a day trip to Bruges or spending the night, you can see quite a bit of the city with only one day in Bruges.

Bruges (or in Flemish, Brugge) is our favorite city in Belgium, and while its phenomenal beauty does bring in the tourist crowds, that’s no reason to stay away: the city definitely lives up to the hype.

Heading to Flanders and want to make sure you make the most of your opportunity to see Bruges in a day?

This one day Bruges itinerary will show you how!

Table of Contents

Where to Stay in Bruges

Map of your itinerary for bruges, belgium, getting around during a day in bruges, more than one day in bruges, belgium, tips for seeing bruges in a day.

Kate sitting on a wall next to a canal in Bruges Belgium, with a wooden inn in front of her. Kate is wearing a black coat--by mid-November in Europe, you'll want a coat in many areas!

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Start your day at Market Square (Markt).

Bruges’ Markt is a colorful delight of a town square.

D ominated by the towering Belfry on one side and an array of colorful buildings on another, this is the perfect spot to start your one day in Bruges.

You’ll see horse-drawn carriages queueing up toward the center, frite carts selling piles of delicious treats, and if you happen to be visiting in December , one of Bruges’ legendary Christmas markets.

Grote Markt in Bruges Belgium with 4 colorful buildings visible with green awnings out front--an essential stop during your 3 day Belgium itinerary

Climb the Belfry for great views of Bruges.

Want to get amazing views of Bruges from above?

Before leaving the Markt, head 366 steps up to the top of the towering Belfry.

Tickets run 14 Euro as of the time of writing this Bruges blog post.

If you’re trying to snap photos of the Belfry itself from the foot of the tower, though, don’t be surprised if you can’t get the picture quite right–the belfry actually leans to the east!

Horses parked in Grote Markt Belgium with Belfry visible in the background

Stroll over to the Bruges City Hall.

Completed in the 15th century in a late-Gothic style, the Bruges City Hall is truly remarkable to see from the outside.

And since it’s practically around the corner from the Markt and close to the next stop on this one day in Bruges itinerary, it’s well worth a quick photo op!

bruges city hall facade with bruges christmas tree in front during bruges winter

Step inside the Basilica of Holy Blood.

Located in Burg Square, right next door to Bruges City Hall sits one of the most interesting houses of worship in Bruges–and one that you might walk right by without realizing it was a church at all if you don’t know it’s there.

The Basilica of Holy Blood contains two chapels: a lower Romanesque one and a neo-Gothic upper one, and it’s the upper chapel where the most interesting feature of the chapel lies.

The chapel houses an impressive relic: a vial of blood and cloth that is said to contain the blood of Christ from the time of his crucifixion.

Front facade of the Basilica of Holy Blood in Bruges Belgium, an essential stop on a one day in Bruges itinerary

Take a canal cruise.

Bruges’ canals are absolutely beautiful, and there’s no better way to experience them than from the water.

Hop onto a canal cruise to get a quick tour of the history of the city while taking in absolutely gorgeous views, including views of Bruges’ most famous viewpoint–the Quay of the Rosary.

Of all the places to visit outlined on this one day Bruges itinerary, we’d consider this the most unmissable!

If you’d like to combine a canal cruise with a walking tour of the best of Bruges, this combined tour is a great option.

Ghent or Bruges: Bruges Canal Tour

Meander through Bruges’ streets.

After wrapping up your canal cruise, spend part of your one day in Bruges meandering through the beautiful Old Town streets.

Be sure to stop for lunch and potentially snacks (most importantly, Belgian frites and chocolate) along the way.

Keep an eye out for chocolate shops and lace sellers (another specialty of the region), and consider doing a little souvenir shopping as you explore Bruges.

Facades of several typical Flemish buildings in Bruges Belgium, as seen on a day in Bruges

Make your way to St. Salvator’s Cathedral.

Dating to the 10th century (but not without major renovation work throughout the centuries), Belgium’s beautiful cathedral is absolutely worth a quick peek during your one day in Bruges.

golden doors marking entrance to church and leading into sanctuary in brugge belgium

Pay a visit to the Groeningemuseum.

Best known for its superb collection of Flemish primitives, Bruges’ premier art museum houses an impressive amount of Belgian art through the centuries and makes an excellent afternoon stop during your Bruges itinerary.

Snap photos at Bonifacius Bridge.

Located very close to the Groeningemuseum, the Bonifacius Bridge and the Arents courtyard next to it are arguably some of the most photogenic spots in Bruges–in our opinion, anyway. 

The beauty of Bruges’ architecture and canals is on full display here, despite the fact that the beautiful bridge was built in the 20th century, making it one of the newest in the city!

Kate Storm in a black coat standing on a brick footbridge in Brugesduring a trip to Belgium

Stop by the Church of Our Lady.

The stunning Church of Our Lady is right by Bonifacius Bridge, and is one of the most notable churches in Bruges, especially for being the home of a striking Madonna and Child sculpture completed by Michelangelo in 1504.

The church is also known for being the final resting place of Charles the Bold (the last Valois Duke of Burgundy) and his daughter, Mary.

facade of the church of our lady bruges belgium as seen looking up from footbridge

Head over to Minnewater Lake.

Making your way to Minnewater Lake will take you over and along some of Bruges’ lovely canals before you arrive at the peaceful lake, which is the perfect place to kick back and relax.

Also known as the Lake of Love, keep an eye out for the Lovers Bridge while there, and of course for all the beautiful swans that call the park home.

If you’re visiting the city on a Bruges day trip, finishing up at Minnewater Lake will leave you fairly close to the train station, making it an excellent final stop on this one day Bruges itinerary.

If you’re spending the night in Bruges, after visiting Minnewater Lake, you’ll no doubt be ready to dive into a hearty Belgian dinner.

B sure to order at least one of Belgium’s famous beers with your meal!

Bruges canal with boats in the background--don't miss your chance to take a canal cruise during your 3 days in Belgium itinerary

If you can, we highly recommend spending a night in Bruges as part of this one day in Bruges itinerary!

Since it’s so popular to take a day trip to Bruges, visitors who are able to spend a night in city will have the privilege of seeing it without its crowds, which is a special experience!

H ere are some of the loveliest hotels to consider staying in, depending on the budget you have in mind for your Bruges trip.

beautiful bruges belgium typical flemish facades as seen on a side street

Hotel Notre Dame — Cozy Hotel Notre Dame is located within a quick walk of most of Bruges’ major sights, including a five-minute walk from Town Hall.

This cozy hotel boasts comfortable rooms, an included continental breakfast, and excellent reviews.

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Notre Dame!

Grote Markt in Bruges with a parked vespa in the foreground

The Black Swan Hotel  — Housed in a 17th-century building just around the corner from Grote Markt, the popular Black Swan Hotel is perfect for visitors to Bruges looking to stay in a beautiful, centrally-located building without a luxury price tag.

Be sure to check out the gorgeous conservatory, where an included breakfast is served each morning!

Check rates & book your stay at The Black Swan Hotel!

statue in the center of a square in brugge belgium on a moody winter day

Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce  — Luxurious Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce is a stunning boutique hotel located in a prime location within Bruges.

You can find this property not only along a canal but at the place where two canals meet!

Featuring magnificent rooms decorated with antique decor, wonderful views, and exceptional reviews, Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce is the go-to choice for luxury seekers or those celebrating a special occasion during their trip to Belgium.

Check rates & book your stay at Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce!

Take This Map With You! Click each highlight to pull up the name of the destination. To save this map to “Your Places” on Google Maps, click the star to the right of the title. You’ll then be able to find it under the Maps tab of your Google Maps account! To open the map in a new window, click the button on the top right of the map.

This one day Bruges itinerary is designed to be entirely walkable!

If you would like, you can spend the entire day on foot, and that includes getting to and from the Bruges train station.

The train station is about a 20-minute walk from Market Square, and most of the walk is quite charming .

people walking through market square during one day bruges itinerary

With more than one day in the city, you can find plenty more fun things to do in Bruges to keep you busy!

C onsider tracking down the beautiful Bruges windmills, paying a visit to some of Bruges’ quirkier museums like the Frite Museum and Beer Wall, and lingering in plenty of chocolate shops (or even taking a chocolate workshop ).

Of course, if you have longer than a day in Bruges, there’s no reason you need to stay in the city at all !

Bruges is perfectly located for taking countless day trips, including to Ghent , Brussels, Antwerp, and the WWI battlefields near Ypres , just to name a few.

View of Bruges skyline from Hotel Asiris

Spend the night if you can.

While you can certainly get a lot of sightseeing done on a day trip to Bruges, spending the night will allow you to experience the city at its absolute best (read: most uncrowded) in the early morning before the daytrippers arrive, and in the evening after they leave.

If you’re visiting during the summer high season or (to a lesser extent) during the Christmas markets, this is even more true.

Bruges Markt Building with Christmas lights in the foreground. Don't miss exploring the markt as part of your one day Bruges itinerary

Consider taking a “free” walking tour.

With only one day in Bruges, some of the city’s secrets and stories will no doubt remain hidden–but you can uncover quite a few by taking a “free” Bruges walking tour!

We loved the walking tour we took on our first trip to Bruges and walked away having learned quite a bit about the city.

If you enjoy walking tours, consider starting your morning with a tour that leaves from the Markt!

We left “free” in quotation marks, because while these tours advertise as being free, what they really mean is that you can set your own price.

T he tour guides are paid based on tips, so be sure to compensate them for their time after the tour!

If you’d rather take a more traditional walking tour with a set price in advance, this walking tour gets excellent reviews and includes a canal cruise.

Book your Bruges walking tour today!

view of bruges belgium from the top of the belfry

Get inspired to visit by watching In Bruges.

Starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as two Irish hitmen hiding out in Bruges, the 2008 dark comedy features plenty of scenes showing off the beauty of the city.

I f you watch In Bruges before arriving to spend one day in Bruges yourself, you’ll no doubt spot a few filming locations as you explore!

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4 photos of viewpoints in bruges, black text on a white background rads "how to spend a day in bruges belgium"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

2 thoughts on “The Perfect One Day in Bruges Itinerary”

Bruges is one of my favorite European cities. It may be tiny, but it’s so charming. I came here with my mom for a day last year and we just adored it. Your itinerary was pretty similar to ours. Like you say in the article, we wish we had stayed overnight in a hotel to explore it just a bit slower over two days, but one is also enough. Gorgeous photos, and thanks for sharing!

Thanks so much, Lauren! Agreed, it is so charming–we’ve visited twice now and are definitely open to a third trip, lol. Glad you guys had a fantastic day in Bruges!

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Bruges in One Day: Things to do, Map & 1 Day Itinerary

Bruges in One Day: Things to do, Map & 1 Day Itinerary

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I earn from any qualifying purchases, at no additional cost to you.

This article lists the 15 best things to do in Bruges in one day & a Bruges 1 day itinerary.

Bruges is breathtaking-ly gorgeous and honestly, it stole my heart. This medieval era town looks like it is still stuck in the medieval ages with the brick buildings, cobblestone steps throughout the town, horse-drawn carriages, chocolate shops and languid boat rides. There is so much to love about Bruges!

Aptly termed as the Venice of the north , the canals, bridges and the quaint buildings in Bruges will transport you to a romantic era where life moves a little slower. Spend a day slowly walking around this small but incredibly picturesque town to absorb the beauty of Bruges. Take a look at this Bruges guide that can help you figure out the best things to do in Bruges in one day.

Get entry to 11 museums in Bruges with the Musea Brugge Card .

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visit brugge in one day

Is 1 Day Enough for Bruges?

Bruges is a fairly small town and I loved that most of the places to see in Bruges are located within a short walking distance from one another. It is very easy to spend 1 day in Bruges simply walking around and sightseeing. You don’t have to worry about missing out on anything if you’re intending on seeing all of Bruges in one day itself.

How to Spend a Day in Bruges?

Deciding on the best things to do in Bruges in one day shouldn’t be that difficult since all the places to visit in Bruges are close to each other, as mentioned earlier. That being said, you should definitely spare around one hour for a boat ride in the canals of Bruges, some time for souvenir shopping, chocolate tasting and checking out the beautiful handmade lace designs in one of the many lace shops. This Bruges 1 day itinerary should be able to help you plan the perfect 1 day in Bruges, Belgium.

Find hotels in Bruges on

Should You Go to Ghent or Bruges?

Here comes the million dollar question – should you go to Ghent or Bruges? The answer is very simple really. You should visit both Ghent and Bruges because they are both extremely Scenic in their own way and offer lots of things to do. Both these cities are medieval, charming, have lots of canals and both rides but are also very unique. And therefore I suggest that you visit both of these beautiful cities in Belgium and spare at least one day for each of them.

In order to see Ghent and Bruges in 1 day, book a full day excursion to Bruges and Ghent.

Day Trip to Bruges from Brussels

So is it viable to take a day trip from Brussels to Bruges?  First of all, Bruges is at a distance of a little less than 100 km from Brussels which means that it would take about 1 hour 30 minutes to get here by car or a little over an hour by train. Which means that it is viable to take a day trip to Bruges from Brussels. There are a sufficient number of things to do in Bruges in one day and since the city is walkable, you will be able to cover all the tourist attractions comfortably within a day and not worry about missing out on anything.

Take a full day guided day trip from Brussels to Bruges.

Map of Places to Visit in 1 Day in Bruges

15 Things to do Bruges in One Day: 1 Day Itinerary

1. grote markt or town square.

Things to do in Bruges in one day - Grote markt or Town Square of Bruges, Belgium

The Grote Markt or the town square of Bruges is both charming and highly impressive. With cute Flemish buildings in hues of red and brown on one end, the Historium and Belfry tower on the other ends, paying a visit to the town square is one of the top things to do in Bruges in one day. There are a ton of restaurants and cafes here. Furthermore, this is also the starting point for horse-drawn carriage rides in Bruges, Belgium.

Take a walking tour and horse-drawn carriage ride in Bruges

2. Historium Bruges

Places to visit in Bruges in one day - Historium Bruges

The Historium Bruges is a unique museum where you will get to learn the history of Bruges in an interactive and fun manner. Audio guides are provided and they tell a story as you walk through the museum and are transported into the medieval ages. It’s worth mentioning that the virtual reality is not included in the regular ticket price and must be purchased separately. Once you have finished your tour of the Historium, you can walk over to the balcony and get a beautiful view of The Market Square.

Buy your tickets to the Historium of Bruges.

3. Belfry of Bruges

Bruges in 1 day - things to do - Belfry of Bruges, Belgium

The Belfry tower holds 47 carillon bells, a victory bell and 377 steps that can take you to the top of the tower. The queue to climb up the tower can get extremely long, especially in the popular months, so it is recommended to buy tickets to the top of Belfry tower in advance. It’s worth including this place in your Bruges one day itinerary and going all the way to the top since you get an incredible bird’s eye view of Bruges from up here!

4. Burg Square

The Burg square of Bruges is a public plaza with  a view of some of the most marvelous and architecturally marvelous buildings such as the city hall and the Basilica of holy blood. Although this square does not have as many restaurants as the main market square of Bruges, there are still some extremely scenic places to eat at the Bruges Burg Square. From here you can make your way towards the Blinde-Ezelstraat or the blind donkey street.

Book a private historical highlights walking tour of Bruges, Belgium .

5. Basilica of the Holy Blood

1 day in Bruges - things to do - Basilica of Holy Blood

The Basilica of holy blood is an important and one of the most popular places to visit in Bruges in one day because it holds important ancient relics such as a piece of cloth which, according to legend, was used to wash Jesus after he was crucified. This fragment of cloth containing the holy blood is on display only from 2:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. And so it is advisable to book your tickets to the Basilica of holy blood in advance . One can even pray inside the Basilica which is as architecturally beautiful from the inside, as it is from the outside. There are services held here as well.

6. Bruges City Hall

Bruges one day itinerary - Places to see - Bruges city hall

The 14th centur y city hall of Bruges is identified by its ornate carved ceiling and a gothic hall that has paintings which depict historical events that have taken place in Bruges, Belgium. A small part of this hall can be seen for free but one needs to buy a ticket in order to see the rest of the museum inside the city hall. The entrance ticket comes with an audio guide, which is available in multiple languages.

7. Blinde-Ezelstraat – Blind Donkey Street

1 day in Bruges - what to see - Blind Donkey Street

The blind donkey street might be one of the best places to visit in Bruges due to the beautiful architecture of this narrow alleyway but it is the history of this street and why it was named as the blind donkey street is actually very interesting and makes you look at it from a whole new perspective.

As per legend, the fiery dragon, which is the city symbol of Ghent used to once belong to Bruges. However, the folks at Ghent wanted this dragon in order to make it their city symbol. So they stole the dragon from Bruges, placed it on a donkey and were taking it through this street. As it turns out, the donkey was loyal to the city of Bruges and refused to walk any further. So the thieves had to blindfold the donkey so that it wouldn’t know that it was stealing something from Bruges and taking it to Ghent. This interesting legendary tale makes visiting the blind donkey street one of the most interesting things to do in Bruges in one day.

8. Groenerei & Meebridge

Things to do in Bruges in one day - A Bruges one day itinerary and travel guide

The Mee bridge or Meebrug is said to be the oldest of more than 80 bridges in Bruges, Belgium. Located only a few steps away from both the Burg square and the Blind Donkey Street (Blinde-Ezelstraat), the benches near the Meebridge are a great place to sit idle for a while and enjoy the view of the Groenerei river and the boats passing under the bridge. It truly feels like a magical scene from a 90s movie and so it’s worth checking this place out, at least for a little while, if you have just 1 day in Bruges.

Book a bicycle tour to see the highlight of Bruges.

9. Rosary Quay – Picture-worthy Place to Visit in Bruges in 1 Day

What to see in Bruges in 1 day - Rosary quay - Most instagrammable place in Bruges, Belgium

Now let’s talk about one of the most picturesque and exciting things to do in Bruges in one day. Rosary Quay or Rozenhoedkaai is the most instagrammable street in Bruges and quite naturally, you can expect scores of people here at any point of time. The street is a walkable distance from the market square, as are most places in Bruges. While there are a number of places that sell fries and waffles around here, we found most of them to be tourist traps. That being said, the romantic view of the canals in Bruges from Rosary Quay makes it an unmissable place to visit in Bruges in 1 day.

10. St. Salvator’s Cathedral

St. Salvator‘s Cathedral lies just a few meters southeast of the Belfry of Bruges. This medieval church offers Renaissance tapestries , sculptures of wood and stone, stained glass windows and elaborate paintings. A visit to the church, including the treasury, is absolutely free of cost and requires no booking or reservation.

11. Church of Our Lady Bruges

Bruges in one day itinerary - Church of Our Lady of Bruges

The Church of Our Lady Bruges is a magnificent 13th century church which is one of the top places to visit in Bruges in one day for many-a reasons. First and foremost, the church contains the only Michelangelo sculpture outside of Italy . For this reason, the church also holds a museum, which can be entered by paying a small fee. Secondly, the architecture of the church itself is awe-inspiring and looks super grand. Thirdly, the gardens of the church have the most spectacular view of the Bruges canals and the little bridge over them is just the icing on the cake. Getting to see and photograph this part of Bruges was the highlight of my Bruges itinerary for 1 day!

12. Begijnhof

A visit to Begijnhof is one of the top things to do in Bruges in one day, especially if you’re visiting in spring. This ancient complex is a place where nuns and other religiously-inclined women reside and its gardens are so tranquil and beautiful. During spring, the garden is laden with brightly coloured tulips .

Also Read: 11 Things to do in Spring in Paris

13. Minnewater Park – Romantic Place to See in One Day in Bruges

Things to do in Bruges 1 day itinerary - Minnewater park and lake of love

Minnewater park is one of the most romantic places to visit in Bruges in one day that houses the Minnewater lake or the lake of love . Sitting under the trees, watching the boats go by, carriage rides in the distance and the swans hovering around makes you see why Bruges is such a romantic place and termed as the Venice of the north.

14. Frietmuseum

Belgium is known for many food and drink items such as Belgian waffles, Belgian chocolates and of course the beer! But there’s another popular street food item in Belgium and that is the potato fries. The Fritmuseum is exactly what it sounds like – a museum of fries . Along with the origin of the humble potato , its varieties and history, you’ll learn about how the Belgian fries came to be. With lots of fun video games and, naturally, you can get fries at the end of your tour. This is a fun thing to do in 1 day in Bruges for both adults as well as families with kids!

Get your tickets to the Frietmuseum here!

15. Bruges Canal Boat Ride

Best things to do in Bruges in one day - Boat ride in Bruges, Belgium

Your Bruges one day itinerary would be incomplete if you left without a boat ride in the canals of Bruges. The Venice of the north is just as romantic as actual Venice, albeit in different ways. A simple boat ride of 30 minutes along with the captain, who doubles as your tour guide, in an open boat costs €12 per person (as of the spring of 2023). It was nice to know little tidbits of information about Bruges through this tour and obviously, the romantic view of the canals was the highlight. Definitely recommend this experience while you’re in Bruges for one day.

Book a boat cruise and guided walking tour of Bruges.

Spending One Night in Bruges? Find the Best Hotels in Bruges

In case you need to spend a little more than 1 day in Bruges then here’s a list of the best places to spend a night in Bruges, Belgium for all budgets.

The White Queen B& B $

A quaint and romantic place to stay, it is located only 600 meters from the market square . This budget stay in Bruges has the cutest rooms, which are very fitting of Bruges. Because there are a number of restaurants nearby and the B&B is close enough to all the places to visit in Bruges in 1 day, it is the perfect place to spend a night in Bruges, Belgium.

Check availability at The White Queen BnB on

Dukes’ Academie Bruge s $$

This grand but cozy place is the perfect mid-range hotel in Bruges.The hotel is just 300 meters from the Church of Our Lady of Bruges and 200 meters from Begijnhof . Apart from a daily buffet breakfast , they offer private parking and a fitness center.

Check availability at Dukes Academie on

Boutique Hotel De Castillion $$$

One of the most romantic places to stay in Bruges in one day, the Boutique Hotel De Castillion is beautiful on the inside and outside. This historic property is located just 400 meters from the market square, serves an exceptional breakfast and has the most classic and elegant rooms .

Check availability at Boutique Hotel de Castillion on

The Notary $$$$

One of the most simple but luxurious hotels to stay in one day in Bruges, the Notary offers tastefully decorated rooms with a view . With an outdoor swimming pool , a bar , private parking , airport shuttle and many other amenities, this is a top choice for a comfortable stay in Bruges.

Check availability at The Notary on

What to Eat in 1 Day in Bruges

1 day in Bruges - what to eat

In all honesty, the only things I ate in Bruges and Belgium in general were the waffles and fries accompanied by Belgian beer and chocolates!! We found a lovely local Belgian chocolate store near the Blind Donkey street and bought a box of assorted chocolates and truffles to bring back home. It’s worth trying a chocolate making workshop with entry tickets to the Chocolate museum in bruges.

We also loved the waffles we found at a small place on the Katelijnestraat near the Maria bridge. We had fries from a popular place at the Rosary Quay but didn’t fall in love with it. So we recommend walking around and finding highly-rated places rather than a tourist trap at a popular location. You could even do a private food tour, includng 10 tastings, with locals .

We also suggest doing a Belgian beer tasting or a beer tour in Bruges . It was the highlight of our Belgium trip!

Indulge in Belgian waffle-making and beer tasting workshop in Bruges

Need More Travel Inspiration?

If you’re heading to western Europe then I’m sure you’re looking for helpful travel guides. Take a look at my Europe travel guides, all of which open in a new tab.

  • Prague Itinerary for 2 Days
  • One Day in Paris: Itinerary, Cost, Travel Tips and more!
  • How to Spend a Weekend in Copenhagen

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Hues Of Delahaye

One Day in Bruges Itinerary – 15 Epic Things to Do

visit brugge in one day

Wondering how to spend a one day in Bruges? Well in this one day in bruges itinerary I’ll show you travel tips on where to find best things to do in Bruges like chocolate, Belgian beer, waffles, traditional Belgian frites and picturesque canals . Plan a Bruges day trip with easy using this 24 hours in Bruges guide.

train tickets london to bruges

I have a great reason for putting Bruges amongst my best day trips from London . This medieval city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, charming and full of Belgian hospitality.

One of the many wonderful things about Bruges is that it’s perfect for a day trip. The historic center is compact, and you can walk basically everywhere.

This means you can see so much of Bruges in one day.  I basically had three days in Belgium and visited three of the larger cities in the country – Ghent , Brussels and Bruges. I had already visited Antwerp for a reggae festival and wanted to explore more of Belgium. 

Don’t have time to read the whole article? The best Bruges tour is this  Boat Cruise and Guided Walking Tour with a near-perfect ⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating.

london to bruges bus

I loved every second of exploring Bruges, even as I was shown the city by my local guide in the rain and freezing cold. It still radiated beauty and charm, even under grey skies.

Can you just imagine how much more magical it would be in summer? As a UNESCO world heritage city, Bruges is full of canals, Belgian beer, cobblestone streets and fairytale structures with exposed brick. It’s an incredibly enchanting combination. 

Apart from all the stunning Bruges landmarks, the food scene in Bruges is also very vibrant. Belgian chocolate, waffles and beer brewed by monks are just some of the delights you can look forward to sampling. 

With so much going for the city, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and plan your trip with my awesome guide on what to do in one day in Bruges.

Is Bruges Worth Visiting?

One Day in Bruges Itinerary

Yes! Bruges is worth visiting. The city is beautiful, compact and peaceful. The hospitality is superb, and the Belgian food scene that everyone can appreciate. Truth be told, it’s hard to regret a visit to Bruges. 

Where is Bruges Belgium ?

Bruges is a city in Belgium, a country in western Europe. Bruges, despite being so calm, is the capital of West Flanders — a region in the northwest of Belgium. With its many canals and a harbour, it remains a trade centre, as it has been for centuries.

When is the Best Time to Visit Bruges?

day trips to bruges from london

Late spring and summer (May to August) are the best times to visit Bruges. The weather is warm and pleasant during this period. Just remember that this is also a very busy period (try to come between June and August when it slows down a bit). I visited at the end of February, there were fewer crowds and tours groups, but it was also cold, grey and the weather changed rapidly thought-out the day. So, consider this when visiting in Bruges in winter.

Is One Day in Bruges Enough Time?

In my opinion, you can totally see the best of Bruges in 24 hours. You just need to be realistic and know that you will not have time for everything.

Guide to Bruges in a Day

Here’s a lowdown on everything you need to know about this stunning Belgian city. Keep on reading this Bruges day trip from London guide.

Bruges one day Itinerary |15 Best Things to do in Bruges in One Day

Overwhelmed by the beauty of this charming city and wondering what to do in Bruges Belgium in one day? Here are my favourite places to visit and experiences to try in this gorgeous destination. And, yes, you can explore Bruges in a day.

1. People-Watch in Grote Markt (Market Square) & Walking Tour

When is the Best Time to Visit Bruges

Top of any list of what to do in Bruges is Grote Markt (often shortened just to ‘Market Square or Markt’). This buzzing market square is the centre of the city. It hosts a variety of gorgeous buildings and atmospheric eateries. Admiring these historic buildings is best done from the comfort of one of the market square’s cafes. However, if you want to get up close, be sure to pop by the neo-Gothic Provinciaal Hof. There’s also the charming Huis Bouchoute.

This is also a meeting point for the walking tours in Bruges . My walking tour of the city with my local guide started here, unless otherwise stated on your booking details. So, keep this in mind if you are booking a Bruges walking tour.

⭐️  RATING:  4.7 out of 5 Stars (560+ reviews) | ⏳  TOUR LENGTH:  2-2.5 hours |  🎟️  BOOK NOW

2. Enjoy a Canal Cruise in Bruges Belgium

Canal Cruise in Bruges

Wondering what to see in Bruges in one day? A Bruges canal tour is a must and the Groenerei, meaning “green canal”, is perfect for this. I absolutely loved taking the Bruges canals cruise and my ‘Captain’, was very entertaining as he drove us along the canal, pointing out the historic houses, landmarks in Bruges and buildings that lined it.

The Groenerei flows through the heart of the town, so taking a Bruges canals cruise is a tranquil way of seeing Bruges. There are other rivers you can visit besides the Groenerei — the most important thing is just to take a canal boat tour in Bruges! Surprisingly Bruges has never flood, even through a canal runs through it.

Tickets for the canal tours can be brought just before getting on the boats and are around €10 for the 30 minutes tour.

⭐️  RATING:  4.5 out of 5 Stars (34+ reviews) | ⏳  TOUR LENGTH:  5-6 hours |  🎟️  BOOK NOW

3. Take A Belgium Beer Tour At De Halve Maan Brewery


If you’re looking for a local experience that will fit into your tight schedule, a big favourite in the area is a beer tasting at De Halve Maan Brewery.

A tour of De Halve Maan Brewery offers some of the most authentic insights into local culture that you can get in just one day in Bruges Belgium. This is the city’s only brewery and demonstrates traditional brewing techniques.

The De Halve Maan Brewery is not only unique because it is the only brewery in Bruges, but the story behind why it is also inspiring. Brewing on the De Halve Maan site was first recorded in 1564. However, this was threatened by heavy truck traffic and their ecological footprint in the inner city of Bruges.

This was remedy by a unique 2-mile beer pipeline, connecting the brewery in the central Bruges to the bottling plant.

The building of the pipeline was aid by locals who crowd-funded it, and those who helped fund the pipeline now receive free beer.

This ingenious beer pipeline under the city is keeping the production of beer where it has been for the last 160 years.

I end my day in Bruges actually having dinner and some Belgian beers at the Halve Man Brewery and would definitely recommend the brewery tour as you get to find out more about the history of the brewery, see the chambers and learn about the bottling of beer.

⭐️  RATING:  4.9 out of 5 Stars (10+ reviews) | ⏳  TOUR LENGTH:  4 hours |  🎟️  BOOK NOW

4. Take in the City Views from Belfry

City Views from Belfry Bruges

Bordering the market square is the Bruges City Hall, town hall the Halle, and its belfry (a bell tower). This is the most iconic landmark in Bruges city center and is a must-see on your Bruges day trip.

The building first opened in the mid 13th century and has been renovated many times since. It originally housed a market in the courtyard, and the balcony was used by politicians addressing the citizens.

The belfry itself is 83m-high, contains 47 bells to alert the city of danger, time, and has stood on the same site since medieval times.

The Belfry’s initial structure was made of wood, however after being struck by lightning twice and burning down twice. The material was changed for something more durable, resulting in the Belfry we see today.

You can enter the tower, which boasts stunning views over Bruges, through the courtyard. You can climb the Belfry’s 366 for the best views of the city.

However, the waiting time can be up to 30 – 60 minutes. I would avoid going midday or early morning, which tends to be the busiest time.

5. Explore the History of Chocolate


Visiting the Choco-Story Museum is one of my top things to do in Bruges in a day. This one-of-a-kind museum really brings the 4000-year-old history of chocolate to life.

There’s an exhibition of around 1000 objects that shows how the technology around chocolate production has evolved.

You can also enjoy a demonstration of the chocolate-making process and taste the results at one of the most interesting museums in Bruges Belgium.

⭐️  RATING:  4.1 out of 5 Stars (240+ reviews) | ⏳  TOUR LENGTH:  1.5 hours |  🎟️  BOOK NOW

6. Pose at Rozenhoedkaai (Quay of the Rosary)

london to bruges day trip

You know those pictures that first made you think of taking a day trip to Bruges? They are probably from Rozenhoedkaai .

This historic quay is very pretty and deserves to be on your list of what to see in Bruges, Belgium in one day. This quay is just a few minutes from the Market Square. It offers a great position to take photos of the canal, which is lined with charming, old houses.

I also pass the Rozenhoedkaai on my canal boat tour, and it’s a really unique way of seeing this iconic spot in Bruges from a different perspective.

7. Admire the Church of Our Lady

Church of Our Lady Bruges

One of the stops on my walking tour in Bruges is the Church of Our Lady . Work on this awesome structure began back in 1230, with additions made to the Church of Our Ladyin later centuries. No one day in Bruges itinerary would be complete without a stop here so don’t miss out.

Apart from the soaring architectural features, the Church of Our Lady holds some art masterpieces. The highlight for most is Virgin and Child , a sculpture by Michelangelo. He carved it in 1503, and it is, in fact, the only sculpture that left Italy during his lifetime. 

The actual sculpture is encased behind glass, and you have to stand some distance away from it. Michaelangelo created it for the cathedral in Sienna in Tuscany, and then two brothers who were merchants from Bruges purchased it and brought it to Bruges.

However, it has been stolen twice and returned twice to the church. Bruges’ Church of Our Lady boasts the second tallest brick tower in the world so add it to your Bruges one day itinerary.

Tickets for the museum section are on sale in the south transept until 4.30 p.m.

8. Discover Begijnhof and the Minnewater Lake

Minnewater Lake Bruges

There are many legends surrounding the Minnewater Lake , and it’s easy to see why. Willowy trees and historic buildings line the edges of the lake, making for a pretty picture. The centrepiece is the “Lake of Love” and” Lovers Bridge”, with the beautiful white swans sleeping on the banks of the river.

The legend of Minewater goes like this – a young and beautiful girl named Minna was in love with Stromberg, a warrior of a neighbouring tribe.

Her father forbids her to marry him, because man had the power to do crap like that then and now. Guess the world has changed much.

Anyways Minna ran away, but while trying to cross the lake, she died from exhaustion, before her love could save her.

You know the kind of tales that Danielle Steel’s books are built on. The Minnewater Lake was the centre of Bruges’ lace trade. Just a three-minute walk from the lake is Begijnhof.

The building was once a residence for celibate, pious women and allows you to take a good peek into life in the 17th century. 

Today the Beguinage is inhabited by nuns of the Order of St. Benedict and several Bruges women who have decided to remain unmarried.

9. See the Blood of Jesus at the Basilica of the Holy Blood

Basilica of the Holy Blood

No matter how much you travel, it’s a rare event to encounter the holy blood, a vial that’s said to contain blood from Jesus Christ. This truly is one of the top things to do in Bruges is see the Holy Blood.

The relic is not on permanent display if you visit Bruges. You can only view it twice a day, at either 11:30 or 14:00, so plan your day with this in mind if you’re keen to catch a glimpse.

It’s also worth sticking around to admire the mix of upper Gothic church and Romanesque architecture. The Basilica of the Holy Blood church is located in Burg Square, in burg square next door to Bruges City Hall.

10. Stop by the Iconic Burg Square & Bruges City Hall


In photo of Bruges, the postcard-perfect Burg Square is recognisable with its iconic City Hall one of the most impressive building in the square.

Visitors can walk around the square before going inside the gothic town hall, which was built around 1376.

The highlights of the magnificent city hall are its Gothic rooms, with intricate mural paintings portraying the history of Bruges over the last 400.

11. Stroll through Hansa Quarter

If you love atmospheric historic quarters, then you should certainly pop by Hansa Quarter . The Hansa network of cities in northern Europe were important trade destinations. Bruges was a part of this network, with trade concentrated in the Hansa Quarter.

You can meander past all this history with attractions in Bruges such as the Spanish Unloading Quay and Easterners’ Square.

12. Visit Jan Van Eyck Square

Jan Van Eyck Square

This square was once the city’s harbour. It continues to be a highlight on any Bruges itinerary, thanks to its beautiful architecture. 

At the heart of the square is a statue of Jan van Eyck , a famous local painter who lived in the early 15th century. There is a canal in the square, as well as many great restaurants for a short break from your walking tour.

13. Marvel at the Oldest Church in Bruges Belgium

St Salvators Cathedral

Things to see in Bruges in one day is the St Salvator’s Cathedral is the oldest church in Bruges and also its main one. It dates from the 12th century and has an abundance of treasures to illustrate its long history. It’s hard to know where to look inside St Salvador’s.

You must admire the organ, as well as peer at medieval tombs. Don’t forget to take a close look at the details of the tapestries.

The highlight, though, is probably the church’s collection of Flemish art. The artworks date from the 14th to 18th centuries.

There are many paintings by great Flemish artists such as Hugo van der Goes and Dieric Bouts and one of the top places to include on your one day in Bruges itinerary.

14. Learn About Flemish Art at the Groeningemuseum

Still wondering what to do in Bruges, Belgium in one day? It’s time to pop by the Groeningemuseum . This art museum is the most preeminent institution of its kind in the Flanders region.

The museum houses six centuries of Belgian visual art. The main collection, though, is of Flemish art. Rich colours, evocative facial expressions and religious themes characterise these artworks.

Make sure to admire The Last Judgement by Hieronymus Bosch, as well as Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele by Jan van Eyck, the most distinguished Flemish painter to see if you visit Bruges in one day.

15. Picnic Beneath a Windmill

If it’s not raining during your day trip, set aside some time for a walk between the four old windmills. They’re along the old moat and city walls, which are now covered in verdant grass.  You’ll find that the walk itself is peaceful and easy.

The views of the historic old town and the canals are also lovely. Stop for a picnic on the rolling lawn. One of the windmills is still in operation (since the 1770s), while two others offer small museums for visitors.

16. Buy a Piece of Lace

Bruges is famous for its lace, and it would be a pity not to admire this handicraft during your visit. There are about 20 shops that produce and sell lace today, but the best is Rococo.

Rococo has been in business since 1833. It has an extensive range of traditional laceworks, as well as more modern styles. Whether or not you’re buying, stay to watch the demonstration of lacework. It’s breath-taking.

Where To Eating in Bruges

Eating in Bruges

There are so many fabulous things to do in Bruges Belgium, that it’s easy to overlook the city’s food scene. This would be a mistake, however, since this Flemish town boasts more than its fair share of first-class eateries. So here are some of the best places to eat in Bruges Belgium.

🍽️ Cafe Bistro Terrastje

If you’ve finally had your fill of chocolates, venture just outside of the historic centre to Cafe Bistro Terrastje .

It’s near a charming Bruges canal, and the interior is equally quaint. This is a small eatery which means that the service is personal and attentive. There’s a great outdoor seating area. Cafe Bistro Terrastje offers a number of top beers. 

The staff is knowledgeable and happy to bring tasters to the table — so if you don’t know what anything is, ask. The food is fresh and delicious.

🍽️ Le Trappiste

I simply love Le Trappiste . It’s in an eighth-century cellar near Markt and oozes medieval charm.  Its speciality is Trappist beer.

This is a beer that is brewed by monks of a Roman Catholic contemplative order. This may seem rather unlikely but profits from the beer fund monasteries and various charities.

This is a practice that was done throughout middle ages in Belgium, this I learnt on my beer tour of Ghent.

Tasting this world-renowned kind of beer should definitely be on your list of things to do in one day in Bruges. Le Trappiste’s house Trappist beer, called Abbott, is exclusively brewed for the venue.

Best Chocolate Shops in Bruges Belgium

Maison Dandoy Bruges

🍫 Chocoladehuisje

Chocolate is one of Bruges’ many charms. Although there are plenty of chocolate stores, few can compete with the artisan truffles and pralines sold here.  Chocoladehuisje is just around the corner from Markt, so there’s no excuse to add it to your list of Bruges things to do.

🍫 Pralinette

Pralinette is another chocolate shop in walking distance of Markt. This one is bigger than Chocoladehuisje but still has a feel of authenticity.

Pralinette has a team of just five chocolatiers who devote extraordinary care to their creations. My favourite purchases at Pralinette are the strawberries, and orange slices dipped in chocolate. Yum!

If you’re a real chocolate fan, it’s worth considering attending a workshop during which you can make a creamy chocolate lollipop.

🍫 Chocolate Dumon

You truly are spoiled for choice with Bruges’ chocolate scene. Chocolate Dumon is another stellar option for tasting the finest Belgian chocolate.

This family-run business makes its chocolates fresh daily on the premises. Their pralines are beloved for their creaminess. Chocolate Dumon also offers chocolate figurines so you could even purchase an edible nativity scene.


🍫 The Chocolate Line

Dominique Person runs The Chocolate Line gem, and his creations are both unusual and delicious. Expect to pay on the higher end of the scale for these world-famous treats.

Try the Havana Cigar, a unique mix of rum, cognac and Cuban tobacco leaves. There are also some excellent — and very unusual — options featuring wasabi, fried onion and tomatoes.

🍫 Chocolate Brothers Bruges

This is a truly artisanal location to try the famed Belgian chocolates. Conveniently, it’s just a three-minute walk from the Groeninge Museum.

There’s a variety of handmade pralines and truffles to enjoy. It’s all served in a small shop that features exposed brick walls, making for a cosy atmosphere.

🍫 The Old Chocolate House

The Old Chocolate House is another attraction that you simply have to visit during your Bruges day trip. It’s a member of the Bruges Chocolate Guild so you can rest assured that the chocolates are handmade and of top quality.

This chocolate store is a relative newcomer on the Bruges chocolate scene. Nevertheless, some say that their hot chocolate is the best in town. It also offers traditional Belgian waffles and various fine chocolates. 

🍫 Tsjokoreeto

This another amazing chocolate shop to visit, their brandy truffle is to die for. Plus the shop lays along the smallest street in Bruges, which has its own sordid history.

🍫 Note: If you are visiting a chocolate shops in Bruges, make sure to look out for the plaques on the shop fronts that say – (Gilde Van De Bruges Chocolatiers), or ‘Guild of Bruges Chocolatiers’, this signifies that the chocolates in these shops are made there in Bruges.

Where to Stay in Bruges

bruges day trip from london

For those of you fortunate enough to overnight in Bruges, here are a couple of my top places to stay in Bruges Belgium.

🏨 Hotel Aragon

Hotel Aragon is an ideal mid-range option for a quick weekend break in town. It’s a comfortable retreat after a day of sightseeing, thanks to the free wifi and quiet rooms. Its central location also makes getting around Bruges a breeze.

🏨 De Tuilerieën

For a luxurious and romantic getaway, you won’t find better than De Tuilerieën . The four-star hotel is in a 15th-century mansion that’s in the heart of the historic centre. The attentive staff will make sure you see the best of Bruges as comfortably as possible.

Getting to Bruges

bruges by train from london

It’s one thing to know what to see in Bruges in 1 day, but it’s equally important to plan how you’re going to get there. I generally prefer rail journeys, thanks to their quickness and comfort, but there is also the option of taking the bus.

How to Get to Bruges from London

When it comes to your London to Bruges day trip, your best options for travelling are the train and the bus.

Bruges’ airport is small, so there are no direct flights from the UK. You could fly via Brussels, but the train and bus are truly more convenient. 

London to Bruges by Train

Travelling to Bruges from London by train is one of the best options for your journey. You can reach the Belgian city in just over three hours.

What’s more, your train will stop in the heart of Bruges at the Bruges train station, so it’s super convenient for visiting Bruges.

The Eurostar train travels under the sea, which is a cool experience to tick off the Bruges bucket list .  There is free WiFi and a cafe on-board, so you can chill and enjoy the journey. You’ll travel via Brussels where you will change to a local train station, which will take you to Bruges.

How to Get to Bruges from Ghent

Wondering how to get to Bruges from Ghent ? It’s really, very easy. Bruges is just a 51-minute car drive from Ghent. If you’re using public transport, you can take the bus or the train.

By train, the journey between these Belgian cities takes just 25 minutes. You can purchase tickets online from Belgian Railways . 

The bus journey takes a little longer with a general travel time of 45 minutes. Bear in mind that the bus isn’t always cheaper, so it’s best to compare train and bus prices ahead of time.

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How to Get from Brussels to Bruges Day Trip

For a Bruges day trip from Brussels you can choose between the bus and the train to travel to Bruges from Brussels. 

By train, travel time is generally just over an hour, though you can take the 53-minute train. With around 70 trains leaving every day from Bruges train station, there is a departure about every 18 minutes.

If you are travelling from Brussels-Midi (Bruxelles-Midi) to Bruges via Bruges train station during the weekend, tickets are 50% off (€15.40) on 2nd class day train tickets.

The discount is applied at the ticket machine automatically. The bus journey takes about an hour and twenty minutes. FlixBus and Eurolines both operate this route.

⭐️  RATING:  4.6 out of 5 Stars (2000+ reviews) | ⏳  TOUR LENGTH:  10.5 hours |  🎟️  BOOK NOW

Getting Around Bruges

When you’re planning how to spend one day in Bruges, don’t forget to factor in the time it will take to get from one attraction to another. Fortunately, strolling around the city is actually one of its charms, so you’re not wasting time when walking.

You could grab a walking itinerary from the Bruges Tourist Office to map out your route ahead of time. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes because the cobblestone streets can be rough on the feet.

I also recommend biking around the city. Companies such as Bruges Bike Rental hire bicycles for about £3 per hour or £10 per day.

Since the city is so small and full of canals, there is little space for cars. However, there are several taxi stands. There’s also a bus system, but you really won’t need it. With a one-hour ticket costing about £2.50, it’s also a bit pricey.   

One Day in Bruges | Top Things to Do In Bruges Belgium

Now that you’ve got your day trip to Bruges itinerary, you’re ready to go your weekend trip to explore Bruges further.

With these tips, you’re sure to have such a wonderful experience that you’re likely to return to the city again and again for more.

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Bruges Day Trip: A Magical Itinerary for One Day In Bruges (2024)

  • August 1, 2023

Bruges Belfry from Canal in Belgium

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Heading on a Bruges day trip is the perfect way to explore this bite-sized city.

Filled with glorious canals, beautiful buildings, and, of course, plenty of waffles, chocolate and beer, a visit to Bruges is a must on any Belgium itinerary!

In this blog post, I’ve going to share the exact Bruges itinerary I meticulously researched and used to enjoy my one day in Bruges.

I had low expectations of Bruges. I just couldn’t believe that anywhere was worth that much hype. I was totally wrong though – Bruges, also called Brugge, is SO worth the hype!

Everywhere you look, you’ll be gobsmacked by the dreamy canals, cute cobbled streets or stunning red-brick buildings.

You can easily see the highlights of Bruges in a day. I spent one day and one night in Bruges, as part of a longer 5 day trip to Belgium, but it’s also totally doable to do a day trip to Bruges and stay the night elsewhere.

Girl at the Provincial Palace in Bruges Belgium

Wondering what to see in Bruges in one day? Let’s get started. Here’s my tried-and-tested Bruges one day itinerary!

The Perfect One Day in Bruges Itinerary

Stop 1: take a boat tour of the bruges canals.

Boat tour in Bruges, Belgium - stop 1 on this one day in Bruges itinerary.

Let’s kick off your Bruges day trip with one of the best activities in the city – hopping on this guided boat tour of its world-famous canals!

Exploring Bruges via boat is the perfect introduction to the city and offers a unique way to learn about its history and see some of its famous landmarks.

After you’ve cruised along the canals your guide will lead you on a walking tour of the city’s many alleyways and most beautiful tourist attractions, meaning you’ll get to explore Bruges both from the water and from the streets!

If the weather isn’t on your side, a great (and tastier!) alternative is to join this Belgian chocolate-making class . During the class, you’ll learn how to make three different types of chocolate from scratch.

You’ll also end up with around 35 pieces of Belgian chocolate to take home with you – win!

Stop 2: Market Square & Belfort Brugge

Bruges Market Square

After your boat tour or chocolate class it’s time to head to the heart of Bruges, Market Square.

Be sure to take your time making your way to the Market Square – chances are you’ll get distracted and want to explore Bruges’ charming streets and ancient buildings.

Arriving in Market Square, you’ll immediately recognise the majestic Provincial Palace, a gothic-style building originally used for government meetings.

Nowadays, its main use is as a ceremonial building, and it’s one of Bruges’ most well-known landmarks. Join in with the other tourists snapping pictures of it before turning your attention to the Belfort.

Bruges’ Belfort tower dates back to the 13 th century and is a key part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage status. It costs €15 to enter and climb the 366 steps to the top of the tower, which offers breathtaking views over central Bruges.

To break up the climb, there are a few stops such as the Treasury, where the city treasury and city seal were kept in the Middle Ages, and the Tower Room, where you can see the keyboard from which the tower’s bells are played.

Stop 3: Sampling Traditional Belgian Frites for Lunch

Belgian fries with andalouse sauce

For lunch, stop by ‘t Brugsch Friethuys , just on the other side of the Market Square, to get some quick takeout Belgian fries.

There are so many different sauces on offer here, but since you’re in Belgium it would be a crime to not sample the mouth-watering Andalouse sauce.

This Belgian speciality is a mix of mayonnaise, tomato paste and peppers. It’s absolutely delicious when smothered over thin and crispy Belgian fries!

You should eat these back out on the Market Square for some extra time taking in the hustle and bustle.

Stop 4:  Tour De Halve Maan Brewery

Beer cellar on the De Halve Maan Bruges Brewery tour

De Halve Maan is the most iconic brewery in Bruges and creates award-winning beers that harness loyal fans. This was definitely the highlight of my 1 day in Bruges, and is a great stop for any beer-lovers!

The brewery also has an insane amount of history behind it, and it’s one of the top things to see in Bruges in one day.

The earliest mention of the brewery was way back in 1564, and the Maes family, who still run De Halve Maan, became its owners in the 19 th century.

Tours of the brewery in English, French and Dutch run hourly from 11am to 4pm. The tour costs €16 and lasts 45 minutes, ending in their lovely restaurant. Your tour ticket includes a free glass of their absolutely delicious beer, Brugse Zot Blond, which you can try here.

The tour takes you through the brewing process as well of the history of beer brewing in Bruges. You’ll also learn a lot about De Halve Maan itself, including its history and how it evolved to stay in business through two world wars.

After a steep climb, the tour emerges onto the brewery’s roof, which offers amazing views over the charming city of Bruges.

View from tour of De Halve Maan Brewery in Bruges Belgium

From here, you can see De Halve Maan’s factory in the distance.

It was fascinating to learn that to transport the beer from its brewery in the inner city to the bottling plant, De Halve Maan actually installed a 3.2km pipeline underneath Bruges for the beer to travel through.

Stop 5: Snap Some Photos of the Church of Our Lady

visit brugge in one day

On your short walk back to the city centre, stop by the picturesque Church of Our Lady .

You won’t get lost trying to find it – its 155.5-metre brick steeple is one of the highest points in Bruges and takes pride of place in the city’s skyline.

The church took two whole centuries to build (between the 13 th and 15 th centuries), so it’s worth seeing for yourself why they spent so long on it.

Not only is the exterior of the church gorgeous, but inside you’ll find a marble sculpture, ‘Madonna and Child’, by Michelangelo. It’s an amazing feature of the church, and worth checking out.

Once you’re inside, you’ll find lots of paintings, 13 th and 14 th century painted crypts, and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold.

The church is free to enter, but it costs €8 to see the highlights in the church museum. In my opinion, this isn’t worth paying for – just enjoy the church for free.

Stop 6: Stop by the Iconic Burg Square & Bruges City Hall

Brugge Burg Square and Brugge City Hall in Belgium, Europe

If you’ve ever seen a photo of Bruges, you’ll recognise this postcard-perfect town square, complete with the instantly recognisable Bruges City Hall.

This is one of my favourite places to visit in Bruges in one day.

Wander the square and people watch for a while before stepping inside the City Hall. The Hall was built in 1376 – it’s hard to even imagine that far back!

At only €8 , the entry price is well worth it to gawp at its elaborate interiors. The highlight is undoubtedly the Gothic Hall, which contains intricate murals depicting the history of Bruges over the 600 years the City Hall has governed it.

There’s a really neat multimedia exhibition which documents the evolution of the Burg Square and a museum section which educates on the city’s history.

If you’re looking to really get to grips with how long Bruges has been around for, the City Hall is a great stop.

Next door to the City Hall you’ll find the Basilica of the Holy Blood, another ornate church that’s popular with visitors.

I didn’t explore the Basilica so I can’t offer much information, but if you have plenty of time left it could be worth checking out.

Stop 7: Taste the Best of Belgian Beer at Le Trappiste

Tasting Paddle of Belgian beers at Le Trappiste

Can’t decide which Belgian beer you want to try the most? At Le Trappiste, you don’t have to!

Here, you can choose a ‘paddle’ of 5 different beers for just €13 . The list of beers for you to choose from is huge! If you’re feeling peckish, they even offer combos of cheese, olives and salami to snack on in between sips of beer.

Le Trappiste is set in an 800-year-old medieval cellar, and is voted one of the best placed to drink in Bruges!

Now we’ve talked about how to spend a day in Bruges, let’s talk about what to do at night!

Tasting of Belgian beer on open cafe or bistro terrace with view on medieval houses and canals in Bruges, Belgium in sunny day

Stop 8: Dinner at De Halve Maan

Does this place look familiar? That’s right, you’ve already been here, but it’s so good I recommend coming back!

Trust me when I say it – finding Belgian food in Bruges without dropping a shedload of cash is really tricky. Luckily, De Halve Maan, in addition to having great beer, also has pretty affordable (by Bruges’ standards…) dinner options.

The restaurant is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm-9pm , and, like every restaurant in Bruges, you really should make a reservation in advance.

Even in early March, the restaurant was totally packed!

A Flemish Beef Stew cooked with Brugse Zot will set you back €21.50 , and chicken vol-au-vent will cost €19.00 . This might seem pretty pricey, but it was one of the cheapest places we found in Bruges serving up traditional Belgian food!

After dinner, where the night heads is up to you! You could head straight back to your hotel to recover from such a busy day (which is what I decided to do!) or head out to sample some more beers.

Just don’t forget that Belgian beers are super strong!

Chocolate shop in Belgium

Is One Day in Bruges Enough?

A day in Bruges is the ideal amount of time to get to know the city and see its highlights. Bruges is perfect for day trips, and there are plenty of things to do in Bruges in one day.

Of course, you can extend your time in Bruges and stay another day, but I personally recommend moving on to another city in Belgium if you can. This tiny country packs a punch, and there is so much to see and do!

From Bruges, we moved on to Ypres. I highly recommend a trip to Ypres to see the world-famous Last Post Ceremony if you’re looking to extend your time in Belgium!

If you’re looking for a slightly more cosmopolitan city, head to Brussels, Ghent or Antwerp.

Skyline in Market Square

How to Get to Bruges, Belgium

Getting the train to bruges.

The best way to get to Bruges is by train – either from another Belgian city, or even another nearby country! To get to Bruges, you’ll want a ticket to Brugge-Sint-Pieters station.

If you’re travelling from another Belgian city, you can purchase tickets at the train station at any of the ticket machines, or online.

It’s not worth the hassle of buying tickets far in advance as train ticket prices in Belgium stay the same regardless of how early you book them.

If you’re under 26 , you can get some awesome savings by buying a Go Ticket. This ticket allows you to travel anywhere in Belgium, and costs just €6.60 !

Adult standard tickets vary in price according to the distance – from Brussels to Bruges you’ll pay €14.30. From Ghent to Bruges, it costs €6.70.

Flying to Bruges

Outside terminal at Brussels airport (BRU) in Belgium.

If you’re flying to Bruges, the most simple and cost-effective option is to fly into either Brussels Charleroi or Brussels Zaventem airports and then travel to Bruges. I always use Skyscanner to find cheap flights.

From Brussels Zaventem , there is a direct train to Bruges every hour. There are also options to catch connecting trains in central Brussels. The direct train costs €21.20 and takes just over 90 minutes.

The best and quickest way to get to Bruges from Brussels Charleroi airport is by taking the shuttle bus run by . These shuttles run 9 times per day. The journey takes around 2 hours and costs €5.

Of course, you can also travel by train to Bruges from various cities in Europe. This includes London (3 hours 20), Paris (2 hours 30), Cologne (3 hours 10) and more.

visit brugge in one day

Taking a Tour to Bruges

A really popular way to visit Bruges is via a tour from another European city. High competition means these trips are super affordable, and usually include all your transport and entry fees.

Taking a tour is a great idea if you’re wanting to relax and leave all the organisation to somebody else.

You can hop on this tour of Bruges from Amsterdam , this full-day tour of Bruges from Paris , or this affordable Bruges day trip from Brussels .

Public Transport in Bruges

Bruges is a very walkable city, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to use the city’s public transport unless your hotel is not in the city centre.

I recommend paying extra to stay in the city centre so that you don’t need to worry about this. If you do need to use public transport, you will need to use the bus – there is no tram or metro.

Where to Stay in Bruges

Sign saying Hotel in a Bruges street in Belgium

If you’re looking to extend your day trip to Bruges by staying overnight, I’m here to help.

Finding good quality budget accommodation within walking distance to the city centre can be tricky. Obviously, Bruges is hugely popular with tourists.

For this reason, accommodation here was quite a bit more expensive than in other cities in Belgium I visited, but obviously not as expensive as in cities like London or the very expensive Oslo . Luckily, I have a few solid recommendations up my sleeve:

As ever, the best way to keep costs down is to stay in a hostel. Bruges, fortunately, has quite a few hostels, but they do sell out quickly in summer. This fabulous hostel gets consistently great reviews and is located right in the city centre.

It even has its own Belgian beer bar stocking over 40 types of beer! A bed in a 16-bed dorm will set you back around €23 , or you can pay €85 for a private double room with your own bathroom.

Click here to book your hostel stay!

Belgian fries in front of the Brugge Belfort which can be seen on a Bruges day trip

Being the disorganised person that I am, I didn’t book my accommodation until the week before my trip. By this point, obviously, a lot of the budget accommodation was fully booked.

Fortunately, I managed to snag a room at this perfect hotel , and I was really happy with my stay. It’s super close to the city centre, and just round the corner from Herberg Vlissinghe, the oldest pub in Bruges!

The rooms were comfortable and the location was right on the canal – perfect! We paid €135.00 for one night. As I said, this was quite pricey compared to the other places we stayed in Belgium but seemed to be in line with hotel prices in Bruges.

Plus, splitting the cost with my boyfriend really helped!

Click here to book the hotel I stayed at!

When Is the Best Time to Visit Bruges?

One day in Bruges Belgium at Christmas

High season in Europe runs from mid-June until early September. I recommend spring and autumn as the best time to visit Bruges. These seasons offer fairly good weather without the huge summer crowds.

Visiting Bruges for Christmas would also be ideal, as the beautiful old town already looks like something out of a Christmas story. Bruges offers up some of the best European Christmas markets . A December visit here will definitely get you feeling festive!

I actually visited Bruges in early March and found this a great time to see the city. Bruges was already pretty busy, so I’m really glad I visited in the off-season.

The weather was a bit patchy, but overall March was a good time to visit. I could imagine the summer crowds driving me insane!

I hope this Bruges day trip itinerary has helped you to plan your upcoming trip.

Don’t forget to Pin this blog post so you have it saved for later!

How to spend one day in Bruges Belgium including the best things to do, see and eat. Whether you visit Bruges at Christmas, winter or summer there are always so many things to do. Bruges is also known as Brugge. Bruges has such great aesthetic and is perfect for instagram. Bruges is a popular place to travel and this Bruges travel itinerary includes where to stay in Bruges, and how to visit Bruges on a day trip. Bruges should be on every Europe bucket list!

Ella Moore is the founder of Many More Maps. Growing up just 45 minutes away from Liverpool, Ella has spent years exploring the city inside out. In her teenage years, she was introduced to the music of The Beatles, and the rest, they say, is history! Today, she stands as a leading authority on Beatles tourism in Liverpool, helping over 40,000 people a month to plan their dream trip to the city.

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What to do in Bruges in 1 Day [20 Unusual Things]

By Author Paulina

Posted on Published: July 14, 2021  - Last updated: April 6, 2024

Do you have 1 day in Bruges? Read this quirky guide with the best things to do in Bruges in 1 day. From local shops in Bruges with artisan and handmade crafts, sampling the best beers in Bruges or doing a canal cruise. This Bruges itinerary is a great mix between the must-sees in Bruges, Belgium and some less-known attractions of Bruges. If you're wondering what to do in Bruges, this Bruges travel guide also provides you some great Bruges Belgium photography spots. #bruges #belgium #quirky

Traveling to Bruges, but have a short trip planned? Want to make the most of limited time?

Don’t worry, here I have compiled 20 fun and unique things you can do in Bruges in 1 day , with all the must-see attractions of the city.

As you probably know, I am a huge fan of slow travel. Therefore I recommend extending your stay in Bruges and enjoying these unusual things to do in Bruges to travel Belgium with all the time in the world.

This list will help you avoid the annoying crowds, and make the most of your time while enjoying your trip to the max.

Top photo is the front view and wide view of the town and bottom photo is a cloudy day on the river with buildings on each side. It has a parked boat on the side.

Have a unique experience by trying one of these attractions most tourists miss out on. 

Bruges is one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium that offers delicious food, interesting attractions, rich history, and amazing wine bars!

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Bruges in 1 Day: Let’s Go!

1. rent a bike.

rent a bike in bruges, belgium

Enjoy the cool weather and the local sights of Bruges as you ride around the city.

See the canals that give the city its famed nickname of Venice of Belgium , explore the sandy beaches, colorful marketplaces, beautiful windmills, and medieval architecture.

Discover the best photography spots in Bruges for Instagram , or commute to one of the other activities on the bike to maximize your experience.

This definitely makes Bruges on of the best day trips from Brussels by train !

Visit Hotel Koffieboontje ** for great rates and discounts for bike rentals. If you want to explore Bruges in 1 day, a bike may be one of your best options!

2. Eat organic food

eat vegan food bruges

For a unique, non-touristy experience, try organic food and get healthier options in local cuisine. I suggest restaurants like Nomad for a fancy and beautiful restaurant, and Cuvee Bar a Vin for natural wine and delicious seasonal dishes. 

There are many other spots that provide delicious, organic food made with fresh ingredients! Make sure you explore them and savor every bite because it’s not going to be long before you start missing Belgian food.

Have a look here at the best restaurants in Bruges .

01e4c6a9f11bb661f58233a8c4cd6b8b79ec2f65 - What to do in Bruges in 1 Day [20 Unusual Things]


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3. Visit alternative coffee shops

coffee shops in bruges belgium

To really immerse yourself in the local culture, grab a coffee at one of the small local coffee shops.

Mingle with the locals, see their lifestyle, and exchange unique stories to make your experience even richer.

Here are some of the best coffee shops in Bruges:

  • Cafune Espresso Bar & Roastery : a wonderful coffee shop with its own specialty roastery.  For affordable but delicious snacks, the finest specialty coffee and tea, and vegan options available, this one is a must-visit.
  • Basiel Urban Greenhouse : a 5-star rated coffee shop with a wonderful atmosphere, beautiful interior and friendly service, Basiel is the best place to relax.
  • Kaffee Kamiel : with fresh and homemade breakfast foods, and a pop up shop to browse through, your time and money will be well spent in this trendy coffee shop.

If you want to make the most of Bruges in 1 day, make sure to check these coffee shops out.

All of these are hidden gems of Bruges that not many tourists get to enjoy. Have a wonderful new experience while drinking the finest coffees in Bruges.

4. Go for sustainable shopping in Bruges

shopping in bruges belgium, antique

Help the environment while stocking your closet with the best clothes in Belgian stores.

Instead of going for big brands, get off the beaten path, avoid the tourist crowds, and discover smaller gems such as Seventy One Brugge , for cute and retro women’s clothing that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

Duka Moodstore is a wonderful store with art, handmade clothes and accessories, gifts, and home interior, all made and sold while keeping the environment in mind. It provides timeless, sustainable fashion that takes care of the people who provide it.

Fresh Brugge : for smart streetwear for both men and women, head over to Fresh. From clothes to sneakers to accessories, Fresh has rated 5 stars and is a wonderful place to shop sustainably.

Here you can find all eco shops in Bruges with the COSH! map.

So, what are you waiting for? If you’re wondering what to do in Bruges, head over to these beautiful shops and enjoy buying the local items!

5. Sample traditional craftsmanship in Bruges

hand crafted shopping in bruges

Dive into the rich history of this medieval city and explore its industry and handicrafts. Pay a visit to the Lace Center to buy one of the most luxurious lace in the world, and learn about handmade lace-making in the history of Bruges.

Or, go to ShoeRecrafting for the finest leather goods and to learn about traditional leather repairing methods from an artisan.

Visit one of the many chocolatiers in Bruges and get some of the finest Belgian chocolate right from its source. You can also find different types and flavors, or go on a chocolate tour for a deeper experience. 

The initiative Handmade in Brugge provides the best overview of artisan shops in Bruges. It’s a must if you want to enjoy Bruges in 1 day like a local.

6. Visit offbeat neighborhoods

travel bruges, belgium travel blog

Bruges is a city with a rich history and great architecture. Explore the buildings and neighborhoods on bike or by foot, see the sights, and mingle with the locals. 

With no throngs of tourists, enjoy a unique view of the city and its people. 

Take special photographs different from anyone else’s! A few neighborhoods to check out include:

  • Langestraat : Go shopping and explore the streets to work up an appetite, because this street has many high rated restaurants for you to try out.
  • Ezelstraat : this square connects Burg Square and Fish Market, and has Gothic architecture to marvel at, including City Hall and the Civil Registry.
  • Sint-Jakobsstraat : while other streets feature arches, the buildings here have a unique staircase design facade that can be found only in Belgium. A great photography opportunity, with the unique design and colorful buildings.

7. Have a drink at quirky bars

wine bar in bruges

Instead of falling into overpriced tourist traps, hang out with the locals and check out smaller, quirky bars.

Enjoy a different ambiance and meet the local people while you explore Bruges in 1 day.

  • In a quiet street with a relaxed atmosphere, Blend Wijnbar-Wijnwinkel is the perfect bar to sit and have some wine with a friend in.
  • If you’re looking for more of a nightlife scene, Groot Vlaenderen is the place for you. It is a cocktail bar with a cosy atmosphere, friendly staff, and glowing reviews.
  • De Republiek is a wonderful restaurant with both vegan and gluten free options. Perfect whether you’re looking for lunch, dinner, or simply drinks. Their zucchini bruschettas are so delicious!
  • Bar Ran Brugge is another great family-run cocktail bar with delicious food and drinks. It’s a bit on the pricier side but it’s definitely worth the money.

Explore Bruges at night while enjoying your drinks!

8. Explore Silent Bruges

silent bruges, belgium, bruges in 1 day

Although Bruges might seem like a big tourist destination, it has quiet and peaceful sides too.

Explore hidden gems in the silent side of the city, such as Saint Anne Church, a 17th Century building with a baroque interior, featuring the largest single painting in the whole city.

  • The Saint Giles Church was built in the 13th Century and is a Gothic building where many famous artists were buried. It sports the only clock tower in the city center.
  • The Gezellehuis is a literary and biographical museum of the life of poet Guido Gezelle . Walk through the museum, or relax in shaded gardens that pay homage to his inspiration from nature.
  • Hemelrijk : Characterized with its unpaved country road, you’ll find an oasis of peace! It’s an area without houses, but bordered by a massive brick wall which will provide a unique setting for a relaxing walk.
  • The twin of Hemelrijk , Olibaan also features an unpaved country road for a cool walking route, with the blue skies above and a Church visible in the distance. Get away from the busy city and explore this unique corner of Bruges that is Hemelrijk and Olibaan .
  • How Campers: full of greenery, this is a peaceful getaway. Relax in the orchard, or visit the sheep paddock.
  • The Jerusalem Chapel: inspired by the church of the Holy sepulcher in Jerusalem, this church features blue domes, high arched ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows with religious images.

There are so many places to visit that exploring Bruges in 1 day may not be the best idea. Extend your trip to get the best out of it!

It was one of my favorite things to do in Bruges in 1 day.

9. The Must: Climb Bruges Bell Tower

things to do in bruges - belfry

This is a must-do for a unique adventure.

Known as the Belfry of Bruges, this was used as an observation post in ancient times. Climb the 366 steps to the top to get a unique birds-eye view of the city, its beautiful canals, and streets from the top of this 13th century Tower.

See the historical rooms and their uses along the way, as well as the carillon and the 47 majestic bells. If you want to explore Bruges in 1 day, this must be on your to-do list! – Get tickets here

Though the climb might seem daunting, the experience and the colorful view from the top make it worth it. From here you can view the countryside of Bruges which is one of the best places for hiking in Belgium .

Book your tickets in advance at Get Your Guide

10. Bruges Boat Ride

boat ride in bruges, canal cruise brugge

In the city known for its many canals, and affectionately called The Venice Of Belgium, you have to explore the water! 

Take a Bruges boat ride cruise and see the sights of the city as you row past them. It’s a great way to see the city from afar if you’re there to explore Bruges in 1 day. – Check tours here

Discover secret gardens, romantic bridges, and building facades reflected in the water. Perfect for a visit with a loved one, or for cool photo opportunities. 

There are many canal tours in Bruges that you can book for this purpose. 

Check prices for boat rides here

11. Explore Bruges Beer Bars

beer in bruges

Bruges is home to some of the best breweries in the world. To unwind after a long day, enjoy some beer at one of the local bars. I recommend Cafe Rose Red , a hidden gem in the Bruges nightlife scene. 

It has a wide selection of beers, but it specializes in Trappist beer, Lambic , and Gueuze . Enjoy the cozy atmosphere and comfortable seating. Perfect for a group of friends, or to go alone and mingle with the locals.

Another great option is De Halve Maan Brewery, a family-run business with guided tours and a museum showing old brewing techniques. Book a tour, or buy some of their specialty beer.

12. Do a waffle workshop

waffle in bruges

Learn how to make classic Belgian waffles, and eat as many as you can while enjoying the craft! Add your own twist and toppings to the delicious breakfast food, in a workshop lasting 90 minutes. Remember to book tickets beforehand.

If you want a gluten-free or dairy-free workshop, you need to inform them beforehand because they have separate workshops for those!  

If you’ve spent even one day in Bruges, you’ll know how important waffles are in the local diet! You’ll find them at various street food stalls in every corner of the city.  

Check food tours in Bruges here

13. Do a chocolate workshop in Bruges

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Belgian chocolate is famous worldwide, and arguably the most delicious. Learn how to make your own in a chocolate workshop, available in English language. It’s one of the best things to do in Brugge. – Get tickets here

Be creative and make delicious treats in this must-do workshop. You’ll get to make two types of chocolate as part of the workshop: Pralines and Mendiants . Moreover, you also get a box of delicious Belgian chocolates to take home (my favorite part!)

The chocolate used is gluten and dairy-free so you don’t need to worry about that either. Just remember to book tickets beforehand! 

Book a chocolate workshop in Bruges

14. Enjoy the silence in the Beguinage of Bruges

beguinnage in bruges

The Beguines were a group of nuns and spinsters who lived in a system similar to a convent but with more freedom. 

Now home to Benedictine nuns, the Beguinage is one of the most silent and peaceful historical places of Bruges. It is home to a treasured gilded Madonna statue from the 13th Century. 

There is also a museum showing the living quarters of the beguines who used to occupy it till the 20th century. You can buy Catholic-related gifts from a gift shop. The Beguinage is located near the Lake of Love.

Check walking tours in Bruges

15. Walk over the Lover’s Bridge

attractions of bruges, belgium

Named after a folk story of a girl named Minna who died for love, the Lake of Love and the Lovers’ Bridge spanning it are romantic spots to visit with a loved one.

Urban legend says if you walk over the bridge and kiss your beloved, it will become eternal love. 

Get there from the Beguinage and enjoy the picturesque views and the tranquil environment of Minnewater Park . You can also take pictures of the swans, the emblem of the city.

If you’re single, don’t worry, you can still visit the Bridge and enjoy the views! It’s one of the best Instagram places in Bruges .

16. Must see: The Basilica of the Holy Blood

Illuminated Christmas tree on a Burg square in Bruges, Belgium

This church is famous worldwide and is one of the best things to see in Bruges! It has a vial with a cloth stained with the blood of Jesus Christ. 

From those deeply religious to those simply curious, this church is a must-visit for everyone. 

The breathtaking 12th-century building features a Romanesque Lower Chapel and a Gothic Upper Chapel. 

On Ascension Day in the spring, the Procession Of the Holy Blood is carried out, where the bishops carry the esteemed relic through the city. 

Check walking tours in Bruges here

17. Eat Belgian fries with Mayo and Andalus Sauce

eat fries in belgium bruges

It is a little-known fact that fries were actually invented in Belgium! Try the authentic flavors by getting the Fries from a local restaurant and enjoying them with Mayo and Andalouse sauce for the best taste. 

This should be on your to-do list if you want to explore Bruges in 1 day. – Check food tours here

After all, you can’t explore a place without trying its authentic local food inventions! Moreover, their fries are actually finger-licking’ good.

Check Bruges food tours here

18. Visit the windmills

windmills bruges travel blogger

The Dutch are famous for their windmills! Take a stroll along with the picturesque windmills of Bruges that provide a perfect photography opportunity. Located along the water, they have a unique shape different from other windmills which is what makes them so interesting.

There used to be about 25 windmills in Bruges, but just a few remain to this day. 

The Sint-Janshuismolen mill is particularly attractive and has a small museum inside it too! It’s also the only mill that’s still in the original spot that it was built in.

The other mills have been relocated to different spots. 

19. Stroll along the colourful Markt

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The markt i.e Market Square of Bruges is in the heart of the city, buzzing with life. It features the Bell Tower and has many restaurants and traditional markets. The center of the square features statues of 14th Century industrial leaders Breydel and de Coninck .

You can ride a horse-drawn carriage through the square, as you see all the buildings full of history. This is also one of the best Christmas markets in Belgium .

Bruges is the perfect destination for one of the best day trips from Brussels in wintertime.

20. Learn the history of Sint Janshospitaal

Sint Janshospitaal

Saint John’s Hospital is one of the oldest hospitals in Belgium, built in the 12th Century, you can walk through it and see the medieval wards, medical instruments, church and chapel, and artworks, and learn about how medicine worked in ancient times. 

A great tour for anyone interested in the medical field.

It’s turned into a museum now with interesting medical displays. There’s also an audio tour here so make sure you bring your earphones! If you are wondering what to do in Bruges in 1 day and want to avoid the crowds, then this is a must!

How to get to Bruges

By car: Get a car rental and enjoy driving on the Belgian roads, with the unique views of the canals, cobbled streets, and beautiful buildings of the medieval city. – Check prices here

Bruges by train: Catch a train to Bruges for faster travel and make sure to book your tickets in advance to avoid any hassle! – Get tickets here

things to do in bruges

Where to stay in Bruges 

One day in Bruges is never enough, you might want to enjoy this city which is also one of the best weekend trips from Brussels !

If you want to extend your stay, have a look at these hotels in Bruges :

Relais & Châteaux Hotel Heritage ***** Hotel Dukes’ Palace Brugge ***** Ten Hove Brugge ***** Hotel Van Cleef ****

Something special

B&B AM/PM (all vegan, with a GREAT breakfast!) B&B De Corenbloem Luxury Guesthouse – Adults Only B&B Canal Deluxe The Pand Hotel – Small Luxury Hotels of the World ****

Hotel De Castillion – Small elegant family hotel **** Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce, A Luxe Worldwide Hotel **** Castelsuites Boutique Hotel Sablon ****

Hotel Bla Bla ** Hotel Van Eyck ** Hotel Gulden Vlies ** Hotel Cordoeanier **

Do you have 1 day in Bruges? Read this quirky guide with the best things to do in Bruges in 1 day. From local shops in Bruges with artisan and handmade crafts, sampling the best beers in Bruges or doing a canal cruise. This Bruges itinerary is a great mix between the must-sees in Bruges, Belgium and some less-known attractions of Bruges. If you're wondering what to do in Bruges, this Bruges travel guide also provides you some great Bruges Belgium photography spots. #bruges #belgium #quirky

Hola! I’m Paulina, a seasoned travelette who crossed the Atlantic Ocean by Boat HitchHiking. On my blog, find expert insights for an extraordinary holiday through outdoor and sustainable travel like hiking, cycling, and sailing. Let’s embark on unforgettable journeys together! 🌍🚀

Vagrants Of The World Travel

One Day in Bruges Itinerary

By: Author Kate O'Malley

Posted on Last updated: October 8, 2022

Home >> Europe >> Belgium >> One Day in Bruges Itinerary

One of the most popular cities to visit in Belgium, many consider the medieval fairytale town of Bruges one of the prettiest cities in Europe. Even if you only have one day in Bruges, a day trip is very rewarding.

Bruges is known for the pretty canals that wind through the city, where swans and boats glide effortlessly past ancient bell towers, historic churches and storybook houses. Quaint cobbled lanes sprawl from market squares where horse-drawn carriages trot purposefully through town.

Beyond the picturesque facade, Bruges invokes thoughts of beer, waffles, chocolate and the black comedy In Bruges . These are the things Bruges is famous for.

Historic buildings, bell tower on a canal on a sunny day in Bruges.

Table of Contents

Things To Do In Bruges in One Day Quick Guide

Explore bruges old town.

  • Bruges Canal Tour

Churches and Museums

  • Market Square 

Climb the Belfry

  • Burg Square – City Hall, The Holy Blood Basilica
  • In Bruges Movie Tour
  • Beer, Fries & Chocolate
  • Belgium Beer Tour

Read on for Details

Visiting Bruges

Floods of tourists arrive each day to see the pretty city of Bruges. Especially in the peak summer months, to experience the medieval fairy tale charm of Bruges.

With so many visitors to Bruge each year, you may wonder if the quaint city has fallen victim to its own unique quality, like Venice and Cinque Terre . Its authenticity and charm lost to tourism. In some ways, it has, but like many popular cities in Europe, there is always the good and the bad. Thankfully, there are still plenty of good reasons to visit Bruges.

Quaint red brick house with red trim windows and a bicycle out the front in Bruges.

So, Is Bruges Worth Visiting?

In short, if you are in Belgium – Yes, even if you only can only spare one day in Bruges.

The big question with travel in Belgium these days is – should we visit Bruges or Ghent ? Easy – both. 

Whether it be a weekend in Bruges or just a day trip, Bruges is very beautiful and easily accessible from Belgium’s major cities, so why not.

There is a great day trip from Brussels that includes the best of both Ghent and Bruges on a day trip starting at €48 pp – see here for full tour details .

Belgium is a very small country, so it is possible to see a lot even in a short visit. Like all Belgium cities, the city of Bruges is very walkable , with most of the attractions close to each other. So one day in Bruges is perfect to see all the highlights and enjoy the city’s charm.

We’ve put together some of the best things to do in Bruges, including some additional fun ways to explore the historical centre, all possible in a day trip to Bruges.

Rows of colourful buidlings with pointed roofs decorated for Christmas in Bruges Belgium.

Things to do in Bruges in One Day

Take a stroll or go for a ride. There is a lot to see and do in central Bruges, but the central town is so scenic, it is worthwhile allowing a little time just to explore and enjoy the architecture everyone comes to see. The streets are very bike and pedestrian-friendly, so it is safe and easy to get around.

Best Ways to See Bruges Old Town

Take a bruges walking tour.

Make the most of your day and discover the best of Bruges Old Town on a quick 2 hour Bruges Highlights Walking Tour . It’s a cheap (around €15 pp) and fun way to get your bearings in Bruges. It’s also a great opportunity to use the knowledge of a local guide to make the most of the rest of your day.

Take a Horse Drawn Carriage Tour

Don’t feel like walking? Hire a horse-drawn carriage from the central Market Square for a more authentic tour of Bruges. An especially nice way to see Bruges at night.

There are fixed prices for the carriage rides as set by the City of Bruges; expect to pay €50 per carriage (max 5 persons) for a half-hour tour.

Bruges Bike Tour

You will find plenty of bike rental places around the main squares if you want to explore on your own. Otherwise, take a guided bike tour. Visit Bruges has a list of bike tour companies.

A quick spin around Bruges Old Town on a guided bike rickshaw tour is another fun way to see the city. The bikes can take groups of up to three people at a time.

Horse and carriage moving through the medieval centre of Bruges.

Market Square  (Grote Markt)

Since 958, Market Square ( The Markt ) has been used as a marketplace. A place for medieval festivals, fairs, tournaments, uprisings, and even executions. The Markt is the historical centre of Bruges.

Today, the traffic-free square is still a meeting place for locals and the millions of visitors who come to see the beauty of Bruges each year. It also makes the perfect setting for the annual Bruges Christmas markets.

The medieval market square in Bruges Belgium.

There is plenty to explore in The Market Square, from cosy Belgian Cafes to “Historium”, a historical experience attraction that takes you back to 15th century medieval Bruges.

Experience Historium

Historium offers a fun, interactive multimedia experience of medieval Bruges for all ages. 

One of the most popular experiences is the Historium Virtual Reality experience that places you back to the year 1435 – Sail virtually into the port of Bruges. See how Bruges looked in the past and fly over the Market Square to the former St. Donatian’s Cathedral for a bird’s eye view of medieval Bruges. The Historium is open every day from 10 am – 6 pm. You can pre-book your  Historium entry and VR experience here . 

Exterior of the historic Historium building in Bruges.

Bruges Market Day

Wednesday is Market Day in the Square, where you will find stalls selling an array of fresh produce, flowers, meats and cheeses. You’ll also find plenty of quick hot snack options. The perfect opportunity to try some traditional Belgian Frites or waffles.

Colourful brick buidlings with pointed roofs in the market square in Bruges.

Take a Bruges Canal Tour

Canal tours are one of the most popular things to do in Bruges. While it may come across as a bit of a tourist trap, much like the boat tours in Ghent, it allows you to see the main attractions in Bruges from a different perspective.

You will also get some insight into the history of Bruges and see some canal areas the streets don’t follow.

A half-hour guided canal tour will cost around €12 for adults . A great way to experience Bruges is on a combined 2hr boat cruise and guided walking tour .

Historic building ining the Bruges Canals on a cloudy day.

Skyscraper the Bruges Whale 

Another reason to explore the canals by foot or boat is to see the magnificent Bruges Whale – the giant blue whale breaching from the canal towards Jan van Eyck square. The magnificent four-storey sculpture called “Skyscraper” is constructed from five tons of plastic waste pulled out of the Pacific Ocean. Read more about the  Bruges Whale here . 

Large whale sculpture called the Skyscraper in the Bruges canals.

The Bruges Belfry towers majestically over the market square. At 83 metres high and with 366 steps winding to the top, a climb may not sound that appealing. But as with Ghent, it is one of the best things to do in Bruges because the view is magnificent.

The belfry tower in bruges with blue sky and clouds.

Burg Square 

Burg Square is the other iconic medieval square in Bruges. Believed to be the oldest inhabited place in Bruges, it has its fair share of attractions worth visiting. 

Exterior facade of the old City Hall in Bruges

Bruges City Hall

City Hall (Stadhuis) is the most impressive building in Burg Square. While the exterior is outstanding, the interior is worth a visit. 

The highlight is the Gothic Hall adorned with intricate murals depicting the history of Bruges and the 600 years of the City Hall administration. 

Many statues depict biblical figures and rulers of Flanders on the facade of the building. These are replicas of the originals destroyed in 1792 during the French occupation. 

There is a free exhibition on the ground floor but a small entry to visit the great hall and museum upstairs. 

Liberty of Bruges

Brugse Vrije is where the Liberty of Bruges (the countryside in a wide area around the city) was once governed. The building, which functioned as a court between 1795 and 1984, now houses the city archives preserving the city’s written memory. You can visit only the Renaissance hall, which houses the 16th century Charles V chimneypiece – a massive timber, marble and alabaster fireplace. Purchase tickets for Liberty of Bruges from the City Hall. 

Ornate closed bridge between two buildings in old town Bruges.

The Basilica of the Holy Blood Of Jesus

One of the more interesting buildings in Burg Square is The Basilica of the Holy Blood. It is a double church dedicated to Our Lady and Saint Basil – a lower Romanesque church and an upper Gothic church. 

This building’s two stand-out features are the richly decorated facade, including gilded statues – which is actually a 16th-century staircase connecting two underlying chapels. The other is The Basilica of the Holy Blood houses a venerated phial containing a small piece of cloth stained with the blood of Jesus, allegedly collected by Joseph of Arimathea.

You can visit the church and attend mass if you choose; this is free. Entry to the museum is €5. You can find details  at the official Church of the Holy Blood Site  about times the public can view the relic, mass times and information about the colourful Procession of the Holy Blood held on Ascension Day in the spring.

Tourists standing in front of the ornate Church of the Holy Blood in Bruges.

Take a Self Guided In Bruges Movie Tour

Take yourself on a tour of the In Bruges film locations. This handy In Bruges film locations map will take you to both the famous film locations and the best attractions in Bruges.

Museums, churches and galleries in Bruges are not in short supply, so it’s easy for the culture vulture to fill a day.

  • The Church of Our Lady
  • BrugesProvinciaal Hof
  • Gruuthuse Museum or the Groningen Museum.

These are just a few of the historical and cultural offerings in Bruges.

Drink Beer and Eat Fries, Waffles and Chocolate

Sure, in Bruges, you can get your fill of beer, waffles, frites and chocolate, but you can also learn about them. Some of the more interesting museums in Bruges are –

  • The Frietmuseum – Fries Museum
  • Choco-Story -Chocolate Museum
  • The  Bruges Biermuseum -Bruges Beer Museum.

Take a Belgium Beer Tour

The De Halve Maan Brewery Tour is a highlight. 45-minute tours run daily between 1.00 and 16.00. There’s also a tasting included, of course.

Or, you could do a  3-Hour Beer and Chocolate Tasting Private Tour.  This tour is an excellent value as it includes a tour of the historic centre, entry and samples at the Choco-Story museum and a 3-course lunch at the De Halve Maan brewery.

Learn how to make waffles and sample Belgian beer in the process. This Waffles and Beer Workshop includes beer tasting, waffle making and a take-home waffle recipe.

Belgian Beer with matching glasses on display on a shelf.

Getting to Bruges

  • You can travel from Brussels to Bruges in just over an hour on a local train.
  • The train from Ghent to Bruges is approx. 40 minutes.
  • Train from Antwerp to Bruges takes approx 2 hours.
  • Bruges train station is about 2 km from the historic town centre. It is easily walked.
  • Local buses leave from next to the station to Markt Square.
  • A day trip to Bruges from Paris or Amsterdam is also very possible. The trains from Paris and Amsterdam to Bruges both take around 3 hrs each way . For convenience, there are also a number of day tours from Paris and Amsterdam . See tour details for day trips to Bruges from Paris and Day Tours from Amsterdam – both include transport, guides and much more.

people in the medieval Market Square in Bruges.

Time for More Than One Day in Bruges?

A day trip is a great way to see Bruges and more than enough time to see the highlights. However, at least one night is recommended if you want to get a better sense of Bruges’ charm. The night is when Bruges reveals her true beauty – when the tour groups have left for the day, and the city is lit to highlight the medieval facade.

Bear in mind, though, that in the peak summer months, even the evenings will be busy in Bruges. Although, in summer, you could combine a day/night in Bruges with a trip to one of Belgium’s best beaches . Most people don’t know, but there are at least three beaches within 15 minutes of Bruges. 

Thinking of Staying Longer? Check the Latest Deals For Hotels in Bruges

Best Time to Visit Bruges

We believe the shoulder seasons of early spring or late autumn are the best time to visit most places in Europe . The same applies to Bruges, whether for one day or a few nights. December is also an excellent time to visit Bruges , or anywhere in Belgium for that matter, thanks to the incredible Christmas markets.

If you do only have time for one day in Bruges, aim for midweek for a less tourist-dense experience. Sure, you will still have tour groups but fewer local, European visitors.

High Season: April – October Low Season: November to March.

Discover The Most Beautiful Autumn Destinations in Europe

Red brick buildings lit up and reflecting in the canals in Bruges Belgium.

Christmas Markets in Bruges

Christmas is one of the best times to visit Bruges as there are not as many tourists about and the famous Bruges Christmas Markets fill the central Market Square. Bruges Christmas Markets usually run from around 25 November to 2 January.

Got more than one day to spend in Bruges? Find out what to see in Bruges in two days

Amazon Travel shop Bruges

Visiting Bruges from Antwerp? Here are some great tips for things to do in Antwerp .

The Portable Wife

Home » Travel » Destinations » Bruges One Day Itinerary: A Self Guided Bruges Walking Tour

Bruges One Day Itinerary: A Self Guided Bruges Walking Tour

One day in Bruges: A Bruges Day Trip Guide

Belgium’s hottest city is Bruges. This place has everything. Old windmills. Charming cobblestone alleys. A giant plastic whale jumping out of a canal. And with this Bruges one day itinerary, you can see the highlights on foot and still have time for an afternoon beer break.

Bruges 1 day itinerary - view of old town with canal and belfry.

This Bruges itinerary and custom map is an exact replica of our day trip to Bruges from Brussels. Had it not been a busy Saturday in August, we would have spent more time exploring the city.

However, if you only have six or seven hours for your visit, this one day in Bruges walking tour is for you.

If you’re looking for more great cities to explore in Belgium, consider adding one day in Brussels to your travel plans.

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Bruges 1 Day Itinerary Guide

— Bruges: Know Before You Go — The Best Time to Visit Bruges — What to do in Bruges in One Day — Day Trip to Bruges Walking Tour Map — Bruges Day Trip Guided Tours — Other Things to do in Bruges — Where to Go After Your Bruges Day Trip

Know Before You Go

Estimated Itinerary Budget: €35 per person (excluding transport)

Bruges uses the Euro, and you should plan to carry cash in addition to your card(s). Many places in Bruges will take card, but some smaller restaurants and shops are cash-only.

Dining out in Bruges can be surprisingly expensive, even outside the main plaza.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can skip the recommendations in the itinerary below and grab some takeaway from Bocca. It’s a fast-casual Italian spot where you can create your own pasta bowl for about 7-10 Euros.

Street view of houses and distant cathedral viewed during one day in Bruges itinerary.

This is a walking tour, so no need to fret about public transportation. Bruges station is just south of the city center, and can be reached by train from Brussels, Ghent, and Antwerp. FlixBus also runs routes to Bruges from a number of other European cities.

Belgium has three official languages: French, German, and Dutch. However, most folks in Bruges are fluent in Dutch and English. Unlike Brussels, where most people speak French, you’re better off sticking to English in Bruges (unless you know Dutch)!

Even so, if you don’t have Google Translate installed on your phone with the Dutch dictionary downloaded, do that before you leave. Personally, I like to learn a bit of the local language when I travel abroad.

If you’re keen to learn some Dutch, check out these essential travel terms and phrases for globetrotters.

Bruges is in the Flemish region of Belgium, which makes the city’s culture more Dutch than French. Here are a few quick tips to make your visit a smooth one:

  • Always greet the shopkeeper and restaurant staff when entering a building. A simple hello goes a long way.
  • Tipping is not necessary, as Belgian restaurants include service charges in the bill. However, it’s also normal to round up to the nearest whole number or leave a couple Euros for quality service.
  • Cyclists are everywhere and don’t always signal their approach with a bell. Keep your eyes peeled when crossing the street or turning corners. And don’t walk in the bike lanes!

My Favorite Belgium Travel Guidebooks

These books win my travel blogger Seal of Approval for vacation planning:

  • Lonely Planet: Pocket Bruges & Brussels
  • Rick Steves Belgium: Bruges, Brussels, Antwerp & Ghent
  • DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Belgium and Luxembourg

The Best Time to Visit Bruges

Bruges white house in green park, a must see on a Bruges day trip.

From summer festivals to winter Christmas markets, it’s hard to choose the best time to visit Bruges. Here are some tips to help you decide when to plan your Bruges day trip:

  • January – March:  Temperatues are fairly cold (about 4°C/40°F), but you won’t have to contend with any crowds and might see some pretty snowfall.
  • April – May:  Springtime brings pretty blooms and greenery in the parks, and crowds are manageable aside from the Ronde Van Vlaanderen bike race.
  • June – August:  You’ll have warm weather, but all of Europe is on holiday, making Bruges feel quite overrun in places.
  • September – November:  The autumn off-season is a beautiful time to visit, with golden leaves falling into the canals and streets.
  • December:  The Bruges Christmas market is famous for its charm, and worth braving the cold temperatures to see. In fact, Bruges is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December !

What to do in Bruges in One Day

White bridge over Bruges canal, a popular sightseeing spot for a Bruges day trip.

Minnewater Park

Lake surrounded by trees in Bruges Minnewater park.

I wish every city had a serene park directly across from its main transit station. After exiting the hustle and bustle of the train terminal, head northeast towards Minnewater Park. As you walk east, you’ll come upon the iconic Minnewater bridge that overlooks the “Lake of Love” and floating designer school.

Though it’s tempting to rush straight into the city, take a few minutes to walk deeper into the park. The leaves were just beginning to change during our visit, which made for some lovely photos.


Despite having an unusually large breakfast before arriving in town, we couldn’t pass up the chance to dine at a cafe lined with bookshelves.

As literature lovers who will happily eat breakfast at any hour of the day, Books and Brunch was a must-visit destination during our Bruges day trip. The menu was a good mix of Belgian and European fare, with solid, well-labeled options for vegetarians and vegans.

We were fortunate to nab the last table, so I recommend making a reservation if you’re visiting on the weekend.

K. Astridpark and Alleys

Row of canal houses in Bruges.

I love wandering residential areas during my travels, and Bruges’ neighborhoods are particularly lovely. Spend some time strolling through the local park and meandering through the streets.

Enjoy the quiet while you can, as the rest of this Bruges walking tour will take you through some highly trafficked areas.

Sint-Janshuis Windmill

Sint Janhuis Windmill against cloudy sky in Bruges.

From this part of town, you have a couple of options to get to the windmills. You could either double back north, cross back over the canal, and head southeast to the walking path.

Or, you could head southeast towards the main canal and cross the bridge at the Gentpoort. If you opt for the latter option, you’ll just need to cross back over the canal at the Kruispoort gate bridge.

Either way, it’s a long walk up the side of the canal towards the windmills. Be mindful of your surroundings, as the paths are also used for biking!

The lengthy trek is certainly worth the view of the windmill on the hill, especially on a partly cloudy day like the one pictured. There are actually two windmills in this area, though Sint-Janshuis is the more famous and impressive of the two.

In the summer months, the interior is open to the public, where you can see the 250-year-old mechanics in action.

Save me for later!

Bruges One Day Itinerary: A Fairytale Town You Must See - Grote Market and Canal View

 Cafe-Bistro Terrastje

Outside patio of Cafe-Bistro Terrastje in Bruges.

After the long windmill walk, you’ll probably need a bit of rest and relaxation. Luckily, the Café-Bistro Terrastje is only a short distance across the canal.

This eclectic, cozy spot was a highlight of our Bruges walking tour, with local Belgian beers on tap and classic oldies piping through the speakers. We only intended to stay for a quick drink, but ended up hanging out for a good 45 minutes.

Jan Van Eyck Square

Bruges walking tour view of whale leaping from canal.

Once you’ve refreshed yourself at the cafe, head south towards the canal. The Spiegelrei boasts gorgeous canal-front houses and stone bridges, making for a perfect walk towards the most Instagrammable places in Bruges: Jan Van Eyck Square.

While the famous plastic whale was taken down in 2019, this area is still utterly picturesque.

Check out the statue of renowned Northern Renaissance painter Jan van Eyck and admire the lovely architecture of the surrounding buildings before heading south towards the main square.

Grote Markt

Colorful buildings in Bruges town square market.

Emerging from the narrow alleyways to enter the city center is a bit jarring. The main square is surrounded by cafes, brightly-colored buildings, and plenty of visitors. The key sights include the iconic Belfry of Bruges, the Gothic-style Basilica of the Holy Blood, and the Provincial Court.

Like most European cities, Bruges hosts festivals here throughout the year, including the famous Meifoor just after Easter. Note that the square can get quite crowded during peak season.

Walking towards Bruges belfry bell tower.

Of all the things I wanted to include in our Bruges 1 day itinerary, climbing the Bruges belfry was at the top of my list. Paying €10 to climb 366 steps seemed a bit crazy after having been on my feet for two days, but I figured the views over the city would be worth it.

Alas, the queue was impossibly long, and we simply didn’t have enough time to wait around. If you’re hoping to climb the belfry during high season, get there as soon as it opens (9:30am) to avoid the lines. Fortunately, we’re already planning a return trip to Belgium, so we won’t make this mistake again!

Green facade of florist in Bruges shopping area.

The shops lining the old streets of Bruges are just as charming as you’d imagine. I’m not big on shopping, especially when traveling light, but I couldn’t resist popping into the adorable stores selling everything from watercolor paintings to Christmas decorations.

This part of town gets extremely packed during high season and on the weekends, so be prepared to battle the crowds as you buy and browse.

If you’re shopping for Belgian chocolate, pay close attention to the prices. My husband, a.k.a. Mr. Economics Major, noticed some interesting pricing sheets in a few shop windows that actually made it more expensive to buy in bulk!

Sint-Salvatorskathedraal and the Church of Our Lady Bruges

Bruges walking tour view of church from alley.

As you walk southwest from the city center, you’ll see the spires of the 700-year-old Sint-Salvatorskathedraal. Should you choose to enter (no admission fee required), check out the paintings and the ornate organ.

From here, head southeast down the Heilige-Geeststraat to reach the Church of Our Lady Bruges. If you’re an art lover, the €6 admission fee is worth it to see Michelangelo’s famous Madonna and Child painting, among other works.

To truly appreciate the splendid exterior, walk around back and approach it from the rear alleys on the canal side. It’s one of my favorite Instagram spots in Bruges.

Dinner and Departure

View of canal-side houses and trees in Bruges.

Pass by the Site Oud Sint-Jan on your way out of the city, which houses the Center for Modern Art and is surrounded by geometric gardens. If you’re only in Bruges for one day, you probably won’t have time to go in the museum itself.

We planned to have dinner at the eclectic De Stoepa restaurant before returning to Brussels, but my stomach wasn’t up for the task. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, try to grab a seat in the outdoor beer garden.

Day Trip to Bruges Walking Tour Map

Google Maps snapshot of one day in Bruges walking tour map.

Click here for the full interactive map!

Bruges Day Trip Guided Tours

If a self-guided day trip to Bruges feels like too much work, that’s okay! You can easily book a guided tour online. There are even round-trip options from Brussels and Amsterdam , saving you the hassle of navigating the trains and buses.

Have More Than One Day in Bruges?

If you can extend your Bruges 1 day itinerary to a full day or overnight trip, here are some extra things to try:

  • Take a boat ride through the canals: Boat Trips Brugge is a popular choice for soaking up the city’s charm on the water.
  • Visit the museums: Check out the Groeninge Museum for paintings by the old Flemish masters, or take a quirky tour through the Torture Museum.
  • Tour a brewery: The Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan offers guided tours and has a museum chronicling the history of Belgian beer brewing.

Remember to book your accommodation in advance! Apartment rentals in Bruges are in short supply, and the best hotels get snapped up fast.

Where to Go After Your Bruges Day Trip

  • Brussels:  This stunning capital city is only an hour away by train, and you can see it all with my 24 hours in Brussels guide.
  • Ghent:  A short train ride will take you to Ghent for even more beautiful Flemish architecture.
  • Rotterdam:  Nearly destroyed during WWII, Rotterdam is now known for its innovative, modern architecture.
  • Amsterdam:  Connect through Brussels via train, where you can spend 2 days in Amsterdam exploring beautiful canal streets and top-notch museums.

Bruges is a city so charming it makes you question your reality. I half-expected a fish to pop out of the canal and start singing. It was certainly a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Brussels (excluding the crowded market area).

If you’re planning a trip to Belgium or looking for a weekend break in Europe, I highly recommend spending at least one day in Bruges!

Have you taken a Bruges day trip? What places would make it on your must-see list? Let me know in the comments below!

18 thoughts on “Bruges One Day Itinerary: A Self Guided Bruges Walking Tour”

I have been to Bruges! It was a few years ago during October. We planned on staying one day but we loved it so much we ended up adding another. We totally fell in love with the city. It looked so beautiful with the fall colours. But I definitely would want to visit it in the spring or summer. Great guide and lovely photos!

When we left, I was thinking how beautiful Bruges would look in the fall! We’ll definitely do a return trip, so hopefully timing works out so that we can see those lovely autumn hues 🙂

Bruges is definitely on my radar. I love walking the streets of beautiful places. Great itinerary, thank you.

Thanks, Julie! Bruges is packed with charm and super easy to see on foot. I hope you get to visit soon 🙂

I can´t believe I´ve never been to this beautiful city although it´s just 2 hours by car from my home. But I hope to make it this autumn finally and I will definitely safe your walking tour and tips for it. And it´s good to know that most people speak English because I was surprised when visiting Brussels that most people just speak French.

Belgium has an interesting language divide for being a relatively small country. I hope you enjoy your trip!

I want to go to Bruges! I remember watching the movie, ‘In Bruges,” and it looked like a charming place. I love accessible cities where you can walk or cycle through. Plus, the Grote Market is beautiful with the colorful houses! Saving this post when I visit. Thanks!

The movie was also my first introduction to the city! Luckily our trip was bit more lighthearted 🙂

Thank you very much for mentioning Books & Brunch ! We’ve posted a link to your blogpost on our Facebookpage ( ). Regards, the Books & Brunch team…

Thanks for your support! We had a lovely time 🙂

Your blog really inspires me. I even followed you on Instagram! I will be in Europe in September and your blog is a great help. Thank you for sharing!

Thank you so much for the kind words! September is a great time to visit Europe, as the crowds should be thinning out. I hope you have a wonderful visit 🙂

Such a perfect itinerary. I went to Bruges last year for a day trip but would love to go back to see some of the things I missed last time!

Thanks, Charu! I’d also love to revisit Bruges for a longer trip, especially for the Christmas market.

Hi there. We are in Brussels now and decided to do a day trip tomorrow to Bruges. I think we will follow your map exactly, thanks so much for this!

Happy to help, Kevin! I hope you enjoyed your visit 🙂

Nice walking tracking through one of belgium finest citys

Such a detailed Itinerary. Since the time I had Belgian icecream and croissants in a stop over at the Brussels airport, I have been meaning to visit it sometime soon. Your article will be of great help. Thanks.

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Travelling King

1 Day Itinerary for Bruges

With canals like Amsterdam, churches like Rome and warmly lit alleyways like Venice, Bruges looks like a city inspired by one of Sarah J Maas’ fantasy novels. Bruges looks like long candles that have been tipped upside down, burnt at the wick and left to melt into completely new intricate patterns.

Evening dusk picturesque view of Bruges Brugge town canal with bridge and medieval houses, Belgium

It’s a city that welcomes a cosmopolitan, European influence and draws on its neighbors for inspiration, then flared with Belgian style. Let’s get into this 1 day itinerary for Bruges covering things to see in Bruges in one day and places to visit in Bruges in one day.

Spring (March to May) is a lovely time to visit Bruges when the city begins to come alive with blossoming flowers and mild temperatures. The weather is usually pleasant, and you can explore the city’s attractions without the crowds that peak during the summer months.

Autumn (September to November) in Bruges offers mild temperatures and fewer crowds compared to the summer months. The fall foliage adds a picturesque charm to the city, and you can enjoy pleasant walks along the canals and visit attractions with relative ease.

Winter (December to February) in Bruges can be cold, but it has its own unique draw cars. The city is adorned with festive decorations during the Christmas season, and the Christmas markets create a magical atmosphere. You can also experience the beautiful canals and historical sites in a quieter setting. You’ll feel like you’re exploring Santa’s village from The Polar Express .

Staying in the historic center allows you to be close to all the major attractions, such as the Markt (Market Square), the Belfry, and the picturesque canals.

You’ll have easy access to the city’s beautiful architecture, restaurants, cafes, and shopping streets. However, keep in mind that accommodations in the heart of the historic center can be more expensive.

Bruges, Belgium - Old hotel restaurant Duc de Bourgogne in the historic center of Bruges, Belgium. The house in the traditional Belgian style.

Located just outside the historic center, ‘t Zand is a vibrant square with restaurants, bars, and shops. It’s a slightly quieter area compared to the city center, but still within walking distance of the main attractions.

Situated to the East of the historic center, the Sint-Anna district is a charming neighborhood with its own character. It features beautiful canals, windmills, and quaint streets. This area offers a peaceful setting while still being within walking distance of the city center.

Located South-West of the city center, Sint-Gillis is a residential area that provides a tranquil environment. It offers a mix of local shops, cafes, and green spaces. Although it’s a bit further from the main attractions, it can be a good choice if you prefer a quieter stay.

To the North of the historic center, Sint-Pieters is another residential area with a more suburban feel. It’s a peaceful district with parks, small cafes, and local shops. While it’s farther from the city center, you can still reach the main attractions by walking or using public transportation.

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Table of Contents

Is one day in Bruges enough?

Yes, one day in Bruges can be enough time to get a glimpse of the city’s beauty and explore some of its main attractions. Guided walking tours are always a winner if you’d like to explore quickly without having to worry about getting lost.

While it’s true that Bruges has much to offer and spending more time would allow for a more in-depth experience, a well-planned itinerary can still allow you to see and appreciate the highlights in a day.

Speaking of well-planned itineraries, stick to this one and you’ll be flying around Bruges quicker than Harry Potte r on the Quidditch pitch.

Bruges, Belgium - Market Square in Bruges with tourists. Vintage horse carriage entertainment for tourists in Bruges.


Bruges Highlights

  • Local guide
  • Walking tour

Overview Of 1 Days In Bruges Itinerary

Bruges city hall.

  • Market Square

Van Eyck Square

Canal boat tour, halve maan brewery, burg square.

Canals of Bruges (Brugge) Belgium. Winter evening view.

1 Day in Bruges

To start your day, make your way to the heart of Bruges, where the historic center awaits. Begin your exploration by visiting the Bruges City Hall.

Dating back to the 14th century, Bruges City Hall is one of the oldest town halls in the Low Countries. Its exterior is adorned with ornate facades, tall pointed arches, and delicate tracery. As you approach the building, you’ll be struck by its grandeur and the attention to detail in its craftsmanship.

One of the highlights of Bruges City Hall is its imposing belfry tower. Standing at approximately 83 meters tall, the tower offers commanding views of the city and the surrounding area.

Climbing the 366 steps to the top is a memorable experience, rewarding visitors with panoramic vistas of the medieval rooftops, picturesque canals, and the sprawling landscape beyond the city. Not a bad way to get in your steps for the day.

Inside the City Hall, you’ll find a collection of beautifully decorated rooms that reflect the wealth and influence of Bruges during its golden age.

The Gothic Hall, also known as the Hall of the Aldermen, is the centerpiece of the building. This impressive room features a vaulted ceiling adorned with delicate tracery and sculptures, evoking a sense of grandeur and historical significance.

Aerial view of the Burg square with the City Hall. Bruges (Brugge) , Belgium

Grote Markt

From the City Hall, it’s a short walk to Grote Markt, also known as Market Square. 

As you enter Grote Markt, you’ll be greeted by a scene that seems to be straight out of a fairytale. The square is surrounded by stunning medieval buildings, adorned with colorful facades and ornate gables.

These well-preserved structures showcase the architectural styles that flourished during Bruges’ prosperous trading era.

The cobblestone streets that radiate from the square are dotted with cafes, restaurants, and shops, inviting you to indulge in local cuisine, sample Belgian chocolates, or sip a refreshing beer (nope, it’s not too early – You’re on vacay after all). It’s the perfect spot to relax and people-watch.

Market Square is not only a feast for the eyes but also a destination for cultural experiences. Throughout the year, the square hosts various events and festivals, ranging from music performances to Christmas markets .

The festive atmosphere and the blend of traditional and contemporary elements create a dynamic and ever-evolving ambiance.

When visiting Grote Markt, make sure to explore the nearby Historium, an interactive museum that transports you back to medieval Bruges through immersive storytelling and multimedia exhibits. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past and provides valuable insight into its rich history.

Bruges, Belgium. Wide angle view of historic Town Hall building

As you continue your morning adventure, make your way to Van Eyck Square (yep, you’re sticking with squares for the time being). The focal point of Van Eyck Square is the statue dedicated to Jan Van Eyck himself.

As one of the most celebrated painters of the Northern Renaissance, Van Eyck’s contributions to art are significant. The bronze statue captures his likeness and serves as a reminder of his immense talent and influence on the art world.

Surrounding the statue, you’ll find beautifully landscaped gardens with benches, creating an inviting space to sit, relax, and reflect on the artistic heritage of Bruges.

Adjacent to the square, you’ll find the Groeningemuseum , which houses a remarkable collection of Flemish and Belgian art.

The museum showcases masterpieces from various periods, including works by Jan Van Eyck himself, as well as other influential artists such as Hans Memling and Gerard David.

Exploring the museum provides an opportunity to delve deeper into the artistic heritage of Bruges and appreciate the exceptional talent that has emerged from this city.

Van Eyck Square is also known for its proximity to the Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk), one of Bruges’ most prominent landmarks.

The church houses several notable artworks, including Michelangelo’s world-famous sculpture, Madonna and Child. See, you really are seeing all of Europe in this cute, little city in Belgium.

Monument of famous artist Jan Van Eyck on Square Jan van Eyckplein in Bruges, Belgium

No visit to Bruges is complete without experiencing its iconic canals. Several departure points can be found along the canals, offering a variety of tour options.

The Canal Boat Tour typically begins in the historic center of Bruges, where you’ll board a small boat equipped with comfortable seating and guided by an experienced local captain. As the boat gently glides along the canals, you’ll almost fall asleep due to the peacefulness of it all.

The tour also offers a glimpse into Bruges’ trading heritage. You’ll pass by former warehouses and trading houses that testify to the city’s prosperous past as a prominent trading center.

The canals were once bustling with merchants and barges transporting goods, and the boat tour provides a sense of the commercial activity that shaped Bruges’ history.

The Canal Boat Tour is especially captivating during the spring and summer months when the city’s vibrant flora adorns the canal banks. Lush greenery, colorful flowers, and overhanging willow trees create a picturesque backdrop, enhancing the charm of the experience.

BRUGES, BELGIUM - Architecture of the historic city of Bruges in the Flemish Region of Belgium, after sunset

Guided Canal Tour

  • Walking Tour

Additionally, the boat tour allows you to appreciate the intricate network of canals that earned Bruges its nickname, the “Venice of the North.”

The canals, connected by beautiful bridges, form a labyrinth that adds to the city’s allure. The peaceful ambiance and gentle swaying of the boat create a soothing atmosphere, offering a moment of relaxation amidst your exploration.

Bruges, Belgium - Tourist boat on canal in Bruges in a beautiful summer day, Belgium

Following your canal boat tour, take a leisurely lunch break and stuff your face with some local culinary delights. Bruges offers a wide array of dining options, from traditional Belgian cuisine to international flavors.

Treat yourself to some authentic Belgian waffles topped with powdered sugar and fresh berries or try the famous Belgian fries served with a variety of flavorful sauces. For chocolate lovers, be sure to sample some exquisite Belgian chocolates from one of the renowned chocolatiers in the city.

Is it beer time? Trick question – Every time is beer time. 

After satisfying your taste buds, head towards the Halve Maan Brewery, located just a short distance from the historic center.

The Halve Maan Brewery , located in the center of Bruges, is a historic and iconic brewery that has been producing some of Belgium’s finest beers for over 160 years.

A visit to the brewery offers a fascinating insight into the brewing process, a taste of traditional Belgian beers, and a glimpse into the brewery’s rich history.

The brewery’s story began in 1856 when Henri Maes established the Halve Maan Brewery. Since then, it has remained a family-owned and operated brewery, passing down the art of brewing from one generation to the next.

Today, it stands as a testament to Bruges’ brewing heritage and continues to produce high-quality Belgian beers.

Upon entering the Halve Maan Brewery, you’ll be greeted by the delightful aroma of hops and malt, creating an inviting atmosphere for beer enthusiasts and curious visitors alike.

The knowledgeable guides will lead you through the brewery’s facilities, providing an engaging tour that showcases the beer-making process from start to finish.

You’ll have the opportunity to taste a variety of their brews, including the flagship Brugse Zot and the strong and flavorful Straffe Hendrik.

Pair your beer with local specialties such as Flemish beef stew, mussels, or cheese, and pig out on the culinary delights that perfectly complement the brewery’s offerings. Don’t fill up too much though because you’ll be heading over to the culinary district of Bruges next.

Bruges, flanders, Belgium.The small access road to the historic garre brewery. It is confused between the other shops : the red wooden frame of the shops next to it encompasses it

Your last square for the trip will be the Burg Square. The square’s name, “Burg,” derives from the Dutch word for castle, reflecting its historical association with the Counts of Flanders.

This association is evident in the prominent landmark that dominates the square—the Bruges City Hall. With its striking Gothic facade and towering belfry, the City Hall is a testament to the city’s medieval splendor.

Adjacent to the City Hall, you’ll find the Basilica of the Holy Blood, one of Bruges’ most revered religious sites. The basilica houses a relic believed to contain a drop of Christ’s blood, attracting pilgrims and visitors from around the world.

The lower chapel, with its Romanesque style, dates back to the 12th century, while the upper chapel features Gothic architecture and stunning stained glass windows. The square also boasts other notable buildings, such as the Old Civil Registry, a beautiful neo-Gothic structure that once served as the city’s administrative center.

Another highlight of Burg Square is the Old Court House, a neoclassical building that stands as a symbol of justice and governance. Its imposing columns and grand entrance create an aura of authority and reinforce the square’s historical significance as a seat of power.

Today, the building serves as the Bruges Historical Museum, where you can delve into the city’s past through a collection of artifacts, artworks, and interactive exhibits.

As the day begins to transition into evening, return to the historic center of Bruges and spend the rest of your evening exploring the enchanting streets and alleys. The atmospheric setting of the city during twilight creates a truly surreal ambiance. The soft, golden, glow from the streetlights reflects on the canals, casting a romantic spell over the city.

Take your time to meander through the cobblestone lanes while savoring one final Belgian waffle and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. Keep an eye out for lace shops, as Bruges is renowned for its lace-making tradition.

You might discover delicate handmade lace creations that make for a special souvenir. Perhaps you’ll leave Bruges looking like the Dowager from Downtown Abbey ?

For dinner, Bruges offers a plethora of dining options that cater to all tastes. From cozy local bistros serving traditional Belgian dishes to upscale restaurants offering a fusion of flavors, you’ll find something to satisfy your palate.

Eat your way through Belgian classics like mussels with fries, carbonade flamande (a hearty beef and beer stew), or waterzooi (a creamy chicken or fish stew). Pair your meal with a locally brewed beer or a glass of fine Belgian wine.

BRUGES BELGIUM - Panoramic view of Market Square in Bruges in a beautiful summer day Belgium

From strangely named beers, saucy potatoes, crispy, warm waffles and melty ganache to visiting Venice, Amsterdam, and Rome all in one day, it’s been a busy one – bet you wouldn’t have it any other way though.

Whether you’re stopping over in Bruges for a couple of hours or a full day, the city has ensured that it conveniently provides little samples of Belgian heritage and attractions left, right and center.

Following your visit, you’ll feel like you’ve been hit by the charm of a sweet, Belgian bomb and you’ll most likely want to get hit again.

Recommended tours in Bruges

  • Historical Walking Tour: Legends of Bruges
  • Historical Group Tour of Bruges with Native English Speaker + Chocolate Tasting
  • Belgian Chocolate Workshop in Bruges
  • Storytelling Tour Bruges | First Day Must | History & Tips
  • The Waffles ‘n Beer Workshop
  • PRIVATE City Kickstart Tour With Locals: Bruges Private Experience
  • The 10 Tastings of Bruges With Locals: Private Food Tour
  • Guided boat trip and walk
  • Bruges Waffle Workshop
  • Bruges Beer Experience Entrance Ticket

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1 Day Itinerary for Bruges

Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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One Day in Bruges Itinerary – How to Spend a Perfect Day in Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, an hour away from the capital city of Brussels by train, is one of the major cities in Belgium and has recently gained popularity as a tourist destination because it offers rich Belgian history and culture. Bruges has managed to preserve its buildings and other structures for centuries, which contributes to the city’s quaint, old-town charm.

One day in Bruges Itinerary


What’s the best time to visit Bruges?

Since Bruges is a walkable city with many sights, the best time to visit would be  spring, fall or summer, when the weather is warm. The tourist crowds are heaviest in spring and summer and significantly smaller in fall and winter.

Bruges in summer

Generally, Bruges is at its busiest with crowds during the following public holidays: May Day (May 1), Ascension Day & annual Procession of the Holy Blood (39 days after Easter), and Whit Monday, also known as Pentecost Monday (Monday after Pentecost). Since specific dates can vary from year to year, it is best to check ahead to ensure your trip does not fall during one of these holidays.

a Few facts about Bruges

Bruges (or Brugge in Dutch) has the unique feature of having a canal that runs through the whole city and because of this it is sometimes called Little Venice of the North . The place is also known for its Gothic architecture – the roofs of most buildings are spiked and date back to being built in medieval times.

Bruges Canals

One day in Bruges itinerary

Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Bruges.

Watch the sunrise from the Kruisvest windmills

The Kruisvest windmills are four windmills located on Kruisvest street that originated in medieval times. All four windmills sit atop their own hills, so it’s a great vantage point from which to observe the whole city. Next to the windmills is Hof de Jonghe – a park where you can feed and photograph sheep. However, this depends on the time of the year you choose for your visit. In spring and summer, you will be able to spot the sheep, but during winter the park will most likely be empty.

Kruisvest windmills, Bruges

Eat a Belgian Waffle in the Markt

The Markt is the historic market square in the center of the city with restaurants, shops, hotels, hostels and parks. The Markt is also called the Historic Centre of Brugge and it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

Eiermarkt, Bruges

Waffles are sold by street vendors and shops for 1 to 3 euros, depending on the amount of toppings. When you are done getting your waffle, you can wander around the Markt. There are many museums and shops in the Markt that you could spend hours exploring the marketplace. One important stop to make here is Choco-Story – a chocolatier and chocolate museum that displays the history of Belgian chocolate. And a bonus for visiting Choco-Story is they give out free samples! Free chocolate, anyone?

Belgian Waffle, Bruges

Visit the Belfry of Bruges

The Belfry of Bruges is one of the most important symbols of the city and certainly one of the most noticeable one. You will spot it a mile away, and since you’re at the Markt at this point, it’d be a shame not to visit it because it’s very close by.

Belfry of Bruges, Bruges

This beautiful tower from the medieval period is one of the main reasons for UNESCO’s protection of this city, and you can climb its 366 step up to the top for a magnificent view of Bruges.

Belfry of Bruges

Discover the secret of the Basilica of the Holy Blood

Very close to this splendid tower is Basilica of the Holy Blood , another place very much worth visiting. It was built in mid-12th century with several later restorations and the building got its name because it houses what is supposedly a cloth soaked in blood of Jesus Christ! You can see why this place is therefore important to Christians, but even if you’re not a religious person the architecture here is quite fascinating.

Basilica of the Holy Blood, Bruges

Chill out with your partner in Minnewater Park

After all that walking and sightseeing, you may want to relax rest and catch your bit – Minnewater Park about 500m to the south of the aforementioned basilica is a great place of that, especially if you’re with your significant other here. Why? Well, in the center of the park is the Lake of Love, and if the two of you walk the bridge together and kiss, the legend says your love will last forever. Relaxing, intimate and romantic, a perfect stop to recharge your batteries.

Minnewater Park, Bruges

Explore the City on a Boat Canal Tour

You can’t go to Bruges without taking a boat tour on the canal that runs through the city. You will be able to view the city from a different perspective compared to just walking around the town. Boat tours run from March until November every year, since that is when the weather is optimal, and a 30-minute ride costs 8 euros per person. For more information, see the official Bruges tourism website – Visit Bruges .

Canal Boat Tour, Bruges

Go on a Brewery Tour & Experience Nightlife at Bauhaus Bar

In medieval times, Bruges had more than 50 breweries. Currently, the city has 3 working breweries (named Bourgogne des Flandres, Fort Lapin, and De Halve Maan) where visitors can taste fresh Belgian beer and tour the brewery facilities. All breweries offer guided tours and tastings, so visitors are more than welcome to have a beer crawl and go to each one.

Speaking of Belgian beer, the Bauhaus Bar in Bruges has over 60 specially selected Belgian bottled beers, 4 beers on tap and a lively crowd every night which is perfect for travelers to meet locals and experience a fun atmosphere.

Bruges at night

Where to stay in Bruges?

ibis Brugge Centrum Hotel

ibis Brugge Centrum

Katelijnestraat 65A, Povijesni centar Bruggea

Hotel ibis Brugge Centrum is a good choice because it’s around $70 per night and features a 24-hour bar. The hotel is also an interesting find because its building was built in the Middle Ages . The ibis chain also has another hotel next to the train station.


Snuffel Hostel Brugge

Snuffel Hostel

Ezelstraat 42, Povijesni centar Bruggea

For travelers seeking a hostel, Snuffel Hostel is a nice option that offers modern decor in private and dorm style rooms for about $55 per night. Snuffel Hostel also provides walking tours and free breakfast for its guests.

Extra Tips for Visiting Bruges

-If you’ve liked this place so much and you want to stay longer, but you are worried about travel insurance, you shouldn’t. World Nomads allow you to easily extend it. Yes, even if you’re on the road, you can easily manage your insurance with them from pretty much any device and any place. You’ll be able to get back to you enjoying yourself in just a few clicks. So don’t let anything stop you from relaxing on your hard-earned vacation and stay as much as you want. Explore the beauty of this destination even more without a care in the world.

– If you can, try to get accommodations in the Markt. Since it is centrally located, you will be close to many of the city’s sights. 

Streets of Bruges

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Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully. Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times. Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.

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Lola is a journalist who lives in NYC and enjoys traveling in her free time. She shares her travel experiences on her Instagram and travel blog, La Vida Lola.

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How to spend 24 hours in Bruges: A One Day Itinerary

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A lot of things can be said about Bruges, Belgium . ‘Fairytale’ and ‘charming’ are words that come to mind. Apart from its reputation as one of the prettiest cities in Europe, the size of the historic center of Bruges (known as Brugge in French) is one of the biggest appeals for visitors.

The compact historic centre – a Unesco World Heritage Site – of barely four square kilometres, makes it very easy to see the main Bruges attractions even if you only have 24 hours in Bruges.

But don’t be fooled! Despite its small size, there are plenty of things to do in Bruges in a day. Romantic canals, swans and untouched old buildings make up what has become known as the ‘Venice of the north’.

Add good music, beer, waffles and chocolate to that and you pretty much have the perfect destination!

[ This post may contain compensated links. Please see my  disclosure policy  for more information. ]

What's in this Article

Things to do in Bruges in one day

While most people do a day trip to Bruges from Brussels, we would suggest spending at least a night or two in Bruges. If you can spare more than a day in Bruges , why not plan to get away for a weekend in Bruges ?

This will not only give you a full day of sightseeing around the city, but also the chance to see Bruges after dark, when all the poetic medieval buildings are lit up.

9 am – Start off at the Rozenhoedkaai

Start your day at the Rozenhoedkaai. This enchanting little corner, with its brick medieval houses and the Belfort in the background, is probably one the most photographed parts of Bruges.

Arriving early in the morning will give you the chance to get the perfect city ‘postcard’ photo before everyone else gets there!

Bruges with Belfort

10 am – Do a canal boat tour of Bruges’ canals

Our next suggestion is to do a boat trip along Bruges’ canals. This will give you a unique perspective on the city and it won’t have much impact on your schedule or budget. Trips last around half an hour and cost less than €10.

There are a few places around the city where you can join a boat tour. We went with Boottochten Brugge and loved the experience! They are located at Bootexcursies Gruuthuse, boarding point 3, Nieuwstraat 11.

The trip includes an English guide who highlights the main points you can see from the water.

11 am – Visit the Church of Our Lady

After getting off the boat, we ventured into the nearby Church of Our Lady. Besides its dramatic exterior (its tower is the second tallest brickwork tower in the world), you can also see the Madonna of Bruges, one of the few Michelangelo sculptures to be found outside of Italy today.

Church of Our Lady Bruges

Entrance to the church is free, but you will have to pay around €4 to enter the museum and see the sculpture. Behind the church, you will find Bonifacius Bridge, one of the prettiest bridges in Bruges .

12 pm – Relax at the Begijnhof and the Minnewater

South of the Church of Our Lady you will find the Begijnhof. This peaceful area is an architectural complex typical of the Netherlands and Belgium, and it is where beguines used to live.

These were groups of women, usually widows, who lived together and devoted their lives to helping the sick and the poor.

Today, the Begijnhof is the place to get away from all the city buzz and enjoy a few moments of silence.

Begijnhof Bruges

If you keep heading south, you will find the Minnewater. Its translation literally means ‘Love Lake’. When you see the romantic bridges and the swans swimming in the water you will understand why!

1 pm – Have lunch and a good beer at a Bruges brewery

Go back north to the east of the canal and arrive at The Halve Maan. This traditional brewery offers a varied lunch menu from noon to 3.30 p.m. Options include soups, salads, fish and meat dishes. You can also get the promotional 2-course lunch for around €20.

The best way to accompany the food is with a typical beer. My favorite one is the intense Quadruple Straffe Hendrik. Beware though: it has an 11% alcohol percentage so make sure you eat something first!

After lunch, you can do a tour of the brewery (€10) where you will be offered another glass of beer at the end.

Visiting Bruges in December? Be sure to inclulde a visit to Bruges Christmas Market in your sightseeing.

3 pm – Sample some Belgian chocolate

There are a lot of chocolate shops in Bruges. After all, this sweet treat is a trademark of the city and the country itself, therefore chocolate tasting is one of the most popular things to do in Brugge.

Bruges chocolates

However, among many uninspired options, we think The Chocolate Line offers some of the best chocolate in Bruges . Not only is its chocolate a pure delicacy, you will also be able to find some quirky products such as chocolate for massages, personalized chocolate cards and even a chocolate sniffer!

4 pm – Marvel at the beauty of the Grote Markt

This square has been at the center of this city’s life for over 1,000 years and a visit here is one of the top things to do in Bruges . Its name comes from the traditional market which has taken place every Wednesday since the year 968.

Apart from its picturesque medieval buildings, your eyes will no doubt be drawn to the dramatic Belfort, with its 83-metre bell tower.

Belfort Bruges

If you want to get some of the best views of the city, you can climb the 366 steps to the top for around €12.

5 pm – Find Jesus’ blood in the Basilica of the Holy Blood

Behind the Markt you will find another of Bruges’ charming squares, the Burg. Around it you can see the splendid City Hall (Stadhuis) and the white and gold Brujse Vrije, where the city archives are stored.

The Burg is also home to the Basilica of the Holy Blood, where you will find a venerated relic of the Holy Blood, brought to Belgium during the Crusades.

6 pm – Walk down the Gronerei

After our visit to the Basilica we turned on Blinde-Ezelstraat and wandered down the Gronerei.

Canal in Bruges

This small canal has a few of Bruges’ most beautiful spots, especially during the summer where the trees are lush with green leaves that hang over the canals.

7 pm – Have a typical Belgian dinner at ‘T Risico

Getting a good and affordable sit-down dinner is not a simple task in Bruges. Avoiding the tourist traps around the city center is the first step to finding the best restaurants in Bruges . We found a couple of really good Bruges restaurants that we are happy to recommend.

’T Risico is one of those small and cozy places which is famous among locals and which offers yummy and affordable dishes.

We had a traditional Belgian Stoemp met worst (sausage and mashed potatoes) with a beer and paid under €20 each! Trust me: that is very cheap for Bruges!

Bruges Belgium

8 pm – Finish your day with a nightcap at ’T Poatersgat

The name of this bar literally means The Monk’s Hole. And when you go down the staircase into this secluded and dimly lit cellar, you will understand why.

The entrance is a bit hidden from plain view, so pay attention when you walk down the street! Inside you will find a wide range of local beers, as well as some really good music. To us it is definitely one of the best bars in Bruges .

Best time to visit Bruges

There is a lot of hype surrounding Bruges. Every year, over 3 million people visit the city. And after spending a couple of days there, I can say there is a good reason – or actually a few good reasons for it.

Unfortunately, that also means avoiding large crowds and long lines at some Bruges attractions , particularly during the summer months. Visiting in mid-season (either autumn or spring) and starting your sightseeing early in the morning will help you dodge the hordes of tourists.

Rooftops in Bruges

Winter is an interesting time of the year to visit, especially around Christmas time, where you can enjoy the charming markets. However, keep in mind Bruges’ winter temperatures are usually very low and short daylight hours mean you might have to rush through your one day in Bruges itinerary.

Where is Bruges?

Bruges is located in the northwest of Belgian in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The city, which has a population of around 120,000, is less than 100 kilometres from the capital, Brussels ( which you can read about here ).

Getting to Bruges

How to get from brussels to bruges.

Getting to Bruges is easy and its close proximity to Brussels makes a day trip to Bruges a great way to see the city.

The easiest way to reach Bruges from the capital is by train. Brussels to Bruges trains leave every 20 minutes or so and take around an hour. 

Alternatively, you can enjoy an organized Brussels to Bruges day trip with guide. Click here for tour details and prices .

How to get from Paris to Bruges

Trains from Paris to Bruges take around 3 hours 30 minutes and three hours from Amsterdam to Bruges. 

How to get to Bruges from London

From the UK, it’s possible to catch the London to Brussels Eurostar (two hours, up to ten services daily) and then connect on to Bruges.

There are also frequent London to Bruges flights every day.

How to get to Bruges from Ghent

It’s a quick 25-minute journey on the Ghent to Bruges trains which depart every 15 minutes.

  If you prefer to drive from Ghent to Bruges you should allow about 35 minutes.

There are good rail connections to Brussels from all points in Europe if you are travelling to Bruges from further afield.

Pretty houses in Bruges

If you have a rental car and plan to drive to Bruges, keep in mind that driving and parking in the historic center of Bruges is very restricted. If you do decide to drive there, you will have to leave your car on the outskirts of the city. The cheapest option for parking in Bruges is at the train station.

If you will be travelling to Bruges by car, it’s around one hour’s driving time (96 kilometres) from Brussels to Bruges, 2 hours 50 minutes from Paris and 2 hours 30 minutes from Amsterdam.

Getting around Bruges

As I have already pointed out, Bruges touristic area is quite small, which makes it very walkable. The street layout might be a bit confusing at first, so keep a map in hand to orient yourself. You can download a Bruges city map here .

However, if you get lost, don’t panic! Wandering around with no direction at all you are still bound to find some secret cobbled streets and quaint little bridges. In fact, you’ll probably come across some things to see in Bruges that you hadn’t expected!


If the weather is right, renting a bike is also a fun option. Bruges streets are very safe for cyclists and you can find many bike rental places inside the city centre. You can visit the official Bruges Tourism Office website for a list of options.

Where to stay in Bruges

Being such a touristic city, it is not easy to find good, affordable accommodation in Bruges. However, there are still a few decent hotels and B&Bs.

Try to avoid the outdated and overpriced hotels around the Grote Markt: there are far better choices a bit further away. Booking with plenty of time in advance will also give you a wider range of options to pick from.

For our stay, we went with The White Queen B&B and I can say we couldn’t have chosen anything better. Click here for current prices . 

Just a couple of blocks away from the historic center, the location is secluded enough from the touristy madness, which will guarantee you a good night’s sleep.

The decoration is modern with a few classic touches, and the owners are very welcoming hosts. Breakfast is included, as well as tea and coffee in the bedroom and small nice touches such as flowers and chocolate snacks, which make you feel so at home.

We recommend this 100% for a luxury B&B experience in Bruges at an affordable price.

Click here to check prices of other accommodation in Bruges via

Day trips from Bruges

Now that you know what to do in Bruges for a day, you might like to combine your visit with a side trip to see more of this charming region.

Why not take a day trip tour to the nearby city of Ypres? It is here that the Germans invaded Belgium during WWI, and a small group tour with a guide will give you a detailed overview of its history. Click here to browse tour options .

Another fascinating town in West Flanders is Oostduinkerke where you can watch the locals fishing for shrimp on horseback !

And don’t forget the Belgian capital, Brussels, which is just an hour away. Bruges to Brussels trains depart about every 20 minutes. 

>> CLICK HERE to order free travel brochures to help start planning your visit to Bruges <<

I hope you’ve found this Bruges one day itinerary useful and it’s given you plenty of ideas of what to see in Bruges . 

Whichever way you choose to spend your one day in Bruges, I’m sure you’ll agree there are plenty of things to do in Bruges, Belgium to make a visit worthwhile.


About the author: Pilar and and her partner Jorge are obsessed with travel, writing, taking pictures and drinking mate, their country’s signature drink. In 2015, they left home on a one-way ticket to Europe, where they visited 12 countries, dozens of cities and created countless memories. Along the way they created el antitour , a travel website to inspire Spanish-speaking readers to travel the world. Three years later, they are on their way back home to Argentina in their renovated home on wheels with an epic journey across the American continent. You can also follow Pilar and Jorge’s travels on Facebook and Instagram .


24 hours in Bruges Belgium

Carolyn's love affair with Europe started on her first visit over 30 years ago and it continues, just as strong, today. She visits Europe annually and enjoys writing about her discoveries and sharing her tips with fellow travellers.

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“Bruges is a beautiful medieval city almost untouched by time. If you like jazz, you will be well catered for. If you like chocolate and beer, you will be in heaven.” – James Frain. Bruges is small, beautiful, peaceful, rich in history and the great thing is that you can completely visit Bruges in a day. So, what to do in Bruges in one day, what to see in Bruges in one day? Let’s check out our Bruges one day trip from Brussels with the suggested Bruges 1 day itinerary (Brugge 1 day itinerary, Bruges one day itinerary) on how to visit Bruges in a day and things to do in Bruges in a day to find out the answer!

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visit brugge in one day

Bruges, the capital of northwestern Belgium, is also known as the “Venice of the North”. In addition to the commonality with the “pearl of the Adriatic Sea”, while both are the “cities of canals” that were once prosperous trading ports, Bruges, like Venice, are both cities of love.

I used to laugh when the movie starring actor Colin Farrell filmed here, with the content is full of shooting and stabbing across the whole film, but still tried to pull the romantic name “Bons baisers de Bruges” – “Sweet kiss from Bruges”. It’s lucky, if you can strong hold the hand of your lover who is walking with you on the path of life, walking around the cobblestone, ancient and mossy streets of Bruges. That said, Bruges is not a “forbidden” city for singles. Let’s go to Bruges, and find it very different when you come back with your beloved one. Beautiful cities are often associated with and accompanied by a period of great economic development, enough for it to have the economic potential to build great buildings.

visit brugge in one day

During the Middle Ages, Bruges was once the most important port, as well as the most prosperous city of the Nordic region. Merchant ships from all over Europe came here carrying spices, pepper, cinnamon powder, chili… and agricultural products to exchanging and trading for products made from wool and cotton of Flanders, northwest Belgium. Bruges was a thrive city with bustling ports, filled with boats in and out, built canals and large paved streets as the main trade route of the city.

But through the time, Bruges shared the same fate with other ports of the northern region, the accretion of nature pushed Bruges’ position further inland, since the 15th century, the city gradually fell into oblivion. Thanks to that, Bruges seems to have never been impacted by time, industrialization and modernization. Like a princess sleeping in the woods, Bruges is a small provincial city where time has stood still for five centuries. Today, instead of trading vessels back and forth, every year 3 million tourists come to explore the city’s red-brick gothic houses. The historic center of Bruges has been listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage site since 2000.

visit brugge in one day

Bruges in a day: What to do in Bruges in one day & what to see in Bruges in one day

Bruges is the perfect destination that can be explored in one day. The best way to discover Bruges is to walk around the mossy streets of the city. Regardless of the means of transport you take to get to Bruges, all journeys usually start from the central station square. The large canal connecting Bruges with Ghent separates the station from the city center. I usually start my journey by crossing the Oostmeers bridge and then immediately turn right, walking along the canal, under the canopy of old trees, we will come to the lake of love Minnewater.

visit brugge in one day

Lake of Love (Minnewater) and Lovers Bridge

The name Lake of Love (the word “Minne” in Dutch – Flanders means love) comes from a sad love story. The story goes that there was a man and woman, Morin and Minna, who could not be together due to family barriers. Minna ran away from her family, until Morin found her, he could only hear her last words. So sad and too much in love with his fiancée, Morin built a dike to block a nearby river, buried Minna and then flooded her grave so Minna could rest in the heart of the lake. That location today is the Lake of Love Minnewater, where flocks of swans, the symbol of Bruges, have always lived.

visit brugge in one day

Ten Wijngaerde (Begijnhof Brugge)

Address: Begijnhof 30, 8000 Brugge, Belgium Hours: 6:30AM–6:30PM

Lying on both sides of the lake of love is a small park of the same name, an ideal place if you want to find a quiet space, or a place to have a picnic in Bruges. On the other side is the Begijnhof complex. It is difficult to translate specifically the word “Begijnhof”, but it is roughly a gathering of widows who lost their husbands after the war, who come to live to support each other in their old age. The beautiful Begijnhof complex with white-painted houses, red-tiled roofs, around a main yard planted with daffodils that bloom every spring.

visit brugge in one day

Sint-Janshospitaal Hospital (Museum)

Address: Mariastraat 38, 8000 Brugge, Belgium

From the Begijnhof monastery, if you follow the big canal, towards the bell tower of the cathedral, you will come to Notre Dame Cathedral Bruges and the hospital of Sint-Janshospitaal (St John’s Hospital). This is one of the oldest hospitals in Europe still preserved. Today, the precinct of Sint-Janshospitaal are used as an art museum displaying typical works of Flanders painting.

visit brugge in one day

Church of Our Lady of Bruges (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk)

Address: Mariastraat, 8000 Brugge, Belgium Hours: 9:30AM–5PM/Sunday: 12–5PM

Located opposite the Sint-Janshospitaal museum, the Church of Our Lady of Bruges, home to the masterpiece of the Madonna and child of Michelangelo, is the tallest structure in the center of Bruges. The church bell tower, over 150 meters high, is one of the tallest brick structures in the world. Tickets to visit the church cost €2 (2019 price).

visit brugge in one day

Sailing on the Bruges canals

Seeing Bruges from the water also has its own pleasure. The tourist boat pier is located right next to Notre Dame Cathedral. The ticket price for a tour (about half an hour) is €8 for adults, €4 for children under 11 years old, and free for children under 3 years old.

visit brugge in one day

The Market Square (Markt)

True to Belgian tradition, the city central square is the marketplace (the word “Markt” means market) and the main bell tower of the city. The bell towers in the North, both as observatories against fire or invaders, are also huge musical instruments for the community. They usually has a keyboard like a giant organ that controls the bells. For those who bravely climb all 366 steps to the top of the tower, the reward is a view of Bruges from above that could not be more beautiful. Ticket price to visit the tower is €10 for adults, €8 for young people under 25 years old (2019 price).

visit brugge in one day

Burg Square

The Bruges’ second largest square a few steps from the Markt square. This is also where the city’s town hall is located. Each building around the square has a different architecture. If the town hall was built in the 14th century in Gothic architecture, the Heilig-Bloedbasiliek church is in Romanesque architecture, and the Franc de Bruges palace is in Classical architecture.

visit brugge in one day

Wandering in the old town

Or you don’t need to have a specific plan to go anywhere. You can wander here all day without getting bored, walking along the canal, watching the architectural works create a scene even more beautiful than a picture.

visit brugge in one day

Bruges one day itinerary: How to get to Bruges?

visit brugge in one day

Bruges is about 100 km northwest of Brussels, about 3 hours from Paris and Amsterdam. Highways in Belgium and the Netherlands are free. Regarding parking in the city, the most convenient and cheapest is to park at the parking lot of the central station (Station Brugge). Parking Centrum-Station Chantrell Stratt, Bruges. Ticket price 70 CTS for hour, €3.5 for 24 hours. The parking lot is about a 10-minute walk from the center, otherwise the parking ticket allows up to 4 adults to use De Lijn bus from the station to the central square.

Brugge’s main station is Brugge Centrum-Station central station. From here it takes 10 minutes to walk to the city center. There are no international trains that go directly to Bruges, so you need to change trains in Brussels or Antwerp. Every hour, there are two departures from Brussels to Bruges departing at Bruxelles-Central station. The journey between the Belgian capital and Bruges takes about 1 hour. The national railway company of Belgium is SNCB/NMBS ( ). Ticket prices range from €9-13/each way (2022 price).

Go Pass 1: For those who are not yet 26 years old, you can buy a Go Pass 1 ticket ( ticket purchase link ), allowing you to travel between any two destinations in Belgium for €6.6 (2022 price).

visit brugge in one day

Eurolines ( ) has a daily bus connection between Amsterdam and Bruges. The bus departs at 1:15pm from Amsterdam Duivendrecht station to Bruges. In Bruges, the bus picks up and drops off passengers at the central station. The bus returns to the Netherlands from Bruges at 8:15pm every evening. Fares range from 10-20€/each way (2022 price). The ride time is about 5 hours.

When to go to Bruges?

With 3 million tourists visiting Bruges every year, you should avoid the peak of the summer tourist season (July and August). No matter what season you come to Bruges, you will love it, but the most beautiful is probably in spring (April), when the daffodils garden in the Begijnhof monastery are in bloom. At that time, you also could combine to visit the Netherlands to visit the tulip fields before the harvest. Or in the fall, when nature is changing its color. Bruges under the color of the autumn canopy is extremely romantic.

visit brugge in one day

Things to do in Bruges in a day: What and where to eat?

I don’t understand why people only associate the image of love with the sweet taste of chocolate, when in reality, when in love, we have to taste enough sour, spicy, salty, and sweet. Bruges is the city of love, as it is one of the capitals of all kinds of chocolates. Chocolate can be bought on every street corner, there’s no need to buy expensive ones, the regular ones here have made my French colleagues craving. Snacking, in addition to specialty fries served with mayonnaise, Belgium is also famous for Waffles. Especially, typical delicious Belgian beer, the most special varieties are brewed by monks called Trappist beer, served with Belgian cheese, hard and full of flavor, spring-summer-autumn-winter are also savory.

visit brugge in one day

Address: De Garre 1, 8000 Brugge, Belgium Hours: 12PM–12AM Phone: +3250341029.

The shop is located in a small alley, between Markt square and Burg square, a bit hard to find and easy to miss. The shop always offer about 130 Belgian beers, reasonably priced, decorated in a typical regional style.

visit brugge in one day

‘t Brugs Beertje

Address: Kemelstraat 5, 8000 Brugge, Belgium Hours: 4PM–12AM/Wednesday: Closed Phone: +32 50 33 96 16

This is probably the best beer shop in Bruges, farther from the central square than De Garre, so less touristy. The owner and staff are fun, can advise you to choose beer when not too crowded. Abundant beer, delicious food, affordable prices, ancient space.

visit brugge in one day

Lizzie’s Wafels

Address: Sint-Jakobsstraat 16, 8000 Brugge, Belgium Hours: 1–6PM/MondayTuesday: Closed Phone: +32 50 34 87 69

Mrs. Lizzie and her husband’s Wafels was on my to-do list. The price is not cheap at all, each set of waffle costs €7, twice as expensive as the ones sold on the street, but also twice as big, and must be eaten by two people. For that price, we get what we deserve. The waffle is so scrumptious, light sweet and subtle, not heavy like regular wafels. The decoration of the restaurant is light and delicate. Attentive service.

visit brugge in one day

Gran kaffee de Passage

Address: Dweersstraat 26, 8000 Brugge, Belgium Hours: 5:30–10PM/Saturday; Sunday: 12–10PM/Monday: Closed Phone: +32 50 34 02 32

In Bruges, eating out is relatively expensive. I just discovered that the restaurant of the old hotel De Passage has an acceptable menu. For that reason, the restaurant is extremely crowded, so it is advisable to book a table in advance, especially on weekends. Service is a bit disorganized, but always happy to correct mistakes. The restaurant serves international food, along with some Belgian specialties. I chose beef stew with beer and fries, quite good.

visit brugge in one day

Bruges blog: Where to stay?

If you intend to spend a night in Bruges. Below we recommend more best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.

Botaniek Hotel , a top rated 3-star hotel with room rates from $114/night (Check rates on or ).

visit brugge in one day

Hotel Dukes’ Palace Bruges , a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $174/night (Check rates on or ).

visit brugge in one day

Hotel Jan Brito , a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $139/night (Check rates on or ).

visit brugge in one day

Hotel De Medici , a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $147/night (Check rates on or ).

visit brugge in one day

Grand Hotel Casselbergh Bruges , a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $138/night (Check rates on or ).

visit brugge in one day

Hotel Navarra Brugge , a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $124/night (Check rates on or ).

visit brugge in one day

Check out more top and best hotels in Bruges on or .

Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Bruges you can refer to

  • Bruges Day Trip From Amsterdam
  • Bruges Day Tour from Paris
  • Ghent and Bruges Day Tour from Brussels
  • Bruges Day Tour from Brussels
  • Highlights of Bruges 2-Hour Rickshaw Tour

visit brugge in one day

Are you looking for more top things to do in Bruges: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: Bruges travel guide here  And Belgium guide here .

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17 of the best experiences in Bruges

Dec 16, 2023 • 9 min read

Young woman tourist sits on a bridge in the old city in Bruges in the morning in Belgium and waves a hand passing by a tourist boat with tourists.; Shutterstock ID 1400041118; your: Claire Naylor; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online editorial; full: Bruges things to do

From touring the city by canal boat to eating the tastiest fries, here are the best things to do in Bruges © LALS STOCK / Shutterstock

Bruges is one of the most picturesque cities in Northern Europe, with photo opportunities awaiting you around every corner.

The medieval city center survived multiple invasions and wars over the last 500 years, yet miraculously kept its 15th-century architecture intact – an achievement that won it UNESCO World Heritage status in 2000. 

Beyond the picturesque Gothic facades, you can go sailing through the canals, learn about the Flemish Masters, or visit one of the many museums (perfect for a rainy day, of which there are many). Here's our pick of the very best experiences in Bruges .

1. See Bruges on a canal boat tour

Experience the sights and sounds of Bruges on a boat tour along the picturesque canals for just €12. Doing it on the day you arrive will help orient you in the city while the guide gives you a potted history of your surroundings. You'll pass under  Bonifacius Bridge , a popular 20th-century stone arch crossing usually thronged with snap-happy tourists, as well as the 18th-century Nepomucenus Bridge, watched over by a statue of John of Nepomuk – the patron saint of bridges.

Save some smartphone storage for Rosary Quay, though. Its name comes from the rosary bead sellers that used to dominate the area, but that's not what draws tourists here in their droves. It's the photogenic kink in the canal and the crooked, forward-leaning facades that make for incredible pictures. The boats, formerly all diesel engines, are being replaced by a fleet of fully electric vessels . 

2. Break for a Belgian beer at a Bruges bar 

Beer is a big part of Flemish culture, and there's no shortage of places to have a pint, so take a break from sightseeing to try a local specialty. Tucked away in a little alley near the city center, De Garre is a quirky bar with over 140 varieties of beer. Advertised as "possibly the oldest pub in Bruges," Café Vlissinghe has been pouring beers since 1515. It's still a beloved spot for tourists and residents of Bruges alike. If you're looking for a lively bar scene, head to 't Zand Square  –  Villa Gerard is popular with students and residents. 

A person holds a takeaway tray containing a waffle covered in chocolate sauce outside in a medieval square.

3. Indulge your sweet tooth with waffles, pastries, and chocolates

If you have a sweet tooth, get ready to indulge in Bruges – there are chocolate, pastry, and candy shops on every street and the sweet aroma of freshly toasted waffles follows you through the city. For a beautiful and delicious waffle, go to Otto Waffle Atelier where they're made with an intricate pattern. 

Aux Merveilleux De Fred  serves exquisite pastries in an equally stunning tea room. Order a Vergeoise waffle to go with your coffee. Round out your indulgence with chocolate truffles at one of the most popular chocolate shops, Chocolatier Dumon .

4. Go on an architectural walking tour of Bruges 

Pack your comfortable shoes because Bruges is a place for walkers. A wander through the beautiful city center is one of the best ways to admire the Gothic and Flemish architecture. Keep your eyes open for the many treasures such as the emblematic 't Zand's 21st-century  Concert Hall , which looks like a giant, half-submerged goldfish ducking beneath the pavement; the cherry-red Barge Bridge that seemingly twists like the track on a roller-coaster; and the 13th-century Church of Our Lady , with its enormous 115m (377ft) spire. Inside you'll find Michelangelo’s serene Madonna and Child statue from 1504.

Planning tip:  Bruges Tourism Office offers free maps for self-guided walking tours .

5. Visit independent shops along Langestraat 

Take a 10–15 minute walk from Markt, the heart of ancient Bruges, to Langestraat, a street with independently owned restaurants, cafes, and shops. Stop by Cherry Picker Cafe for its unique selection of vinyl records with a bar in the back of the shop before browsing for rare finds at Brocante Cafe , an antique shop and cafe. If you're looking for the perfect made-in-Bruges gift, stop by  Atelier Twee , featuring leather goods made in-house and items created by regional artisans. 

6. Tour a Belgian brewery 

Belgium produces some of the best beers in the world – even those that don't usually enjoy a pint can be converted after a sip. For Belgians, beer is more than a beverage, it's a tradition, with most brasseries serving beers in distinct glasses representing the breweries. Brewery De Halve Maan offers brewery tours and tastings in the heart of Bruges. Sip your chosen brew in the beer hall or catch the elusive Belgian sun on the cozy terrace. 

Planning tip:  Be sure to bring your camera on a sunny day. The tour guide (weather permitting) will take you to the brewery's rooftop, which offers splendid city views. 

People walk through a huge medieval square dominated by a tall Gothic tower

7. Take in the magnificent Markt, one of Europe's finest squares

A medieval masterpiece, few European plazas outdo this glorious, car-free square for sheer good looks. A poster child for Belgium, Markt has a bit of Hollywood pizzazz to it – all tall, step-gabled guild houses, glinting neo-Gothic facades, and slow, clip-clopping horse-and-carriage rides. True, some of the buildings may not be as timeless as their restored glory suggests, but little has changed since the first market here in 958 CE.

Just look to the Belfort in the northwest of the square. Finished in 1486, this 83m-high (272ft) octagonal tower was the dominating skyscraper of its day – and so it remains. Grab a coffee from one of the nearby terrace cafes and admire it all from there, or...

8. Climb Belfort for the best views of Bruges

To preserve Bruges' charm, there are no tall modern buildings in the city center. Get the best panoramas over red-tiled rooftops all the way to Zeebrugge – and a workout from climbing the 366 steps – at the top of  Belfort . This 13th-century belfry is one of the tallest points in the historic center. 

Planning tip:  Numbers are limited to 70 visitors at a time for safety reasons. The queue can get quite lengthy at peak times, so arrive early to avoid them.

9. Learn about the Flemish Masters at Groeningemuseum

Given its long history, Bruges is a city of rich culture, and nowhere showcases this like the rich collection of Flemish Primitive and Renaissance works at Groeningemuseum . The art gallery features works by Flemish Masters such as Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, Hugo van der Goes, and Gerard David, and is the perfect rainy day activity.

10. Enjoy an eclectic program of events at Concertgebouw 

Another treat for a rainy day is the eclectic programming of exhibitions and performances at the Concertgebouw , the modern concert hall of Bruges. You can also book a tour of this stunning 21st-century architectural gem.

The exterior of the Museum Sint-Janshospitaal against the canal on a calm, blue-skied winter morning in Bruges, Belgium

11. Admire the works of Hans Memling at the Museum Sint-Janshospitaal

This impeccably restored chapel , which sits at the heart of a wonderful 12th-century hospital building, is home to six masterpieces by the revered 15th-century devotional artist Hans Memling. Undoubtedly Bruges' finest painter, certainly in his lifetime, it wasn't really until the late 19th century that interest was piqued in the innovative portraitist with shows across the world.

Here, you can admire his delicate oil work on the panels of the splendid, gilded reliquary of St Ursula, which is said to hold some of her relics. But don't miss the large triptych of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist either. It was originally the church's altarpiece.

Planning tip:  Your ticket also gives you access to the restored 17th-century pharmacy through a door at the rear of the chapel.

12. Immerse yourself in history and myths at Burg

Imagine being a square this beautiful and interesting and still not being the most-talked-about square in the city. Anywhere else in the world and the Gothic turrets of the 15th-century Stadhuis (city hall) , the charcoal-colored facade and gilded statues of the Basilica of the Holy Blood – purportedly home to a cloth stained with the blood of Jesus Christ – and the light clip-clop of the horse-drawn carriages would make Burg an unmissable banquet of medieval architecture. Here? It plays second fiddle to Markt. But is still well worth a few hours of your time.

13. Grab a budget meal around 't Zand

There are several universities in Bruges, most notably the College of Europe and the Catholic University College of Bruges, which means plenty of places to find a meal on a budget. The area around 't Zand Square has several student-friendly restaurants, cafes, and bars.

HAP Takeaway Bites uses locally sourced ingredients to make delicious sandwiches, salads and freshly pressed juices. An excellent spot for breakfast or lunch, most items cost around €5–8. For lunches less than €10, try the burgers, croquettes, and fries at Frituur-Bistro 't Bootje or dine on Syrian-style falafel, shawarmas, and wraps at Taboulé .

Pastel-colored tall buildings line a square with cafes and restaurants at the base. A cyclist whizzes by.

14. Rent a bike and go beyond the historic city center

Bruges is relatively flat, making it ideal to explore on a bike. There are several good  bike rental outfits  located around the city. Start your ride at the Kruispoort Gate, one of Bruges's four preserved medieval gates, where a bike trail leads the way to photogenic windmills such as Bonne-Chière and Sint-Janshuismolen.

If you want to go on a longer ride, consider the 90-minute roundtrip to Zeebrugge, approximately 15km (9.3 miles) each way, for a view of the choppy North Sea and lunch at a seafood restaurant.

15. Find inner peace at the begijnhof

Ah! Pure silence. Or as close as you're ever going to get in a city that swells with bus-loads of tourists each day. Built in the 13th century as a place for religious women to live piously but with the freedom to go into the city itself, this gabled, white-washed begijnhof still retains a reverent calm among its trees. 

16. Take your fries seriously with frietjes at a frituur

No trip to Belgium is complete with having a cone (or three) of frietjes (fries). Belgians take their fries seriously and Bruges has plenty of frituurs –  small restaurants specializing in fries – around the city. A large portion of fries with sauce is usually around €4. Belgians love a dollop of mayo on their crispy, thick-cut fries and sometimes tuck in with unique condiments such as curry ketchup or samurai sauce (spicy mayo).

17. And then learn why fries are part of the national dish

The quirky Frietmuseum  starts with a detailed history of potatoes and their journey from Peru to Europe and helps you understand why fries became such an important part of Belgian cuisine. Bring your appetite – the museum serves crispy fries made to order with a wide selection of sauces from its own frituur . 

This article was first published Mar 23, 2022 and updated Dec 16, 2023.

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Bruges and Ghent in One Day: The Perfect Itinerary (2024)

Bruges and Ghent in one day

Are you in Belgium for only a short time but would you still like to see as much as you can during your time here? Then visiting Bruges and Ghent in one day is the perfect option for you!

Although it’s true that you could easily spend an entire day in each one of these cities, if your time is limited, it is possible to see the best of Bruges and Ghent in just one day. This is a great day trip from Brussels .

This being said, it does take a little bit of organizing to fit both cities’ highlights into just one day, and that’s exactly where this comprehensive guide comes in handy!

As I am from Belgium , I spent a lot of time in both of these cities and know which places are worth visiting.

So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know if you’re planning on visiting Bruges and Ghent in one day.

Belfry of Bruges

How to visit Bruges and Ghent in one day

If you’re planning on visiting these cities in one day, you have two options. You can either visit Bruges and Ghent by yourself or by guided tour .

GetYourGuide offers great tours that start in Brussels . These will let you explore Bruges and Ghent with a guide.

Bruges and Ghent in one day: Itinerary

If you prefer exploring these cities by yourself, you will find the perfect itinerary below. Bruges is one of the most beautiful destinations in Belgium and it’s not so far from Ghent.

Although I added an estimated time for each activity, there is some slack , so you can visit each place at your own pace.

Bruges in Belgium

7:30 am: Take the train from Brussels to Bruges

In order to make the most out of your day exploring Bruges and Ghent, you will want to wake up early and catch the train from Brussels to Bruges around 7:30 am.

Depending on where you’re staying in Brussels, you can take the train from Brussels Central, Brussels Midi/Zuid or Brussels North railway station.

If you buy a return ticket, you will be able to take the train back from Bruges to Ghent and then from Ghent to Brussels with the same ticket , as Ghent is between Bruges and Brussels.

It takes about an hour to get to Bruges. The railway station is a 20-minute walk or a short bus ride (operated by De Lijn) from the city centre.

Tip: You can book your train tickets in advance via Omio and I would recommend having breakfast on the train to save some time.

9:00 am: Explore Market Square

Belfry on Market Square in Bruges

Market Square is the main square of Bruges and you will find plenty of beautiful guild houses here.

The Belfry of Bruges (Belfort in Dutch) is the square’s highlight. This medieval bell tower was built in 1240 and it’s one of Belgium’s most famous monuments . In the olden days, it served as an archive and treasury and as an observation post to spot fires and other dangers.

Today, this tower is the symbol of Bruges and it can be visited. You will find a museum inside and after climbing the tower’s 366 steps, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view over the city.

Fun fact: If you’re visiting Bruges on a Wednesday morning, you will find a market on this square. This market has been held every week since 985 and sells local and handmade products.

9:45 am: See Burg Square

Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges

Burg Square is just a 2-minute walk from Market Square and this is one of the oldest areas in Bruges .

Among other buildings, this square is home to the Bruges City Hall , the Basilica of the Holy Blood and the Liberty of Bruges , which used to serve as a law court.

The Basilica of the Holy Blood can easily be overlooked, as its facade is quite small. However, this is one of the most famous landmarks in Belgium and the monument is definitely worth entering.

Inside, you will find a Romanesque and a Gothic chapel and both of these are completely different. While the Romanesque chapel is quite sober, the Gothic chapel is beautifully decorated and full of colour.

Apart from that, the Basilica of the Holy Blood is also home to the relic of the Holy Blood . This relic is kept in an ornate vial in the upper chapel and it’s believed that it contains the blood of Christ.

10:15 am: Take pictures at Rosary Quay

Rosary Quay in Bruges

Just 250 m (820 ft) from Burg Square, you will find Rosary Quay (Rozenhoedkaai in Dutch), which is one of Bruges’ most picturesque sights . This is the most photographed spot in the city and you will have an amazing view of Bruges’ canals and historic buildings here.

Rosary Quay is a place where two canals meet. It’s believed that back in the day, the place was a port for ships. Salt traders would come to this quay to unload their merchandise.

Apart from that, rosaries were once sold here, which is why the place was named “Rosary Quay”.

10:30 am: See the Church of Our Lady and Boniface Bridge

Bonifacius Bridge in Bruges

This is one of my favourite areas in Bruges! The Boniface Bridge and Church of Our Lady are located right next to each other, and the area looks like something straight out of a fairytale. In my opinion, this area alone makes it worth visiting Bruges .

The Boniface Bridge (Bonifaciusbrug in Dutch) is often nicknamed “ Lover’s Bridge ” and according to the legend, it will become eternal love if you kiss your loved one on this bridge.

Don’t forget to enter the Church of Our Lady (Onz-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Dutch) while you’re here. This church was built between the 13th and 15th centuries and you will find Michelangelo’s famous Madonna and Child sculpture inside. It was sculpted in 1504 and it’s one of the few works of Michelangelo that can be seen outside of Italy.

11:15: Stroll around the Beguinage and Minnewaterpark

Beguinage of Bruges

The Beguinage (Begijnhof in Dutch) is a 7-minute walk from the Church of Our Lady and this quiet place was once home to the Beguines , these were women living in   religious devotion without taking any vows.

Although there are no beguines left here today, the Beguinage is now inhabited by the nuns of the Order of St. Benedict.

It’s good to know that while it is free to visit the Beguinage’s grounds, you will have to pay a small fee if you want to visit one of the Beguine’s houses.

After visiting the Beguinage, it’s time to head to the nearby Minnewaterpark, which is a great place to relax for a while. The Minnewaterpark is also called the “ Lake of Love ” and it’s said that you will experience eternal love if you cross this lake’s bridge with your loved one.

12 am: Lunch at brewery De Halve Maan

Brugse Zot at Brewery De Halve Maan in Bruges

One of the things Belgium is famous for is its beer, so a visit to Bruges wouldn’t be complete without stopping by this city’s most famous brewery: De Halve Maan (meaning “the half moon” in Dutch).

Apart from Belgian beer, this brewery also serves homemade dishes, which makes it a perfect stop for lunch.

It’s good to know that it’s possible to take a tour of this brewery too. Tours are held at a fixed time every day and this is something beer lovers will love doing.

1:20 pm: Take the train to Ghent

After lunch, it’s time to head back to the train station and take the train from Bruges to Ghent-Sint-Pieters. This is a 35-minute ride.

The Ghent-Sint-Pieters railway station is a 30-minute walk from the city centre, but there’s also a tram (number 1) every 10 minutes.

2:00 pm: See the 3 towers

Things to do in Ghent, the 3 towers

One of the highlights of Ghent is its three towers: the St. Nicholas Church, the Belfry of Ghent and St. Bavo’s Cathedral, which stand in a perfect row.

The St. Nicholas Church is one of the oldest landmarks in the city. It was built in the 13th century, and back then, its central tower served as an observation post.

With its height of 91 m (298 ft), the Belfry of Ghent is the tallest bell tower in Belgium. This is the middle tower in the row of three and its construction started in 1313. This tower served as a watchtower and it was also a place of storage for important documents.

Finally, St. Bavo’s Cathedral is the place where you will find the famous Ghent Altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers. This beautiful artwork consists of 18 panels, of which one has been reproduced after being stolen.

2:30:  Admire the Graslei and Korenlei

Ghent in Belgium

This is one of my favourite places in Ghent! The Graslei and Korenlei are two streets located along the banks of the River Lys. In the olden days, these streets were the place where herbs, vegetables and wheat were stored.

You will see some of the city’s most beautiful medieval facades here and if you’re visiting Ghent on a sunny day, this is a perfect place to sit and relax by the river.

3:00: Visit Gravensteen Castle

Gravensteen Castle in Ghent Belgium

The Gravensteen Castle or the Castle of the Counts is another one of these places that makes Ghent worth visiting .

This castle was the residence of the Counts of Flanders between the 12th and 14th centuries. Later, it served as a courthouse, a prison and a cotton mill.

If you’re a history buff, you will love learning more about the Gravensteen’s rich history during your visit to this castle. There’s also a torture museum here, with equipment dating back to the time the castle served as a prison.

It’s good to know that, once you reach the top level of this castle, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the three towers of Ghent.

4:00 pm: Explore the Patershol District

Patershol Ghent

With its cobblestone streets and small alleys, the medieval Paterhol District is one of the most charming neighbourhoods in Ghent. This is a car-free area that follows the original street paths from the Middle Ages.

The Paterhol District used to be a very poor neighbourhood where the workers of the Counts of Ghent lived. Today, however, it’s one of the city’s most desirable districts.

This being said, if you’re short on time, I would skip the Paterhol District. It is beautiful but the other places mentioned on this list are more interesting.

Map of the best places to visit in Bruges and Ghent in one day

You will find a map will the best places to visit in Bruges and Ghent in one day below. Click the pin on the map to see more information about each place.

Bruges and Ghent in one day: FAQs

Can you visit bruges and ghent in a day.

Yes, Bruges and Ghent are just half an hour’s train ride from one another and you can see both city’s highlights in just one day. This can be done as a day trip from Brussels.

Which is nicer Bruges or Ghent?

Although both cities are nice, there is more to see in Bruges, there are plenty of tourist attractions in this city’s historical centre. Ghent is beautiful too, but it is smaller and you can see this city’s highlights in just a couple of hours.

Where to stay in Brussels

There are plenty of places to stay in Brussels, it all depends on your personal taste and budget. You will find my top recommendations below.

  • Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo (⭐ 9.0/10) : This is one of Brussels’ top hotels. It’s located in the centre of the city and offers magnificent rooms and an award-winning onsite restaurant.
  • Motel One (⭐ 8.7/10) : Just a 10-minute walk from the Brussels Central Station and Grand Place, Motel One is ideally located. This hotel offers beautiful rooms and a buffet-style breakfast.
  • La Maison Haute Guesthouse (⭐ 9.3/10): A 10-minute walk from the Brussels Central Railway Station, La Maison Haute Guesthouse is a great place to stay in the centre of the city. It’s located in the Marolles neighbourhood, which is famous for its antique shops.

>> Check out my post featuring the best canal-side hotels in Bruges if you would like to stay in this city instead!

Bruges and Ghent in one day: Final thoughts

I hope that you have found exactly what you were looking for and that this post will help you plan your day trip to Bruges and Ghent.

Both of these cities are worth visiting and if you’re short on time, you can see their highlights in just a day!

This being said, it speaks for itself that spending an entire day in Bruges or Ghent would allow you to see more. If you decide to only visit one city after all, I would recommend heading to Bruges.

Read more about Bruges and Ghent:

  • Is Bruges Worth Visiting? 14 Reasons to Visit this City
  • The Best Things to Do in Bruges in One Day
  • Brussels or Bruges: Which City Should You Visit
  • 4 Ways to Get from Brussels Airport to Bruges
  • Is Ghent Worth Visiting? 9 Reasons to Visit this City
  • The Best Things to Do in Ghent in One Day

Pin it for later: Did you find this post helpful? Save it on Pinterest and follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more travel tips and inspiration.

Bruges and Ghent in one day

Laura Meyers

Laura Meyers is the founder of Laure Wanders. She was born in Belgium and has travelled to over 40 countries, many of them solo. She currently spends most of her time between Belgium and South Asia and loves helping other travellers plan their adventures abroad.

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