Brugge is an excellent day trip from Brussels to Bruges as it is only two stops and one hour away in the train. We took the regular Belgian Rail, if you are under 25 the tickets are only €6 each way. This youth ticket, at a set €6 price, is good for any one way trip within Belgium! If you are not under 25, then train tickets costs €20-30 each way, depending on class of service. In this Bruges one day itinerary, you can see the highlights and the main things to do in Brugge as well as use our brugge walking map.
➳ Read More: The best things to do in Brussels in one day
The canal-based city of Bruges has much historic charm around every corner. Bruges has everything from old windmills to charming cobblestone alleys. It is the perfect place to spend a day or two just wondering around. Bruges is located in the Flemish region of Belgium, which means that the city has more Dutch influence than French.
Note: Many tourist stops are closed on Mondays. Keep this in mind when planning your time, as we missed the Castle Luppem because of this fact.
Important travel information:
- Currency: Bruges like the rest of Belgium uses Euro. Many places accept credit cards in Brugge but we always recommend to carry cash in case of emergencies. Some smaller restaurants and shops are cash-only.
- Transportation: The best way to explore Bruges is by foot or with a bike. It can be quite a walk to reach all corners of the Bruges by walking. If you would like to get around faster, I would suggest renting a bike. Rentals are around €10 a day. Bruges is a very bike friendly city, they even have tire pumps installed at major junctions.
- How to get to Bruge: FlixBus runs routes to and from Bruges to a number of other European cities. If you are coming from Brussels, Ghent, or Antwerp it is best to use the train. The station is just south of the city center.
- Language: Even though Belgium has three official languages; French, German, and Dutch, most people speaks english in Brugge. If you want you could also download Google Translate and download the dutch language on your phone. It will work even if you are offline.
- Tipping: It is not necessary to leave a tip in Belgium as the restaurant include service charges in the bill.
Where to sleep in Bruges?
For our time in Bruges, we stayed in the Europa Bruges, a Hostelling International certified location. The hostel was a little bit south of the city, but still within walking distance of the tourist sites.
They only have gendered dorm rooms, which is a a bit of a let down when traveling as a couple, but they have ample space to hang out in, outside of the bedroom. They also have a bar open daily and billiards table.
What is the best time to visit Bruges?
There is always something going on in Brugge from winter Christmas markets to summer festivals and everything in between. Said so, I always recommend visiting a destination during the shoulder seasons, not only you will safe money as things are cheaper then but it will also be less crowded. I will avoid to visit Brugge during the winter months, January to March, as it is super cold and the summer months, June to August, as it is hot and super crowded. The best time to visit Brugge in my opinion is during the Spring, April to May, and the fall, September to December. Spring is nice because is warmer out, less crowded and flowers are in bloom. Fall, on the other hand, is beautiful because of the leaves falling and the colors. I also included December in case you want to see the Bruges Christmas market.
What beers should I try in Bruges?
Whether you have one day in Bruges or one week, try different beers at a bar, go for a sampler special, always good prices and a great way to try new flavors. In general, if you do not mind drinking at your hostel or hotel, I would suggest going to any supermarket, minimart or beer store to get a handful of variety of Belgium beers to try. It much cheaper than a bar with hundreds of choices.
What to eat in Bruges?
Besides drinking any of the delicious Belgian beers, make sure to try the Belgian Waffles and the french fries!
Top things to do in Bruges tourist map:
In this Bruges tourist map we have added all the locations you must visit in Bruges. In this map you will find all the attractions you must visit in your one day Bruges itinerary.
What to see in Bruges in one day:
Het Minnewater (Lake of Love)
The Minnewater park is a collection of small canals and the home of the famous Minnewater bridge. This iconic bridge overlooks the “Lake of Love” For us it was the entry into the “walled” city of old Bruges.
Princely Béguinage Ten Wijngaerd
The Béguiange was started as in 1200s as a community for pious women. It now serves as a small convent. There is not that much to see as a visitor, but the quiet courtyard in a bustling city is quite an experience. The 13 Flemish beguinages have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
However, in the courtyard, there is a cool art installation in the tall trees. TREE HUTS IN BRUGES, by Tadashi Kawamata. These “lookout” treehouses left us with many more questions than answers about themselves.
The Begijnhof bridge is located along the Minnewater river, right outside of the Béguiange. There is a large swan community living along the river. There are also little tour boats taking you through the city. This area is perfect for beautiful pictures of all things both nature and manmade.
Stoofstraat is one of the narrowest streets in Bruges. Originally the center of all things questionable within the city, it has transformed to a trail of tourist shops. If you are looking for souvenirs or gifts this is the street to spend some time.
Saint Saviour’s Cathedral
The 700-year-old Sint-Salvatorskathedraal is one of the main churches and a must see in Bruges. Personally, the architecture of the building is not as grand as some of the other churches in Bruges. If you choose to go inside (free admission), make sure to see the paintings and the ornate organ.
There is a also sculpture worth seeing that we found fascinating. It is located in front of the Saint Saviour’s Cathedral. The sculpture is called Wu Wei Er Wei (Doing Nothing Doing), and it was created from windows of demolished Chinese buildings.
Church of Our Lady Bruges
The church of Our Lady Brugge is the home of Michelangelo’s famous Madonna and Child painting and it is the second tallest brick tower in the world.
There is an admission fee of €6, so if you are an art lover you must visit this church. We recommend everyone who is in Brugge for one day to still make time and visit this beautiful church.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a Romanesque and Gothic chapel that was built in the 12th century. Entry to the basilica is free of charge, but they also have a museum that costs €2/person.
Within the museum at the church, they hold artifacts from the crusades to Jerusalem in 12th century and a relic that is revered to be the blood of Christ.
Belfry and Grote Markt
The belfry of Bruges, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a Gothic-style Basilica of the Holy Blood. It was built in the late Middle Ages as a prime example of the power cities held at that time.
Out of all the things you need to do in Bruges in one day, climbing the 366 steps to a panoramic view from top is one of our favorites. The belfry tower is 83 meters tall, so it is quite the climb but trust us, it is worth it!
The tower is open daily from 9:30AM to 5:00PM. Tickets cost €8/adults and €6/youth under 26.
The Grote Market is surrounded by local shops, cafes, colorful buildings and some tourist traps. The buildings are the culmination of great architecture of what Bruges is known for. There are also many events held in the market square, including a concert when we were visiting or the Meifoor after Easter.
De Halve Maan Brewery
If you’re wondering what to do in Bruges in one day, you definitely take a brewery tour.We went to De Halve Maan Brewery for the tour. However, when we arrived, the ticket line was out the door. Having done so many brewery tours previously we opted to just get a six pack sampler, without the wait. We did this because we have gone to breweries before, otherwise it is worth waiting.
The brewery has a rich history from when it opened in 1564. The current family owners have owned the company since 1856.
Tours are run daily from 11AM to 4PM, and available in Dutch, French and English. The 45 minute tour costs €8/person and includes a sample at the end.
They have a core set of six flavors, which they offer in a pre-made sampler pack. The catch is it costs almost €5 more than if you buy one of each six beers, but it does include a reusable 6-pack carrying bag. The choice is yours!
The neighborhood surrounding the Gouden Hand canal. Just north of most of the tourism stops, this area provides a peaceful walk along beautiful old houses. There are no tourist attractions or shops, just everyday people going about their life. You can really see what Bruges looks and feels like to its residents.
Sint Janshuis Windmill
The Sint Janshuis Mill is located in the northeast of Bruges. It is a mill on a hill, built in 1770 and still capable of grinding grain. Being the highest point in the city, it is perfect for a panoramic view.
You can enter the mill, and see this 250-year-old mechanics in action, from June to September on Tuesday to Sunday from 12:00PM. to 4:30PM. Tickets cost €3/adults and €2/children.
There are also one more windmill along this short stretch of street, so do not miss out. Although Sint Janshuis is by far the more famous and impressive one. Visiting the windmills is definitely one of the best things to do in Bruges in one day
Visit the Town Gates
Bruges has four remaining town gates, from part of the second defensive walls that were built near the end of the 13th century. The walls have been dismantled, but the gates remain intact.
Smedenpoort: Rebuilt in 1367.
Kruispoort: Rebuilt in 1400 and is the gate through which Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Napoleon and the German army all entered the city of Bruges.
Gentpoort: The Gentpoort is the only gate open to the public, in the form of a museum. The museum is only open on the weekend and costs €4/adults and €3/children.
Ezelpoort: Rebuilt in 1369. It is also known as the Donkey’s gate.
Bruges Beer Museum
The Bruges Beer Museum is in interactive museum, which covers the history of beer making both in Belgium and in a global context. You can learn about beer from its invention to the modern brewery.
On the second floor is an interesting display of the brewing process, although you do not see a working brewery. At the end of the tour is a tasting room, with a delicious variety, and gift store.
The museum is open daily from 10AM to 5PM. Tickets cost €12 with 3 tastings, or €8 without tastings, and €6/kids.
I do not know you, but I LOVE french fries! The Frietmuseum has different exhibits on the history of the fries from the cultivation of potatoes to the advent of the fried delicious snack. You also get a sample at the end! If you are wondering what to do in Bruges in one day, visiting the Frietmuseum should certainly be at the top of your list.
The Loppem Castle
The Loppem Castle is located 6 km south of Bruges, and is easily accessible by public transportation.
The neo-Gothic structure remains in its original state from the mid 1800s, including the interior design and furniture. Surrounding the castle are beautiful gardens, including a labyrinth maze.
The castle is open daily, except Mondays! Tickets cost €7/adults and €2/children. Entry to the labyrinth is €1.50/person.
The Old Chocolate House
Eating Chocolate in Belgium is a must, and what a better place to try this delicious dessert than at The Old Chocolate House. This fantastic shop is a 20 year old family-run business. They offer an extensive assortment of chocolate, handmade biscuits, gingerbread, marzipan, hot chocolate and of course a delicious selection of pralines.
For some reason in our tourist guide, they included Hemelrijk Street. We read it was the only unpaved street in the city, as it has no houses. Ever walked halfway across the city to see an empty gravel road? We did.
Canal cruise through Bruges
Finish your one day in Bruges with a fabulous canal cruise throughout Bruges. From the boat, you will get a different perspective of all the Medieval and Renaissance buildings, alleys and bridges.
The tour takes around 30 minutes boat and provide information on the history of Bruges.
*Winter Only: Christmas markets
During the winter, make sure to visit the Christmas market in Brugge. There are several stands selling food from mulled wine to hot waffles, and gifts like christmas ornaments. There is even an ice skating rink and arcade games in the Market Square and several other locations throughout the city.
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