Are you heading to Belgium and wondering how to spend an epic one day in Bruges? Fear not! My itinerary for the perfect day in Bruges covers all of the town’s highlights, from medieval architecture to romantic canals to delicious food.
Bruges is a small city in northwestern Belgium that is often overlooked by tourists. This charming city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s home to some of the most beautiful architecture in Europe.
Bruges may be small, but there’s plenty to see and do there. My first introduction to this city was watching the movie “In Bruges,” which is a comedy about two assassins who hide out in this city after a job gone wrong – you know the one with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson? After watching that movie, I knew I had to visit Bruges and see it for myself!
And I’m so glad I did! Bruges is an incredible city. With its canals, cobbled streets and picturesque buildings, it’s easy to see why Bruges is often called the “Venice of the North.”
If you’ve got just one day in Bruges to spend exploring, this itinerary is for you!
But, before we get into the Bruges one day itinerary, there are a few things you should know.
No time? Skip ahead to the itinerary here.
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- How to get to Bruges
- How to get around Bruges
- When is the best time to visit Bruges
- Where to stay in Bruges
- How to spend one day in Bruges
- Got more time in Bruges?
- FAQs about Bruges
- Conclusion to our one day in Bruges itinerary
How to get to Bruges
If you’re coming from Brussels, the easiest way to get to Bruges is by train. It’s a direct train and the trip takes about an hour and you’ll get to enjoy the picturesque Belgian countryside along the way.
If you’re coming from Paris or Amsterdam, you can also take a direct train to Bruges. The journey takes a bit longer (about 3.5 hours from both cities), but it’s still a pleasant trip.
Bruges train station is located about 1.5km from the city center, but there’s a bus that leaves for the city centre every 5 minutes.
If you don’t want to bother with the hassle of arranging your own transport and tours, you can take an already organised day trip from Brussels. Generally this means you’ll be picked up at your hotel in Brussels, dropped off after the day trip and you won’t have to worry about all the details in between!
Check out the details for some organised tours here.
How to get around Bruges
Once you get to Bruges, the best way to get around the beautiful canal streets is by foot. The medieval city center is small and easily walkable.
You can pretty much walk from one end of Bruges to the other in just 30 minutes, making it the perfect city to explore on foot.
If you get tired of walking, there are also horse-drawn carriages that give tours of the city. These are a great option if you want to see Bruges from a different perspective and learn about the history and culture of the city at the same time.
Cycling is also a popular way of getting around the city, and there are a few different companies that offer bike rentals.
Bike tours are also a great option if you want to explore the city without having to navigate yourself.
When is the best time to visit Bruges
The best time to visit Bruges depends on what kind of weather you like. If you enjoy cooler temperatures and don’t mind the occasional rain shower, spring and autumn are great times to visit. The weather is usually mild and the crowds are smaller than in summer.
If you prefer warm weather and sunny days, summer is the best time to visit Bruges. Keep in mind that this is also the busiest time of year, so it’s best to book your accommodation and tours in advance.
Winter can also be a magical time to visit Bruges and, while it doesn’t usually snow heavily, the occasional flurry does add to the fairytale atmosphere. Just be sure to pack your warmest clothes!
Where to stay in Bruges
If you need a place to stay in Bruge for the night before or after your day trip, I recommend the Maison Sint Niklaas. It’s centrally located, reasonably priced and the staff are incredibly helpful.
If you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious, Dukes’ Palace is a great choice. It’s located right in the city center, so you can’t beat the location. The rooms are also spacious and well-appointed.
If you’re on a tight budget, Bob’s BnB is a great option. It’s located within the city center, has fantastic reviews and the rates are very pocket friendly.
Want to check out more accommodation options? Click here to browse.
How to spend one day in Bruges
Now that you know all of the practicalities, it’s time to get into the fun stuff! Here’s my suggested itinerary for spending an incredible one day in Bruges.
Breakfast at Kottee Kaffee
If you can’t start your morning without a coffee, then Kottee Kaffee is where you need to be for breakfast. They take their coffee seriously here and the baristas are more than happy to chat with you about all things coffee.
The breakfast menu is small but perfectly formed, with fresh pastries, eggs and avocado toast on offer. Of course, you’ll also find some incredible Belgian waffles
Kottee Kaffee is located at Ezelstraat 68, 8000 Brugge.
Explore Market Square (Markt Square)
After breakfast, take a wander over to Market Square which is located in the heart of the city. You’ll find beautiful medieval architecture, charming cafes and plenty of photo opportunities.
If you get hungry (time for a second breakfast?), there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to choose from in Market Square. One of my favourite things to do in Market Square is to people watch from one of the cafes. Grab a seat outside, order a coffee and enjoy people watching as the world goes by.
During the summer months, you’ll find a flower market taking place in the square. And if you’re visiting Bruges in December, make sure to stop by the Bruges Christmas market which is set up in the square. It’s the perfect place to pick up some unique gifts and try some traditional Belgian foods.
Wander through Bruges City Hall
Next on your agenda should be a visit to Bruges City Hall (Stadhuis), which is located in Burg Square. The building itself is incredible, with its Flemish Renaissance style architecture and ornate interior.
City Hall is one of the oldest city halls in Brussels, dating back to the 14th century, and is definitely worth a visit, even if only to see the beautiful architecture. The building is open to the public and you can take a guided tour for a small fee.
Admire the canals
The picturesque canals of Bruges are the reason it’s known as the ‘Venice of the North’ and they are definitely one of the highlights of the city. Take a leisurely stroll along the canals and soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful city.
If you want to get a different perspective of Bruges, you can also take a canal boat tour. These lovely canal cruises are the ultimate way to explore Bruges in style and comfort.
You’ll learn all about the history of the city as you float down the canals, and you might even spot some of the resident swans.
Canal boat tours depart from various locations around the city but I recommend this tour as you also get a guided walking tour included in the price.
Picnic in Minnewater Park
Minnewater Park is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city center, even if only for a short while. This beautiful park is located on the outskirts of Bruges, close to the train station, and is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll or a picnic lunch.
The park is also home to Minnewater Lake, also known as the Lake of Love and Lovers Bridge. It’s a beautiful spot to relax and take in the tranquil surroundings.
Visit the Chocolate Museum
No trip to Belgium would be complete without indulging in some of the delicious chocolate that the country is famous for. In fact, Bruges is known for being the chocolate capital of Belgium.
The Chocolate Museum is the perfect place to learn all about the 4000 year old history of chocolate making in Belgium. After the tour, you’ll join a chocolate workshop where a master chocolatier will teach you how to make your own sweet treats and of course you’ll have to taste them afterwards!
Visit Van Eyck Square and Church of Our Lady
Van Eyck Square is an understated but beautiful square located in Bruge. It’s named after the famous Flemish painter Jan van Eyck, who was very active in the city.
The square is also home to a number of pretty cafes and restaurants, making it the perfect place to relax with a coffee or a meal after a busy day exploring the city.
Close to this little cobbled square is home to the Church of Our Lady, which is definitely worth a visit. The church houses Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child sculpture and it has the second tallest Church tower in the world!
It also houses paintings from the 13th century, as well as tombs dating back to the 15th and 16th century.
De Halve Maan Brewery
It’s an absolute must to end your one day in Bruges with a Belgian beer, and there’s no better place to do this than at the De Halve Maan Brewery. The brewery is located in the heart of the city and offers tours throughout the day.
You’ll learn all about the brewing process, as well as get to taste some of their delicious beers! The tour ends with a beer tasting and you can head to the gift shop to buy some souvenirs before leaving.
Check out tour prices here.
Got more time in Bruges?
You can definitely see the best of Bruges in just one day, but if you happen to have more than one day in Bruges, here are some other great things to see and do:
- Visit the Frietmuseum, which is the world’s first museum dedicated to the history of the humble potato fry – yes, you read that right!
- Take a day trip to Ghent or Brussels, both of which are just a short train ride away from Bruges
- Visit a lace shop. Bruges is famous for its beautiful lace and there are a number of shops around the city where you can buy it or watch it being made
- For something quirky, head to the underground bunker that is the Torture Museum and learn all about the gruesome methods used to torture people during medieval times
- Take an architectural walking tour to learn all about the stunning Gothic and Flemish buildings in Bruges
- Eat like a local and take in a food tasting tour
- Soak up the festive atmosphere at the Christmas markets, which are held in Bruges every year from late November to early January
FAQs about Bruges
Is one day in Bruges enough time?
Yes, one day is definitely enough time to see the best of what Bruges has to offer. However, if you have more time, there are plenty of other activities and attractions to keep you busy.
What is the best time of year to visit Bruges?
Bruges is a beautiful city all year round, but the best time to visit is during the spring or autumn when the weather is milder.
Can I take a day trip from Brussels to Bruges?
Yes, it’s very easy to take a day trip from Brussels to Bruges. There are regular trains that run between the two cities and if you’re not interested in planning the day trip yourself, you can go with an organised tour.
How expensive is Bruges?
Bruges is a relatively expensive city, as with most European cities, but there are plenty of free things to do if you’re on a budget. For example, you can explore the city on foot or find many cheap and delicious meals at the markets located throughout the city.
What are the best things to eat in Bruges?
Some of the best things to eat in Bruges include Belgian chocolate, waffles, frites and of course, beer!
What language do they speak in Bruges?
The official language spoken in Bruges is Flemish, which is a variation of Dutch. However, English is also widely spoken throughout the city.
Is Bruges safe?
Yes, Bruges is a very safe city. There is a low crime rate and it’s generally considered to be a very welcoming and friendly city. However, as with all travel guides, I always say to keep your wits about you and take the usual precautions when travelling to any new place.
Conclusion to our one day in Bruges itinerary
When it comes to spending one day in Bruges, there’s no shortage of things to see and do.
This medieval town is bursting with charm, from its stunning architecture and canals, to its delicious food. By following this itinerary, you’ll be sure to make the most of your time in Bruges and see all the highlights that this fairytale town has to offer.
Vourneen is a travel junkie and chronic illness warrior. Although she was late to game in terms of travelling, she has picked up numerous tips and tricks from the almost 30 countries she has visited in the past 5 years.