Most of you got to know this beautiful fairytale town with its canals and cobbled streets through the film ‘In Bruges’. And Bruges looks exactly as magical and picturesque as in the film. If you’re a sucker for historical views, romantic sceneries and Belgian specialties, a day trip to Bruges is just what you need. It is the perfect destinations for a day trip or even a romantic weekend getaway.
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Best places to visit on a day trip to Bruges
How to get to Bruges?
Bruges is easily accessible by train from other Belgian cities. It’s barely half an hour from Ghent to Bruges by train. However, not all cities have a direct connection and depending on the number of transfers, the travel time will take longer. It takes about an hour and a half from Brussels Airport to Bruges by train.
Bruges is also easily accessible by car. But then I would recommend that you park somewhere on the outskirts of the city. There is a parking garage at the station where you can park for a daily rate. There are other parking garages closer to the city centre. But these charge per hour. So if you’re planning on staying a whole day it can get pretty expensive.
If you only go for a few hours, you can park with your blue parking card for 4 hours for free at Filips de Goedelaan. From here you can easily walk to the centre of Bruges. The walk takes about 20 minutes.
How to get around in Bruges?
If you want to explore Bruges and discover as many hidden alleys and special places as possible, then walking is the best option. Bruges isn’t a big city, so it’s perfectly possible to see all the sights on foot.
If you don’t like walking you can also take a boat ride on the canals or a carriage ride through the cobbled streets of Bruges. These are so worthwhile.
When is the best time to travel to Bruges
Belgium is a country with mild winters and summers. There are no extreme weather conditions. That makes Bruges pleasant to visit during any season. However, if you want good weather, I recommend that you visit Bruges between April and October. Of course you always have the chance that it will rain during those months as well. It’s still Belgium. So it’s best to check the weather forecast in time to see what weather they predict during your day trip to Bruges.
It’s also very pleasant to visit Bruges around the Christmas period. At the market square there is a large Christmas market where you can fully enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. Yes, including mulled wine!
The most beautiful sights in Bruges
Visiting Bruges in one day is possible. I mapped out a walking route along all the most beautiful sights in the historic center of Bruges. So you can discover this beautiful town at your own pace.
1. Jan Van Eyckplein
Start your walk on the beautiful square named Jan Van Eyckplein. Along the wide canal you can admire some of the most beautiful facades of Bruges. During the Middle Ages this was a lively port. Now it’s a somewhat quieter place with a giant statue of the world famous painter Jan van Eyck, who was born in Bruges.
Make your way to the Market square through the Vlamingstraat.
The Market is located in the heart of the historic city center and has one of the most famous monuments of the city, the 12th century Belfort. If you have time and are in for a great work out, you can climb the tower for a panoramic view over the Bruges.
On the market you will also find the typical medieval houses with authentic stepped gables. During the Middle Ages crafts were practiced here. Now these historic buildings serve as cozy cafes and restaurants.
From the market square we walk on to a beautiful part of Bruges, the Groenerei. This is a more peaceful part of the city where you can enjoy typical Bruges views with picturesque bridges, historic buildings and a touch of nature. It’s a very pleasant area to along the water.
If you walk from the Groenerei along the canal to the Rozenhoedkaai, you will pass the Blinde-Ezelstraat. You should really stop here to admire the beautiful arch between the City Hall and the Civil Registry. There are various explanations around the origin of the name “Blinde-Ezelstraat” which means blind donkey street. One of them states that during the battle at the Beverhoutsveld in 1382, the Gentenaars from Ghent burned the eyes of the donkeys on their carriages, because the donkeys didn’t want to transport their spoils of war out of Bruges. Another legend tells that the donkeys that had to drive the mill here were blindfolded to prevent them from getting dizzy. The only thing we do know for sure is that in the 15th century there was an inn on this spot called Blinde Ezel or blind donkey.
A bit further you arrive at the famous Rozenhoedkaai. This is the most photographed place in Bruges. Perfect for a beautiful Instagram photo! Unfortunately, many others feel that way too. So it isn’t easy to take a perfect photo without someone else in the picture. But even with the many tourists, it remains an unmissable place in Bruges. If you really want that perfect photo, go very early. Is it not possible to photograph the Rozehoedkaai without others in the picture? No worries! Bruges still has many beautiful places and here you can discover them all.
6. Bonifacius bridge
More tucked away under the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Church, lies one of the most romantic places in Bruges ‘the Bonifacius Bridge’. This place is located a bit away from the busy city centre. Here you’ll experience the real fairytale Bruges with magical views over the canals with half-timbered houses and trees on the sides. In the meantime you can watch small boats drive by.
This is an old medieval monastery build in the 13the century. It’s known because of it’s typical architecture, namely the small houses with the white facades. These were formerly lived by the beguines. Today it is still inhabited by sisters of the Order of St. Benedict. There, you can still experience the life as it was in the 18th century.
Another very romantic place, especially when the weather is nice, is the Minnewaterpark. This spot is also sometimes referred to as the “lake of love”. The enchanting park is known for its pond full of beautiful white swans. Here you can enjoy this beautiful piece of nature from the Minnewater Bridge or one of the benches along the lake.
Of course there’s much more to see and experience in Bruges. Check out the offers of Getyourguide below, the ideal travel partner for guided tours or for booking entrance tickets for the most impressive sights.
The best shops for souvenir shopping in Bruges
Souvenir shops with Belgian specialties can be found all over Bruges. During the walk you will certainly encounter some. Especially shops with traditional delicacies are always on my bucket list.
The most impressive souvenir shops can be found on breidelstraat near the market. Especially during the Christmas holidays the shops are decorated phenomenal.
The Breidelstraat is also the perfect place to purchase a top Belgian snack for on the go. A delicious waffle! Are you going for a standard waffle? Then Chez Albert got you covered. Wafles on a stick can be found at Go Fre. Plenty to choose from! Of course I chose one with Belgian chocolate as a topping.
Where to eat in Bruges
A delicious lunch or dinner in a trendy restaurant is possible in Republiek. In the summer you can also take a seat on the beautiful enclosed terrace. Definitely a winner!
In Bodega Lorena you can completely surrender to Spanish cuisine. Especially the tapas are so good!
For dishes with a more exotic touch, you have to go to L.E.S.S. eatery. It’s a new concept from the Hertog Jan Restaurant group in the heart of Bruges, with focus on strong flavors and food sharing. You’ll be surprised by the most unique dishes in a trendy but warm and very cozy interior. Tip: if you want to see the chef live at work, book a spot at the counter near the kitchen. Believe me, it’s really worth it!
One of the most famous restaurants in Bruges for its highly Instagram calibre is de Vlaamsche pot. Not only the exterior is beautiful, the interior is super cozy as well. Here you can try local dishes prepared in the traditional way.
Where to stay in Bruges?
Would you like to extend your day trip in Bruges? Then you can opt for an overnight stay. An authentic stay is possible in B&B Canal Deluxe, B&B Huis ´T Schaep and B&B Exclusive Guesthouse Bonifacius.
In my blog on authentic en luxurious places to stay in Bruges I even share more gems for un unforgettable weekend getaway in the city.
A great place to go for a nightcap is the Eiermarkt. There you will find one of my favourite bars which you can find also in Ghent and Brussels. Bar Des Amis! There are enough bars to indulge in Belgian beer and linger till the early hours in the morning.
Bruges is a beautiful city to visit. With these tips you can perfectly explore Bruges in only one day.
Do you want to discover other Belgian cities as well? Be sure to check out my city guide about Ghent, Brussels and Namur. Do want to explore some lesser known places in Flanders? Definitely read 7 unique place for a staycation in Belgium.
Would you like to go on a day trip to Bruges? Let me know in the comments below.