Since I moved to the Belgian coast, I haven’t had much time to discover the area. It was only when I took the wrong turn from Knokke on my way to Bruges that I ended up in Damme through all kinds of winding, small roads. And suddenly I remembered that I had seen this picturesque village before. I didn’t have time to get out, so I decided to go back the weekend after and show Jan my rediscovery. On a sunny winter morning we went on a quest to find the best things to do in Damme. And you can find them all right here …
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The charming, medieval village of Damme is located near a canal, the Damse Vaart. It’s situated between the beautiful Bruges and the popular seaside town Knokke. That’s why it’s a perfect place for an unforgettable weekend getaway in Belgium. On the one hand you can relax in a beautiful green environment where you can walk and cycle to your heart’s content.
In addition, you can plan some pleasant day trips from Damme such as exploring the historic city of Bruges or a day of water fun at the Belgian North Sea. The other way around is also possible of course. During a city trip in Bruges, a day trip to green and peaceful Damme can bring a nice change in your vacation.
How to get to Damme?
Damme is perfectly accessible by car. In Damme there are two free car parks on the edge of the village, parking South and East. You can also opt to park in the city centre for a fee.
If you travel with the train, it’s best to travel to Bruges first. From the Bruges train station you can take the bus to Damme. Between May and November you can even combine the bus ride with a boat trip on the Lamme Goedzak. Find everything right here about traveling by public transport to Damme.
Because Bruges is only 5 km from Damme, you can also travel with a bike from Bruges to Damme. Renting bicycles in Bruges is possible at Bruges bike rental.
When is the best time to travel to Damme?
Traveling to Damme is of course possible during all seasons. But because Damme is mainly a nature destination, good weather is certainly a bonus. That is why I would advise you to visit Damme between May and November. Moreover, some sights in Damme can only be visited during the summer months and then you can also fully enjoy the cozy terraces in the picturesque city centre.
Fun things to do and see in Damme
Explore Damme from on the canal with Lamme Goedzak
When I arrived in Damme, I was immediately impressed by the steamboat that lay on the Damse Vaart. It was since our road trip to the Deep South of the United States that I had seen such a boat. I was surprised to see one of these in Belgium. Despite my love for these types of boats, I have never took a tour in them. But hopefully that will change very soon. The radar boat “Lamme Goedzak” normally operates from May to November. Of course, this can currently slightly deviate due to the corona measures.
During these months, Lamme Goedzak sails four times a day from Damme to Bruges and back. It is the perfect way to admire Damme and its beautiful surrounding countryside. I’m definitely going back this summer to take a trip with Lamme Goedzak.
Discover the history of Damme through a walk in the city
Damme is a medieval town that had its peak in the 13th century. You can still spot many authentic buildings and houses in the city centre. This is what makes Damme picturesque and unique. Stroll through the village and keep your eyes peeled. Start your walk at Kerkstraat. This is the main street of Damme. Here you can also find many local shops and cozy eateries.
At the beginning you can immediately admire the Gothic town hall that dates from the 15th century . Besides authentic elements you can find something very special there. The facade of this beautiful building houses the smallest bookshop in the world. This shop is only open on weekends.
On the opposite site of the town hall you will find Huyse de Grote Sterre. Also an impressive 15th century Gothic style building. The building currently houses the tourist office of Damme and the Uilenspiegel museum. This museum tells more about how the famous book “the legend of Uilenspiegel” by Charles De Coster came about and is therefore definitely worth a visit
Further down Kerkstraat you will find the Sint Jans Hospital, the oldest building in Damme. Over the centuries, the hospital has continued to expand, making the architectural style look rather eclectic. The infirmary and chapel are still authentic.
Don’t forget to wander around the small streets around Kerkstraat. There you’ll find really beautiful hidden gems.
The last stop in Kerkstraat will be the flat Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-Hemelvaart kerk (Church of our Lady).
Climb the curious flat church tower
When I arrived at one of Damme’s biggest attractions, the 13th-century Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-Hemelvaart church, I found it curious that the church had a flat tower. Jan and I thought this might be a result of the world war. But it goes back much further than that. In the 18th century the tower of the church in Damme was removed due to depopulation and decay.
But even without a tower, this church is definitely worth a visit. Inside you can still admire some beautiful historical gems including the apostle statues from the 13th century. Be sure to climb the tower and enjoy a beautiful view over Damme and its surroundings.
A church without a tower is apparently more common in this region, because the churches of Oostkerke, Lissewege and Sint-Anna-Ter-Muiden don’t have a peak either.
Go book hunting
In 1997 Damme was recognized as the first book village in Flanders. Every 2nd Sunday of the month a huge book market takes place. During the summer months this is on the market square and during the winter in the halls of the town hall. Each month there is a specific theme in the spotlight.
Besides, in the centre of Damme you’ll find more of those little second-hand book shops where you can browse through the old books.
Taste local candy in the smallest candy store of Belgium
Along the Damse Vaart you will find a small vigilante house transformed into a candy store. And not just any candy store! The smallest one in the country. You really have to stop there to buy some candy. You will find all kinds of traditional delicacies. If you don’t like sweets, just take a peek in the shop. This is pure nostalgia! Unfortunately, this shop is also only open during the summer months.
Admire the Schellemolen
You would think that you can only admire windmills in the Netherlands, but no! Belgium also has a few beautiful mills. And the Schellemolen on the banks of the Damse Vaart is certainly one of them. The Schellemolen dates from 1867 and is therefore not the original windmill that stood there from the 15th century.
During the weekends in the summer months you can visit your mill for free. This is certainly something we would come back for. Now we had to settle for the mill’s stunning exterior. Its location on the Damse Vaart with the surrounding fields was truly picture perfect.
Get out into nature
The green area around Damme is perfect for beautiful walks and cycling trips.
Jan and I took a walk along the canal. The vast fields and beautiful tree gallery along the hiking trail in combination with the reflections in the canal, provided impressive views and especially beautiful pictures. For those who like walking, there are the marked walking routes. Based on your interests, you can choose a themed route or even a quest.
In good weather, Damme attracts many day trippers. Mainly cyclists who want to explore the winding roads of the Bruges countryside. Damme is then an ideal place to take a break on one of the many cozy terraces. Are you in Damme for a weekend and you don’t have bicycles? No worries! In Damme you can rent bicycles and the tourist office “visit Damme” will be happy to help you find the suitable cycling route. Or you can use the cycling routes of the cycle hub
Is walking or cycling not your thing? Discover the beautiful Damme and the surrounding landscape with the Vespa Trip.
Where to stay near Damme?
More things to do around Damme
Of course there is still a lot to do around Damme. You can also visit the neighboring, beautiful polder villages. A bike ride through this region is definitely on my bucket list.
Would you love to expand your journey to Damme with a trip to Bruges, be sure to check out the best things to do in Bruges and where you can find the most authentic and luxurious places to stay in Bruges.
Don’t forget to check out some great deals from Getyourguide below for sights and great tours in Bruges.
I thought Damme was a very pleasant place to visit. The picturesque surroundings along the Damse Vaart and the charming village form an enchanting setting to discover. Damme has a lot to offer, from historical and cultural sights to beautiful places in nature. I will definitely visit Damme again very soon.
Planning more visits in Belgium? Read also my city guides about Ghent and Brussels here. If you like to travel more remote then definitely check out 7 lesser known places for a unique staycation in Belgium.
What sights would you love to explore in Damme? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.
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