Bruges has become a popular and fancy weekend gateway destination due to its gorgeous architecture and the lovely canal system. Many visitors arriving in Brussels decide to spend one day in Bruges also. The city is now one of the most photogenic towns in Europe, so it understands why so many choose to visit it.

We flew to Belgium on the weekend, spent three nights in Brussels, and took day trips to Ghent and Bruges. We traveled by train between the cities and walked through the city center and the surroundings. Although we didn’t prepare much, we saw a lot on these day trips.

So, here is a little inspiration for organizing your time if you only have one day in Bruges!

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Useful Info For Spending One Day In Bruges

Best time to visit Bruges

Like many other European cities, Bruges is beautiful no matter the time of the year. The spring and autumn months are great as the holidays are off, the accommodation rates are low, and the number of tourists reduces drastically. However, pack an umbrella and a rain jacket if it rains.

The summer months are great for discovering the city on foot, relaxing at one of the many terraces, and discovering all its hidden gems. But take into consideration that the weather can also get quite hot. 

Winter in Bruges is magical if you fancy rambling a Christmas Market right in the city’s heart.

Getting to Bruges by car

You can get to Bruges by renting a car, a common way to visit Belgium. The best site to book a rental car in Belgium is Discover Cars. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from many trusted companies, which enables them to secure the best car rental prices. The rental prices are low, and they usually include insurance. The drive takes no more than 1 hour and 30 minutes for the 100 kilometers. 

Getting to Bruges by train 

Bruges can be reached by train from Brussels, Ghent, or Antwerp. A return train ticket to any Belgian destination is half-price on weekends from 7 pm on Friday until Sunday. From Brussels to Bruges, the ride takes no more than 1 hour and 20 minutes, and you don’t need to book the tickets in advance. Bruges train station is just south of the city center. From here, it’s a pleasant 20-minute walk to Main Square.

If you don’t feel like putting together an itinerary for your one day in Bruges, you can prearrange your visit from Brussels. Travel to the medieval city of Bruges by train and take a 2.5-hour walking tour with an English-speaking guide on arrival. Discover the city, taste the Belgian chocolate and enjoy some free time before returning to Brussels. BOOK YOUR DAY TRIP TO BRUGES BY TRAIN HERE .

Getting to Bruges on an organized tour 

Uncover the beauty of Bruges on a guided bus day trip. Embark on the 100-kilometer journey to Bruges and discover both Bruges and Ghent. Upon arrival, discover the charms of “the Venice of the North” and see why the entire historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then drive to Ghent and discover another amazing Belgian town. Take a guided tour of the city’s historic buildings and enjoy some free time in this magical city before returning back to Brussels. See an abundance of medieval monuments and picturesque neighborhoods during a 10 – 10.5-hour day trip. BOOK YOUR GUIDED TOUR TICKETS FOR GHENT AND BRUGES.

How to get to and around the city centre 

 Without a doubt, you can see all that Bruges has to offer by strolling the cobbled streets. You won’t need a car or a bike since it might be crowded.

If you don’t want to walk from the train station, you can choose a horse-drawn carriage drive to take you to the city center. Take a cab or the tram if you come with luggage and want to spend a few days in Bruges. Lines 4, 13, and 14 from Platform No. 1 outside the station will take you to Grote Markt. You can even rent a car for the day from one of the rental offices in Bruges at a reasonable price and make your own itinerary.

Do you want to let the experts do the job for you? Explore the historical center of this UNESCO World Heritage site on foot and by boat with a local guide in a small group. BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE.

the best way to discover the Old Town of Bruges if you don't want to walk

Secure your travel insurance today

We never leave home without travel insurance designed to cover our expenses if something goes wrong. If you’re still on the lookout for travel insurance for your trip to Brussels, I highly recommend HEYMONDOa trusted insurance provider for leisure and business trips, backpackers, long-term travelers, and digital nomads.  Their travel insurance protects against theft, flight delays, injury, illness, cancellations, and much more.

Where to stay in Bruges

If you plan to spend one day in Bruges, overnighting in the city center is the best option. There are many options: big chain hotels, middle-class hotels, cozy and quiet home quests. If you come by car, you can forget it and enjoy a car-free stay in Bruges. There are plenty of restaurants, little shops, and cozy coffee shops.

Get an eSIM before the trip

Because phones have become our most important devices, it’s necessary to have a data connection as soon as you step foot in a different country. Your home data plan might only work if you paid for a much more expensive package, finding wifi connections in airports or train stations might be tricky, and seeking a local store to buy a SIM card might be exhausting. Forget all of that!

You just purchase an e-SIM, install it on your phone, and activate the plan when you’re ready to use it. Getting out of the plane and instantly connecting to data was a game changer for me. I didn’t have to waste time standing in line to get a local SIM card or finding a wifi connection to book a taxi to reach my hotel.

If you ask me, getting an e-SIM is a quintessential part of traveling. There is no physical installation and no long-term commitments. And the best part is that you can always top up or purchase a new plan through the app. Pretty convenient, right? Find the best data plan for BELGIUM HERE.

One Day in Bruges Itinerary. What to do In Bruges for a Day 

We visited Bruges on a late autumn day when golden leaves were falling into the canals and streets, and the temperatures were pleasant. Still, many tourists were roaming around the city, much more than expected! We traveled by train from Brussels and managed to check all the places revealed in this one day in Bruges’ itinerary on foot.

Take a walk through the Minnewater Park 

Leave the train station and head northeast towards Minnewater Park, a truly romantic place in Bruges. Home to a wonderful castle, beautiful trees, a picturesque lake, and many swans, this place is a must even if you only spend one day in Bruges.

Since Bruges will be crowded, take some time to soak up the park’s serenity and scenery. Right in the heart of Minnewater, you’ll discover the Minnewater Lake or Lake of Love, home to many fascinating and heartbreaking stories of love.

Take a few minutes to walk the Lovers Bridge and get some lovely pictures of the castle.

the view from the Lover Bridge over the beautiful castle in Minnewater Park

Visit the Church of Our Lady 

Leaving Minnewater Park behind, you’ll reach the heart of the city. Soon, you’ll notice the gorgeous Church of Our Lady, a must on every one day in Bruges’ itinerary.

The fantastic church displays a valuable art collection like Michelangelo’s famous statue, Madonna with Child, the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold, unique paintings, and 13th-century painted sepulchers.

gorgeous view over the Church of Our Lady for the nearby alley

Although the interior of the Church of Our Lady is a must for every art lover, the exterior is also imposing. The 115.5-meter-high brick tower illustrates the mastery of builders in Bruges. Approach the church from the alleys on the channel side, and you will understand why everyone is taking pictures here. The church can be visited free of charge; the admission fee is for the museum only.

view of the concrete tower of the Church of Our Lady

Explore the Main Square (Grote Markt) 

Just 500 meters from the Church of Our Lady, you’ll reach the Main Square. The beating point of Bruges, Grote Markt, is home to medieval festivals and craft markets all year round. The impressive Belfry Tower and the Historium are the two main spots surrounding the Grote Markt.

people strolling the streets of Bruges

The main square is lined with plenty of restaurants, outdoor cafes, souvenir shops, and even food stalls during workdays.  For your one day in Bruges, this place is a must!

All visitors will gather in the beautiful Grote Markt, the medieval trading center, so don’t be shocked if you see a considerable number of people.

people strolling the streets of Grote Markt

Eat Belgian Waffles

Now it’s time for an introduction to the waffles world! Eating Belgian waffles is a must during your one day in Bruges, so don’t you even dare not to try one! Choosing one is a challenging task with such a great variety of toppings.

Imagine that people are waiting patiently in line for more than 30 minutes only to taste some. But judging their smile after trying the famous Belgian waffles, the waiting was worth it.

window display of Belgian Waffles

Climb the Belfry Tower of Bruges 

The Belfry Tower that stands tall at the Grote Markt served as a guardian to alert inhabitants of fire or other disasters. It is 83 meters tall and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999.

view of the Belfry Tower from Grote Markt

The Belfry is open every day from 09:30 am to 6:00 pm. To get to the top, you have to climb 366 steps, but the view above is well worth it. Expect long waiting queues even on late autumn weekends, so visit the tower early morning or late in the afternoon.

gorgeous Belfry Tower on a beautiful shiny day

Get a medieval Lesson at the Historium

After strolling through Grote Markt, step inside the nearby Historium. An 8-minute virtual reality experience will take you back to medieval times. The museum is a series of rooms with a story to follow – there are projections, exciting music, and special effects. After the medieval lesson, step outside to the terrace, where you’ll have a fantastic view of the Grote Markt.

BOOK YOUR TICKETS TO THE HISTORIUM HERE

people strolling around in front of Historium

Explore the Stadhuis (Old Town)

Stadhuis is one of Bruges’ oldest buildings, beautiful on the outside and impressive on the inside. The remarkable paintings all around the walls define essential events in the history of Bruges. You can learn more from the audio guide provided by the front desk.

People strolling the Old Town of Bruges

Try Belgian Fries  

After so much sightseeing, now it’s time to try the famous Belgian fries, another must-do during your one day in Bruges. You can buy this Belgian specialty in many places, but you should taste some around Main Square. If you’re brave enough, try some with Samourai sauce! Simply delicious!

trying Belgian fries is a must in Bruges

Relax at Rozenhoedkaai (Quay of the Rosary)

Rozenhoedkaai, where the Groenerei and Dijver canals meet, is a stunning area and one place you won’t wanna miss while in Bruges. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the views over the gothic buildings surrounding the quay.

enjoying the views at ROZENHOEDKAAI (QUAY OF THE ROSARY)

Take a canal boat tour 

When your feet need a little rest, and by now, I guess they do, take a canal boat tour! Although it seems like a cliché, a canal boat tour is a must if you spend at least one day in Bruges.

Like nearby Ghent, Bruges also has gorgeous canals that cross the city. A 30-minute boat ride will offer you a different perspective over Bruges: impressive architecture, beautiful bridges, hidden alleys, statues, and many swans.

The tour is very informative and takes you to different places. The boats depart from various locations around the city every 30 minutes and run from 10 am to 6 pm from March to November.

BOOK YOUR CANAL BOAT TOUR TICKETS HERE

people enjoying a boat ride in Bruges

Roam around the cobblestone alleys

Leave the bustling city center behind, roam around the peaceful alleys and stop along the way to admire the romantic canals lined with picturesque and historic buildings. That’s the Bruges you are looking for: soundless, charming, and vivid.

If you’re into a guided walking tour of Bruges, I can highly recommend booking one.

BOOK YOUR 2-HOUR GUIDED WALKING TOUR HERE

roaming the silent part of Bruges

Taste the famous Belgian beer 

The famous Belgian beer is a must for every beer lover and not only. Even for those who do not prefer the taste of beer, there is something delicious! And in Belgium, there is plenty of beer to drink.

beer window display in Bruges

You can discover Belgian beer culture at an interactive museum or learn the brewery process in a family-run business. You can purchase a beer from a shop with more than 500 types of beers or enjoy one in a historic cellar. There are countless opportunities when it comes to beer in Belgium!

downtown restaurant offering beer tasting in Bruges

Walk to the windmills 

A water canal surrounds the Old Town of Bruges, so head northeast to see the windmills from the 18th century. Did you know that Bruges is famous for its windmills? Although you’ve planned only one day for Bruges, you might find time to visit the windmills if you manage your time well.

Being along the channel allows for a pleasant 30-minute walk and gives you a different glimpse of Bruges. For an inside peek, head to St Janshuis windmill. Koelewi Mills is beautiful as well, but there is no access to the inside.

the view over of of the few windmills of Bruges

Getting back to the train station

A fairly easy 3km walk will take you back to the station. If that is too much for you, a taxi will be available for you in the area.

many swans enjoying the good weather in Bruges

Map of the Best Places to Visit in One Day In Bruges Itinerary 

Underneath, you’ll find a customized map that includes all the locations you will visit during your one day in Bruges. Just open up this article on your phone and click on the frame in the upper right corner of this map. Google Maps app will open up and you can check all the details. I hope it helps!

Belgium Related Posts

If you’re planning a trip to Belgium, you might want to check out my other articles about Ghent and Brussels!

ONE DAY IN GHENT ITINERARY

ONE DAY IN BRUSSELS ITINERARY

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