My passion for Bruges went way back in time and I honestly cannot remember since when I’ve been wanting to spend at least one day in Bruges. Maybe since my visit to The Netherlands when I’ve seen an advert for a day trip from Amsterdam to Bruges. Or maybe sometime before that.
No matter when the idea got stuck in my head, when I was planning my weekend in Brussels I knew I had to spend at least one day in Bruges. And maybe even get to see Bruges and Ghent in a day. There are so many things to do in Bruges, that one day might not be enough, but that would do if you only have little time on your hands.
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One day in Bruges
How to get to Bruges
Brussels to Bruges
Getting from Brussels to Bruges by train is one of the easiest things to do. We woke up one early cold morning, headed to the Gare du Midi and bought our tickets from the vending machines in the train station.
The train ride from Brussels to Bruges takes less than one hour and a standard second class ticket costs 14.3 EUR. However, you can check out the schedule and prices on the Belgian official railway website.
If you don’t want to be in a hurry in the morning, you can always book your ticket online ahead of time.
Another thing worth knowing is that during the weekend train tickets in Belgium are half of the price. Thus, it might be worth it to buy your ticket from the train station starting on Friday.
Traveling from Brussels to Bruges by bus is also easy, even though the trip might last almost double the time.
One of my go-to bus companies is always Flixbus. They have lots of connections in Europe, when you book ahead of time you can score really low prices, and you can book up to 2 months before the trip.
However, one thing I disliked about traveling with them was the fact that they had almost every time a delay. But for a ticket of 6 EUR, I guess it is a risk worth taking.
Another useful place where you might want to look for buses is Omio.com. Here is where you’ll find not only Flixbus but also Bla Bla Car options.
BOOK A GUIDED TOUR
There’s always the option to book a guided tour from Brussels to Bruges, especially when you don’t want to worry about organizing any additional trips.
We always choose to go on day tours when we have less time to spend in a place, but we want to see it either way. Another advantage is that with a guided tour we can always learn a lot of things about the place.
Amsterdam to Bruges
No, Amsterdam is not too far away, and there are plenty of tour options for doing a day trip from Amsterdam to Bruges.
We were considering it during our visit to Amsterdam a few years ago, but we ended up taking a tour to see some of the prettiest Dutch villages.
I don’t regret it, but I’m sure happy I got to see Bruges and Ghent some years later.
Getting from Amsterdam to Bruges by train is an option and the train ride takes around 3.5 hours. A 2nd class ticket can start from 86 USD, and it can go up depending on the time you book it.
Flixbus connects Amsterdam to Bruges, and when you book ahead of time and depending on the time of the year, you can find the 4-hour bus ride for only 20 USD. Check out Flixbus timetables and prices here!
However, you can always use Skyscanner to rent a car and drive yourself. That way, you can make out your itinerary as you wish.
This is a 12-hour guided day trip from Amsterdam to Bruges, where you will forget about the stress of getting around or booking transportation.
Taking into account the number of hours spent on the train, and the price of the train ticket, a guided tour is more efficient and you can also save a lot of money when you book in advance.
Also, don’t forget you can always cancel your tickets if something comes up and you cannot make it anymore. GetYourGuide has been very flexible also during the Coronavirus outbreak, unlike other companies.
When is the best time to take a day trip to Bruges
Because of its humid climate, I would say that Belgium can be a rather unfriendly destination at certain times of the year. I’ve visited with my mother in the middle of April, and even though all the beautiful colorful flowers were in bloom, the weather was still really cold.
However, I would still encourage you to plan your trip anytime from April up to November, as long as you take the right clothes with you. A good jacket will keep you warm and enjoying all the beauty Bruges had to offer.
Of course, spending one day in Bruges during summer could prove to be a bit crowded. Bruges is, after all, a small village and one of the most beautiful places in Belgium, and it can become packed with people.
Where to stay in Bruges
When you consider allocating more time to Bruges and maybe a Bruges city break, you will want to know where is the best place to stay in the town.
Stay in Bruges on a budget
Mid Range hotel in Bruges
Grand Hotel Casselbergh Brugge – this is such a nice combination of modern on the outside and traditional on the inside. Guest staying here loved the location, the rooms full of character, and the friendliness of the staff, making them return. See when they are available here!
Affordable luxury hotel in Bruges
Hotel Van Cleef Bruges – an exceptional hotel for sure, not only by its Booking.com rating. If you fancy a bubble bath, an outstanding breakfast, or spacious and comfortable rooms, this is your hotel. Guests have returned and booked the same hotel. Check it out here!
One day in Bruges itinerary
In the Southern part of Bruges, as we made our way from the train station towards the city center, we saw this oasis of green.
The park is surrounded by trees and hosts a small lake called the Lake of Love. The legend says you will experience eternal love if you walk passed the small bridge with your loved one.
On the banks of the river, there’s the romantic Castle de la Faille that hosts a restaurant where you might want to come back later for a tranquil meal.
Right behind the park, we found hidden this scene torn from a fairy tale.
The lined-up white houses once hosted the beguines, and are now home to the nuns of the order of St. Benedict. Stepping through the gate a magical world unraveled before our eyes, with the birds singing in the trees, the daffodils in bloom, and the white little houses perfectly aligned.
It’s hard to choose a favorite place in Bruges, but I might risk saying the Beguinage was mine.
One of the oldest hospitals in Europe, the building is now a museum that will transport you back to the 12th century. You will not only see old medical instruments but also artwork.
Moreover, the building is very beautiful and makes for a perfect picture.
A great way to see a place and get to learn about it is to take a short city-guided tour. This is always the best way to learn about the history of a place, while also leaving free time in the day to explore on my own.
Here are a few great options for Bruges:
- 2 hour guided tour
- 90 minutes kickstart tour
- 1-2 hours guided rickshaw tour
- go on your own walking tour for free
Gruuthuse Hof House
Considered to be the best restaurant in Bruges on TripAdvisor, I would say this place is also very photogenic. With its traditional architecture, it sure makes for one pretty Instagrammable background for your one day in Bruges.
Church of Our Lady
The tallest building in the city, and the second tallest brickwork tower in the world, the Church of Our Lady is hard to miss.
An imposing Gothic-style building dating from the 13th century, very close to the city center, this is where you will want to stop for a minute or two.
In the vicinity of the church, you’ll find the famous Bonifacius Bridge and the Arents Courtyard.
Here is where you can step off the crowded and shop-filled streets for a breath of fresh air and a quiet moment. It is indeed a fairytale corner of Bruges, but that is hard because the whole town is torn from a story.
The Central Market
One of the most colorful markets out there, the Central Market of Bruges is simply beautiful! It is also filled with history, and the place the Christmas Marked in Bruges takes place.
The Belfry tower is the most prominent building in the square, and for an entrance fee, you can climb the 366 steps on the narrow staircase and get to see Bruges from above.
Other important buildings in Bruges’ Central Market are the Provincial Palace on the northern part, the Cranenburg House where Emperor Maximilian of Austria was incarcerated in 1448, or the Bouckhoute House – the oldest in the square.
If you visit on a Wednesday morning, here is where you will have the chance to buy some local products directly from the producers present at the market. Just make sure to come here before 1 PM.
Only a few steps away from Market Square there is Burg Square. This is the former fortress of Bruges and was originally surrounded by walls.
Today, in the square there are plenty of important buildings such as the City Hall, or the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Also, in one of the pavilions here I found one of the loveliest little chocolate shops.
Stroll a bit further and find the most photogenic spot in Bruges.
All the beautiful canals, bridges, and buildings, but this little corner is one of the best! You might have seen it on postcards, or in every picture from here.
And there’s a good reason why!
The windmills of Bruges
We went further from this spot and escaped the crowds in order to discover the famous windmills of Bruges.
Apart from the stunningly pretty little houses and the empty streets, I was surprised to see that the windmills are on the banks of a river in the middle of a green area. There is not only 1, but 4 windmills and you can choose your favorite one.
I just loved the whole area here. And I was sorry I could not spend more time and relax here. I would have chosen to stay in this part of town.
Experience something new
Since you took a day trip to Bruges, you might as well experience something different. You can always take a boat trip on the canals in Bruges, attend a Belgian chocolate workshop, a waffle workshop, or mix chocolate and beer together.
Explore Hansa Quarter
Coming back towards the city center from the windmills of Bruges, this is a charming little quarter.
We stopped here for lunch and took plenty of pictures with the pretty colorful houses around.
Don’t leave without trying!
There are plenty of options when you visit Bruges apart from just chocolate. There will always be the colorful marzipan that comes in countless flavors or the super Instagrammable waffle on a stick.
Of course, when you don’t feel adventurous, sit down and drink a hot chocolate, and bring some pralines back home with you. Oliviers Chocolate Shop & Bar or The Old Chocolate House are just two options for you to explore while in Bruges.
The House of Waffles is another place not to miss no matter if you come for something sweet or savory.
Other traditional meals that we’ve actually tried are the mussels and fries. Don’t leave Belgium without tasting this super simple yet delicious combination. And try it with a local beer!
What to pack for Bruges
As I’ve said, the weather in Belgium, and in Bruges in particular, since it is on the canals, it’s pretty humid. That’s why temperatures will feel even colder than they actually are.
The weather in spring is moody and can surprise you with some rain and pretty much a covered sky even if it doesn’t rain. After freezing on the streets of Bruges in mid-April, here is what you must expect:
- March average high-temperature is 10.4°C (50.7°F), and the average low-temperature is 3.1°C (37.6°F)
- April average high-temperature is 14.3°C (57.7°F), and average low-temperature is 6.3°C (43°F)
- May average high-temperature is 18.1°C (64.6°F), and the average low-temperature is 9.2°C (48.6°F)
That’s why I recommend packing with cold weather in mind, and the occasional few hours of sun in a day.
Whenever I travel during spring I like to bring along plenty of layers. However, it looked like I didn’t have quite enough in Belgium when I visited in April.
Here is what to pack for Bruges in spring:
- a winter jacket
- a pair of gloves – yes, you read that right! I was sorry I haven’t brought mine with me
- some comfortable and stylish boots – I love the ones from Clarks or Dr. Martens
- a cashmere scarf
- a colorful umbrella
- a lightweight raincoat
- come dressed in layers: the jacket, a sweater, a blouse, a t-shirt
Extra tips and other travel essentials for Belgium
The local currency is the Euro.
The official languages spoken in Belgium are Dutch, French, and German. You will see that on the train the announcements will be in Dutch, French, and English. Also, some apply for buses and the metro in Brussels.
You will surely want to charge your phone and other electronic devices, thus it is worth knowing that Belgium has the European voltage (230V). When traveling from the US or even the UK, a travel adapter plug will come in handy.
Based on the current and past situation affecting travel substantially, I would recommend always booking travel insurance and making sure you are covered in case of cancellation. You never know what could happen and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Request a quotation here!
Extra activities when you spend a Bruges city break
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