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Wondering how to spend a one day in Bruges? Well in this one day in bruges itinerary I’ll show you travel tips on where to find best things to do in Bruges like chocolate, Belgian beer, waffles, traditional Belgian frites and picturesque canals. Plan a Bruges day trip with easy using this 24 hours in Bruges guide.
I have a great reason for putting Bruges amongst my best day trips from London. This medieval city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, charming and full of Belgian hospitality.
One of the many wonderful things about Bruges is that it’s perfect for a day trip. The historic center is compact, and you can walk basically everywhere.
This means you can see so much of Bruges in one day. I basically had three days in Belgium and visited three of the larger cities in the country – Ghent, Brussels and Bruges. I had already visited Antwerp for a reggae festival and wanted to explore more of Belgium.
Don’t have time to read the whole article? The best Bruges tour is this Boat Cruise and Guided Walking Tour with a near-perfect ⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating.
I loved every second of exploring Bruges, even as I was shown the city by my local guide in the rain and freezing cold. It still radiated beauty and charm, even under grey skies.
Can you just imagine how much more magical it would be in summer? As a UNESCO world heritage city, Bruges is full of canals, Belgian beer, cobblestone streets and fairytale structures with exposed brick. It’s an incredibly enchanting combination.
Apart from all the stunning Bruges landmarks, the food scene in Bruges is also very vibrant. Belgian chocolate, waffles and beer brewed by monks are just some of the delights you can look forward to sampling.
With so much going for the city, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and plan your trip with my awesome guide on what to do in one day in Bruges.
Is Bruges Worth Visiting?
Yes! Bruges is worth visiting. The city is beautiful, compact and peaceful. The hospitality is superb, and the Belgian food scene that everyone can appreciate. Truth be told, it’s hard to regret a visit to Bruges.
Where is Bruges Belgium?
Bruges is a city in Belgium, a country in western Europe. Bruges, despite being so calm, is the capital of West Flanders — a region in the northwest of Belgium. With its many canals and a harbour, it remains a trade centre, as it has been for centuries.
When is the Best Time to Visit Bruges?
Late spring and summer (May to August) are the best times to visit Bruges. The weather is warm and pleasant during this period. Just remember that this is also a very busy period (try to come between June and August when it slows down a bit). I visited at the end of February, there were fewer crowds and tours groups, but it was also cold, grey and the weather changed rapidly thought-out the day. So, consider this when visiting in Bruges in winter.
Is One Day in Bruges Enough Time?
In my opinion, you can totally see the best of Bruges in 24 hours. You just need to be realistic and know that you will not have time for everything.
Guide to Bruges in a Day
Here’s a lowdown on everything you need to know about this stunning Belgian city. Keep on reading this Bruges day trip from London guide.
Bruges one day Itinerary |15 Best Things to do in Bruges in One Day
Overwhelmed by the beauty of this charming city and wondering what to do in Bruges Belgium in one day? Here are my favourite places to visit and experiences to try in this gorgeous destination. And, yes, you can explore Bruges in a day.
1. People-Watch in Grote Markt (Market Square) & Walking Tour
Top of any list of what to do in Bruges is Grote Markt (often shortened just to ‘Market Square or Markt’). This buzzing market square is the centre of the city. It hosts a variety of gorgeous buildings and atmospheric eateries. Admiring these historic buildings is best done from the comfort of one of the market square’s cafes. However, if you want to get up close, be sure to pop by the neo-Gothic Provinciaal Hof. There’s also the charming Huis Bouchoute.
This is also a meeting point for the walking tours in Bruges. My walking tour of the city with my local guide started here, unless otherwise stated on your booking details. So, keep this in mind if you are booking a Bruges walking tour.
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2. Enjoy a Canal Cruise in Bruges Belgium
Wondering what to see in Bruges in one day? A Bruges canal tour is a must and the Groenerei, meaning “green canal”, is perfect for this. I absolutely loved taking the Bruges canals cruise and my ‘Captain’, was very entertaining as he drove us along the canal, pointing out the historic houses, landmarks in Bruges and buildings that lined it.
The Groenerei flows through the heart of the town, so taking a Bruges canals cruise is a tranquil way of seeing Bruges. There are other rivers you can visit besides the Groenerei — the most important thing is just to take a canal boat tour in Bruges! Surprisingly Bruges has never flood, even through a canal runs through it.
Tickets for the canal tours can be brought just before getting on the boats and are around €10 for the 30 minutes tour.
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3. Take A Belgium Beer Tour At De Halve Maan Brewery
If you’re looking for a local experience that will fit into your tight schedule, a big favourite in the area is a beer tasting at De Halve Maan Brewery.
A tour of De Halve Maan Brewery offers some of the most authentic insights into local culture that you can get in just one day in Bruges Belgium. This is the city’s only brewery and demonstrates traditional brewing techniques.
The De Halve Maan Brewery is not only unique because it is the only brewery in Bruges, but the story behind why it is also inspiring. Brewing on the De Halve Maan site was first recorded in 1564. However, this was threatened by heavy truck traffic and their ecological footprint in the inner city of Bruges.
This was remedy by a unique 2-mile beer pipeline, connecting the brewery in the central Bruges to the bottling plant.
The building of the pipeline was aid by locals who crowd-funded it, and those who helped fund the pipeline now receive free beer.
This ingenious beer pipeline under the city is keeping the production of beer where it has been for the last 160 years.
I end my day in Bruges actually having dinner and some Belgian beers at the Halve Man Brewery and would definitely recommend the brewery tour as you get to find out more about the history of the brewery, see the chambers and learn about the bottling of beer.
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4. Take in the City Views from Belfry
Bordering the market square is the Bruges City Hall, town hall the Halle, and its belfry (a bell tower). This is the most iconic landmark in Bruges city center and is a must-see on your Bruges day trip.
The building first opened in the mid 13th century and has been renovated many times since. It originally housed a market in the courtyard, and the balcony was used by politicians addressing the citizens.
The belfry itself is 83m-high, contains 47 bells to alert the city of danger, time, and has stood on the same site since medieval times.
The Belfry’s initial structure was made of wood, however after being struck by lightning twice and burning down twice. The material was changed for something more durable, resulting in the Belfry we see today.
You can enter the tower, which boasts stunning views over Bruges, through the courtyard. You can climb the Belfry’s 366 for the best views of the city.
However, the waiting time can be up to 30 – 60 minutes. I would avoid going midday or early morning, which tends to be the busiest time.
5. Explore the History of Chocolate
Visiting the Choco-Story Museum is one of my top things to do in Bruges in a day. This one-of-a-kind museum really brings the 4000-year-old history of chocolate to life.
There’s an exhibition of around 1000 objects that shows how the technology around chocolate production has evolved.
You can also enjoy a demonstration of the chocolate-making process and taste the results at one of the most interesting museums in Bruges Belgium.
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6. Pose at Rozenhoedkaai (Quay of the Rosary)
You know those pictures that first made you think of taking a day trip to Bruges? They are probably from Rozenhoedkaai.
This historic quay is very pretty and deserves to be on your list of what to see in Bruges, Belgium in one day. This quay is just a few minutes from the Market Square. It offers a great position to take photos of the canal, which is lined with charming, old houses.
I also pass the Rozenhoedkaai on my canal boat tour, and it’s a really unique way of seeing this iconic spot in Bruges from a different perspective.
7. Admire the Church of Our Lady
One of the stops on my walking tour in Bruges is the Church of Our Lady. Work on this awesome structure began back in 1230, with additions made to the Church of Our Ladyin later centuries. No one day in Bruges itinerary would be complete without a stop here so don’t miss out.
Apart from the soaring architectural features, the Church of Our Lady holds some art masterpieces. The highlight for most is Virgin and Child, a sculpture by Michelangelo. He carved it in 1503, and it is, in fact, the only sculpture that left Italy during his lifetime.
The actual sculpture is encased behind glass, and you have to stand some distance away from it. Michaelangelo created it for the cathedral in Sienna in Tuscany, and then two brothers who were merchants from Bruges purchased it and brought it to Bruges.
However, it has been stolen twice and returned twice to the church. Bruges’ Church of Our Lady boasts the second tallest brick tower in the world so add it to your Bruges one day itinerary.
Tickets for the museum section are on sale in the south transept until 4.30 p.m.
8. Discover Begijnhof and the Minnewater Lake
There are many legends surrounding the Minnewater Lake, and it’s easy to see why. Willowy trees and historic buildings line the edges of the lake, making for a pretty picture. The centrepiece is the “Lake of Love” and” Lovers Bridge”, with the beautiful white swans sleeping on the banks of the river.
The legend of Minewater goes like this – a young and beautiful girl named Minna was in love with Stromberg, a warrior of a neighbouring tribe.
Her father forbids her to marry him, because man had the power to do crap like that then and now. Guess the world has changed much.
Anyways Minna ran away, but while trying to cross the lake, she died from exhaustion, before her love could save her.
You know the kind of tales that Danielle Steel’s books are built on. The Minnewater Lake was the centre of Bruges’ lace trade. Just a three-minute walk from the lake is Begijnhof.
The building was once a residence for celibate, pious women and allows you to take a good peek into life in the 17th century.
Today the Beguinage is inhabited by nuns of the Order of St. Benedict and several Bruges women who have decided to remain unmarried.
9. See the Blood of Jesus at the Basilica of the Holy Blood
No matter how much you travel, it’s a rare event to encounter the holy blood, a vial that’s said to contain blood from Jesus Christ. This truly is one of the top things to do in Bruges is see the Holy Blood.
The relic is not on permanent display if you visit Bruges. You can only view it twice a day, at either 11:30 or 14:00, so plan your day with this in mind if you’re keen to catch a glimpse.
It’s also worth sticking around to admire the mix of upper Gothic church and Romanesque architecture. The Basilica of the Holy Blood church is located in Burg Square, in burg square next door to Bruges City Hall.
10. Stop by the Iconic Burg Square & Bruges City Hall
Visitors can walk around the square before going inside the gothic town hall, which was built around 1376.
The highlights of the magnificent city hall are its Gothic rooms, with intricate mural paintings portraying the history of Bruges over the last 400.
11. Stroll through Hansa Quarter
If you love atmospheric historic quarters, then you should certainly pop by Hansa Quarter. The Hansa network of cities in northern Europe were important trade destinations. Bruges was a part of this network, with trade concentrated in the Hansa Quarter.
You can meander past all this history with attractions in Bruges such as the Spanish Unloading Quay and Easterners’ Square.
12. Visit Jan Van Eyck Square
This square was once the city’s harbour. It continues to be a highlight on any Bruges itinerary, thanks to its beautiful architecture.
At the heart of the square is a statue of Jan van Eyck, a famous local painter who lived in the early 15th century. There is a canal in the square, as well as many great restaurants for a short break from your walking tour.
13. Marvel at the Oldest Church in Bruges Belgium
Things to see in Bruges in one day is the St Salvator’s Cathedral is the oldest church in Bruges and also its main one. It dates from the 12th century and has an abundance of treasures to illustrate its long history. It’s hard to know where to look inside St Salvador’s.
You must admire the organ, as well as peer at medieval tombs. Don’t forget to take a close look at the details of the tapestries.
The highlight, though, is probably the church’s collection of Flemish art. The artworks date from the 14th to 18th centuries.
There are many paintings by great Flemish artists such as Hugo van der Goes and Dieric Bouts and one of the top places to include on your one day in Bruges itinerary.
14. Learn About Flemish Art at the Groeningemuseum
Still wondering what to do in Bruges, Belgium in one day? It’s time to pop by the Groeningemuseum. This art museum is the most preeminent institution of its kind in the Flanders region.
The museum houses six centuries of Belgian visual art. The main collection, though, is of Flemish art. Rich colours, evocative facial expressions and religious themes characterise these artworks.
Make sure to admire The Last Judgement by Hieronymus Bosch, as well as Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele by Jan van Eyck, the most distinguished Flemish painter to see if you visit Bruges in one day.
15. Picnic Beneath a Windmill
If it’s not raining during your day trip, set aside some time for a walk between the four old windmills. They’re along the old moat and city walls, which are now covered in verdant grass. You’ll find that the walk itself is peaceful and easy.
The views of the historic old town and the canals are also lovely. Stop for a picnic on the rolling lawn. One of the windmills is still in operation (since the 1770s), while two others offer small museums for visitors.
16. Buy a Piece of Lace
Bruges is famous for its lace, and it would be a pity not to admire this handicraft during your visit. There are about 20 shops that produce and sell lace today, but the best is Rococo.
Rococo has been in business since 1833. It has an extensive range of traditional laceworks, as well as more modern styles. Whether or not you’re buying, stay to watch the demonstration of lacework. It’s breath-taking.
Where To Eating in Bruges
There are so many fabulous things to do in Bruges Belgium, that it’s easy to overlook the city’s food scene. This would be a mistake, however, since this Flemish town boasts more than its fair share of first-class eateries. So here are some of the best places to eat in Bruges Belgium.
🍽️ Cafe Bistro Terrastje
If you’ve finally had your fill of chocolates, venture just outside of the historic centre to Cafe Bistro Terrastje.
It’s near a charming Bruges canal, and the interior is equally quaint. This is a small eatery which means that the service is personal and attentive. There’s a great outdoor seating area. Cafe Bistro Terrastje offers a number of top beers.
The staff is knowledgeable and happy to bring tasters to the table — so if you don’t know what anything is, ask. The food is fresh and delicious.
🍽️ Le Trappiste
I simply love Le Trappiste. It’s in an eighth-century cellar near Markt and oozes medieval charm. Its speciality is Trappist beer.
This is a beer that is brewed by monks of a Roman Catholic contemplative order. This may seem rather unlikely but profits from the beer fund monasteries and various charities.
This is a practice that was done throughout middle ages in Belgium, this I learnt on my beer tour of Ghent.
Tasting this world-renowned kind of beer should definitely be on your list of things to do in one day in Bruges. Le Trappiste’s house Trappist beer, called Abbott, is exclusively brewed for the venue.
Best Chocolate Shops in Bruges Belgium
Chocolate is one of Bruges’ many charms. Although there are plenty of chocolate stores, few can compete with the artisan truffles and pralines sold here. Chocoladehuisje is just around the corner from Markt, so there’s no excuse to add it to your list of Bruges things to do.
Pralinette is another chocolate shop in walking distance of Markt. This one is bigger than Chocoladehuisje but still has a feel of authenticity.
Pralinette has a team of just five chocolatiers who devote extraordinary care to their creations. My favourite purchases at Pralinette are the strawberries, and orange slices dipped in chocolate. Yum!
If you’re a real chocolate fan, it’s worth considering attending a workshop during which you can make a creamy chocolate lollipop.
🍫 Chocolate Dumon
You truly are spoiled for choice with Bruges’ chocolate scene. Chocolate Dumon is another stellar option for tasting the finest Belgian chocolate.
This family-run business makes its chocolates fresh daily on the premises. Their pralines are beloved for their creaminess. Chocolate Dumon also offers chocolate figurines so you could even purchase an edible nativity scene.
🍫 The Chocolate Line
Dominique Person runs The Chocolate Line gem, and his creations are both unusual and delicious. Expect to pay on the higher end of the scale for these world-famous treats.
Try the Havana Cigar, a unique mix of rum, cognac and Cuban tobacco leaves. There are also some excellent — and very unusual — options featuring wasabi, fried onion and tomatoes.
🍫 Chocolate Brothers Bruges
This is a truly artisanal location to try the famed Belgian chocolates. Conveniently, it’s just a three-minute walk from the Groeninge Museum.
There’s a variety of handmade pralines and truffles to enjoy. It’s all served in a small shop that features exposed brick walls, making for a cosy atmosphere.
🍫 The Old Chocolate House
The Old Chocolate House is another attraction that you simply have to visit during your Bruges day trip. It’s a member of the Bruges Chocolate Guild so you can rest assured that the chocolates are handmade and of top quality.
This chocolate store is a relative newcomer on the Bruges chocolate scene. Nevertheless, some say that their hot chocolate is the best in town. It also offers traditional Belgian waffles and various fine chocolates.
This another amazing chocolate shop to visit, their brandy truffle is to die for. Plus the shop lays along the smallest street in Bruges, which has its own sordid history.
🍫 Note: If you are visiting a chocolate shops in Bruges, make sure to look out for the plaques on the shop fronts that say – (Gilde Van De Bruges Chocolatiers), or ‘Guild of Bruges Chocolatiers’, this signifies that the chocolates in these shops are made there in Bruges.
Where to Stay in Bruges
For those of you fortunate enough to overnight in Bruges, here are a couple of my top places to stay in Bruges Belgium.
🏨 Hotel Aragon
Hotel Aragon is an ideal mid-range option for a quick weekend break in town. It’s a comfortable retreat after a day of sightseeing, thanks to the free wifi and quiet rooms. Its central location also makes getting around Bruges a breeze.
🏨 De Tuilerieën
For a luxurious and romantic getaway, you won’t find better than De Tuilerieën. The four-star hotel is in a 15th-century mansion that’s in the heart of the historic centre. The attentive staff will make sure you see the best of Bruges as comfortably as possible.
Getting to Bruges
It’s one thing to know what to see in Bruges in 1 day, but it’s equally important to plan how you’re going to get there. I generally prefer rail journeys, thanks to their quickness and comfort, but there is also the option of taking the bus.
How to Get to Bruges from London
When it comes to your London to Bruges day trip, your best options for travelling are the train and the bus.
Bruges’ airport is small, so there are no direct flights from the UK. You could fly via Brussels, but the train and bus are truly more convenient.
London to Bruges by Train
Travelling to Bruges from London by train is one of the best options for your journey. You can reach the Belgian city in just over three hours.
What’s more, your train will stop in the heart of Bruges at the Bruges train station, so it’s super convenient for visiting Bruges.
The Eurostar train travels under the sea, which is a cool experience to tick off the Bruges bucket list. There is free WiFi and a cafe on-board, so you can chill and enjoy the journey. You’ll travel via Brussels where you will change to a local train station, which will take you to Bruges.
How to Get to Bruges from Ghent
Wondering how to get to Bruges from Ghent? It’s really, very easy. Bruges is just a 51-minute car drive from Ghent. If you’re using public transport, you can take the bus or the train.
By train, the journey between these Belgian cities takes just 25 minutes. You can purchase tickets online from Belgian Railways.
The bus journey takes a little longer with a general travel time of 45 minutes. Bear in mind that the bus isn’t always cheaper, so it’s best to compare train and bus prices ahead of time.
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How to Get from Brussels to Bruges Day Trip
For a Bruges day trip from Brussels you can choose between the bus and the train to travel to Bruges from Brussels.
By train, travel time is generally just over an hour, though you can take the 53-minute train. With around 70 trains leaving every day from Bruges train station, there is a departure about every 18 minutes.
If you are travelling from Brussels-Midi (Bruxelles-Midi) to Bruges via Bruges train station during the weekend, tickets are 50% off (€15.40) on 2nd class day train tickets.
The discount is applied at the ticket machine automatically. The bus journey takes about an hour and twenty minutes. FlixBus and Eurolines both operate this route.
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Getting Around Bruges
When you’re planning how to spend one day in Bruges, don’t forget to factor in the time it will take to get from one attraction to another. Fortunately, strolling around the city is actually one of its charms, so you’re not wasting time when walking.
You could grab a walking itinerary from the Bruges Tourist Office to map out your route ahead of time. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes because the cobblestone streets can be rough on the feet.
I also recommend biking around the city. Companies such as Bruges Bike Rental hire bicycles for about £3 per hour or £10 per day.
Since the city is so small and full of canals, there is little space for cars. However, there are several taxi stands. There’s also a bus system, but you really won’t need it. With a one-hour ticket costing about £2.50, it’s also a bit pricey.
One Day in Bruges | Top Things to Do In Bruges Belgium
Now that you’ve got your day trip to Bruges itinerary, you’re ready to go your weekend trip to explore Bruges further.
With these tips, you’re sure to have such a wonderful experience that you’re likely to return to the city again and again for more.