The fairy-tale-like city with its unique blend of history and romance is just a short drive from Brussels and is therefore perfect for a day trip.
I don’t know about you but sometimes, when I have limited time in a certain place, I tend to pack as much as possible on my itinerary. The result: I often can’t enjoy the place truly because of all the stress of missing something.
On my day trip to Bruges, I decided to throw all my plans overboard and let myself be carried away solely by the city’s atmosphere.
That’s the reason why this itinerary I’m sharing with you does by far not contain everything Bruges has to offer. It contains the things I did during my day trip to Bruges which let me experience the city in its most authentic way.
Plus, I’m showing you the best (and also most relaxed) way to get there.
Enjoy your time in Belgium’s loveliest city!
(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a certain percentage of a sale if you purchase after clicking.)
How to Get to Bruges From Brussels
Traveling to Bruges from Brussels is simple and you have many different options.
Using the train is undoubtedly the most popular and convenient option. Departing from major Brussels stations like Brussels Central or Brussels Midi, the trains offer a frequent schedule.
The journey itself takes approximately an hour, making it a good choice if you’re looking to maximize your time in Bruges. We took the train as well and it was a very smooth and relaxing trip.
In my opinion, the train tickets are a bit pricey as you pay €32 for a round trip. Only if you’re under the age of 26, you can save some money because the tickets cost less than half the regular price.
If you prefer a different travel experience than the train, you can opt for a bus journey. The long-distance bus network in Belgium provides routes connecting major cities, and Brussels to Bruges is one of them.
Tickets might be cheaper, but keep in mind that the journey by bus usually takes longer than by train.
Alternatively, you can also rent your own car. This is a good choice if you want to stop and see the countryside or other interesting places along the way.
Top 8 Things to do on a Day Trip to Bruges
Now that you’ve successfully made it to Bruges, it’s time to uncover all the wonderful experiences this charming city has to offer.
From strolling along its picturesque canals to indulging in its culinary delights, Bruges welcomes you to explore lots of exciting things to do.
Let me share with you the best eight that you simply can’t miss on a day trip to Bruges!
1. Visit The Lively Market Square
The first must-do on your Bruges day trip is to visit the vibrant Market Square, often known as the “heart” of the city. This bustling square, called “Grote Markt” in Dutch, is steeped in history and surrounded by stunning medieval architecture.
At the center of the square stands the imposing Belfry Tower, a symbol of Bruges’ rich history. If you want, you can climb the tower’s steep steps for a panoramic view over the city’s red-tiled roofs and picturesque landscapes.
A ticket costs €15 and can be bought directly at the counter or on the Musea Brugge Website.
Or, if you prefer to stay at the ground, you can visit one of the markets the square hosts on Wednesdays and Saturdays and explore stalls selling fresh produce, handmade crafts, and a variety of local delights.
No matter how you decide to spend your time at Market Square, as soon as you step onto its cobblestones, you’ll find yourself immersed in a unique and lively atmosphere.
2. Walk Along The Blinde-Ezelstraat
Just a short walk from Market Square, you’ll find the Blinde-Ezelstraat.
Blinde-Ezelstraat, often translated as “Blind Donkey Street,” is a quaint and historically rich thoroughfare. There are many legends surrounding this charming street, hence its unusual name.
One of them is the tale of a blind donkey that, people say, used to turn a mill right on this street.
While walking along Blinde-Ezelstraat, don’t forget to look up to spot the impressive archway adorned with gold accents.
3. See One of Europe’s Oldest Hospitals
Did you know Bruges is home to one of the oldest hospitals in Europe? Well, I didn’t until I stood right in front of it.
Dating back to the 12th century, the Saint John’s Hospital, or Sint-Janshospitaal, stands as a true testament to centuries of care and compassion.
Today, the hospital is a museum housing an array of artifacts, paintings, and medical instruments, all of which illustrate how medical practices have evolved over the course of centuries.
Moreover, you can admire its well-preserved architecture, from its impressive wards to its serene chapel, or simply stroll around its peaceful courtyard which is surrounded by charming buildings.
Info: At the moment the hospital museum is closed and will reopen in December 2023.
4. Stroll Along The Canals
Next, make sure to plan enough time to enjoy casual walks along Bruges’ scenic canals. Often called the “Venice of the North”, Bruges has many curving waterways that flow through the center.
As you stroll along the cobbled paths beside the canals, you can see how the water reflects the pretty buildings, bridges, and plants on the sides.
The sunlight dancing on the water makes everything look even more magical and if you’re lucky, you might even spot some swans!
While walking, you’ll see different places where you can look at Bruges’ most famous landmarks such as the tall Belfry Tower, old churches, and cute squares from new angles.
There are also plenty of opportunities to relax on a bench in a green area and enjoy the peaceful views of the serene canals.
5. Take a Scenic Canal Cruise
There’s no doubt strolling along the canals is a wonderful activity, however, taking a canal cruise is even better. It’s a special adventure that lets you see the city from a completely different angle!
Once aboard the boat, get ready for a leisurely yet fascinating journey along Bruges’ calm canals.
Architectural wonders, historic bridges, and lush greenery adorning the canal banks are just some of the wonderful things to enjoy on the cruise.
During your time on the water, the captain will provide valuable insights into the sights you’ll pass and the city of Bruges itself.
So, get ready to learn more about all the significant landmarks, notable buildings, and charming bridges to enhance your understanding of Bruges’ heritage.
But most importantly, have your camera ready!
You’ll find different canal cruise operators in Bruges, each offering their own routes, durations, and features. Most of them last around 30 minutes and cost around €12.
Alternatively, you can also opt for a guided walking tour including a canal cruise.
Tours you might find interesting:
6. Snap a Photo of Rosary Quay
One place you will definitely see during a boat trip, and probably also while casually walking along the canals, is Rosary Quay.
Rosary Quay, known locally as “Rozemarijnkaai, is a quaint quay lined with old houses that seem to lean toward the water, creating a postcard-worthy scene that captures the city’s unique beauty.
Once a popular spot for praying the rosary, today it’s likely one of the most photographed spots in Bruges, and there’s a good reason for that.
As you stand there, you’ll be treated to delightful views of the canals, historic bridges, and the mesmerizing reflections of the buildings in the water.
Truly a sight to behold.
7. Have a Beer
On your day trip to Bruges, there’s one thing you absolutely can’t skip: Drink a beer. Bruges is known for its great beer, and there are cozy pubs and cool taverns all around the city.
From classic kinds to unique local flavors, there’s a beer for everyone. Even for people like me, who aren’t a big fan of beer – except fruit beer! 😉
8. Indulge in Waffles & Belgian Fries
Just like it’s one of the best things to do in Brussels, indulging in delicious waffles and Belgian fries is a must-do in Bruges as well!
As you walk around the charming streets, you’ll find numerous cozy cafés and street vendors selling waffles and fries.
So, why not end your day trip to Bruges on a delightful note by satisfying your taste buds? 😉
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Do you want to travel like me?
Here are some of my favorite travel tips and resources:
Flights: I prefer using CheapOair or Skyscanner to book flights. The destination everywhere feature is perfect for finding some cheap deals!
Accommodation: Booking.com is my favorite site to find some great hotel deals. I do love staying at a local place as well, thus I book an Airbnb every now and then.
Travel Insurance: There are many reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without having one. I use the simple and flexible one from World Nomads to be protected against unforeseen events.
Tours: I love taking tours to explore destinations like a local. My favorite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.
Camera Gear: I use a Nikon D5300 camera with an 18-105 mm and a 10-20 mm wide-angle lens to take my photos.