I don’t know how many times I visited Bruges as a day trip from Brussels, either with my friends or family. But every time we had a nice walk through this relaxed fairy tale town that took us back in time. The historic center is a great example of stunning Flemish medieval architecture which has been well preserved until nowadays. Thanks to the network of canals, Bruges is sometimes referred to as the Venice of the North. It is a unique charming city that will capture your heart!
You can get to Bruges from Brussels easily by train. From the Central Station, it takes about an hour, see the train schedule here. The best way to explore the city center is on foot. Just follow your eyes and nose and go where your feet take you, you may be surprised! It’s small and you can easily spend your time just scrolling the cobblestone streets to admire the tiny charming houses, squares, churches, canals, or to shop in lace and chocolate boutiques. But in order not to miss anything really interesting, in this post I share with you my tips on what to see and do to fully enjoy your day in Bruges.
How to Spend a Day in Bruges: What to See and Do
If you come by train, you can walk towards the city center passing through the areal of Old St. John´s Hospital, one of the oldest preserved hospital buildings in Europe which took care of pilgrims, travelers, poor and sick from the 12th century! Nowadays you can visit a museum inside which shows hospital life through the centuries or the old apothecary. In the chapel, you can admire paintings of Hans Memling, one of the most famous Flemish Primitives.
From the hospital, you will probably walk towards the Church of Our Lady from where you will sooner or later arrive at the fairy-tale Bonifacius Bridge, located in the peaceful little courtyard Arentshof, between the Church and the Gruuthuse Palace. Although you may feel it is a very old bridge, it only dates back to 1910!
If you like fine arts and especially Flemish painters of the 15th century such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling, head to the Groeninge Museum located just a few steps from the Bonifacius Bridge. This one is still on my list for a solo visit I guess.
From the museum, you can easily get to Rozenhoedkaai, where you will directly recognize the spot where the most famous postcard photo of Bruges with the canal, willow and the charming Flemish medieval architecture in the background is taken.
In the heart of Bruges, you will sooner or later bump into Markt dominated with Belfry, a lookout tower that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Its 360 stairs will lead you to the top of it for a small fee and you may enjoy a wonderful view of the square and the whole city. The main square is surrounded by some pretty medieval houses, café’s and side streets with even more café’s/bars and shops. If you feel like shopping, now is your time! 🙂
Burg Square is one of the oldest part of the city, inhabited already in the 2nd century. Notice the Palace of the Liberty, a 14th century Town Hall, Basilica of the Holy Blood with a relic of Christ’s blood and the Renaissance building which used to be the old Court of Justice.
Once you get out of the network of streets and canals that create the historic center, you may arrive at a certain point to Kruisvest windmills. These 4 windmills remained until nowadays since they were built during the medieval times alongside the ramparts around the historical center.
Once you have seen all the main sights, have a boat ride through the network of canals. Without a boat ride in a Venice alike town, your visit wouldn’t be complete! Although very touristy, this half-hour trip will pack you with some interesting information and you will see the city from a different perspective. The boats run from March until mid-November between 10 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. and the price per person is about 10 euros.
In case you are hungry, try some Belgian fries that are easy to find and just grab on the way while wandering around. If you are craving something sweet, check out the chocolate boutiques or just have a waffle! Btw, waffles are very Belgian sweet street food that you won’t miss in any city in Belgium. And the smell! Just follow your nose and sooner or later you will bump into it. You can have them natural or topped with fruits, chocolate or cream – anyway they are delicious! And for some nice Belgian beer, head to De Halve Maan, the oldest brewery in Bruges.
If it is raining (you never know in Belgium), then you can still enjoy visiting any other museums such as Choco-Story, Bruges Beer Experience, Frietmuseum or Diamond Museum.
For more information about Bruges that will help you to plan your day in Bruges, check out www.visitbruges.be.
How did you like this post, did you find it useful? Have you been to Bruges and do you have any other tips? Please feel free to share them in the below comments, I´d love to hear from you! 🙂
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