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Hmm, so, are you going to Belgium soon? Then you’re probably thinking about what to do in Bruges in one day, right? Good news! You have a lot of options for your day trip!
As for me, I miss Bruges so much, you guys. I went in 2012 (ahhhhh, I am old), and without a doubt, I’d revisit Bruges if I had the opportunity to go. It’s a wonderful spot.
Sure, Bruges is undoubtedly a small town and not a bustling city, but you can still see so many historically valuable sites on your visit here. And let’s not even touch on the chocolate and beer yet. Yum!
Actually, to tell you folks the truth, I highly recommend staying in Bruges longer than one day if your itinerary can handle it. Why? Because Bruges such a beautiful and scenic town that’s perfect for solo travelers and buddies alike. Sure, it’s popular so you won’t feel as if you’ve gone “off the beaten path,” but popular spots are well known for a reason, right?
No more rambling from me! Let’s see what to do in Bruges in one day!
Take out your travel journal and get planning.
How to Arrive from Brussels to See Bruges in One Day
Most travelers seeing Bruges in one day will depart from Belgium’s capital Brussels especially since that’s where Belgium’s international airport and many big train stations are located.
Fortunately, reaching Bruges via Brussels is pretty easy even if you’re like me and get hopelessly lost at times, haha.
At Brussels Central (Bruxelles-Central), you board a direct train to Bruges, and the entire ride only takes about an hour. You may purchase your tickets right at the machines inside the train station. Not need to make reservations in advance. As always, validate your ticket prior to boarding your train.
A word of warning: the Bruges train station is located a little bit out of town. Upon arrival, you will then take a bus to Bruges’s gorgeous town center. This bus ride doesn’t take long at all. Maybe ten minutes or so.
1. Walk Around Markt
The first thing you want to do during your day in Bruges is to explore Markt or The Market Square.
Even as a visitor, it’s very simple to find Markt since it’s located smack in the middle of Bruges. Furthermore, this delightful space is limited to pedestrians only so you can freely walk around the area without worrying about cars or trains hitting you, haha.
So enjoy the atmosphere and take plenty of pictures here. Listen to the street musicians, too! They were quite good.
However, I personally wouldn’t eat at any of the restaurants here (found them to be overpriced), but regardless of my thoughts on that topic, definitely don’t skip the Markt, claiming it’s “too touristy.” As I’ve said, you’re not “off the beaten path.” Bruges is a gorgeous tourist town. So enjoy it!
An extra cool fact for you. Markt is fascinating, because the square has been used as a marketplace since 985. Yes. 985. That is old.
2. Scale the Belfry of Bruges
Without a doubt, the most iconic tower in this town is the Belfry of Bruges. You see this belfry in literally every picture taken here, haha. Just look at any guidebook.
You absolutely need to see the view at the top of the Belfry. Okay, climbing 366 steps isn’t very fun and your legs might hate you a little bit, but I promise the bird’s eye image of Bruges is worth the physical effort.
It costs 12 euros to climb the Belfry. Do it.
The inside of the building is lovely as well so don’t miss out.
3. Visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood
Bruges has a variety of churches, and I think this one is my absolute favorite. Originally built in the 12th century, the Basilica of the Holy Blood is home to a sacred relic: a venerated phial said to contain a cloth with blood of Jesus Christ.
Needless to say, the Basilica of the Holy Blood is absolutely worthy of a visit regardless of your religious views.
Fans of gothic style churches should also take the time to visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood. The decor inside is stunning.
You can find the Basilica of the Holy Blood at the back corner of Burg Square. Prepare to wait in line.
4. Eat Plenty of Chocolates
Mmm, don’t come to Bruges hoping to lose weight. Now, now. I see you pouting at me. Here calories don’t exist so save the fitness inspiration for when you’re home again. Ahem.
Why am I so insistent on throwing health and wellness out the window? Belgium is well known for both its beer and chocolate, so if you have a sweet tooth (like me!), then you’ve come to the right place. Indulge, indulge, indulge, and don’t feel guilty for half a second!
The most famous chocolate shop is Dumon Chocolatier, which was two locations in Bruges on Eiermarkt 6 and Simon Stevinplein 11. I felt like a kid opening presents on Christmas Day here.
However, please remember Bruges has plenty of other chocolate shops for you to poke your head in. Dumon Chocolatier is one of many delicious places. Don’t visit here without indulging in at least one dessert. Mm, yummy.
5. Visit Church of Our Lady, Bruges
Still not sure what to do in Bruges in one day? You can’t go wrong visiting the town’s many churches. Another place of worship you ought to see is Church of Our Lady.
Inside Church of Our Lady, you’re able to see a white marble sculpture of the Madonna and Child that was created by Michelangelo in the early 1500s. Not only is this a beautiful piece of art, but Michelangelo’s sculpture also has an intense history, because it was looted twice. Once by French Revolutionaries and then again by Nazi occupants.
On another interesting note. Although the Belfry is famous, the Church of Our Lady has the highest tower in all of Bruges.
6. Drink Delicious Beer on a Tour of Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan
As I’ve said, Belgium is not only known for its chocolates, but its wonderfully crafted beers too. Brewery and beer fanatics ought to visit Huisbrouwerij De Halv maan while they’re staying in town.
You want to take a tour while you’re here. These tours are conducted in Dutch, French, and English. Furthermore, all guided tours last for 45 minutes and cost 10 euros, which I think is a very reasonable price for what you see and learn.
Make sure to sample the beer at the end of your tour. It’s, uh, quite delicious. Again, don’t feel bad about indulging on your vacation in Bruges.
You can find Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan at Walplein 26.
7. Take a Canal Tour in Bruges
You don’t only have to visit random churches and eat chocolate on your trip to Belgium. Make sure to enjoy the small town’s vibe, too.
How should you do that? My recommendation is to enjoy a boat ride at one point during your visit here. Bruges has some very lovely canals so a boat tour would offer some lovely views. You’ll learn a bit of history, too. Take advantage.
If you don’t want to do a boat ride, make sure you take a leisurely walk along the canals and take plenty of pictures.
8. See an Old Fashioned Windmill
Yes, Bruges has windmills, and they are super cool to see in person! They are located outside the city center which gives visitors a taste of a peaceful and quiet countryside.
Luckily, you experience the best of both worlds here, because even though the windmills aren’t in the center, you don’t need to take a bus or train to visit the them either. Instead take a relaxed stroll.
Bruges’ windmills include Koeleweimill, Nieuwe Papegaai, Sint-Janshuismill, and more. These windmills were built in the 1700 and 1800s, and moved to the outskirts of town in the later half of the 1900s.
9. Explore Bruges at Night and See the Lights
Spending the night in Bruges? You’re in for an incredibly lovely treat. This town is gorgeous bathed in orange lights. The cafes and restaurants and bars are all alive with visitors and locals alike.
Not to mention, day trippers have left so you feel as if you have more of Bruges to yourself, which is a special experience you shouldn’t overlook.
Bruges is very safe for you to walk around and explore at night. So don’t worry about leaving your hotel!
Don’t forget Lonely Planet’s Belgium Guide if you’re extending your trip.
Any Final Tips for What to Do in Bruges in One Day?
Locals Speak Dutch in Bruges: In Bruges, locals speak Flemish or Dutch, so it’s polite to learn a few words ahead of your trip. French is spoken in Wallonia or the south of Belgium, and isn’t the local language of Bruges. Go with Dutch.
Careful Drinking the Belgium Beers: Without a doubt, Bruges has delicious beer available, and you should enjoy a glass if you’re a beer drinker. However, keep in mind we’re not talking about Miller Lites with practically no alcohol content. Beer is much much stronger here. So pace yourself. No one likes a sloppy drunk traveler.
Watch Your Pockets and Day Bags: Bruges is quite safe and violent crime is incredibly low, but it’s still always a good idea to keep an eye on your personal belongings. Like any place that draws tourists, pickpockets could be lurking in the crowds and it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Spend the Night if Your Itinerary Allows It: As a major tourist town, Bruges has many types of accommodation for you to choose from. You have a lot of options! And again, night time is splendid.
What else would you do in Bruges in one day? What other Belgian towns would you like to visit on your travels?