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This article lists the 15 best things to do in Bruges in one day & a Bruges 1 day itinerary.
Bruges is breathtaking-ly gorgeous and honestly, it stole my heart. This medieval era town looks like it is still stuck in the medieval ages with the brick buildings, cobblestone steps throughout the town, horse-drawn carriages, chocolate shops and languid boat rides. There is so much to love about Bruges!
Aptly termed as the Venice of the north, the canals, bridges and the quaint buildings in Bruges will transport you to a romantic era where life moves a little slower. Spend a day slowly walking around this small but incredibly picturesque town to absorb the beauty of Bruges. Take a look at this Bruges guide that can help you figure out the best things to do in Bruges in one day.
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Is 1 Day Enough for Bruges?
Bruges is a fairly small town and I loved that most of the places to see in Bruges are located within a short walking distance from one another. It is very easy to spend 1 day in Bruges simply walking around and sightseeing. You don’t have to worry about missing out on anything if you’re intending on seeing all of Bruges in one day itself.
How to Spend a Day in Bruges?
Deciding on the best things to do in Bruges in one day shouldn’t be that difficult since all the places to visit in Bruges are close to each other, as mentioned earlier. That being said, you should definitely spare around one hour for a boat ride in the canals of Bruges, some time for souvenir shopping, chocolate tasting and checking out the beautiful handmade lace designs in one of the many lace shops. This Bruges 1 day itinerary should be able to help you plan the perfect 1 day in Bruges, Belgium.
Should You Go to Ghent or Bruges?
Here comes the million dollar question – should you go to Ghent or Bruges? The answer is very simple really. You should visit both Ghent and Bruges because they are both extremely Scenic in their own way and offer lots of things to do. Both these cities are medieval, charming, have lots of canals and both rides but are also very unique. And therefore I suggest that you visit both of these beautiful cities in Belgium and spare at least one day for each of them.
Day Trip to Bruges from Brussels
So is it viable to take a day trip from Brussels to Bruges? First of all, Bruges is at a distance of a little less than 100 km from Brussels which means that it would take about 1 hour 30 minutes to get here by car or a little over an hour by train. Which means that it is viable to take a day trip to Bruges from Brussels. There are a sufficient number of things to do in Bruges in one day and since the city is walkable, you will be able to cover all the tourist attractions comfortably within a day and not worry about missing out on anything.
Map of Places to Visit in 1 Day in Bruges
15 Things to do Bruges in One Day: 1 Day Itinerary
1. Grote Markt or Town Square
The Grote Markt or the town square of Bruges is both charming and highly impressive. With cute Flemish buildings in hues of red and brown on one end, the Historium and Belfry tower on the other ends, paying a visit to the town square is one of the top things to do in Bruges in one day. There are a ton of restaurants and cafes here. Furthermore, this is also the starting point for horse-drawn carriage rides in Bruges, Belgium.
2. Historium Bruges
The Historium Bruges is a unique museum where you will get to learn the history of Bruges in an interactive and fun manner. Audio guides are provided and they tell a story as you walk through the museum and are transported into the medieval ages. It’s worth mentioning that the virtual reality is not included in the regular ticket price and must be purchased separately. Once you have finished your tour of the Historium, you can walk over to the balcony and get a beautiful view of The Market Square.
3. Belfry of Bruges
The Belfry tower holds 47 carillon bells, a victory bell and 377 steps that can take you to the top of the tower. The queue to climb up the tower can get extremely long, especially in the popular months, so it is recommended to buy tickets to the top of Belfry tower in advance. It’s worth including this place in your Bruges one day itinerary and going all the way to the top since you get an incredible bird’s eye view of Bruges from up here!
4. Burg Square
The Burg square of Bruges is a public plaza with a view of some of the most marvelous and architecturally marvelous buildings such as the city hall and the Basilica of holy blood. Although this square does not have as many restaurants as the main market square of Bruges, there are still some extremely scenic places to eat at the Bruges Burg Square. From here you can make your way towards the Blinde-Ezelstraat or the blind donkey street.
5. Basilica of the Holy Blood
The Basilica of holy blood is an important and one of the most popular places to visit in Bruges in one day because it holds important ancient relics such as a piece of cloth which, according to legend, was used to wash Jesus after he was crucified. This fragment of cloth containing the holy blood is on display only from 2:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. And so it is advisable to book your tickets to the Basilica of holy blood in advance. One can even pray inside the Basilica which is as architecturally beautiful from the inside, as it is from the outside. There are services held here as well.
6. Bruges City Hall
The 14th century city hall of Bruges is identified by its ornate carved ceiling and a gothic hall that has paintings which depict historical events that have taken place in Bruges, Belgium. A small part of this hall can be seen for free but one needs to buy a ticket in order to see the rest of the museum inside the city hall. The entrance ticket comes with an audio guide, which is available in multiple languages.
7. Blinde-Ezelstraat – Blind Donkey Street
The blind donkey street might be one of the best places to visit in Bruges due to the beautiful architecture of this narrow alleyway but it is the history of this street and why it was named as the blind donkey street is actually very interesting and makes you look at it from a whole new perspective.
As per legend, the fiery dragon, which is the city symbol of Ghent used to once belong to Bruges. However, the folks at Ghent wanted this dragon in order to make it their city symbol. So they stole the dragon from Bruges, placed it on a donkey and were taking it through this street. As it turns out, the donkey was loyal to the city of Bruges and refused to walk any further. So the thieves had to blindfold the donkey so that it wouldn’t know that it was stealing something from Bruges and taking it to Ghent. This interesting legendary tale makes visiting the blind donkey street one of the most interesting things to do in Bruges in one day.
8. Groenerei & Meebridge
The Mee bridge or Meebrug is said to be the oldest of more than 80 bridges in Bruges, Belgium. Located only a few steps away from both the Burg square and the Blind Donkey Street (Blinde-Ezelstraat), the benches near the Meebridge are a great place to sit idle for a while and enjoy the view of the Groenerei river and the boats passing under the bridge. It truly feels like a magical scene from a 90s movie and so it’s worth checking this place out, at least for a little while, if you have just 1 day in Bruges.
9. Rosary Quay – Picture-worthy Place to Visit in Bruges in 1 Day
Now let’s talk about one of the most picturesque and exciting things to do in Bruges in one day. Rosary Quay or Rozenhoedkaai is the most instagrammable street in Bruges and quite naturally, you can expect scores of people here at any point of time. The street is a walkable distance from the market square, as are most places in Bruges. While there are a number of places that sell fries and waffles around here, we found most of them to be tourist traps. That being said, the romantic view of the canals in Bruges from Rosary Quay makes it an unmissable place to visit in Bruges in 1 day.
10. St. Salvator’s Cathedral
St. Salvator‘s Cathedral lies just a few meters southeast of the Belfry of Bruges. This medieval church offers Renaissance tapestries, sculptures of wood and stone, stained glass windows and elaborate paintings. A visit to the church, including the treasury, is absolutely free of cost and requires no booking or reservation.
11. Church of Our Lady Bruges
The Church of Our Lady Bruges is a magnificent 13th century church which is one of the top places to visit in Bruges in one day for many-a reasons. First and foremost, the church contains the only Michelangelo sculpture outside of Italy. For this reason, the church also holds a museum, which can be entered by paying a small fee. Secondly, the architecture of the church itself is awe-inspiring and looks super grand. Thirdly, the gardens of the church have the most spectacular view of the Bruges canals and the little bridge over them is just the icing on the cake. Getting to see and photograph this part of Bruges was the highlight of my Bruges itinerary for 1 day!
A visit to Begijnhof is one of the top things to do in Bruges in one day, especially if you’re visiting in spring. This ancient complex is a place where nuns and other religiously-inclined women reside and its gardens are so tranquil and beautiful. During spring, the garden is laden with brightly coloured tulips.
13. Minnewater Park – Romantic Place to See in One Day in Bruges
Minnewater park is one of the most romantic places to visit in Bruges in one day that houses the Minnewater lake or the lake of love. Sitting under the trees, watching the boats go by, carriage rides in the distance and the swans hovering around makes you see why Bruges is such a romantic place and termed as the Venice of the north.
Belgium is known for many food and drink items such as Belgian waffles, Belgian chocolates and of course the beer! But there’s another popular street food item in Belgium and that is the potato fries. The Fritmuseum is exactly what it sounds like – a museum of fries. Along with the origin of the humble potato, its varieties and history, you’ll learn about how the Belgian fries came to be. With lots of fun video games and, naturally, you can get fries at the end of your tour. This is a fun thing to do in 1 day in Bruges for both adults as well as families with kids!
15. Bruges Canal Boat Ride
Your Bruges one day itinerary would be incomplete if you left without a boat ride in the canals of Bruges. The Venice of the north is just as romantic as actual Venice, albeit in different ways. A simple boat ride of 30 minutes along with the captain, who doubles as your tour guide, in an open boat costs €12 per person (as of the spring of 2023). It was nice to know little tidbits of information about Bruges through this tour and obviously, the romantic view of the canals was the highlight. Definitely recommend this experience while you’re in Bruges for one day.
Spending One Night in Bruges? Find the Best Hotels in Bruges
In case you need to spend a little more than 1 day in Bruges then here’s a list of the best places to spend a night in Bruges, Belgium for all budgets.
The White Queen B&B $
A quaint and romantic place to stay, it is located only 600 meters from the market square. This budget stay in Bruges has the cutest rooms, which are very fitting of Bruges. Because there are a number of restaurants nearby and the B&B is close enough to all the places to visit in Bruges in 1 day, it is the perfect place to spend a night in Bruges, Belgium.
Dukes’ Academie Bruges $$
This grand but cozy place is the perfect mid-range hotel in Bruges.The hotel is just 300 meters from the Church of Our Lady of Bruges and 200 meters from Begijnhof. Apart from a daily buffet breakfast, they offer private parking and a fitness center.
Boutique Hotel De Castillion $$$
One of the most romantic places to stay in Bruges in one day, the Boutique Hotel De Castillion is beautiful on the inside and outside. This historic property is located just 400 meters from the market square, serves an exceptional breakfast and has the most classic and elegant rooms.
The Notary $$$$
One of the most simple but luxurious hotels to stay in one day in Bruges, the Notary offers tastefully decorated rooms with a view. With an outdoor swimming pool, a bar, private parking, airport shuttle and many other amenities, this is a top choice for a comfortable stay in Bruges.
What to Eat in 1 Day in Bruges
In all honesty, the only things I ate in Bruges and Belgium in general were the waffles and fries accompanied by Belgian beer and chocolates!! We found a lovely local Belgian chocolate store near the Blind Donkey street and bought a box of assorted chocolates and truffles to bring back home. It’s worth trying a chocolate making workshop with entry tickets to the Chocolate museum in bruges.
We also loved the waffles we found at a small place on the Katelijnestraat near the Maria bridge. We had fries from a popular place at the Rosary Quay but didn’t fall in love with it. So we recommend walking around and finding highly-rated places rather than a tourist trap at a popular location. You could even do a private food tour, includng 10 tastings, with locals.
We also suggest doing a Belgian beer tasting or a beer tour in Bruges. It was the highlight of our Belgium trip!
Need More Travel Inspiration?
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