One day in Bruges

What to do in Bruges in one day

Bruges may not even be in the 5 biggest cities in Belgium, but it is certainly worth a visit. Spending even just one day in Bruges means strolling medieval streets, trying chocolates and beers and taking in canal views. This post has everything you’ll want to keep in mind for what to do in Bruges in a day. Here’s what you can’t miss about the city, how to get there, what to be sure to eat and where to stay if you are going to overnight. Everything mentioned can be done on your own, or if you prefer to book tickets in advance or book guides, there are links to do that too (for example, this one has beer and chocolate tastings).

If Bruges is just one stop on your trip, check out our one day in Rotterdam and one day in Amsterdam guides and maps (both cities are just a few hours away by train or car).

To make things easy for you, everywhere mentioned in this post is ALREADY PINNED in the embedded Google Map below!

What to do in Bruges in one day

One day in Bruges

If you haven’t been to Bruges, then we sincerely suggest you put this world heritage city of Belgium on your “must-see place” or your “bucket list” when planning your next travel itinerary. And how can we be confident you will love your visit here, because this medieval, charming old town, has canals, delicious chocolates and tasty beer. Not only can you explore the beauty of this old city on foot, but you can eat your way around it too.

And if you don’t want Bruges to be your only stop in Belgium, check out the one day in Ghent guide here. See our suggestions for day trips from Bruges at the end of this article.

what to do in Bruges in a day

Getting to Bruges

If the hassle of driving and trying to find a car park terrifies you, then your best option for getting to Bruges is to arrive by train. It’s easy to books a train from Brussels Central Station, and it takes about an hour to get to Bruges costing around €13.

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Then from the train station, it’s only about 1.5km to the old town. But if you think you can walk here, consider first that Bruges cobblestones are not forgiving. If your bag has wheels, a taxi may be your best option.

What to do in Bruges in one day

To make things easy for you, everywhere mentioned in this post is ALREADY PINNED in the embedded Google Map below!

Take a cruise on the canal

A view from the water always gives a different perspective to any place you visit, and Bruges is no exception. If you head to Mariaburg, you can pick up a canal cruise here, as well as grab photo opportunities of this medieval old town.

Bruges Belgium canal

Visit the Chocolate Museum (Choco-Story)

Belgium is famous for its chocolates. This museum is a must to learn more about the origin of chocolate, and, if you like chocolate, then do some tasting (and if not, are you a monster?!). Yum!

Bruges day trip chocolate tasting

image credit TravelKiwis

The La Grand Place de Bruges (Bruges Markt)

If you’re hungry before you start exploring, then La Grand Place de Bruges or Bruges Markt is a great place to look for food in the fresh market, or around the square lined with restaurants. But if architecture is your passion, then you will be in awe of the beautiful Stepped Gable buildings around the square like the City Hall and several of the restaurants.

day trip Bruges La Grand Place

image credit TravelKiwis

Climb to the top of the Belfry

One way to get your bearings on a place you visit is to see it from above. The bell tower of Bruges is a climb of 366 steps for the pleasure of paying €10. But once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with a fabulous view of Bruges. This bell tower dominates the Bruges skyline so that you can see it almost everywhere in the old town.

Bruges belfry

Check out the Tourist Office at Burg Square

This square is a delight of beautiful buildings like the Tourist Office, for the old Town Hall and the Old Civil Registry with its gold statues. It’s here you will find the Basilius Church, and the Chapel of the Holy Blood with a vial said to contain Christ’s blood.

The perfect night time photo

After enjoying a local Belgium beer, and maybe before dinner, you must check out the area of Rozenhoedkaai and Pandreitje. At this corner, you will have one of the best views of the canals, especially in the evening when the buildings light up the waterways.

what to do in Bruges in a day night photo

image credit TravelKiwis

Three-in-one historical site

If you are feeling romantic, then perhaps a stroll to Lovers Lake. Or, you can get to the lake either as part of your canal cruise or in a horse-drawn carriage.

If you decide on the carriage ride, then the horse may even stop nearby at the Horses Head Fountain for a drink to replenish.

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At the lake, you can take a walk across Begijnhofburg Bridge to the Begijnhof residence. The residence was home to the Beguine since 1245 and is now a World Heritage site. These emancipated lay-women led a pious and celibate life.

Bruges Horses Head Fountain

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Where to eat in Bruges

Visiting Bruges and enjoying its delightful chocolates is a memorable experience. While you can visit the Chocolate Museum, sitting down and indulging in a hot chocolate experience will have your taste buds wanting more.

Enjoy the Tea-Room De Proeverie for a chocolate delight

Find your way to Mariastraat and stop in for a hot chocolate and cake. The chocolate comes from the Chocolaterie Sukerbuyc just across the road. And for €4.50 you can enjoy a praline chocolate and several chocolate pieces as you stir your chocolate spoon through your warm milk.

Bruges Tea-Room De Proeverie

image credit TravelKiwis

Take a break at the Frietmuseum

Now if you have the afternoon munchies, then a visit to the Frietmuseum is the thing to do. This museum is all about potatoes and the production of Belgian Fries. It’s only €7 with a discount on a portion of fries.

Enjoy dinner at Gruuthuse Hof

If you are looking for a traditional Belgium meal at a reasonable price, then check out this restaurant. You just need to make sure you book ahead, even before you get to Bruges, as this restaurant is a favorite.

where to eat in Bruges day trip

image credit TravelKiwis

Where to stay in Bruges

When booking accommodation there are always options, but we love to stay in the old town itself so as we can experience the ambience of an evening.

Hotel Dukes Palace (luxury)

Hotel Dukes Palace is one of the highest rated hotels in Bruges and is the only five-star hotel in Flanders. It is the former residence of the Burgundian aristocracy and suited to the luxury traveler.

Hotel Notre Dame (comfort)

This hotel would be more suited to the budget traveler. The rooms are relatively basic. However, the breakfast served in an early century dining room is superb. And if you need a chocolate fix, then right next door is The Old Chocolate House serving the most flavors of hot chocolate in Bruges.

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Other options to stay in Bruges:

  • AirBnb: Bruges has a few hundred AirBnb options, from modern apartments to $19/night rooms. Save $40 on your first booking with this link.
  • Booking: There are literal hundreds of options on Booking; save $20 on your first booking with this link.
one day in Bruges Hotel Dukes Palace

image credit TravelKiwis

Bruges day tours

If you prefer to do any of the above with guides, or book in advance, here are some great options.

Day tours from Bruges


Ghent is another city with a beautiful old town worth exploring on a day trip from Bruges. It’s only 30 minutes by train, and then a 15-minute tram ride to the old medieval city. Once again you will be in awe of what you will see, foods to taste (especially the waffles), and the history learnt.


If you are needing to fill in a couple of hours before catching the Eurostar to London, or a flight to another travel destination, then Brussels will keep you entertained.

If you head to the Grand-Place, you will find plenty of museums and architecture, plus you can go in search of the famous Manneken Pis, not far from here.

WWI and WWII Cemeteries

Bruges is also a stopping off point for many travelers wanting to find past relatives who are buried nearby from the conflicts of the Great War and WWII. The local Tourism Office and many of the hotels have information on day tours, which often include lunch, to visit the nearby war cemeteries. You can book this as a full day tour in advance here.

ghent day trip bruges

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TravelKiwis Terry and Maura

Hi, we are Terry and Maura, TravelKiwis. We are house sitters, travelers and freelance travel planners who have left behind the corporate life at the age of 50 to search for a lifestyle of travel. We have been to 51 countries, and experienced many wonderful travel destinations in Oceania, Asia, Europe, USA and UK. By reading our travel blog, travel tips and house sitting stories, we hope to inspire you to realize you can travel often, stay longer and experience more when you travel.

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