One day in Bruges walking itinerary that covers all the tourist attractions (including a map, how to get there, where to stay and eat).
Bruges (Brugge in Dutch) is the perfect medieval fairytale destination for a weekend trip. Located in northwest Belgium, it’s the capital of West Flanders. The city is often called the Venice of the North because it’s crisscrossed by canals.
Charming squares with horse-drawn carriages, picturesque canals lined with Gothic houses. Is there anything more to ask for?
One day in Bruges itinerary
This self-guided walking tour will show you the best of Bruges in 1 day. The itinerary is designed in such a way, that it’s suitable both for day-trippers and overnight visitors.
In fact, it’s an improved version of my Bruges one day itinerary that I followed when I visited the city in December. You can find a detailed map of the itinerary here.
What to see in Bruges in one day
- Church of Our Lady
- Hospital of St. John
- Bonifacius Bridge
- Quay of the Rosary
- Market Square
- Belfry of Bruges
- Burg Square
- City Hall
- Liberty of Bruges
- Basilica of the Holy Blood
1 day in Bruges is enough to explore its Historic Centre. Nevertheless, it’s worth staying at least one night to see the city at night time. The historic buildings are beautifully illuminated in the evenings. Plus, you can enjoy peaceful tranquillity and long walks along the canals.
Check out these lovely hotels that are right in the Historic Centre.
Grand Hotel Casselbergh has a central, but quiet location. The family rooms are spacious and comfortable. The hotel features an excellent spa and private parking on site.
This is my favourite hotel to stay in. The location is incredible, overlooking the canal. If you look for a romantic place, this is the one.
De Drie Koningen is only a short walk from Markt Square. The apartments are trendy and modern with fully equipped kitchens. Private parking is also available.
See whether your hotel is in a good area in the article where to stay in Bruges.
Morning – Picturesque Bruges
09:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Start your day in Bruges with breakfast at That’s Toast! or Li O Lait.
That’s Toast! offers a great variety of savoury and sweet toasts. We tried the Triple Madame and the Triple French toasts. Both were so good, that I regretted we had only 1 day in Bruges and won’t have time for another visit.
If you prefer bagels with eggs for breakfast, then Li O Lait is your place.
Church of Our Lady
10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) is a 14th-century church. Its tower is the second highest brick tower in the world (122.3 metres high).
However, the most famous treasure of the church is the artwork Madonna and Child by Michelangelo. It was the artist’s only sculpture that left Italy before Michelangelo’s death.
Entrance is free, but you have to pay to see the Madonna and Child.
Hospital of St. John
10:30 AM – 10:50 AM
Hospital of St. John (Oud Sint-Janshospitaal) is founded in the 12th century. This makes it one of the oldest surviving hospitals in Europe.
In the Middle Ages, it was a place, where nuns and monks were taking care of sick travellers and pilgrims. The exhibition features surgical and medical instruments as well as various religious artifacts.
Don’t visit the museum unless you’re interested in medieval medicine. Nevertheless, don’t miss to see the building from outside. It’s a gorgeous red brick building with a lovely inner yard.
10:50 AM – 11:10 AM
Bonifacius Bridge is one of the most picturesque places in the city. Despite its medieval look, the bridge is rather new dating from the early 20th century.
Quay of the Rosary
11:10 AM – 11:40 AM
Cross the bridge and continue towards the Quay of the Rosary (Rozenhoedkaai). Quay of the Rosary is the most photographed place in Bruges. Here the Groenerei and Dijver canals meet, creating a strikingly beautiful and romantic scene.
12:00 PM – 02:00 PM
A trip to Bruges is not complete without waffles. So for lunch stop at House of Waffles. They have an extensive menu of waffles ranging from sweet toppings to heavy savoury options. We tried the ones with caramel and chocolate toppings.
What else to see in Bruges in the morning
If you have more time before lunch, check out these tourist attractions.
Take a canal boat tour
See this magnificent city from a different angle by taking a boat tour. The canal boats run from March till the end of October. During the winter, the boats run only during the weekends (if the weather is not freezing). The trip lasts about 30min and costs €10 (only cash).
There are several companies to choose from. The starting points are Huidenvettersplein 13, Rozenhoedkaai, Wollestraat 32, Nieuwstraat 11 and Katelijnestraat 4.
Take a rickshaw tour
If you’re not into boats, take a rickshaw tour. It’s a great way to explore the city. Plus, the tour includes places that can’t be reached by boats.
Saint Saviour’s Cathedral
Saint Saviour’s Cathedral (Sint-Salvatorskathedraal) is the city’s oldest parish church. It’s a huge cathedral with beautifully coloured stained glass windows. Also, the church features a rich collection of Flemish paintings.
Lake of Love
Lake of Love (Minnewater) is a lovely park area with a lake, willow trees and swans. It’s the most peaceful and serene place in the city. Minnewater is perfect for a stroll or picnics. However, if you’re visiting the city in the winter, you’d better skip it.
Afternoon – Medieval Bruges
02:00 PM – 02:15 PM
Market Square (Markt) is the heart of the Historic centre. A weekly market is held here since 958. The square is dominated by the Belfry tower, surrounded by colourful medieval houses and Gothic buildings.
Belfry of Bruges
02:15 PM – 03:00 PM
Belfry of Bruges (Belfort van Brugge) is one of the most famous belfries in Belgium. During the Middle Ages, the town archives were kept in here.
The top of the tower (83m) is accessible by a steep staircase. Be prepared to climb 366 steps to the top. Nevertheless, the view totally worths the effort.
Time for chocolate
03:00 PM – 03:30 PM
Oliviers Chocolate Shop & Bar is a must for every chocolate lover. It’s a family owned chocolate shop that offers more than 60 different chocolates and truffles! Don’t miss to try the hazelnut hot chocolate.
For cramique (traditional Belgian bread) and meringue cakes stop at Aux Merveilleux de Fred. It’s a fine bakery with an incredible chandelier.
03:40 PM – 03:50 PM
Burg Square means castle square in Dutch. The square took his name from the castle that Baldwin I, Count of Flanders built here in the 9th century. It was a military fortress used for defence against the Normans.
03:50 PM – 04:10 PM
City Hall (Stadhuis) is the most impressive building on Burg Square. And it’s definitely worth to take a peek inside. It is possible to visit the Gothic hall and Historic hall. The entrance fee also includes access to the Liberty of Bruges.
Liberty of Bruges
04:10 PM – 04:25 PM
Liberty of Bruges (Brugse Vrije) is the city’s former law court. Today, the building houses the city archives. You can visit only the Renaissance hall where you can see the 16th century Charles V chimneypiece.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
04:25 PM – 05:00 PM
Basilica of the Holy Blood (Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed) initially served as a chapel of the Count of Flanders. It consists of a lower Romanesque church and an upper Gothic church. The latter houses a piece of cloth said to be soaked in the blood of Jesus Christ.
It’s free to visit the lower chapel, but there is an entrance fee to see the artifact.
For traditional Belgian food visit Gruuthuse Hof or In Den Wittenkop. Try the Flemish stew with fries or the mussels.
However, if you need a break from the Belgian food, go to Ribs ‘n Beer or Paul’s Boutique Brugge. Ribs ‘n Beer is a little out of the Historic Centre, but believe me, it is worth the walk. The “all you can eat ribs” come in two main variations – grilled and slow cooked (with different sauces).
I recommend booking a table in advance for all the four restaurants.
Finish the day with a glass of beer at ‘t Brugs Beertje. It’s an authentic beer pub with an excellent range of beers (over 300). If you like fruit beers, try Kasteel Rouge.
What else to see in Bruges in the afternoon
If you’re interested in the history of chocolate and the methods of its preparation, then visit the Chocolate Museum. There are free chocolate samples and a chocolate-making demonstration at the end of the tour. Please note that the museum closes at 5 PM.
You can book tickets in advance here.
Torture Museum (Foltermuseum De Oude Steen) is housed in one of the oldest prisons in Europe! The unique exhibition is quite shocking and intriguing. You can see on display all kinds of torture instruments and devices.
Best time to visit Bruges
Bruges is a very popular European destination for a weekend or day trip. Plus, the city is especially busy on weekends. Thus, if possible choose the weekdays for your vacation.
For sunny and warm weather, visit the city from May to September. The busiest period is July, August and of course Easter and Christmas.
Winters are not very cold with short daylight hours. During my visit in December, it was almost dark at 4 PM and the sun was rising after 8 AM. Nevertheless, December is a great time to visit Bruges because of the Christmas markets.
How many days in Bruges
How long should I stay? Is one day in Bruges enough to see everything? Yes, absolutely. If you follow this itinerary you can cover the main attractions only in a day.
If you plan to visit Bruges on a day trip from Brussels, take an early train at around 8 AM. There are trains every 20min and the journey is about an hour.
If you plan a trip around Belgium, divide your time between Brussels and Bruges. For example, stay 2-3 nights in each city. Then from Brussels, you can take a day trip to Antwerp. And you can easily reach Ghent from Bruges.
Getting around in Bruges
The Historic Centre is quite small and walkable. You won’t need public transport at all. You can download a city map here.
How to get to Bruges
Bruges is easily accessible by train from Brussels, Ghent or any major European city. The Central train station is about a 15min walk from the Historic centre. You can check timetables and book tickets online at SNCB official site.
If you’re arriving by car you have to leave it on the outskirts of the city. The most convenient parking is at the Central train station (Chantrellstraat 42-62).
For renting a car, check out Sixt Car Rental. They are very popular in Europe and offer the lowest rates.
If you’re arriving from Brussels Airport, there is a direct train from the airport to Bruges. The journey is about 90min and it costs about €20.
Another option is by bus. FlixBus has several direct buses every day from the airport to Bruges. The journey is 2 hours, but the prices start at €5. The bus stops at Bargeplein, which is right next to the Central train station.
If you’re arriving from the Brussels South Charleroi Airport, there is only one direct option. The Flibco shuttle bus takes you directly to Bruges (2h journey).
Is Bruges worth visiting
Absolutely! It’s one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. Bruges is a unique mixture of medieval atmosphere, Gothic architecture and charming canals. The city is perfect for a romantic trip or honeymoon, too.
Also, it’s a great destination for every food lover, featuring mouth-watering waffles and chocolate.
Cities to combine with Bruges
If you’re interested in WWI this is a must. There were three major battles here and the city was almost completely destroyed in WWI. The easiest way to visit Ypres is on an organised tour.
The Great War Flanders Fields Tour is the best option. What I like about the tour is that the groups are small and the guide is very knowledgeable. The tour also includes the Menin Gate Memorial and the iconic poppy fields of Flanders.
Ghent is a small medieval city with a gorgeous castle. The fastest way to get there is by train (20min journey). It will take you about 50min by car. Ghent is perfect for a day trip.
If you plan an overnight stay, check out the best area to stay in Ghent.
Brussels is the capital city of Belgium. Again, it’s easier to get there by train (1h journey). Brussels can be done in a day (for best experience follow my 1 day itinerary in Brussels).
However, I would recommend you to stay at least one night. There are some interesting museums to visit and a lot of great restaurants. Plus, it’s a lot bigger than Bruges. Check out the best area to stay in Brussels for tourists.
Antwerp is a medieval port city with a stunning cathedral. It’s a 1h 30min journey by train. It’s a better day trip from Brussels, but it can be done from Bruges, too. If you plan to stay overnight, check out the best hotels in Antwerp city centre.
Practical information about Bruges
Belgium is a part of the Schengen Agreement (the European border-free area). So you don’t need a Belgium visa, but rather a Schengen visa. If your country is part of the Schengen Agreement, you’ll need only a valid passport or ID card.
You can check at iVisa if you need a visa and what type exactly. What I loved about iVisa is that they offer an easy and fast process to obtain a visa online. The application takes no more than 5 minutes!
The official currency of Belgium is Euro. Although credit cards (mostly Visa and Mastercard) are widely accepted in Bruges, you’ll need cash. The smaller restaurants and merchants take only cash. Also, American Express is not popular and not accepted in most of the places.
Belgium has three official languages – French, German, and Dutch. Bruges is located in the Flemish Region of the country (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium). However, most of the people are fluent in English, too. If you want to learn some Dutch, check out this Dutch phrasebook (it’s one of the best rated).
Belgium operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz. The associated plug types are C and E.
If you’re from the US, this is the only travel adaptor that you’ll need.
If you’re from the UK, this is the best-rated travel adaptor.