- Wondering what to do in Bruges in one day? Read our one-, two- and three-day guides to exploring Bruges
- Discover the must-see sights in this picturesque jewel of a city, known as the Venice of the North
- Enjoy local cuisine including waffles, frites, beer and – of course – plenty of chocolate!
For a relatively small city, there are plenty of things to do in Bruges. While it’s easy to soak up the atmosphere and seek out the sights simply by wandering around, it’s a good idea to create an itinerary if you’re wondering what to do in Bruges in one day or if you’re there for a few days.
The historic centre of Bruges is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, full of well-preserved medieval and Gothic buildings, as well as outstanding galleries and museums. No wonder the city is so popular. Bruges is the perfect romantic destination for couples, and Bruges for solo travellers offers enchanting and safe surroundings to explore alone. Here are some ideas of what to do in Bruges in one day, two days and three days.
What to do in Bruges in one day
Wondering what to do in Bruges in one day? It’s a destination on the itinerary of many river cruises in Belgium, and thanks to its compact size the city is easy to explore even in a single day, though ideally more days are better. First up, go on a boat trip along the picturesque canals. Cruising the waterways is one of the best ways to see the historic centre in all its glory – Gothic churches, gabled houses, medieval city walls, romantic bridges and overhanging willow trees. Yes, it’s touristy, but when in the Venice of the North…
Once back on terra firma, head to the city’s medieval heart, the Markt. This square has been holding a weekly market since the 10th century and you’ll still find stalls of fresh fruit, veg, cheese and flowers every Wednesday until 1pm. Towards the end of the year, the square holds a Christmas market and transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with ice rink.
While in Bruges historic centre, a visit to the 83-metre-high Belfry is a must. The bell tower, part of a 13th-century complex, houses a carillon with 47 ringing bells. The view from the top is breath-taking, though you’ll need to climb 366 steps. Alternatively, take a look at the art gallery in the Cloth Hall which celebrates the work of Salvador Dalí.
A few minutes’ walk away is the Basilica of the Holy Blood, a double church home to a small phial believed to contain the blood of Jesus Christ. The queue to see this relic is often long – avoid visiting during daily mass at 11am (except Mondays).
No trip to Bruges would be complete without sampling some of the city’s legendary chocolate, so dip into the Choco-Story Museum, or make for Chocolatier Dumon, a tiny charming shop selling delicious treats. To watch handmade chocolate being made, The Chocolate Line is the place to go.
What to do in Bruges in two days
When planning a Bruges itinerary, two days allows you to discover more about this fascinating city. Art lovers should spend the morning at the Church of Our Lady where you’ll see the Madonna with Child, the only Michelangelo sculpture that left his home country of Italy during his lifetime.
Next door, Sint-Janshospitaal is an 800-year-old hospital with a history of caring for pilgrims and travellers that now displays paintings by German artist, Hans Memling. Sticking with the art theme, nearby is Groeningemuseum (closed on Mondays), a gallery with a world-famous collection of masterpieces by Flemish Primitives, including works by Jack van Eyck.
If you prefer valuable items to sparkle, Diamantmuseum is a gem of a visitor attraction, where you can learn more about the technique of diamond cutting and watch a diamond polishing show. Such concentration is often thirsty work, so make the short walk to the Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan, a family-run Belgian brewery. Daily 45-minute tours include a tasting of the house beer.
Feeling hungry? Bruges holidays are also the chance to sample the local culinary delights – frites in a paper cone with a dollop of mayonnaise! The Belgians claim potato fries originated from their country, not France, and there’s even a dedicated museum (the first and only) that attempts to explain the significance of the humble chip. If that doesn’t cut the mustard, simply look out for one of the many fry carts in the Markt square – a long queue is usually a good sign.
For those with a sweet tooth, Belgian waffles are the way to go, and conveniently close to the Markt is House of Waffles. As you’d expect, this restaurant offers a wide choice of toppings to suit all tastes, with strawberries and chocolate being among the favourites.
What to do in Bruges in three days
When you’ve three days in Bruges there’s the chance to explore further afield. Take a walk, or perhaps hire a bike, and wander out towards Bruges’ city ramparts that surround the old town. Back in the 16th century, 23 windmills graced the landscape beside the outer canal, but today you’ll only find four, all located in the north-east side of the city. Sint-Janshuismolen, built in 1770, still grinds flour and is open to visitors from April to September.
For a longer stroll, follow the city’s circumference alongside the canal south to Minnewaterpark. The pleasant route takes you over the ingeniously-designed Conzett Bridge and pass the Gentpoort, one of the four preserved medieval city gates. Once in the tranquil park, find a bench and relax. It’s a romantic setting, with its very own Lake of Love and Lovers’ Bridge. Legend has it that if you walk over the bridge with a partner and stop to share a kiss, your love will be eternal.
Another peaceful spot in the city is the béguinage, especially pretty if you visit Bruges in March and April when a carpet of daffodils in the convent garden are in full bloom. Once the home for single and widowed women who wanted a pious life, the white houses, some dating from the 13th century, are now inhabited by the nuns of the Order of Saint Benedict. Sightseers are welcome to quietly look around a museum and church.
If after buying chocolate souvenirs you’ve space in your suitcase, go shopping for some traditional lace. Once upon a time, a quarter of all women in Bruges were lace makers and you can still watch talented craftspeople at work, demonstrating how these delicate artworks are created. Rococo is one lace shop to seek out on Wollestraat or visit the lace workshop and museum at Kantcentrum.
Plan your visit to Bruges
There’s plenty to see and do in Bruges – from a single day to a longer stay. Immerse yourself in this captivating city and indulge in its culture, food and history with Bruges holidays from Riviera Travel, including Bruges city breaks and the Bruges, Medieval Flanders, Amsterdam & the Dutch Bulbfields river cruise.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.