I didn’t plan to spend a wonderful day in Bruges, Belgium; but then again some of the most wonderful things in life aren’t planned! A long night in Brussels followed by a missed plane to Zermatt equaled one extra day in Belgium and four bummed travelers. We quickly looked for things to do in Belgium, and amazing day trips that would take the sting out of missing out on seeing the Matterhorn (we’re still a little mad).
We quickly began reading recommendation after recommendation to visit Bruges – Brussels’ hidden gem, and we were quick to learn why. A day trip from Brussels to Bruges is affordable, fun, and totally worth it! You can also quickly get to Bruges by train from Ghent, Belgium or Amsterdam, Netherlands. Bruges or Brugge in Dutch is an unreal “fairytale” like city. The cobblestone streets lead to medieval brick buildings. The canals that flow through the city are occupied by beautiful swans, Greylag geese, and ducks as well as adorable love tour boats. I fell in love with my cold and unplanned day in Bruges. Here is my itinerary for one day in Bruges.
Bruges: Small, medieval town in northern Belgium
Languages: Dutch, French, English
Climate: Cold and rainy, even in the summer it barely passes 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I was there in May and we were FREEZING. Pack warm clothes!
Get around: Walking, cycling, or boat tours
Famous for: Picture-perfect landscape, canals, “In Bruges” movie
Things to do: Chocolate shop, Marketplace, 2be Beer Wall, Canal tour, Belfry Tower, Basilica of the Holy Blood
Bruges was a quick 1 hour and 20 minute train ride from Brussels. The train ticket from Brussels to Bruges was an extremely fair price of 15 Euro. We visited in May, and the weather was still extremely chilly, so be sure to bundle up. Once arriving at the train station in Bruges, the town center is a short 10 minute walk, and along the way you will pass lovely tulips, parks, and rivers.
Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings are market days where you can find vendors lined up along the canals selling foods, flowers, fish, and miscellaneous goods. Simply walking around the town is jaw-dropping because of its storybook picturesque views.
After strolling the city we decided to climb the famous Belfry of Bruges to get a spectacular view of the city (and because my boyfriend was inspired by the film “In Bruges”.) The Belfry of Bruges is a medieval Bell Tower in the center of the city. It is truly gorgeous, and one of Bruges’ most famous landmarks. Fair warning: it’s a long and tiring climb up, but it is so worth it. The roaring bells still ring every hour, and can be heard throughout the square.
Another beautiful and historic stop in Bruges is the Basilica of the Holy Blood. This chapel has free entrance and contains a vial of blood that is said to be of Jesus Christ. The church is made in a beautiful gothic style, with an elegant Romanesque basement.
With our legs tired from all the walking and climbing, my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to do a boat tour of the city, and we are so glad we did! For only 10 Euro we were hoping to get a relaxing tour of the canals, but it was so much more than we expected. We learned a ton about the history of Bruges, and were able to see old churches and landmarks that were unable to be found by walking! We gently drove under a bridge and were greeted by a flock of swans! It was so cozy and romantic.
Next, we decided to head to 2be bar to taste some local Belgian craft beer. This bar was amazing! They have a literal beer wall that holds a variety of over 100 beers. They have river side seating with great views, and the craft beers were delicious. We shared a flight of beers to taste a variety, and each beer came in a funky and unique glass.
After a few trappist style beers,our instincts led us to the many chocolatiers that line the streets of bruges. Chocolate lovers rejoice: some of the best chocolate in the world can be found here I’m sure you have heard of famous Belgium chocolate, and if not, walking around Bruges and passing a multitude of chocolate shops might have tipped you off that they have some pretty darn good chocolate. If you are a chocoholic like me, you will be in heaven! Belgium and Bruges are famous for their rich, creamy chocolates and crispy pralines (wow I’m craving some as I write this). Swing by Dumon for a wide variety of artisan chocolates, or stop by any shop along the streets… they are all delicious!
We were exhausted from a long day, so our final stop was a restaurant in the Bruges Town Square or the “Marketplace”. The sun was starting to set and it was freezing, so we sat outside under the street lamps to people watch. The restaurants in the Marketplace are touristy and a little pricey, but the food is delicious and the view unbeatable! Try the famous dish Moules Frites (Mussels and French Fries) with a tall Belgian beer on the side! This was the perfect way to end our beautiful day in Bruges.
So, a day that started off as a disappointment turned into a whirlwind day trip to Bruges, and I am so happy it did! Who knows if I would have ever found my way to Bruges on my own, but now I can’t imagine not experiencing this fairytale land. I would love to stay over night next time, and have some leisure time to stroll around the town and see what I find!