Planning to visit Bruges, but not sure how to arrange your time and what to see during one day in Bruges? I am here to help you organize a trip to Bruges and share more travel tips to make the most of your time in Bruges.
Bruges is a small town in northwest Belgium and it is distinguished by its canals, cobbled streets, and medieval buildings. It is a popular day trip destination from Brussels and it attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. So let’s discover what is so special about this little town and what are the most beautiful places in Bruges.
Thinking to spend one day in Bruges? I have an Itinerary prepared for you together with additional places in case you have more than one day in Bruges. Also, find other important travel tips like how to reach, where to stay, where to eat, and how to move around Bruges. Keep on reading to plan your one day in Bruges.
*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
How to reach Bruges?
You can easily reach Bruges from any Belgian city by train. This is why spending one day in Bruges is very easy when you are visiting Belgium.
From Brussels, there are several options to reach Bruges and the trip will take a bit more than one hour. The train from Brussels to Bruges usually makes 3 stops; one of them is Gent – another popular destination in Belgium. The standard one-way ticket is 14.70 euros.
You can also plan one day in Bruges from Antwerp. The trains are quite frequent and the journey will take approximately 1.5 hours. The standard one-way ticket is 15.40 euros.
You can purchase your tickets and check all the timetables on the Belgian official railway company.
Bruges is not a big city but has a lot to offer. I recommend you leave early in the morning and plan one day in Bruges itinerary. Ideally, I suggest you spend a night in Bruges, so you can make the most of the 24 hours in Bruges.
Overview of what to see in Bruges in one day
Below you will find the list of main attractions and hidden corners in Bruges. You can use this list as an itinerary for one day in Bruges because they are organized in a logical order. The walk to cover all these places will take you approximately 2 hours. Plus, additional time to see the places, take photos and visit some of them if you are interested. Also, food and drink breaks are not included, so eventually, you will be able to cover it all in one day. Now let’s discover what to see in Bruges in 1 day.
Church of Our Lady Bruges and Boniface Bridge
I assume that you start your one day in Bruges Itinerary from the train station. You will head to the Church of Our Lady Bruges and visit Mary’s Bridge on your way. These attractions are some of the best places in Bruges.
The Church of Our Lady Bruges is one of the oldest holy sites in Belgium. It is built in Gothic style and has the second tallest tower in Belgium after the Antwerp cathedral. Inside the church hosts the famous statue of Michelangelo – the Madonna of Bruges. The statue was originally made to be hosted in the Siena Cathedral, but it was purchased by two merchants from Bruges. Also, you will notice that inside it is ornamented in Baroque style.
Just behind the church, you will find the Boniface Bridge, where you can have one of the best views in Bruges. Here you can snap a photo of the Church of Our Lady Bruges and the picturesque canal. This photogenic bridge is one of the newest bridges but blends perfectly with the city’s style.
Church of Our Lady Bruges is open from Monday to Saturday from 9.30 am to 5 pm and on Sunday from midday to 5 pm.
A short distance away from the Boniface bridge is the Sint-Salvatorskathedraal. It is another important sight you can’t miss when you visit Bruges in 1 day. This is the cathedral and main religious site of the city. It is one of the few buildings in the city that have survived the onslaught of the years without damage.
The sober, bright interior design and the stained glasses windows will catch your attention as soon as you step inside. The Cathedral is famous for hosting a rich collection of paintings of the most important Flemish artists, and medieval tombs.
500 meters away from the cathedral, you will find Rosary Quay and it is one of the most Instagrammable places in Bruges. As a matter of fact, the Rosary Quay is one of the most photographed places in Bruges and the entire Belgium.
The view of the canal and the classical buildings makes it a perfect place to take a postcard any time of the day. You can get creative with your photos or grab a waffle with a drink and enjoy it with the view.
To get there from the cathedral, you will have to walk through Dijver which is another beautiful place in Bruges. Once you get there, cross the Nepomucenus Bridge and don’t miss the Viewpoint Passage Bourgondisch Cruyce, which offers one of the best views in Bruges.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
So, what to see in Bruges next? Just a short walk distance from Rosary Quay you find the Basilica of the Holy Blood. The Basilica of the Holy Blood got the status of Basilica in 1923 due to the veneration of the Holy Blood. The name of Basilica is given as the repository of a venerated vial said to contain a cloth with the blood of Jesus Christ.
At first sight, the decorated facade of the Basilica, won’t make you imagine that it holds two chapels. But yes, inside this building you will find two chapels connected by a staircase. So just step in to admire the details of the paintings and the stained glasses, and spot the differences between the Neogothic Holy Bloodchapel and the Romanesque Saint-Basiliuschape.
The entry to the Basilica is free of charge while the entry to the museum is 5 euros. The Basilica is open daily from 10 am to 5.15 pm. On Fridays, Sundays, and festival days, the upper basilica is not accessible between 10.45 am and 12.15 pm unless you wish to attend Holy Mass.
It’s finally time to see Market Square which is the main square of Bruges. As the name suggests, the places hosted the market of Bruges in the past together with medieval festivals, fairs, tournaments, uprisings, and executions. If this square could talk, there will be a lot of stories to hear.
This picturesque place is packed with monuments and stunning buildings like the Provincial Court and obviously the Belfry. Market Square is also a place where the locals gather and the tourist can enjoy some Belgian beer with snacks.
You will still find a local market here every Wednesday morning. Also, it becomes one of the best Christmas markets in Europe during the festive season.
Belfry of Bruges
One of the top things to do in Bruges is definitely climbing the tower of the Belfry. Belfry is the symbol of Bruge and you will find it in every travel guide. The tower is part of the Unesco Heritage and it is one of the best examples of medieval architecture in Belgium.
Wondering what makes it so special? Probably most people would agree with me and say that it is the view from the top. This municipal tower is 83 meters tall and you count 366 steps, so get ready for a long climb. Nevertheless, you won’t regret it once you see those views over Bruges.
The tower hosts a carillon that counts 47 bells. The carillonneur plays the bells on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 am to midday.
A few minutes away from the Belfry of Bruges is another picturesque and remarkable square of the town: Burg Square. The square is surrounded by gothic buildings and cobblestone pavements. This is one of the oldest squares of the city and it used to be a fortress.
Here you can admire the beautiful Bruges City Hall and Brugse Vrije. It is a great photo spot, so if you are a photography lover, you will certainly spend some extra time here.
The Brugse Vrije is the former law court of Bruges and it now houses the written history of Bruges as the city archives are based here. If you decide to visit The Brugse, the wooden details will leave you speechless.
The Canals and Koningsbrug
And you can’t visit Bruges and miss the soul of the city – the canals of Bruges. Just walk along the water and get lost in the charming streets of Brugge. On your way, you will find a lot of interesting houses and endless photo opportunities.
I already mentioned the iconic Rosary Quay and Boniface Bridge views, but another view on the canals you can’t miss is Koningsbrug. Other views on the canals that I loved are from Meebridge and Nepomucenus Bridge.
If you want to try something different, I can suggest a boat cruise and guided walking tour in Bruges. Click here to see all the details and book your tour.
If you have more than one day in Bruges…
Maybe you have some additional time and want to know more about Bruges? There are some cool museums that you shouldn’t miss.
If you are an art lover, you shouldn’t miss Groeninge Museum as it holds Six centuries of Belgian visual arts and multiple cook exhibitions. Maybe looking for some outdoor activities instead? Then take your time to visit De Nieuwe Papegaai which is a cool mill from the 1790s. It is a perfect location for a walk or a simple picnic, but unfortunately, you can’t visit the mill. A short walk away you will find Kruispoort gate. It is a unique historical landmark and a hidden gem of Bruges.
How to move around Bruges?
The best way to enjoy one day in Bruges is by walking. The town is not so big and the best places in Bruges are located within a short distance from each other.
Bikes can be a great and adventurous option as well. Bruges is a very bike-friendly town and you won’t find many cars around, so it makes it even easier. I highly recommend this fun way to discover Bruges! Click here to find bicycle rental points. If you feel like exploring Bruges by bike in a social way, you can book this unique experience.
Is one day in Bruges enough?
Can you see Bruges in one day? One day in Bruges is enough to cover all the main attractions. As previously mentioned, the best things in Bruges are located in the old town and it is extremely easy to navigate between them.
However, you will need 24 hours to discover the real Bruges. Within 24 hours, you will have time to explore more of the museums, try some cool experiences, and enjoy some of the best restaurants in Bruges.
Where to stay in Bruges?
You already know that you will need 24 hours to discover Bruges, so make sure you spend at least one night in Bruges. As usual, I picked a selection of some of the best hotels in Bruges for every budget. Are you curious to see more? Stay with me to discover where to spend one night in Bruges.
LUXURY: Hotel Van Cleef
The Hotel Van Cleef lies in the old town of Bruges. It offers luxurious suites, all decorated in a unique style to make your stay unforgettable. The library deserves a special mention and some suites offer a view of a canal. If you have some extra time, relaxing massage treatments are available as well.
UNIQUE: Boutique Hotel De Castillion
My choice for a unique hotel in Bruges is Boutique Hotel De Castillion. This small pearl lies in the heart of Bruges and it offers elegant and stylish suites. The hotel is perfect for couples as the atmosphere is very romantic. Guests can also have a drink in the authentic Art Deco salon or the intimate bar. And then there is a fabulous breakfast as well!
MID-RANGE: Hotel Adornes
As a mid-range budget Hotel Adornes is one of the best places to stay in Bruges. The rooms have all the amenities you need and they are decorated stylishly. This is also one of the best-rated hotels in Bruges.
AFFORDABLE: Guesthouse Orchid
If you are looking for an affordable stay in Bruges, the Guesthouse Orchid has to be your choice. The rooms are nicely decorated and offer anything you might need for a stay at a price you can’t beat!
Where to eat in Bruges?
There are some must-eat in Bruges that you can’t miss when visiting this Belgian town. You probably have heard about popular products like beer and chocolate, but, let Bruges surprises you with some remarkable restaurants. Bruges offers something for everyone: fine dining, typical restaurants, and cheap bites.
Fine dining in Bruges has one name and that is Parkrestaurant. Initially, it was a tearoom, but nowadays is an institution for an unforgettable meal, where tradition is the key. Here you will find the best local products, cooked and served unforgettably. Keep in mind, that this is a hot spot in Bruges, so make your reservation in advance.
Local beer is an experience that you cannot miss in Bruges. And there is no better place than De Halve Mann. As a matter of fact, this is a brewery and you can’t miss it if you are a passionate beer lover. Vegetarian options are available.
What if I tell you there is a place that offers delicious meat and beer, only a few steps away from the main square with a wonderful indoor design and very affordable prices? Well, Mozart, More Than Just Ribs has all of this and more. I consider having a meal at Mozart one of the top things to do in Bruges.
Of course, my last recommendation couldn’t be anything but waffles. At Lizzie’s Wafels the pastry is beyond delicious and on top of that, the ingredients are top quality. And be ready to eat a lot, the size of the waffle is remarkable!
More things to know before visiting Bruges
Belgium is officially bilingual Dutch-French, but Flemish-Dutch is the dominant language in Bruges. It is also an international town, so English won’t be a problem for the most part. The official currency is Euro and cards are widely accepted around the city.
Wondering what is the best time to visit Bruges? Every season has a charm. There are Christmas markets in winter, beautiful foliage in the parks in autumn, some blossoms in the spring, and warm weather in the summer. The question is, what do you prefer the most?
There are also possibilities to make day trips from Bruges. Ghent is one of the best towns in Belgium and it is only a short distance away from Bruges, which makes it a perfect day trip option. Another reason to spend a night in Bruges, right?
The city hosts a famous beer festival yearly, and it is one of the most exciting events in town. If you won’t be in Bruges during that time, you can always take a remarkable beer tour and you can book it here.
If you want to unlock all the secrets of Bruges, I recommend a tour with locals. You can book it here.
Resources for your one day in Bruges:
- Luxury hotel in Bruges: Hotel Van Cleef
- Unique hotel in Bruges: Boutique Hotel De Castillion
- Mid-range hotel in Bruges: Hotel Adornes
- Affordable hotel in Bruges: Guesthouse Orchid
- Belgian Railway: check here
- Sint-Salvatorskathedraal Virtual Tour: check here
- Belfry of Bruges Opening Times: check here
- Belfry of Bruges Tickets: buy here
- Bruges: Boat Cruise and Guided Walking Tour: book here
- Bicycle Rental Points: check here
- City Highlights Bike Tour: book here
- Belgian Beer Tour: book here
- Private Tour with Locals – Highlights & Hidden Gems: book here
I believe that by now you are fully prepared for your time in Bruges and know how to spend one day in Bruges… or more if you decided to follow my advice. Either way, this guide contains all the information that you might need before visiting this charming town in Belgium.
Planning to visit Brussels? Make sure you check this Brussels travel guide.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.