The Medieval town of Bruges is a destination you can easily spend days enjoying, but if you have a tight schedule it is still very much worth doing a day trip to Bruges or even a half-day visit! Due to my limited work schedule, that’s what I had to do. And it was still a lovely and memorable experience! Here are 11 things to do in Bruges in a day.
Taking the Train from Brussels for a Bruges Day Trip
You can take the IC train from Bruxelles Central Station to Bruges every 30 minutes from Brussels Midi for ~15 euros each way. The weekend round trip ticket is ~15 euros. There are several platforms and floors of different types of trains throughout this busy train station. So try to get there early to find the correct ticket booth (there are several) without feeling rushed and overwhelmed. Once you know the number of the platform your train is leaving from you can easily follow the signs and wait for your train.
The train takes about 90 minutes and makes 1-2 stops.
By the end of your day trip to Bruges, try to catch the train back to Brussels during off-peak hours. Between 5 and 7 PM rush hour, the trains can get crowded to the point where many have to stand for the entire 90-minute ride back to Brussels.
Please note: None of my American credit cards worked on the automated ticket machines for the trains. So I had to get in line to buy a ticket from a human representative. Also, you can get a ticket on the train but it’s come with a surcharge.
Beware: Some trains are shorter than others so try to wait where the crowds of people are so that you don’t miss your train by being too far from the door.
What to do in Bruges in One Day Itinerary
After getting off the train station you can wander down the quaint cobblestone medieval streets for about 15 minutes, until getting to the center of town. From the train station and back, you can tour the city in a long circle.
Walk by the Church of Our Lady
While on a beautiful walk from the train, pass by the Church of Our Lady which dates back to the 13th century. You can choose to enter or just admire it from the outside. It’s a little out of sight, you have to walk through an idyllic narrow entrance to enter the out-of-sight courtyard where the church is.
Go Shopping at Steenstraat Street
Turn on the popular Steenstraat street, full of stores from big commercial brands to small local shops. Here you can grab some souvenirs, chocolates, clothes, antiques and much more.
Markt Square & Belfry Tower
Markt Square was originally a marketplace and stage for tournaments and festivals for over a thousand years. Today, it is full of historic relics such as the majestic Belfry Tower and Church Hall while surrounded by banks, restaurants, and modern shops. It is also one of the most iconic spots of the movie: In Bruges.
Burg Square & Basilica of the Holy Blood
Time travel through Gothic, Renaissance and Neoclassical architecture in the historic Burg Square dating back to ~100 AD. The most impressive buildings are the Town Hall from 1376 and the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Burg Square is a stone’s throw from Markt Square making it both a must-see and easy stopover in your day trip walk around Bruges.
Waffles for Dessert at Chez Albert
Right off Burg Square, get in line to grab one of the most popular waffles in town at Chez Albert. Prices on average are about 5 euros including a few delicious toppings. And yes, the line is worth it! This is the best waffle I have ever had anywhere in the world. It’s crunchy on the outside, but fluffy and flaky like a croissant on the inside. The melted chocolate + fresh strawberries waffle offers your taste buds the perfect combination of a silky, crunchy, and vibrant explosion of flavors and textures.
Visit the Groeninge Art Museum
Bruges’ Fine Arts Museum is internationally renowned for its collection of paintings dating back centuries. Some of the most important medieval paintings include works from Jan Van Eyck and Hans Memling. Click here for opening times and prices.
If you’re not big on art museums, consider checking out one of the other following museums:
- Folklore Museum
- Torture Museum Oude Steen
- The Chocolate Museum
- Diamond Museum
- Friet Museum
Go on a Canal Tour
Sit back and spend the next 30 minutes delighting in the quaint beauty of Bruges’ buildings and soaking in the sights of the iconic Belgian canals during a canal tour. The cost is about $10/ride and you can find several canal tours around town. Expect a line during peak summertime.
World Heritage Site: Ten Wijngaerde
Today this heritage site is a quiet garden and courtyard surrounded by white medieval houses where nuns live, but back in 1245, it was home to religious and celibate women called: beguinage. Source: Visit Bruges.
Stroll Through the Small Cluster of Parks & Lake of Love
On the way back to the train, as your day trip to Bruges comes to an end, pass through the cluster of small gorgeous parks within minutes of each other: Hendrick Pickery, Koning Albert I Park, and Minnewaterpark with bucolic views of willow trees near canals and the small Lake of Love.
So… Is One Day in Bruges Enough?
Now that you know what to do in Bruges in one day, you may also be wondering if a day in Bruges is enough. It’s definitely worth at least a day trip visit. But if you have time, try to spend at least a weekend in Bruges to soak up more of this beautiful city at a leisurely pace.