Bruges is a medieval city in Belgium, very romantic and very well preserved. It is known as the Venice of the North, a real fairytale city. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Best Visits in Bruges in 1 or 2 Days Itinerary
Bruges is one of those cities everyone’s talking about. Everyone who has visited Bruges comes back in love.
And sometimes, it happens that the expectations are so high that then they are not met. That’s happened to us with other places, but not with Bruges.
Honestly, we fell in love with Bruges, went for a day, and stayed two.
Bruges was the first destination of the van road trip through Belgium and the Netherlands with my sister.
In another post, I’ll tell you the itinerary. In this one, I tell you what the essentials of Bruges, those that you have to visit if you only go one day, and then there is a second part so that when you fall in love with the city and decide to stay one more day, you know what you can visit are.
Bruges City Centre Walking Tour
If you get to Bruges in the morning, join the free tour with a guide through the center.
Choose the one that starts at 10.30 am is the best option to tour the city, have the first contact, and then choose to dig deeper.
This guided tour will take you to know the most important places in Bruges.
Grote Markt, the Bruges Main Square
Grote Markt is the market square and is the main square of Bruges. This is the center of nerve-fastness of the city and where you’ll see the typical image you’ve seen in hundreds of photos.
The square has four sides; on its north side, we will see the typical houses of the guilds, medieval facades, and bars and restaurants on the ground floor that invite you to sit on one of their terraces.
Here is also the Historium, the museum of the history of Bruges.
On the opposite side, we will see the Hallen building, where the Belfort rises, and its 366 steps to enjoy Bruges’ views from the heights. Has 83 meters high and is seen from almost any point in the city.
The carillon (chime?) of this bell tower has 47 bells.
We meet the Landhuis or the Palace of the Province on the east side of Grote Markt Square. It is a neo-Gothic building, much more modern than it seems, it’s from the 19th century, but they built it to be in line with the other buildings.
Previously, there was a market for clothes.
On the west side, you have to pay attention to the houses located in numbers 12 and 13. Above all, in the Bouchoutehuis, a red brick building dating from the 15th century, and in the Craenenburg, which is by its side.
They had Maximilian of Austria imprisoned at the end of the 15th century.
In the square center, we will see a monument dedicated to Jan Breydel and Pieter De Koninck.
Two popular heroes who, in 1302, during the battle ‘of the golden spurs’ or ‘of Courtrai’ developed a leading role in flemish resistance against French domination.
Belfort, the Bell Tower of Bruges
Belfort is the most well-known and important tower in Bruges and one of the city’s symbols. It is an 83-meter-high Gothic tower from the 13th century.
You can see the style changes from the inner courtyard that was suffering throughout its construction.
One of the most striking elements on the outer side is its watch. The Belfort Tower had the function of monitoring and preventing citizens from possible fires. These were very common because the buildings were made of wood.
Here too, public announcements were read, laws were enacted, and the citizens of Bruges were called through the sound of bells.
Inside, we can see the museum dedicated to the bell tower’s history: the triumph bell and the magnificent 47-bell rail.
To climb the Belfort, I already mentioned that it has 366 steps and does not have an elevator. So be careful if you are traveling with children or with people with reduced mobility.
Opening times: Monday to Sunday from 09:30-17:00 hours (last access at 16:15 h.)
Quay of the Rosary (Rozenhoedkaai), the most photographed corner of Bruges
Its original name is Rozenhoedkaai, and it is the most photographed corner of Bruges city, and it is located next to the town hall.
From here, they depart on boat trips along the canals.
It’s great to see the sunset and take a picture in the most photographed corner of Bruges (and then have a beer at the bar you’re photographing)
You can see well-preserved medieval buildings, houses with classic facades, an antique market, bars, and restaurants.
Rest in Minnewater Park and cross the bridge of love
This park is a must-see in Bruges. With its small rectangular lake surrounded by trees, it has become the lake of love, a very romantic place born through a popular legend.
The name of the lake comes from a woman named Minna. She was in love with a citizen of Bruges, but his father disapproved of not being in a good social condition.
For this reason, Minna fled her home and hid in the lake area, where, unfortunately, she died.
According to legend, her lover, He, broken with pain, separated the waters and buried her under them so that their love would endure forever in the lake.
Burg Square, the second most important square in Bruges
The second most important square in Bruges is Burg Square. This is where the administrative center of the city is located.
We can see the town hall with a majestic facade. It was built in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and had a Gothic room with an impressive wooden vault.
The building with the golden statues is the Palace of Justice. And in the corner of the square, we find the Basilica of the Holy Blood.
In fact, they are two churches, one on each floor, and where, they say, a few drops of Christ’s blood are kept. This relic is displayed daily at 14.00 h (2 p.m.)
Visit the Bruges Beguine: Begijnhof
It is very close to Minnewater Park; you will enter through a door that overlooks a kind of garden with trees and the cottages with their white facades.
This beateration or beguineary dates back to the 13th century. It had been built by the Countess of Flanders to house the beguines. The beguines were the widows and orphans of the Crusaders.
These were concentrated in communities and were engaged in caring for the homeless, the embroidery of lace, and prayer.
They didn’t belong to any religious order, and no men were admitted.
The last Beguine died in 2013. But nowadays, you can cross paths with some of the Benedictine nuns who live here.
Walk through the canals by boat or on foot
Strolling along the canals of Bruges is a must-have of the city. It is very typical to do it by boat, but you can also do it by walking, crossing the city’s picturesque bridges.
Do a Tour at Night
What to See in Bruges in Two days
- Groeninge Museum and Memling Museum
- Church of Our Lady and the Cathedral of St. Saviour
- Bruges Beer experience plus beer tasting
- Choco-Story Bruges
- Historium Brugge
- Fries Musem
- Brewery Bourgogne Des Flandres
- Belgian Chocolate Workshop
What’s Typical of Bruges?
In Bruges, there are about 55 chocolate shops and a chocolate museum. You have to stop and visit one of them if you’re a lover of this delicacy.
It’s the shop of the famous Master Dominique Persoone’s chocolatier, and the shop is called “The Chocolate Line.”
This is where my sister and I buy chocolates from the most original, like chocolate with bacon, chocolate with pot, chocolate with spicy, and they were all great!!!
If you only have to choose one place, go to the brewery “Halve Maan Brewery,” a family brewery and the creator of the famous “Brugse Zot” typical Bruges beer.
La Carbonade Flamande
It’s a stew of meat and beer. The sauce is thick and delicious, the meat gets rid of and tender, made with black beer.
Although it’s not just typical of Bruges, it’s delicious. It is a typical dish of the country that has also crossed borders, as it is also eaten in northern France.
Although waffles were invented in Ghent in 1839, they are a delicacy that you can enjoy in any part of Belgium. Typical Belgian waffles are served hot and sprinkled with sugar above.
Another typical dish in Belgium is the french fries; they say the best you can try in your life is in this country. They say they are the creators of this delicacy.
One of the animals you’ll see in Bruges is the swan. The Swan is one of the symbols of the city. In the lake of love, you will always see many.
In the tour, we were told why are so many swans in Bruges and why they enjoyed these beautiful animals and is due to execution.
History said, in 1488, the village of Bruges had executed one of the city administrators belonging to the court of Maximilian of Austria.
This administrator was called Pieter Lanchals, a name which in Dutch means long neck.
The Lanchals family presented on their coat of arms the figure of a white swan. Legend said Maximilian punished Bruges, forcing the city to keep its swans in the lakes and canals until eternity.
How to Get to Bruges?
From Brussels, you can reach Bruges by rental car or by hiring an excursion.
You have two excursions, the one that is only from Bruges and the one that includes Ghent and Bruges, in one day. I wouldn’t say I like the last one very much because of the short time spent in two of the most beautiful cities in Belgium, but you may be interested if you have little time.
You can get to Bruges by plane at Ostend Airport, which is about 30km from the city center. Although the cheapest is usually to fly to Brussels and rent a car, hire the excursion to Bruges or get around by public transport.
In a camper van or RV
If you’re thinking of going by van, camper, or motorhome to Bruges, you can park for free in Damme.
This small town is located 6 kilometers from Bruges and is reached in some 20 minutes (or less) by bike.
Where to Sleep in Bruges?
Bruges is a city with a wide range of hotels; it receives many tourists all year round. So we recommend that you book in advance, not only to get the best prices but not to run out of the hotel.
Here’s a link to Booking so you can find the accommodation that best suits your travel and budget style.
Where to sleep with Camper Van / Motor-home in Bruges (Free)
If you’re thinking Go by van, camper, or motorhome to Bruges, you can park for free in Damme. This small town is located 6 kilometers from Bruges and is reached in some 20 minutes (or less) by bike.
This is what we did; we left the van in Damme’s free parking lot and went by bike to the center of Bruges, next to a canal, which is the bike lane.
The road is straightforward to do both day and night. It’s all flat, it’s illuminated, and it’s tranquil and safe.
The exact coordinates to reach the car park are in the park4night app.
Do you know Bruges? What are your must-see places to visit?
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Last Updated on 5 October, 2023 by Veronica
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Vero, a seasoned traveler, has explored 25 countries and lived in five, gaining a rich perspective and fostering an infectious passion for travel. With a heart full of wanderlust, Vero uncovers the world’s hidden gems and shares insights, tips, and planning advice to inspire and assist fellow adventurers. Join Vero and let the shared passion for travel create unforgettable memories.