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One Day in Bruges Itinerary (Map + Walking Tour)

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Often nicknamed “Venice of the North,” Bruges is a beautiful medieval city within the Dutch-speaking Flanders region of Belgium. It’s often the first place visitors add to their Belgium itinerary – with good reason! 

While you could happily spend a long weekend exploring Bruges, it’s also possible to see the main highlights as part of a one day in Bruges itinerary – like this one you’re about to read.

Architecture in Burg Square, Bruges
Just one of the many stunning buildings you can look forward to seeing during your one day in Bruges

By following our tried and tested itinerary, which shows exactly how we chose to spend our time in Bruges, you’ll wander along charming cobblestone streets and meander past tranquil canals while admiring the interesting (and sometimes fairytale-like) architecture all around you.

You’ll discover the heart of Bruges and infamous landmarks, such as the Belfry of Bruges, the Basilica of the Holy Blood and Grote Markt (the city’s main market square). You’ll also learn about Bruges’ medieval history – both by reading our travel guide and wandering along the city’s ancient streets.

Sound good? Here’s how we suggest you spend one day in Bruges…

Bruges One Day Itinerary For First Time Visitors

Morning

Stroll through Minnewaterpark

Bruges Museum
Minnewaterpark looking stunning in autumn

Minnewaterpark surrounds Minnewater Lake and has an interesting local legend associated with it. 

This legend is one of tragic love between a young maiden called Minna and Stromberg, a warrior from a neighbouring tribe. Minna’s father didn’t agree with the love match so arranged for her to marry someone else. She escaped into the forest and when she was eventually found by Stromberg, she passed away in his arms.

It’s believed her spirit roams the area, ensuring true lovers will never separate if they walk over the bridge together – known locally as ‘Lover’s Bridge” – and share a kiss.

Today, Minnewaterpark is a beautiful area – especially in summer. It’s also located close to the train station and on the way to the main tourist areas, which means it’s the perfect way to start your 24 hours in Bruges.

Visit Bruges’ medieval Beguinage (Begijnhof ten Wijngaarde)

Near Minnewaterpark – and still on the way to the centre – you’ll also find Bruges’ medieval Beguinage, which was used by religious women called Beguines throughout the 13th century.

The Beguinage of the Vineyard (Begijnhof ten Wijngaarde) is the only preserved Beguinage in Bruges and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not only is it a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, but it’ll also enable you to step back in time for a moment or two.

Get your bearings and see the main sights via a walking tour 

Often, one of the best ways to see a new city is through a walking tour – whether guided or self-guided.

By joining a walking tour in the morning, you’ll see some of Bruges’ main highlights with fewer crowds while getting your bearings for more avid exploration later on. You’ll also learn a lot about Bruges’ history in a relatively short amount of time.

Some guided tours – like the one we joined – will even stop at a chocolate shop or two along the way, so you can enjoy a tasting or quickly snap up a souvenir or two.

If you’re on a budget, then you might want to join a free walking tour from companies like Legends Tours and Free Tour.

Alternatively, some paid tours (like this one!) will also include a boat trip along Bruges’ canals – even in winter, which isn’t usually available.

Either way, a guided walking tour of Bruges will usually include places like:

  • The Belfry of Bruges: An iconic bell tower in Bruges’ Grote Markt, which dates back to the 13th century. It stands at over 80 metres tall and offers panoramic views of the city.
  • Saint John’s Hospital: A historic hospital complex from the 12th century, known for its stunning Gothic architecture, picturesque courtyard and renowned Memling Museum, which features masterpieces by the Flemish painter, Hans Memling.
  • Stoofstraat: This historic cobblestone street is home to the narrowest street in Bruges. In truth, it’s actually not that narrow. But these cities love their marketing accolades, don’t they?
Stoofstraat - the narrowest street in Bruges
Stoofstraat in Bruges – we’ve seen narrower streets elsewhere, but eh, when in Bruges…
  • Bonifacius Bridge: A beautiful stone bridge (once again dating back to the medieval period), which allows you to cross the Dijver Canal. It’s also one of the most popular photo spots in Bruges.
  • Church of Our Lady: A majestic Gothic church most known for its towering spire standing at over 122 metres tall, making it one of the tallest brick structures in the world. Inside, you’ll find exquisite artwork, including Michelangelo’s infamous sculpture “Madonna and Child”.
  • Burg Square: Another medieval market square, this time, home to The Basilica of the Holy Blood and the historic City Hall.
  • Blinde Ezelstraat: On your way to or from Burg Square, you’ll wander along Blinde Ezelstraat (Blind Donkey Street), which features a stunning white, gold and red archway you’ve likely seen in every guidebook about Bruges.
Alleyway leading to Burg Square in Bruges
The magnificent Blinde Ezelstraat leading to Burg Square

Although you won’t go inside any of these attractions during your walking tour, you’ll be shown them from the outside and learn the history of them. 

One of the reasons why we recommend doing a walking tour in the morning is because it’ll give you some ideas of what you might want to see properly in the afternoon.

Afternoon

Have lunch at Books & Brunch

Scott and I love interesting eateries, especially ones involving books, so we think having lunch at Books & Brunch is a fabulous thing to do in Bruges. Especially after all that walking you did in the morning!

At Books & Brunch, you’ll find salads, sandwiches and soups at lunchtime, alongside a healthy dose of sweet pies, ice cream and waffles for dessert.

And as you’ll be surrounded by the various tomes of their secondhand bookshop, you’ll likely enjoy a relaxed and casual dining experience here.

Bruges in Winter
Grote Markt in Bruges looking festive for Christmas

Go on a brewery tour around De Haalve Maan Brewery 

Beer is almost as synonymous with Belgium as chocolate is – and a trip to Bruges’ best brewery: De Haalve Maan is another top thing to do in Bruges.

Between 11am and 4pm daily, you can look around the brewery during 45 minute tours to learn how their beer is made. 

If you want to experience something extra special then you can go on their XL tour at 2.15pm daily, which includes a professional beer tasting of three different beers down in the cellars after the tour.

This particular brewery dates back to 1856 and is one of Bruges’ oldest and most prominent breweries. If you only visit one brewery while you’re in Belgium, this one should certainly be on your list!

See The Basilica of the Holy Blood

The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a 12th-century Roman Catholic church in Burg Square and is another top sight to see in Bruges. 

While you probably already saw the outside of it during your walking tour in the morning, now it’s time to head inside and wander around this church-turned-museum.

The Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges
The Basilica of the Holy Blood building… how gothic and intriguing!

Not only is the building itself magnificent but it’s also home to a vial which is alleged to contain a cloth of blood from Jesus Christ.

Every day, this golden vial encrusted with gemstones is put on display for Christians and tourists alike to marvel at. Even if you’re not religious, it’s a wonder to behold!

Climb the Belfry Tower and walk around Grote Markt

Bruges’ Grote Markt, or Grand Market Square, is the bustling heart of the city. Here, you’ll find a plethora of medieval buildings, the iconic Belfry of Bruges, gable rooftops and lively cafes.

Once again, you’ve probably already seen part of it during your walking tour. But now it’s time to head to the top of Belfry Tower.

The Belfry is one of Bruges’ most popular landmarks and takes centre stage within Bruges’ Grote Markt.

At 83 metres tall, the views across the city and surrounding countryside from the Belfry Tower are well worth seeing. Just remember that you’ll need to climb a tiring 336 steps to the top! 

The reason why we’re suggesting you should come much later in the day is that most daytrippers head here for around 10-11am.

Come 3pm, most of those people would likely have started to leave for the day, so you’ll spend far less time in line and be better able to see this popular part of Bruges in all its fairytale beauty.

Evening

Cruise the canals by boat

You only have to look at a few photos of Bruges to realise that the city’s canals are one of its most picturesque features. 

During a short 30-minute cruise, you’ll be shown Bruges from its waterways and told a bit about the city and the sights you pass.

We’d recommend taking one of the last boat trips of the day as it’ll be quieter, and at certain times of the year, you can see Bruges at dusk, which is just magical!

Note: Sometimes, companies in Bruges only offer boat trips in the warmer months, such as March to mid-November. However, when we visited in early December, people were still cruising the canals. I suspect they’d booked with a specific company that operates in winter, such as this walking tour on Get Your Guide that has a boat trip included.

Boat cruise along the canals in Bruges, Belgium
Some tourists enjoying a boat trip in Bruges… in winter!

Don’t forget to grab a photo of the Quay of Rosary (Rozenhoedkaai) while you’re here. This is one of the most photographed spots in Bruges. And for good reason because it’s such a pretty part of the city. If you can capture it at dusk or sunset, then you’ll be in for a real treat!

Have dinner at ONE Restaurant

After all that sightseeing, I’m sure you’re looking forward to tucking into a delicious dinner, eh?

We recommend eating at ONE Restaurant, which is on the outskirts of Minnewaterpark and frequently tops the charts on Tripadvisor. This restaurant has been serving superb Belgian food for years.

Once inside, you’ll be met with the most quaint and charming little restaurant you ever imagined. 

And on the menu? Expect traditional Belgian dishes like Flemish stew, saucy meatballs and steak tartare. Delicious!

But be warned! This unassuming little restaurant is super popular, so you’ll probably need to book ahead.

Eat Belgian waffles as dessert on the go

We hope you saved room for dessert! You didn’t really think we’d write a one day Bruges itinerary without mentioning Belgian waffles, did you?

Souvenirs from Belgium: Belgian Waffles
Scott and I enjoying Belgian waffles for dessert in Bruges

Famous the world over for their thickness and large squares, Belgian waffles are the ultimate sweet treat in Belgium. 

Whereas some waffles will be served with cream and fruits, others will be drizzled with hot sauce. Chocolate and caramel are often firm favourites!

Either way, you won’t have to go far before finding a street food stall or waffle kiosk selling this delightful little treat well into the night.

One Day in Bruges Walking Tour & Map

Does the above sound like the perfect way to spend one day in Bruges? Why not grab our handy map and walking instructions and take them with you on your trip?

Other Things To Do in Bruges

If you’ve got extra time to spare, or you’ve already been to Bruges before, then you might enjoy some of these other popular things to do in Bruges.

Shop for souvenirs (especially lace and chocolate!)

If you’ve finished sightseeing, why not buy some traditional Belgian souvenirs – either for yourself or friends and family back home?

In Bruges, chocolate and lace are the souvenirs of choice. Chocolatier Dumon is one of the most famous chocolatiers in Bruges, but we also loved The Chocolate Kiss on Wijngaardstraat, which is far lesser-known. 

Chocolate Shop in Bruges
This was our favourite chocolate shop in Bruges… and not just because it was super cute!

Check out our guide to find more of the best chocolate shops in Bruges. It also includes info about the “Gilde van de Brugse Chocolatiers” aka the “Guild of Bruges Chocolatiers” and why that’s important for finding the best chocolate in Bruges.

As for lace souvenirs, you should head to ’t Apostelientje, which specialises in handmade vintage lace products.

Admire the Gentpoort (Ghent Gate)

Gentpoort, or the Ghent Gate, is a historic gatehouse dating back to the 15th century. It’s one of the four remaining gateways that once served as entrances to Bruges during the medieval period. 

With its imposing towers and robust architecture, Gentpoort stands as a symbol of Bruges’ medieval fortifications and heritage. 

Today, it serves as a museum, offering visitors insight into the city’s history and providing panoramic views from its battlements.

Visit the Historium Bruges museum

Historium Bruges is an immersive museum found in the heart of Bruges. While here, you can journey back in time to the 1400s in Bruges through immersive multimedia exhibits, interactive displays and live reenactments. You can even book a virtual reality experience!

Visit Bruges at Christmas and enjoy the city’s Christmas market

If you visit Bruges at Christmastime, then you can look forward to the Christmas market and festivities in the city’s Grote Markt. 

Set against the backdrop of the market square’s medieval architecture and lit with twinkling lights, you can peruse the various wooden chalets selling handmade gifts, traditional crafts and festive treats, such as mulled wine and Belgian chocolate.

Not to mention, you’ll also usually find a carousel and ice skating rink here.

Dates for this year’s Christmas market haven’t yet been announced, but it’s usually from the end of November through to early January.

READ NEXT: Visiting Belgium in Winter – What You Need to Know

Huidenvettersplein in Bruges, Belgium
Another market square in Bruges looking festive for Christmas. This one is called Huidenvettersplein

Enjoy day trips to Ghent, Antwerp or Brussels

Even though there’s plenty to see and do within Bruges itself, you might also enjoy day trips to other beautiful Belgian cities. Plus, thanks to the country’s excellent train links, it’s super easy to do.

Ghent is just 30 minutes away by train, Brussels is an hour away, while Antwerp is 90 minutes away (but requires changing trains in Ghent or Brussels). And all of these cities are well worth exploring!

READ NEXT:

Grand-Place, Brussels through a lens ball
Admiring the view of Grand-Place in Brussels through my lensball

Is One Day in Bruges Enough Time?

As you can see from this itinerary, one day in Bruges is more than enough time to see the top highlights.

But if you want to see lesser-known spots as well, then we’d recommend spending a weekend here instead. Although it will be pricey compared with staying in other Belgian cities.

You also might have noticed we haven’t included The Old Chocolate House in this Bruges itinerary. Most Bruges itineraries do, so why haven’t we?

Although this cafe is a fabulous little place and often touted as selling the best hot chocolate in Bruges, it’s very popular. Like crazy so.

Especially at peak times, you can easily wait over an hour for a table. The queue was out of the door when we tried to visit!

With just one day in Bruges, we simply can’t recommend it as you’d have to miss out on seeing or doing something else.

But if you’ve got longer to spend in Bruges, then by all means do make an effort to come here… especially if you love hot chocolate!

When To Visit Bruges

Bruges is one of Belgium’s most touristy cities so avoiding the crowds is tough. 

Summer is the city’s peak season, so we’d recommend avoiding those months if you can. Spring is a lovely time to visit and will certainly come with fewer crowds than in the summer months. 

Also, November, January and February will be quieter still. While the weather won’t be the best – expect rain, overcast days and even snow – Bruges is a small city, so you won’t have to walk around outside for too long to see each attraction.

Markt in Bruges
Gable rooftops in Bruges’ Grote Markt

If you’d prefer better weather and want to visit Bruges in the summer months, then you might want to time your visit for a weekday if you can.

Christmas is also a beautiful time to visit Bruges but it’s also one of the most popular times of year to visit. When we last visited, we went to Bruges during the first week of December. Despite the crowds, we still enjoyed ourselves immensely.

How To Get To Bruges

If you’re visiting Bruges as a day trip from nearby cities such as Ghent and Brussels, then the trains are super easy to use, inexpensive and run frequently throughout the day. 

Bruges’ train station is roughly a 20-minute walk away from Grote Markt. But you can also enjoy some sights along the way – including Minnewaterpark and Bruges’ Begijnhof (Beguinage). 

As for arriving in Bruges from further afield, most visitors either fly into Belgium or catch the Eurostar. Both options mean arriving in Brussels first and then catching a train from there to Bruges, which takes about an hour.

How To Get Around Bruges

Bruges is a very walkable city, so exploring on foot is the best way to see the city. 

That way, you can wander along the cobblestone streets to your heart’s content and simply enjoy seeing where your feet take you. Not to mention certain streets in the historic centre are car-free anyway! 

If the initial walk between the train station and the city centre sounds too tiring, then there’s also a bus that shuttles between the two every few minutes.

Grote Markt in Bruges, Belgium at Christmastime
Bruges was fairly busy for Christmas… but far less busy than in the summer months

Where To Stay in Bruges For Longer Than A Day

If you want to spend longer than a day in Bruges, such as a full weekend, then we’d recommend finding somewhere close to Grote Markt and the historic centre. 

While we’ve personally only visited Bruges as day trips from Brussels, if we were to stay in Bruges, we’d likely choose one of these midrange hotels:

Discover more places to stay in Bruges via Booking.com >>

Frequently Asked Questions About Bruges

If you still have questions about visiting Bruges for the day, then hopefully you’ll find your answer below. If not, please comment on the blog post and we’ll reply ASAP!

Is Bruges worth visiting?

Bruges is one of Belgium’s most popular cities for a reason. We think Bruges is well worth visiting on your first trip to this little country because you can enjoy all of the medieval architecture and history that Belgium is well-known for while wandering past the tranquil canals and along cobblestoned streets. Bruges is certainly one of Belgium’s more romantic cities.

Can you do Bruges as a day trip?

Thanks to Belgium’s fabulous train network, you can easily enjoy Bruges as a day trip from various cities nearby, including Ghent, Brussels and Antwerp. In just one day, you can easily see all of Bruges’ main highlights and attractions.

Is Bruges worth a day trip from Brussels?

Bruges is just an hour away from Brussels by train, so it makes an ideal day trip from the Belgian capital. We even include a day trip from Brussels to Bruges as part of our 3 day Belgium itinerary.

Grand Place in Brussels
Admiring the beautiful Grand-Place in Brussels… now THIS is a must-see!

Can I do Brussels and Bruges in one day?

While you could technically see the historic centres of both Brussels and Bruges in one day, you’d miss out on a lot of hidden gems and other top things to do in each city. Instead, we suggest spending at least a day or two exploring each city separately.

How many days do you need in Bruges?

As we’ve shown in our itinerary, you can easily spend a full day exploring Bruges’ main attractions and landmarks. If you want to explore the city at a slower pace or enjoy some of the city’s hidden gems, then we’d suggest spending a full 2 or 3 days in Bruges instead.

What is Bruges known for?

Bruges is one of Belgium’s most well-preserved medieval cities, so many people flock to Bruges to admire the architecture and history seeped into every corner. But Bruges is also known for its rich heritage surrounding the chocolate and lace industries.

Map of Bruges made out of lace
Bruges is known for its lace industry, so where else would be most fitting to see a map of Bruges… made of lace?!

Is Bruges expensive to visit?

Due to its popularity, Bruges is one of the more expensive cities to visit in Belgium. While you may find some budget options when it comes to food and accommodation, you’ll likely save money by staying outside of Bruges and seeing the sights during a day trip.

What’s the main language spoken in Bruges?

Bruges is in Flanders aka the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, so this is the city’s main language. That said, English is widely understood here. That said, if you want to learn a few helpful Dutch phrases, then you might want to grab our free Belgium language guides before your trip.

Is Bruges a walkable city?

Bruges is a very walkable city – with most attractions located within easy reach of each other in the city’s compact and historic centre. Even Bruges’ train station, which is outside of the city centre is just a 20-minute walk away from the main sights.

Can you tour Bruges on your own?

Thanks to how walkable Bruges is, you can easily explore the city on your own on foot. As you’ve just got one day to spare in Bruges, you might find it easier to follow a self-guided walking tour like this one we’ve created for you.

Bruges vs Ghent For One Day

Seeing as Bruges and Ghent are just half an hour away from each other, you might be wondering which is best to visit for one day. The simple answer is both!

Some people even see both in one day, but this does mean rushing around quite a bit. If you’ve never been to Belgium before, then we’d suggest visiting Bruges. But if you have time to explore both Bruges and Ghent, then both cities are well worth exploring for a day. 

Find out more about the differences between each city in our handy guide: ‘Bruges Or Ghent – Which Belgian City Should You Visit?

Read More & Start Planning Your Trip To Belgium

Belgium is one of our favourite countries (we’ve been many, many times), so we have lots of travel blogs and guides about Belgium for you to read through. Here are a few of our favourites for you to start with:


We hope you’ve found this guide on how to spend the perfect one day in Bruges helpful and full of ideas for your trip. What are you most excited to see and do first? Do you have any other questions ahead of your visit? Let us know in the comments below…

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One Day in Bruges Itinerary (Map + Walking Tour)
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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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