How to spend one day in Bruges

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Bruges is one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium. It has a great and accessible location, less than 100 km from the capital Brussels. It’s possible to visit Bruges in a day, but you won’t get bored if you decide to spend the night and stay a little longer! A lot of people even visit the city in a half-day during a combined tour, which we’ll discuss in a bit.

If you have the time to spend one day in Bruges, we got the ideal list of exciting things to do during your trip to Bruges right here!

You won’t be able to visit all there is to see in Bruges in one short day, so we listed the most interesting places for you. If you spend the night in Bruges, you might be able to squeeze in a few extra highlights. So we mention those last!

Markt

The Markt in Bruges is the actual heart of the city. It’s a lively and beautiful town square. The central plaza of the city is popular and there are tons of bars and restaurants to choose from.

Just visiting the markt quickly will only take about half an hour, but we suggest returning here to get some lunch or dinner, as it is a beautiful place to hang out for a while.

The Markt is surrounded by historic buildings and ancient facades, the Belfry being one of them

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One day in Bruges

Bruges Belfry

The Belfry in Bruges is a 13th century stronghold, which offers amazing views over the city. On clear days, you can see as far as the North Sea. To see those views, you first have to pay an entrance fee and climb 366 steps to the top of the main tower. The Belfry in Bruges is an Unesco Listed heritage site.

It’s located on the Markt or main plaza of Bruges and can be quite busy during high season. If you want to climb the tower, you might be in for a long wait.

Opening hours: every day 9h30 – 18h

Address: Markt 7, 8000 Bruges

Entrance fee adults: 12€

Entrance fee children and seniors: 10€

Belfry website

Markt Bruges with the Town Hall, Basilica of the Holy Blood and the Belfry Tower in the back
Markt Bruges with the Town Hall, Basilica of the Holy Blood and the Belfry Tower in the back

Halve Maan Brewery

Halve Maan is one of the few breweries in the region that allows visitors to see the brewing process. In the Halve Maan brewery, the famous beer Brugse Zot is brewed and during a guided tour of the brewery, you’ll learn all about the brewing process of Belgian beers and the Brugse Zot specifically. As an extra treat, you get to taste the Brugse Zot at the end of the tour!

There’s also a bar and a restaurant on-site, where you can taste the different beers and get delicious food!

It’s also possible to visit the Halve Maan brewery during this guided beer and chocolate tour in Bruges. Or check out more beer tours in Belgium.

Classic tour: 12€ / 45 minutes

XL tour: 21€ / 90 minutes

Address: Begijnhof 15, 8000 Bruges

Halve Maan website

Basilica of the Holy Blood

We’re not church-going people ourself, but this one is a bit different!

The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a magnificently decorated place and once you enter it, you won’t know where to look first. In this basilica, there is a cloth which holds some of the blood of Christ. Nobody is completely certain if it’s true, but it is definitely a draw.

It’s also possible to attend a mass in this church, which is obviously held in Dutch. If you visit the inside of the basilica, we suggest visiting when there’s no mass, so you won’t disturb the service. Masses are held each day at 11h.

Entrance fee: free

Treasure room entrance fee: 2,5€

Opening hours: 9h30 – 12h30 and 14h – 17h30

Website

The chocolate museum

We can confirm that Belgium has the very best chocolate in the world, really!

So why not visit a chocolate museum and see how it’s done right!

Choco Story museum consists of 3 parts and while going through, you’ll discover the history and story about the evolution of chocolate. And of course, there will be tasting!

You can also combine a visit to the choco museum with a beer tasting during this chocolate and beer tour.

Tour price adults: 9,5€

Tour price children: 5,5€

Opening hours:Every day 10h – 17h

Website

Fun tours to do in Bruges

If you want to see a lot of places or do multiple fun things in a short amount of time, joining a tour can be a good idea. This way, you will be guided to the best spots and get a professional explanation about the things to see.

So if you don’t like getting lost and wandering around aimlessly, have a quick look at these tours in Bruges.

Food tour

This 3-hour food tour takes you along one of the most beautiful routes through the city, while tasting 10 different delicious food samples.

You’ll get to try 8 authentic local dishes, Belgian fries, and artesanal chocolate truffles.

This is the type of tour that doesn’t leave you hanging! Be prepared to try the best Belgian food there is.

There’s also a beer tasting included.

Medieval Dinner Show

This is an excellent evening activity if you decide to spend a night in Bruges. Bruges has a medieval vibe and ending your sightseeing day with a medieval dinner show is a wonderful way to complete your day in Bruges.

This cool dinner show lasts all evening and you’ll be served 4 courses of local food and you get to drink as much as you like.

An old Jesuit church is the setting for this dinner, which is an amazing place to be in. In between courses, you can admire falconry, sword fighters, flame swallowing, etc.

Alternative option: Bruges tour from Brussels

If you don’t have enough time to spend an entire day traveling in between cities and visiting the city, you might want to consider joining a tour.

A lot of people join tours from Brussels to visit either Bruges, Ghent, or both cities in 1 day. And I must admit that’s a good choice if you’re in a rush.

This is the best tour to visit Bruges in one day from Brussels.

The best tour to visit Ghent and Bruges in one day is this one.

Panoramic view of Market Square in the Old Town of Bruges, Belgium

Getting to Bruges

Depending on the city you’re traveling from, getting to Bruges is a different journey. To make itlittle more convenient, we decided to write up a guide on how to get to Bruges from various destinations.

Spending the night in Bruges

If you have one night to spend in Bruges, we really recommend staying in the historic city center. This way, you have the evening in the city as well.

We once stayed outside of the city center and regretted it a lot. As soon as you leave the city, there’s not too much to see and do.

You want to be in accommodation that allows you to walk to the interesting places in the evening.

Duke’s Palace is a very nice and affordable place to spend the night in Bruges. It’s set in a 15th century castle and will complete the medieval vibe of the rest of your stay in Bruges perfectly!

For budget travelers, Snuffel Hostel in the city center is an excellent choice for accommodation. It has a great location in the city center and it’s very affordable.

Best time to visit Bruges

As a matter of fact, Bruges can be visited year round. The city has an excellent vibe in each season and it’s beautiful throughout the year.

During the summer months, it’s nice and warm in Bruges, but it’s also quite crowded. It is, after all, one of the most popular cities to visit in Belgium.

So high season really is high season. If you’re visiting Bruges in summertime, expect long waiting lines and tourists everywhere!

Shoulder season is also a good time to visit the city, because the weather can still be good, but there won’t be too many people. There’s a higher chance on rainy days, but fewer crowds.

Winter time is another excellent time to visit Bruges. Personally, I especially love visiting Bruges in winter, as the city is super cozy and charming. Bruges also has a beautiful Christmas market where you can experience the warm and lovable vibe of the city even better.

One day in Bruges

As you can see, there are a few things to keep you busy during one day in Bruges. We deliberately mentioned only a handful of things to do in the city, so you’ll be able to take your time to just wander through the beautiful streets.

Bruges is not the city to rush through. It’s best if you go around for a stroll and take in your surroundings.

A lot of travel guides will tell you that you can visit Ghent and Bruges in one day. Even though that is possible, we recommend taking a full day for both cities. If you’re really short on time and you do want to visit both cities in 1 short day, it is probably better to join a full day tour for both cities to get the most of your time.

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