Lake of Love (Minnewater)

“Bruges is a beautiful medieval city almost untouched by time. If you like jazz, you will be well catered for. If you like chocolate and beer, you will be in heaven.” – James Frain. Bruges is small, beautiful, peaceful, rich in history and the great thing is that you can completely visit Bruges in a day. So, what to do in Bruges in one day, what to see in Bruges in one day? Let’s check out our Bruges one day trip from Brussels with the suggested Bruges 1 day itinerary (Brugge 1 day itinerary, Bruges one day itinerary) on how to visit Bruges in a day and things to do in Bruges in a day to find out the answer!

The charming scenery of Bruges. | what to do in bruges in one day
| what to do in bruges in one day

Bruges, the capital of northwestern Belgium, is also known as the “Venice of the North”. In addition to the commonality with the “pearl of the Adriatic Sea”, while both are the “cities of canals” that were once prosperous trading ports, Bruges, like Venice, are both cities of love.

I used to laugh when the movie starring actor Colin Farrell filmed here, with the content is full of shooting and stabbing across the whole film, but still tried to pull the romantic name “Bons baisers de Bruges” – “Sweet kiss from Bruges”. It’s lucky, if you can strong hold the hand of your lover who is walking with you on the path of life, walking around the cobblestone, ancient and mossy streets of Bruges. That said, Bruges is not a “forbidden” city for singles. Let’s go to Bruges, and find it very different when you come back with your beloved one. Beautiful cities are often associated with and accompanied by a period of great economic development, enough for it to have the economic potential to build great buildings.

Bruges, one of the most beautiful places in Belgium
| what to do in bruges in one day
The city of canals. | what to do in bruges in one day

During the Middle Ages, Bruges was once the most important port, as well as the most prosperous city of the Nordic region. Merchant ships from all over Europe came here carrying spices, pepper, cinnamon powder, chili… and agricultural products to exchanging and trading for products made from wool and cotton of Flanders, northwest Belgium. Bruges was a thrive city with bustling ports, filled with boats in and out, built canals and large paved streets as the main trade route of the city.

But through the time, Bruges shared the same fate with other ports of the northern region, the accretion of nature pushed Bruges’ position further inland, since the 15th century, the city gradually fell into oblivion. Thanks to that, Bruges seems to have never been impacted by time, industrialization and modernization. Like a princess sleeping in the woods, Bruges is a small provincial city where time has stood still for five centuries. Today, instead of trading vessels back and forth, every year 3 million tourists come to explore the city’s red-brick gothic houses. The historic center of Bruges has been listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage site since 2000.

Market Square in spring. | what to do in bruges in one day
| what to do in bruges in one day
Bruges is famous for its premium chocolates. | things to do in bruges in a day

Bruges in a day: What to do in Bruges in one day & what to see in Bruges in one day

Bruges is the perfect destination that can be explored in one day. The best way to discover Bruges is to walk around the mossy streets of the city. Regardless of the means of transport you take to get to Bruges, all journeys usually start from the central station square. The large canal connecting Bruges with Ghent separates the station from the city center. I usually start my journey by crossing the Oostmeers bridge and then immediately turn right, walking along the canal, under the canopy of old trees, we will come to the lake of love Minnewater.

Charming Bruges
| things to do in bruges in a day

Lake of Love (Minnewater) and Lovers Bridge

The name Lake of Love (the word “Minne” in Dutch – Flanders means love) comes from a sad love story. The story goes that there was a man and woman, Morin and Minna, who could not be together due to family barriers. Minna ran away from her family, until Morin found her, he could only hear her last words. So sad and too much in love with his fiancée, Morin built a dike to block a nearby river, buried Minna and then flooded her grave so Minna could rest in the heart of the lake. That location today is the Lake of Love Minnewater, where flocks of swans, the symbol of Bruges, have always lived.

Lake of Love (Minnewater) seen from Lovers bridge. | things to do in bruges in a day

Ten Wijngaerde (Begijnhof Brugge)

Address: Begijnhof 30, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Hours: 6:30AM–6:30PM

Lying on both sides of the lake of love is a small park of the same name, an ideal place if you want to find a quiet space, or a place to have a picnic in Bruges. On the other side is the Begijnhof complex. It is difficult to translate specifically the word “Begijnhof”, but it is roughly a gathering of widows who lost their husbands after the war, who come to live to support each other in their old age. The beautiful Begijnhof complex with white-painted houses, red-tiled roofs, around a main yard planted with daffodils that bloom every spring.

Begijnhof | things to do in bruges in a day
| things to do in bruges in a day

Sint-Janshospitaal Hospital (Museum)

Address: Mariastraat 38, 8000 Brugge, Belgium

From the Begijnhof monastery, if you follow the big canal, towards the bell tower of the cathedral, you will come to Notre Dame Cathedral Bruges and the hospital of Sint-Janshospitaal (St John’s Hospital). This is one of the oldest hospitals in Europe still preserved. Today, the precinct of Sint-Janshospitaal are used as an art museum displaying typical works of Flanders painting.

| things to do in bruges in a day
Interior | bruges one day itinerary

Church of Our Lady of Bruges (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk)

Address: Mariastraat, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Hours: 9:30AM–5PM/Sunday: 12–5PM

Located opposite the Sint-Janshospitaal museum, the Church of Our Lady of Bruges, home to the masterpiece of the Madonna and child of Michelangelo, is the tallest structure in the center of Bruges. The church bell tower, over 150 meters high, is one of the tallest brick structures in the world. Tickets to visit the church cost €2 (2019 price).

The highest structure in the downtown of Bruges. | bruges one day itinerary
| bruges one day itinerary

Sailing on the Bruges canals

Seeing Bruges from the water also has its own pleasure. The tourist boat pier is located right next to Notre Dame Cathedral. The ticket price for a tour (about half an hour) is €8 for adults, €4 for children under 11 years old, and free for children under 3 years old.

| bruges one day itinerary
The charming scenery of Bruges. | bruges one day itinerary

The Market Square (Markt)

True to Belgian tradition, the city central square is the marketplace (the word “Markt” means market) and the main bell tower of the city. The bell towers in the North, both as observatories against fire or invaders, are also huge musical instruments for the community. They usually has a keyboard like a giant organ that controls the bells. For those who bravely climb all 366 steps to the top of the tower, the reward is a view of Bruges from above that could not be more beautiful. Ticket price to visit the tower is €10 for adults, €8 for young people under 25 years old (2019 price).

| bruges one day itinerary
A corner of Markt square.
| bruges in a day

Burg Square

The Bruges’ second largest square a few steps from the Markt square. This is also where the city’s town hall is located. Each building around the square has a different architecture. If the town hall was built in the 14th century in Gothic architecture, the Heilig-Bloedbasiliek church is in Romanesque architecture, and the Franc de Bruges palace is in Classical architecture.

City Hall and Golden Palace of Justice left hand | bruges in a day
City Hall | bruges in a day

Wandering in the old town

Or you don’t need to have a specific plan to go anywhere. You can wander here all day without getting bored, walking along the canal, watching the architectural works create a scene even more beautiful than a picture.

Bruges, one of the most beautiful places in Belgium | bruges in a day
| bruges in a day
| what to see in bruges in one day
The typical architectural style of houses built with raw red bricks can be found across Belgium. | what to see in bruges in one day

Bruges one day itinerary: How to get to Bruges?

 

Brugge 1 day itinerary map

By car

Bruges is about 100 km northwest of Brussels, about 3 hours from Paris and Amsterdam. Highways in Belgium and the Netherlands are free. Regarding parking in the city, the most convenient and cheapest is to park at the parking lot of the central station (Station Brugge). Parking Centrum-Station Chantrell Stratt, Bruges. Ticket price 70 CTS for hour, €3.5 for 24 hours. The parking lot is about a 10-minute walk from the center, otherwise the parking ticket allows up to 4 adults to use De Lijn bus from the station to the central square.

By train

Brugge’s main station is Brugge Centrum-Station central station. From here it takes 10 minutes to walk to the city center. There are no international trains that go directly to Bruges, so you need to change trains in Brussels or Antwerp. Every hour, there are two departures from Brussels to Bruges departing at Bruxelles-Central station. The journey between the Belgian capital and Bruges takes about 1 hour. The national railway company of Belgium is SNCB/NMBS (www.belgianrail.be). Ticket prices range from €9-13/each way (2022 price).

Go Pass 1: For those who are not yet 26 years old, you can buy a Go Pass 1 ticket (ticket purchase link), allowing you to travel between any two destinations in Belgium for €6.6 (2022 price).

Beautiful sunset over the canal | what to see in bruges in one day

By bus

Eurolines (www.eurolines.nl) has a daily bus connection between Amsterdam and Bruges. The bus departs at 1:15pm from Amsterdam Duivendrecht station to Bruges. In Bruges, the bus picks up and drops off passengers at the central station. The bus returns to the Netherlands from Bruges at 8:15pm every evening. Fares range from 10-20€/each way (2022 price). The ride time is about 5 hours.

When to go to Bruges?

With 3 million tourists visiting Bruges every year, you should avoid the peak of the summer tourist season (July and August). No matter what season you come to Bruges, you will love it, but the most beautiful is probably in spring (April), when the daffodils garden in the Begijnhof monastery are in bloom. At that time, you also could combine to visit the Netherlands to visit the tulip fields before the harvest. Or in the fall, when nature is changing its color. Bruges under the color of the autumn canopy is extremely romantic.

Begijnhof | bruges one day trip

Things to do in Bruges in a day: What and where to eat?

I don’t understand why people only associate the image of love with the sweet taste of chocolate, when in reality, when in love, we have to taste enough sour, spicy, salty, and sweet. Bruges is the city of love, as it is one of the capitals of all kinds of chocolates. Chocolate can be bought on every street corner, there’s no need to buy expensive ones, the regular ones here have made my French colleagues craving. Snacking, in addition to specialty fries served with mayonnaise, Belgium is also famous for Waffles. Especially, typical delicious Belgian beer, the most special varieties are brewed by monks called Trappist beer, served with Belgian cheese, hard and full of flavor, spring-summer-autumn-winter are also savory.

Belgian cuisine
Famous Trappist beer made by monks. | bruges one day trip
waffle brussels travel blog (1)
Waffle, must eat food in Belgium | bruges one day trip
Many types of chocolate | bruges 1 day itinerary
Various chocolates | bruges 1 day itinerary

De Garre

Address: De Garre 1, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Hours: 12PM–12AM
Phone: +3250341029.

The shop is located in a small alley, between Markt square and Burg square, a bit hard to find and easy to miss. The shop always offer about 130 Belgian beers, reasonably priced, decorated in a typical regional style.

De Garre | bruges 1 day itinerary

‘t Brugs Beertje

Address: Kemelstraat 5, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Hours: 4PM–12AM/Wednesday: Closed
Phone: +32 50 33 96 16

This is probably the best beer shop in Bruges, farther from the central square than De Garre, so less touristy. The owner and staff are fun, can advise you to choose beer when not too crowded. Abundant beer, delicious food, affordable prices, ancient space.

| bruges day trip from brussels

Lizzie’s Wafels

Address: Sint-Jakobsstraat 16, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Hours: 1–6PM/MondayTuesday: Closed
Phone: +32 50 34 87 69

Mrs. Lizzie and her husband’s Wafels was on my to-do list. The price is not cheap at all, each set of waffle costs €7, twice as expensive as the ones sold on the street, but also twice as big, and must be eaten by two people. For that price, we get what we deserve. The waffle is so scrumptious, light sweet and subtle, not heavy like regular wafels. The decoration of the restaurant is light and delicate. Attentive service.

Big waffles | bruges day trip from brussels

 

Gran kaffee de Passage

Address: Dweersstraat 26, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Hours: 5:30–10PM/Saturday; Sunday: 12–10PM/Monday: Closed
Phone: +32 50 34 02 32

In Bruges, eating out is relatively expensive. I just discovered that the restaurant of the old hotel De Passage has an acceptable menu. For that reason, the restaurant is extremely crowded, so it is advisable to book a table in advance, especially on weekends. Service is a bit disorganized, but always happy to correct mistakes. The restaurant serves international food, along with some Belgian specialties. I chose beef stew with beer and fries, quite good.

| bruges day trip from brussels

Bruges blog: Where to stay?

If you intend to spend a night in Bruges. Below we recommend more best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.

Botaniek Hotel, a top rated 3-star hotel with room rates from $114/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).

| bruges day trip from brussels

Hotel Dukes’ Palace Bruges, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $174/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).

| bruges one day itinerary

Hotel Jan Brito, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $139/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).

Hotel De Medici, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $147/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).

Grand Hotel Casselbergh Bruges, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $138/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).

Hotel Navarra Brugge, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $124/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).

Check out more top and best hotels in Bruges on Agoda.com or Booking.com.

Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Bruges you can refer to

| bruges one day itinerary

Are you looking for more top things to do in Bruges: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: Bruges travel guide here And Belgium guide here.

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