Romantic Bruges is often described as ‘The Venice of the North’, and whilst you may not have gondola rides, you do have all the charm of the canals and stunning Medieval architecture lurking around every corner. Bruges is one of the most popular cities in Belgium and 24 hours in Bruges is more than enough time to see all the sights it has to offer.
A Unesco World Heritage City, Bruges is the perfect place to spend 24 hours navigating the winding cobblestone streets, eating your weight in phenomenal Belgian chocolate, and drinking Belgian beer with views over the canals. Its charm is immediately apparent from the moment you enter the old town of Bruges and start to explore the Grote Markt, Belfry & the hidden Beguinage.
Note: There are 3 official languages in Belgium with French & Flemish being the two most popular, and a small German-speaking community in the east of the country. Bruges is the French spelling of the town, you’ll also find the Flemish spelling Brugge too.
Getting to Bruges
The easiest way to get to Bruges is by train. In fact, for such a small country Belgium has a fantastic rail system, although not many Belgian will agree with that statement.
- Train tickets can be purchased at the train station from ticket machines, or from the kiosk & information booths.
- You can purchase tickets online from Rail Europe up to 30 days before travel.
Brussels to Bruges Train
There on average 3 trains per hour that depart from Brussels Centraal/Bruxelles to Bruges/Brugge. The train from Brussels to Bruges takes 1 hour and is usually a direct train with no changes required.
Ghent to Bruges Train
The city of Ghent is only a short train ride away from Bruges. Ghent has two train stations that are just outside the city center of Ghent. Most visitors arrive and depart from Gent Saint-Pieters. The other train station is Gent Dampoort. The Ghent to Bruges train takes 25 minutes and there are several departures per hour that connect the two cities.
Antwerp to Bruges Train
Trains depart one of the most beautiful train stations in Europe, Antwerp Centraal every hour, connecting Antwerp with Bruges with stops in Ghent. The Antwerp to Bruges train takes 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Paris to Bruges Train
The fastest and easiest way to get from Paris to Bruges is by taking the Thalys train, a high-speed train that connects Paris with Brussels & Amsterdam. Travelers should take the Thalys train to Brussels and take a connecting train from one of the Brussels train stations to Bruges. Train tickets for the Paris to Bruges train and its connections can be purchased from Rail Europe.
Amsterdam to Bruges Train
Like Paris, there are no direct trains from Amsterdam to Bruges, with transfers in either Antwerp Centraal or Brussels Centraal. You can take the Thalys fast train to either Brussels or Antwerp and change trains in those stations.
Amsterdam to Bruges Bus
One of the cheapest ways for traveling around Europe is by bus operators such as Flix Bus. With ridiculously cheap fares, there are daily bus connections from Amsterdam to Bruges for less than 20euros.
24 Hours in Bruges – Where to Stay in Bruges
Budget: Ibis Budget Hotel Brugge Centrum Station is perfect for those who want to be close to the train station and seek budget accommodation. The historic center of Bruges is only a 20-minute walk from the hotel and it’s one of the prettiest walks into the city center.
Mid-Range: Martin’s Brugge is a delightful 3-star hotel less than a 1-minute walk to the Grote Markt. Its location is perfect for being in the mix of everything, with sites, restaurants, and bars on your doorstep. The Belfry is situated just behind Martin’s Brugge Hotel and some of Bruge’s best chocolate shops are located nearby.
Luxury: Hotel Dukes’ Palace Brugge is an opulent 5-star hotel in the historic center of Bruges. Its stunning location with views over the canals and the hotel’s beautifully manicured gardens are all features of the original castle. You’ll feel like royalty after a night’s rest in the incredible Hotel Dukes’ Palace Brugge.
24 Hours in Bruges – What to see in Bruges
Bruges is a compact city and spending 24 hours in Bruges is the perfect way to get a good feel for the city. Most people base their time in the Historic Centre of Bruges and its cookie-cutter perfect with its medieval architecture, cobblestone streets, and canalways that run through the city.
Bruges is one of the most romantic cities in Belgium, and it’s easy to fall in love with it as you walk the streets, indulging in excellent Belgian beer and superb Belgian chocolates. One of the best ways to explore the city is to wander around and follow the canal through the streets. It’s impossible to get lost due its to small size and there is ample signage around.
Belfry of Bruges
If you have no fear of heights, then add the Belfry of Bruges to the top of things to do. A UNESCO heritage site, the Belfry dates from the 13th century and offers incredible views over the entire historic city of Bruges. After you’ve descended the 366 steps you can explore the treasury and learn about Bruges during the Middle Ages.
Fans of the movie, In Bruges, will recognize the iconic Belfry as one of the main attractions and characters in the film. Entrance tickets are priced at €14 per person and the opening hours are between 9 am and 8 pm.
The stunningly beautiful Begijnhof is a UNESCO heritage site that once was the home of unmarried women. Established in the Middle Ages, you can find numerous Beginhofs across Belgium, and in particular Bruges. The Beguines were Godly women who dedicated their lives to God, and during the 12th century, these spaces became their refuge from wider society. Nowadays they are privately owned or some still belong to the Catholic Church.
The largest Begijnhof in Bruges is the ‘Ten Wijngaerde’ which almost resembles a small enclosed village. They are serene places and there are codes to observe when visiting. It’s hard not to be impressed by the architecture and the serenity which envelopes the space.
As you walk around the city, you’ll discover small alleyways that will lead to remarkable squares, canals, and former historical buildings. There are several Almshouses, Godshuizen, which are dotted around the city, that once were homes to people who wanted to ensure that that would make it heaven. Nowadays they are often private dwellings and can easily be missed. Look out for signs that point to the Godshuizen.
The market square, Grote Markt, of Bruges is the epicenter and plays host to its Christmas Market in December. You can find the square surrounded by restaurants, chocolate shops, and bars which all have views of the incredible Belfry.
Beer Brewery Tour
Bourgogne des Flandres is a must for beer lovers and enthusiasts when visiting Bruges. The brewery creates typical Flemish beer that is produced in a variety of flavors and strengths across the country. Bourgogne des Flandres is brewed on-site in the historic center of Bruges and during the tour, you’ll learn the process of brewing beer from start to finish.
- The tour of the brewery and distillery costs €11 and includes a beer as part of the tour.
- Brewery Operation & Tour Hours: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday – 10.30 am – 6 pm.
Boat Tours in Bruges
One of the easiest ways to explore the historic city of Bruges is to take a boat tour of the canals that pass by most of the famous sights in Bruges. The views from the boat provide excellent views and opportunities for great pictures. Depending on the tour, you can learn about the history of Bruges and if the weather is nice, there’s nothing better than soaking up the sun and sights of this stunning city.
Have you ever wondered how people were executed in the Middle Ages? Well, look no further than the bizarre and pretty gruesome Torture Museum! Discover over 100 bizarre and sometimes stomach-churning ways in which people were tortured and executed in the Bruges former prison, right in the historic center. Not for the faint of heart.
Choco Story Bruges
An absolute must when visiting Bruges, Choco-Story Bruges takes you on a journey through the wonderful world of chocolate. From its humble beginnings and origins, the cacao bean has transformed our world for the better. On your self-guided tour, you’ll learn how the Mayans and Aztecs used cacao before European invaders bought the flavorsome fruit back to Europe.
The tour wouldn’t be complete without demonstrating exactly how Belgian chocolate is made and of course, a taste test is required. The tour is short and takes just under an hour to complete.
Bruges by Night Free Walking Tour
One of the top-rated activities is the Bruges by Night Free Walking Tour. This 1.5-hour tour departs every evening at 8 pm and is the perfect way to explore and learn about the hidden secrets and history of Bruges. With local guides who explain Bruges’ history and offer tips and hints for getting the most out of the city. Tips at the end of the tour are welcomed and appreciated.
Where to eat & drink in Bruges
The Beer Wall
Arguably the prettiest bar and location in all of Bruges, it has 16 Belgian Beers on tap and hundreds more in the cellar. The terrace overlooks the canals of Bruges and has a magnificent weeping willow that in the summertime is the place to cool off in. The wall of beer as you enter the bar is incredible and makes a great photo opportunity.
Balthasar’s is a great place for breakfast with smoothie bowls, waffles, and pancakes. Its interiors are modern with white decor and large open spaces.
A traditional Belgian restaurant serving typical Belgian dishes such as Vol-au-Vont, Flemish Stew (Stoovflees) & Mussels. Incredibly popular throughout the day, reservations are required in the evenings to ensure seating to sample some of their 400 beers on offer. A Bruges staple and not to be missed.
The Potato Bar
It would be rude to leave Bruges without sampling some delicious and essential Belgian Frites. Serving fries with various toppings, burgers, and croquettes, the Potato Bar is the perfect place to eat some of the best fries in Bruges.
Best Chocolate Shop in Bruges
Asides from being one of the prettiest places in Belgium, it’s also one of the best places for visitors with sweet tooths. On pretty much every street in Bruges, you can find either a waffle shop or a chocolate shop. There are so many varieties of Belgian chocolates and chocolatiers that I have an entire post about what to expect when visiting Belgium.
Chocolates in Belgium are a very serious thing, and it takes a lot of sampling before you decide which is your favorite chocolatier.
One of the most incredible chocolatiers in Belgium, the BbyB flagship store in Bruges is a showstopper in design and details. The chocolates are mini-masterpieces that taste just as good as they look. The creators behind the chocolates are Michelin award-winning chefs, so you know you’re in safe hands when it comes to taste and aesthetics.
An independent chocolatier on the edge of the historic center, the team behind Chocolaterie Sukerbuyc has been creating artisanal chocolates since 1977. Their store is the chocolate shop of dreams, with various fillings of pralines, truffles, and decorative boxes. They have also opened up an adorable tearoom, which is the perfect place for sitting down and resting between activities and chocolate tasting.
This Post Has 4 Comments
My husband and I spent a day in Bruges and absolutely loved it. There are a few things we missed from your itinerary so perhaps we need to plan another day back to visit.
Bruges is always worth another visit! It’s a pretty magical place.
I’ve been to Brussels, but not Bruges. I regret not having stopped there. It looks like a beautiful city and I am always interested in checking out UNESCO sites. Thanks for giving me a new place to add to my list!
UNESCO sites are always worth a visit, right?