Imagine being transported back to the medieval times surrounded by gothic architecture and beautiful canals. That is what it is like spending a weekend in Bruges, Belgium.
Bruges is known as one of Europe’s most well-preserved medieval cities due to its quick rise in wealth from cloth trade in the 14th century.
If you are planning a trip to Bruges, 2 full days is the perfect amount of time to feel like you have explored the city without getting bored. In this post, I will show you the perfect weekend in Bruges itinerary!
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How to Get to Bruges
The best way to get around Belgium without a car is by train. Honestly, you don’t even need a car at all in Belgium because Belgian’s trains are very well connected across the entire country. Here are some train times, routes and costs for the major nearby cities of Brussels, Ghent, and Amsterdam to Bruges.
Getting from Brussels to Bruges by Train
There is a direct train departing from Brussels, Bruxelles-Central Station, and arriving at Bruges, Brugge Station, in only 4 stops. The intercity (IC) train service departs every 30 minutes, and operates daily. The train takes only 1h 10m which is shorter than driving!
Train Cost: The Brussels to Bruges train costs around 20 EUR one-way, but will depend on the day and when you purchase your ticket.
Getting from Ghent to Bruges by Train
There is a direct train from Ghent, Gent-Sint-Pieters Station, to Bruges, Brugge Station, which takes less than 30 minutes.
Train Cost: The Ghent to Bruges train costs about 10 EUR one-way, but will depend on the time and day.
Pro Tip: If you have more than 2 days in Brussels, this short train ride makes Ghent a great option for a day trip.
Getting from Amsterdam to Bruges by Train
There is no direct train from Amsterdam to Bruges. Likely your route from Amsterdam to Bruges will take the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Antwerp or Brussels. Then a transfer to an intercity (IC) train to Bruges. This route take about 3 hours.
Train Cost: The Amsterdam to Bruges trains ticket are slightly more costly ranging from 40 – 60 EUR one-way.
Top Things to Do on a Weekend in Bruges – Day 1
On day one of your weekend in Bruges, I suggest that you explore the major squares of Bruges by foot and get your bearings on the city.
Explore the Bruges Market Square
The best way to get your bearings on the city of Bruges is to start at the Market Square. This is because the Market Square has been a gathering point in Bruges since 958. Today, it is still the central spot where you will find the Belfry of Bruges, horse carriage rides, and quaint cafés to relax and enjoy.
For such a small city, this is one impressive and colorful market square. Take your time here and really enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Climb the Belfry Tower of Bruges
Located right in the Market Square, climbing the stairs of the Belfry tower is a must do activity in Bruges!
The Belfry of Bruges was constructed back in the 13th century when Bruges was gaining wealth and today still remains a focal point of the city. The view from this medieval tower is one of the best in the city in my opinion.
However, there are only a certain number of people allowed up in the tower at once, due to the tight squeeze up the 366 steps. This causes a line to form very quickly after the opening time. Therefore, plan on being at the entrance right at opening at 9:30am to reduce waiting times.
Take Photos at Rozenhoedkaai
After you have spent some time in the main square of Bruges, I suggest you head to one of my favorite areas! The Rozenhoedkaai , or “Quary of the Rosary” in English is the most photographed place in Bruges. Located only a 5-minute walk from the main Market Square, you will start to understand why Bruges is known for its canals.
At the viewpoint of the Rozenhoedkaai, the Groenerei and Dijver canals meet creating a dreamy and romantic scene with the buildings reflecting into the canals. It’s believed that the Rozenhoedkaai was a gathering place for ships of salt traders back in the late Middle Ages where they would come to unload and load their merchandise.
Today this is also a popular starting point of many boat trips. I have included some boat trip options in the day 2 itinerary!
Tanners Market in Bruges
You will start to discover that there are many cozy corners, and quaint squares tucked away in Bruges that can be easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. And this one you won’t want to miss!
Located right between the Rozenhoedkaai and the Fish Market you will find Tanner’s Square. It got its name back from the 14th century when a guild of Tanner’s used to occupy this square. However, they were eventually asked to move due to the smell!
Today you will find restaurants, patios, hotels and a pier where you can take boat tours through the canals. This is a nice place to just relax and enjoy the day!
Fish Market in Bruges
Right around the corner from the Tanners Market you will find the Vismarkt or “Fish Market”. Every Tuesday and Saturday morning, you can enjoy the fish market that is still active today, much like in the 14th century.
Visit the Statue of Saint John of Nepomuk and Nepomucene Bridge
One of Bruges’ many beautiful bridges, the Nepomucene Bridge has extra charm because of the large statue of John of Nepomuk and the steeple of the Church of Our Lady as the backdrop.
Saint John of Nepomuk is the saint of Czech Republic who was drowned in the Vltava river at the order of Wenceslaus, the King of the Romans and King of Bohemia. A similar statue of the saint can be found on the famous Charles Bridge in Prague.
Admire the Viewpoint of De Dijver
Just a few steps from the Nepomcensus bridge off Dijver street is this viewpoint where you can walk off the road towards the canal and admire the reflection of the steeple of the Church of Our Lady.
This spot is perfect both morning and evening to get the spectacular reflection. This is also the location for a flea market during the weekend from March to October.
Church of Our Lady Bruges
You will most likely see the 400-foot steeple of the Church of Our Lady in Bruges before you see the actual church. Since you will be right in the area, take some time to explore the church which took two centuries to complete. Inside, the church houses treasures such as a beautiful Carrara marble Madonna and Child sculpture by Michelangelo.
There are multiple other church to visit in Bruges if you have some extra time and the desire to visit more:
- St Walburgha’s Church
- St Anne’s Church (Sint-Annakerk)
- The Jerusalem Chapel and Adornes Domain
- Saint Saviour’s Cathedral (Sint-Salvatorskathedraal)
Take a De Halve Maan Brewery Tour
What a fantastic tour to learn about the history of breweries at the De Halve Maan Brewery in Bruges. The tour takes you through the old brewery were beer was produced back in the day. The tour continues onto the rooftop of the brewery for wonderful and unexpected view over Bruges. At the end, you will head to the De Halve Maan restaurant to enjoy a beer included in your ticket price.
We were able to walk up and purchased tickets for a tour that day without a problem. However, if you want to buy tickets in advance you can do so here!
Wander the Cobblestone Streets of Bruges at Night
At night, the canals are calm and the lights from the buildings illuminate the reflection of the medieval architecture in the waterways. What a beautifully alive city at night!
We walked around at dusk for about an hour, and could have gone for another if it wasn’t time for our dinner reservations. Make sure to schedule in some “wandering the streets of Bruges” time during the day and night to discover some of the most charming streets.
Top Things to Do on a Weekend in Bruges – Day 2
For your second day in Bruge, I suggest you start at Burg Square, and then head out to some of the more remote activities around the city. Day 2 even takes you off your feet onto a canal boat tour!
Admire the Town Hall building in Burg Square
Today we start at the Burg Square, another famous square in Bruges! Here you will find the town hall building which was built in Gothic architecture in 1376 making it the oldest town hall in the entire region.
The facade is absolutely stunning adorned with statues of biblical figures and rules of Flanders. However, these statues are remakes of the originals which were destroyed in 1792 during the French occupation at the end of the 18th century.
Check out the Basilica of the Holy Blood
Located right next to the Town Hall in the Burg Square, this basilica is best known for a phial said to contain a cloth with blood of Jesus Christ.
Recent investigations have showed that the phial, made of rock crystal and dating back to the 11th or 12th century, was a Byzantine perfume bottle made in the area of Constantinople. It was never opened since its arrival in Bruges.
The basilica, as many in Europe, is free to enter and will only take 15 to 20 minutes maximum to see the whole thing.
Shop for lace
There is a extensive history of lace production in Bruges, Belgium. Reminiscent to its roots, you can now find lace shops at every corner, but some more touristy than others.
In order to not get too extravagant, we opted to purchase some lace Christmas ornaments, but you can buy lace of any quality and for any occasion in Bruges.
If you are intrigued by shopping for lace and want to know more about the history in Bruges, visit the Kantcentrum (Lace Museum) which is housed in the renovated old lace school of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.
Take a Boat Tour in Bruges
Bruges is often referred to as the Venice of the North due to its canals that interweave the city just like Venice. Taking a boat out on the canals is a fun way to see the city from a different perspective.
Most tours take about 30 minutes and cost 12 EUR per person for an individual ticket. There are four companies in Bruges offering tours from different starting points along the canal:
- Coudenys, Rozenhoedkaai
- Boottochten Brugge, Bootexcursies Gruuthuse, Nieuwstraat 11
- Stael nV, Katelijnestraat 4
- De Meulemeester, Wollestraat 32
Mingle with the Swans at Minnewater Park
Minnewater has many names such as “Lake of Love” or “Swan Lake” and once you visit you will see why! Located at the southern edge of Bruges, Minnewater Park is a relaxing park with benches, a large lake, and a Love Bridge.
It is a really romantic place in Bruges to spend the afternoon! It is said that if you walk over the Love Bridge and kiss your partner, you will have eternal love!
There are also hundreds of swans that call this park and lake home. The swan is one of the symbols of Bruges appearing in the coat of arms of one of the cities former town administrators.
Visit the Windmill Park
One afternoon, we went on a little walk towards the outskirts of the historic part of the city which is well defined by 4 city gates. Here you will find a waterway that encompasses the entire city of Bruges, many green spaces, and preserved windmills to explore.
At one time there were 25 windmills in this area, but today only a few remain open to the public to visit.
We visited the Sint-Janshuis Mill because it was the closest walk from our hotel. The Sint-Janshius Mill was built in 1770 by Belgian bakers to help them grind flour for their bread. Another windmill open to the public to visit is the Coelweymolen windmill which was built in 1765.
Enjoy a Belgian Waffle
If you saw our itinerary, then you would see that stopping for a Belgian waffle showed up more times that I can count! You are in Belgium after all, treat yourself to the best waffle of your life, over and over again. Below is just a starter list for the best waffles in Bruges, please try them out and let me know which is your favorite:
Chez Albert, Breidelstraat 16, 8000 Brugge
Arlecchino By John, De Burg, 8000 Brugge
Ice Bar Oyya, Noordzandstraat 1, 8000 Brugge
Lizzie’s Wafels, Sint-Jakobsstraat 16 Brugge
Best Places to Eat in Bruges
Now that we have covered the best places to grab a waffle in Bruges, let’s talk some other good places to eat and drink during your 2 days in Bruges.
Sanseveria Bagelsalon, Predikherenstraat 11, 8000 Bruges
While the bread in Germany is something I could write an entire post about, we don’t get many chances to have bagels. When we stumbled on this breakfast place that read “bagelsalon” on our early walk one morning, we knew we had to try it out.
The morning before we left Bruges, we skipped the hotel breakfast buffet in exchange for an over-the-top breakfast bagel sandwich and some mimosas. There may have been two inches of brie cheese on my bagel (picture above to prove no exaggeration). This was such a quaint little breakfast/lunch place off the beaten path that we would definitely put on any itinerary for Bruges.
That’s Toast!, Dweersstraat 4, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
All day breakfast is my jam, and that’s exactly what this place does best. You can find just about any topping to adorn your toast, whether you want sweet or savory.
They also have a great brunch bar menu to try!
Poules Moules, Simon Stevinplein 9, 8000 Bruges
We had originally made a reservation at Poules Moules after extensive research for the best mussels in town. We like to try mussels from different restaurants when we are in Belgium, however, this place did not top our mussels in Brussels experience a few months prior.
However, I do get overly excited however, thinking about the spaghetti we had from Poules Moules. The menu is extremely extensive here from fish, meat, pastas, and vegan dishes as well.
Restaurant Diligence, Hoogstraat 5, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Rated as one of the best atmospheres in Bruges, Restaurant Diligence has a very intriguing menu to compliment of seafood, meats, and even a thai-style mussel dish! Now that’s a different take on a traditional Belgian dish that I would love to try!
Appetizers & Beer
‘t Brugs Beertje, Kemelstraat 5, 8000 Bruges
This is not a full restaurant, but a sample beerhouse in the center of Bruges. It is a great place to sample local Belgian beers and grab a few snacks in the evening before or after dinner!
De Garre, De Garre 1, 8000 Brugge
One of my favorite hidden gems in Bruges, located surprisingly right in the center of Bruges. This cozy spot is small but with a large menu of 140 different beers and a range of snacks. However, their special is the Tripel van de Garre, give it a try. They are open everyday from noon until midnight.
Best Places to Stay for a Weekend in Bruges
Best Hotels in Bruges Belgium
Hotel De Orangerie – Luxury Hotel
If you have the budget for a luxury hotel, I would definitely suggest the Hotel De Orangerie. The hotel is set in a 15th-century former convent along the picturesque Dijver Canal. The location of this hotel is perfect base for exploring Bruges for the weekend at just 800 feet from the Market Square and the Belfry of Bruges.
Hotel Van Cleef – Luxury Hotel
Only a 5 minute walk from the Market Square in Bruges, Hotel Van Cleef is the epitome of luxury. The rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated. The rooms are air-conditioned and have spacious spa bathrooms for your comfort.
Hotel De Castillion – Mid-Range Hotel
The Hotel de Castillon is a small and elegant hotel in Bruges with a central location right near the Church of Our Lady of Bruges. The interior is impeccably decorated with each room having a private bathroom and air-conditioning.
Boutiquehotel ‘t Fraeyhuis – Mid-Range Hotel
Another beautifully decorated hotel in Bruges, Boutiquehotel ‘t Fraeyhuis is an adult-only accommodation. On site there is a restaurant, a bar, and a peaceful garden for you to use. There is private parking can be arranged at an extra charge.
Hotel Bourgoensch Hof – Budget Hotel
A great mid-range hotel, the Hotel Bourgoensch Hof is centrally located only 650 feet from the Main Market in Bruges. The hotel has terraces overlooking the canals where you can enjoy your breakfast in the morning.
Hotel Canalview Ter Reien – Budget Hotel
This is where we stayed in Bruges and had a wonderful experience! The hotel was a 6-minute walk from the market square in a quiet part of the city where three of the canals met. We got a canal facing room which was beautiful to wake up to in the morning.
I would highly suggest this hotel for the great price point, location in the city and along the canal, authentic building and atmosphere! Breakfast was even included in the price of the room and they allowed pets to stay.
Best Airbnbs in Bruges Belgium
A very quiet location, tucked away in the historic Fish Market, this is the perfect location if you want to relax. Although quiet, you are only steps away from all the action of the Main Market Square in Bruges and the Belfry. This Airbnb in Bruges combines the best of both worlds!
If you want the full Bruges experience, why not stay in this cozy cottage along the canal? This Airbnb in Bruges is housed in a 16th century Erker house steps away from all the main attractions in Bruges. There is a king bed, air-conditioning, WIFI, and even allows pets!
Only a 10 minute walk from the Main Market Square, this Airbnb in Bruges is the perfect location at the best price. The decor is warm and cozy, and has raving reviews on Airbnb.
I hope you enjoy your weekend in Bruges! This is such a fun and relaxing city to explore for the weekend. If you are planning a trip to Bruges and have any questions after reading this post, drop them in the comments below!
Looking for more Belgium inspiration? You may also enjoy these Belgium/NL inspired posts:
- The Perfect 2-Day Brussels Itinerary
- 11 Best Things to Do in Ghent
- Visiting the Flower Carpet in Brussels (Incl. a Secret Viewing Spot)
- The Perfect 2-Day Amsterdam Itinerary
- Where to Find the Best Fields of Tulips in the Netherlands
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What Camera Gear Do I Use?
- Camera Body: Canon EOS 6D Mark ii
- Wide Angle Lens: Canon 16-35mm f/2.8
- Zoom Lens: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
- Super Zoom Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8
- Portrait Lens: Tamron 35mm f/1.4
- Drone: DJI Mavic Mini 3 Pro with RC Controller
- Camera Bag: Vegan Leather Backpack
- Tripod: Manfrotto Element Traveller
- SD Card: SanDisk Extreme Pro 256 GB
- External Travel SSD: SanDisk Extreme Pro 4 TB