One Day in Bruges from Brussels Not to Miss
Yes, you can do a day trip from Brussels to Bruges easily and without a car. See how I spent a lovely one day in Bruges from Brussels by train that completed my perfect Brussels travel itinerary as an over 50 solo traveler.
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Bruges Solo Travel Planning Resources
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Bruges Solo Travel Packing Essentials
Why Go to Bruges, Belgium
Is Bruges Worth Visiting?
Located in the Northern region of Flanders, Bruges is best known for its lace, Gothic architecture surrounded by medieval 12th century walls, and its many canals making Bruges affectionately called the “Venice of the North”.
Bruges was considered the commercial capital of Europe in medieval period and has been the center of the Flemish Primitive painting since the 15th Northern Renaissance period. The historic center of Bruges is, in fact, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Of course, Bruges has great waffles, chocolate and beer with breweries dating back to 1856. You can also see Bruges beauty and highlights in the 2008 film, In Bruges (awesome movie, by the way).
Overall, Bruges is simply charming and well considered one of the best cities you should visit in Belgium on over 50 solo travel. I loved it.
Best Time to Visit Bruges
One of the best things about being solo over 50: not worrying about building a travel schedule around school and summer break, unless you are in school, of course. Been there, done that.
I was able to see Bruges in early May when it was not crowded and touring Belgium is less expensive. Bruges was cooler than summer (dress in layers), but still a very pleasurable experience. I recommend this time, or late September, to visit.
Get in the know of what’s going on Bruges before you go. I hear there are some great beer, chocolate, and music festivals in Bruges. These could make you want to change your travel dates or wish to extend your one day in Bruges from Brussels to two.
How Long Do You Need in Bruges?
Get there early and one day can be enough for Bruges’ many top sites and activities. More than one day is better, of course. I would jump at the chance to go back. However, if you only have one day, do not skip Bruges. You won’t regret it.
Can you do Bruges and Ghent in one day?
I have mentioned in my 1 Day in Ghent from Brussels that you technically can do a day trip to Ghent and Bruges from Brussels, but in my opinion that is not ideal. Give yourself at least a day in Bruges and one day in Ghent.
Bruges is Walkable
Bruges is fairly compact and almost entirely pedestrianized (you’ll see more bikes than cars), making Bruges an even more ideal location to fit in multiple, stimulating things to do in Bruges as a solo traveler.
How to Get to Bruges from Brussels
Another thing that makes Bruges great for solo travel is it’s so easily accessible by train. You know me. I’m all about the trains in Europe. I love that they are inexpensive, extensive and eco-friendly. They also reduce costs and take the hassle out of solo travel by not having to rent a car.
How to Get to Bruges from Brussels by Train
The Brussels to Bruges train departs Bruxelles-Central station. Trains run from Brussels to Bruges approximately every 30 minutes and take just over an hour to arrive at the Brugge Centrale station. Check here for Brussels to Bruges train schedules and ticket prices.
The center of Bruges is just minutes away from the train station by foot.
Here’s a bonus if you’re taking day trips from Brussels on the weekend: buy a Weekend Ticket. They are non-exchangeable and non-refundable, but as long as you outbound and return anytime between 7pm Friday through Sunday, you save 50% on train fare on any destination in Belgium.
If it’s more convenient, however, you could catch a bus from Brussels to Bruges – also inexpensive and eco-friendly.
A Brussels to Bruges day tour is available if you don’t want to go to Bruges alone. Hopefully, it will hit a lot of the top sights in Bruges and activities I mention below.
What to Eat in Bruges and Where
Beer. Chocolate. Need I say more?
Ok, fine, so if you absolutely must have more in terms of sustenance, there many restaurants in Bruges, even award winning restaurants, to choose from for one day in Bruges.
Although wine is my vice, my goal was to partake in the Bruges breweries and stuff my face with Belgian chocolates. I achieved that goal by the way. I don’t do things half-ass.
If beer is your vice, try including the Bruges Beer Experience in your day to learn about Belgian beer with tastings.
Best Things to Do in Bruges
Like I said, one day in Bruges will not leave you bored. Here are what I consider the top things to do in Bruges in a day.
Bruges canal cruise and walking tour – With all of the canals in Bruges, a Bruges boat tour is a must on the list things to do in Bruges. Consider this Bruges’ version of the “walking tour” and a great way to meet people. Your guide will tell you all about Bruges’ history and culture as you cruise through the water-lined medieval buildings. Tours usually run 10am – 5pm.
After the 30-minute cruise, you may have made a friend for the day to wander Bruges attractions, or dine, with. So, yes, make this the first thing you do in Bruges.
Alternatively, you could enjoy a 2-hour canal boat cruise with a guided walking tour.
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (The Church of Our Lady) – This church that took two centuries (13th to 15th) to complete resides in the heart of the old city. Its 122-meter brick steeple can be seen over the Bruges skyline from many locations.
The artistry of the interior and tombstones of Mary of Burgundy (who ruled in the 15th century) and her father, Charles the Bold, are exquisite. The jewel of this location, however, and high on my bucket list of art to see, is undoubtedly Michelangelo’s marble Madonna and Child sculpture (a.k.a. “Madonna of Bruges”).
This was the only piece of Michelangelo’s to leave Italy during his lifetime. It survived several wars, including WWII as seen in the film, The Monuments Men. It’s truly amazing it still exists today. Go see it.
Burg Square – Bruges’ center of power for centuries, and former fortress of Bruges, it is also one of the oldest sections of the city where inhabitants have existed since the 2nd century. It is flanked by impressive buildings, including the 14th century Gothic Stadhuis (Town Hall) and the Basilica of the Holy Blood (both Romanesque and Gothic).
Bruges City Hall was the seat of Bruges’ government for more than 600 years and one of the oldest city halls in the Netherlands region. The façade was originally painted by Jan van Eyck but has since been destroyed.
Make your way through Blinde Ezelstraat (Blind Donkey Alley), a narrow pedestrian passageway between Town Hall and the Basilica of the Holy Blood, to Vismarkt, the old fish market.
Bruges Belfort (Bruges Belfry) – Prominent in the square is Bruges’ 83-meter high medieval bell tower that used to serve as an observation point and housed treasury and municipal archives. Go up the narrow staircase of 366 steps (free to enter) for an unparalleled view of Bruges.
Markt Square – The Bruges Belfry towers over this large market square of open-air restaurants, shops and post office in colorful, medieval-style buildings is quite picturesque and a popular spot to gather in Bruges. In the center is the monument to Pieter De Coninck and Jan Breydel, the leaders of the Brugse Metten.
Heilig-Bloedbasiliek (Basilica of the Holy Blood) – Back to Burg Square, enter this basilica which gets its name from a relic that supposedly contains drops of Christ’s blood brought back after the 12th Century Crusades. The relic is hidden behind a silver tabernacle and brought out for pious veneration at 2pm daily.
Museum St-Janshospitaal (St. John’s Hospital) – I must say, this building was way cool. Formerly a hospital, it’s one of the oldest in Europe. Today it houses multiple artworks in addition to six, 15th century masterpieces by Flemish painter, Hans Memling, including the triptych altarpiece of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist.
Entry also allows visits to hospital’s restored 17th-century apotheek (pharmacy), accessed by a rear door.
Minnewaterpark– coming from the train station, this will be one of the first things to see in Bruges. This lovely park is very tranquil and scenic, with swans swimming on the neighboring Minnewater (Lake of Love), that used to be a water reservoir. Sit on a bench or grab some great photos.
Groeningemuseum – Bruges’ most celebrated art gallery is where you’ll see works by celebrated Flemish Primitive masters, Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling, among others as well as those from other artistic periods.
Picasso Museum – If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m big into Picasso. Any chance I get to see his art, like in Antibes, France, I’ll take it. This little Picasso Museum in Bruges certainly did not disappoint. Go see this permanent exhibition of 300 works by Picasso at the Xpo Center on the Site Oud Sint-Jan (Old Saint John site).
De Halve Maan Brewery – De Halve Maan is the oldest brewery in Bruges dating back to 1856. You’ll learn a little bit about it on your canal boat tour. Drop in for a hearty Belgian lunch with a Brugse Zot Blond (delicious) or take their tour with tastings offered daily.
Tours start on the hour from 11am to 4pm and last 45 minutes. Since you’re only doing one day in Bruges, you may wish to book your brewery tour in advance.
Choco-Story Museum – in lieu of a beer tour, learn more about the history of chocolate with some chocolate tastings. Take a tour of the Choco-Story Museum and watch a chocolate making demonstration that provides some chocolate treats.
Frietmuseum – if you don’t like chocolate, learn all about Belgian fries and the various sauces Belgians love with their favorite potato staple in this fun museum.
How to Spend One Day In Bruges Itinerary
So, what to do in Bruges for one day? Here is my self-guided itinerary for one day in Bruges itinerary from Brussels that you can use for your over 50 solo travel. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
- 8:50am – Brussels train to Bruges
- 9:53am – Arrive Bruges
- 10am – Stroll through Minnewaterpark (stop in a chocolates shop)
- 10:45am – Church of Our Lady
- 11:15am – Museum St-Janshospitaal (stop in a chocolates shop)
- 12:30pm – Canal Tour
- 1:15pm – Lunch at De Halve Maan Brewery
- 3pm – Picasso Museum or the Groeningemuseum (stop in a chocolates shop)
- 4:30pm – Burg Square
- 5:30pm – Bruges Markt, Bruges Belfry
- 7:30pm – Bruges train to Brussels
Want to spend more than 1 day in Bruges? Stay overnight in a Travel Sustainable property in the historic Bruges city centre for easiest access to the top Bruges attractions you may have missed in Bruges in one day.
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if this post was helpful to you on how to spend one day in Bruges from Brussels by train. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!