Bruges, an hour away from the capital city of Brussels by train, is one of the major cities in Belgium and has recently gained popularity as a tourist destination because it offers rich Belgian history and culture. Bruges has managed to preserve its buildings and other structures for centuries, which contributes to the city’s quaint, old-town charm.
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What’s the best time to visit Bruges?
Since Bruges is a walkable city with many sights, the best time to visit would be spring, fall or summer, when the weather is warm. The tourist crowds are heaviest in spring and summer and significantly smaller in fall and winter.
Generally, Bruges is at its busiest with crowds during the following public holidays: May Day (May 1), Ascension Day & annual Procession of the Holy Blood (39 days after Easter), and Whit Monday, also known as Pentecost Monday (Monday after Pentecost). Since specific dates can vary from year to year, it is best to check ahead to ensure your trip does not fall during one of these holidays.
a Few facts about Bruges
Bruges (or Brugge in Dutch) has the unique feature of having a canal that runs through the whole city and because of this it is sometimes called Little Venice of the North. Bruges is also known for its Gothic architecture – the roofs of most buildings are spiked and date back to being built in medieval times.
One day in Bruges itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Bruges.
Watch the sunrise from the Kruisvest windmills
The Kruisvest windmills are four windmills located on Kruisvest street that originated in medieval times. All four windmills sit atop their own hills, so it’s a great vantage point from which to observe the whole city. Next to the windmills is Hof de Jonghe – a park where you can feed and photograph sheep. However, this depends on the time of the year you choose for your visit. In spring and summer, you will be able to spot the sheep, but during winter the park will most likely be empty.
Eat a Belgian Waffle in the Markt
The Markt is the historic market square in the center of the city with restaurants, shops, hotels, hostels and parks. The Markt is also called the Historic Centre of Brugge and it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Waffles are sold by street vendors and shops for 1 to 3 euros, depending on the amount of toppings. When you are done getting your waffle, you can wander around the Markt. There are many museums and shops in the Markt that you could spend hours exploring the marketplace. One important stop to make here is Choco-Story – a chocolatier and chocolate museum that displays the history of Belgian chocolate. And a bonus for visiting Choco-Story is they give out free samples! Free chocolate, anyone?
Visit the Belfry of Bruges
The Belfry of Bruges is one of the most important symbols of the city and certainly one of the most noticeable one. You will spot it a mile away, and since you’re at the Markt at this point, it’d be a shame not to visit it because it’s very close by.
This beautiful tower from the medieval period is one of the main reasons for UNESCO’s protection of this city, and you can climb its 366 step up to the top for a magnificent view of Bruges.
Discover the secret of the Basilica of the Holy Blood
Very close to this splendid tower is Basilica of the Holy Blood, another place very much worth visiting. It was built in mid-12th century with several later restorations and the building got its name because it houses what is supposedly a cloth soaked in blood of Jesus Christ! You can see why this place is therefore important to Christians, but even if you’re not a religious person the architecture here is quite fascinating.
Chill out with your partner in Minnewater Park
After all that walking and sightseeing, you may want to relax rest and catch your bit – Minnewater Park about 500m to the south of the aforementioned basilica is a great place of that, especially if you’re with your significant other here. Why? Well, in the center of the park is the Lake of Love, and if the two of you walk the bridge together and kiss, the legend says your love will last forever. Relaxing, intimate and romantic, a perfect stop to recharge your batteries.
Explore the City on a Boat Canal Tour
You can’t go to Bruges without taking a boat tour on the canal that runs through the city. You will be able to view the city from a different perspective compared to just walking around the town. Boat tours run from March until November every year, since that is when the weather is optimal, and a 30-minute ride costs 8 euros per person. For more information, see the official Bruges tourism website – Visit Bruges.
Go on a Brewery Tour & Experience Nightlife at Bauhaus Bar
In medieval times, Bruges had more than 50 breweries. Currently, the city has 3 working breweries (named Bourgogne des Flandres, Fort Lapin, and De Halve Maan) where visitors can taste fresh Belgian beer and tour the brewery facilities. All breweries offer guided tours and tastings, so visitors are more than welcome to have a beer crawl and go to each one.
Speaking of Belgian beer, the Bauhaus Bar in Bruges has over 60 specially selected Belgian bottled beers, 4 beers on tap and a lively crowd every night which is perfect for travelers to meet locals and experience a fun atmosphere.
Where to stay in Bruges?
ibis Brugge Centrum
Katelijnestraat 65A, Povijesni centar Bruggea
Hotel ibis Brugge Centrum is a good choice because it’s around $70 per night and features a 24-hour bar. The hotel is also an interesting find because its building was built in the Middle Ages. The ibis chain also has another hotel next to the train station.
Extra Tips for Visiting Bruges
-If you’ve liked this place so much and you want to stay longer, but you are worried about travel insurance, you shouldn’t. World Nomads allow you to easily extend it. Yes, even if you’re on the road, you can easily manage your insurance with them from pretty much any device and any place. You’ll be able to get back to you enjoying yourself in just a few clicks. So don’t let anything stop you from relaxing on your hard-earned vacation and stay as much as you want. Explore the beauty of this destination even more without a care in the world.
– If you can, try to get accommodations in the Markt. Since it is centrally located, you will be close to many of the city’s sights.
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What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
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Lola is a journalist who lives in NYC and enjoys traveling in her free time. She shares her travel experiences on her Instagram and travel blog, La Vida Lola.