Located in the Flanders region of Belgium, most people pay a visit to Bruges as a day trip from nearby Ghent or Brussels. While you can get a decent sense of the city in one day, planning a 2 to 3 days in Bruges itinerary is best to get the full experience.
With this amount of time, you’re going to find yourself immersed in so much local culture, cuisine, and history that it might be difficult to know exactly how to spend your days.
Table of Contents
How Many Days in Bruges?
Most visitors consider 2 days in Bruges to be the sweet spot for getting to know the city without running out of things to do. Within two days, you can catch the central landmarks, wander the quaint cobblestone streets, and devour a stack of Belgian waffles. You’ll see a good amount of the city with a pretty packed itinerary.
However, 3 days allows you to explore the city at your leisure, try the different local cuisines, or take a day trip. It’s worth it to take on Bruges (spelled as Brugge in Flemish) at your own pace.
Bear in mind that this beautiful little city is popular with tourists, so it does tend to get busy during Belgium’s peak travel months. The crowds are usually, however, only spending one day in Bruges and the city can clear out in the evenings as day trippers go home.
If you can navigate the crowds for a couple of days, you’ll be rewarded with darling architecture, delicious chocolate, and charming alleys.
Depending on how many days to spend in Bruges you have, you might prioritize visiting historic sites or cultural landmarks. A foodie traveler might consider exploring the many options for waffles and chocolate that Bruges has to offer. Nevertheless, a visit to Bruges is easy to navigate.
Getting To & Around Bruges
The simplest way to get around Bruges is by foot. This is especially true if you’re sticking to the historic city center whose charm makes Bruges famous. In fact, you can cross the entire city in about 30 minutes by foot.
There is a bus system, but it’s only useful for getting from the train station into the city. Even then, the walk from the train station is only about 20 minutes. There is no airport in Bruges–the closest airport is in Brussels.
If you’re arriving into Brussels and heading directly to Bruges, expect the train ride from the Brussels airport to take around 90 minutes. You can view train schedules here. The Bruges train station is located only about a 10-15 minute walk from the old town.
2 to 3-Day Bruges Itinerary
Everything during your trip to Bruges can be mixed and matched whether you’re seeing Bruges in 2 days or 3. There are lots of things to do in Bruges, here are our suggestions.
Day 1 – City Center Highlights
Take a walking tour
One of the best ways to experience Bruges is by foot. You can set out on your own to discover all the unique corners of the city, or if you’d like to learn a little bit more about Bruges, you can take a guided walking tour. You have no shortage of options here.
There are both free and paid guided tours throughout the city. Most tours begin in the city center. If you’re opting for a private and paid guided tour, make sure to book it in advance. Some options include this guided tour or this private tour.
There are three main types of walking tours in Bruges: historic center tours such as this walking tour and boat cruise, food & drink tours such as this beer tour or this food tour with a local, and night tours with an emphasis on local legends and ghost stories such as this dark side of Bruges tour.
Church of Jerusalem
The Church of Jerusalem, or Jerusalem Chapel, is a fascinating slice of history. From the outside, the church might not catch your eye, but that all changes once you step inside.
The chapel is the private one of the Adornes family and was built in 1429 inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. As you admire the interior, keep a close eye out for the tomb in the center of the church, the stained glass windows, and the Holy Cross relic.
Today, the chapel is still used by its original family for private events, classical concerts, and lectures. However, visitors can experience the site by paying a small fee and entering through the Adornes Estate.
Market Square & Burg Square
Market Square and Burg Square are the two main squares of shops and restaurants in Bruges. You’ll likely want to stay in an accommodation somewhere around these areas during your weekend in Bruges. Market, or Markt, Square is the more central of the two.
The modest skyline here is dominated by the Belfry of Bruges, an 83-meter-tall tower. You can climb to the top of the tower for a great view out over Bruges. During the winter months, Market Square is adorned with holiday lights and an iconic Christmas market. You can sit on the outdoor patios of restaurants along the square to admire its charm and people-watch.
Burg Square is quieter than Market Square, but no less eye-catching. Look out for the horse-drawn carriages and small green spaces where you can relax on a sunny day.
The city’s administration still exists in the 14th-century Gothic Town Hall that you’ll notice immediately upon entering the square. The buildings here were built over a few centuries, and the diverse architectural styles reflect that. While here, pay a visit to the Basilica of the Holy Blood, the Liberty of Bruges, and the Deanery.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a strange little chapel, which is why it should absolutely be on your Bruges itinerary.
This 12th-century Romanesque chapel is home to a vial containing a cloth believed to be stained with the blood of Christ.
The chapel itself is a beautiful site to explore, but the lore of the stained cloth draws curious visitors from across the world. From the outside, the chapel is small, built snuggly between two neighboring buildings. If you’re walking too quickly, you might go right past it.
There are usually many visitors at this historic landmark, so try to visit early in the morning or late in the evening.
Day 2 – Canal Tour, Museums & More
Take a canal boat tour
If you’re trying to see as much of Bruges as possible, you should add a canal boat tour to your itinerary. When you first step foot in the city, you’ll quickly notice how canals and waterways weave their way through.
Wandering the city by foot is great, but seeing it from the water provides a new perspective. There are a handful of companies that offer boat rides such as this 2-hour tour to visitors throughout the day, rain or shine. The boat takes riders through the main sections of the canal, between Jan van Eyck Square and the Beguinage.
Tour guides provide unique context and history for the parts of Bruges the boats pass to make it an educational as well as exciting way to spend your time.
Visit the Choco-Story Museum or the Frietmuseum
Chocolate lovers most likely already know Belgium is known for its chocolate. You can take that a step further by visiting the Choco-Story Museum.
Here, you’ll walk through the history of chocolate in Belgium through stories, photos, and taste tests. Walk through the museum to see artefacts from how chocolate has been made over the years and a demonstration of how this delicious chocolate is made. You can book a tour here.
Continue your food experience of Bruges with a visit to the Frietmuseum, or the only known museum dedicated to the history of potatoes.
Potato fries are popular and famous in Belgium. Did you know that fries originate in Belgium? Pay a visit to this museum to learn about the history of fries, how they have been used in other cultures, and how they’re made. You can buy tickets here.
Alternatively, beer lovers should consider heading to the Halve Maan brewery in order to learn more about the brewing process of Belgium’s famed beer and even sample a bit!
Finally, make sure to round out your visit by tasting some of the best fries in the world.
Eat a Belgian waffle
Chances are you’ve eaten a Belgian waffle before. These thick, warm, and delicious waffles can be found in many places around the world.
As the name would suggest, they originate in Belgium, so naturally, you’ll find the best Belgian waffles here. There are many places throughout Bruges to get a tasty waffle. Some are very popular with tourists, so you can expect to wait in line.
Chez Albert is the most famous waffle shop in Bruges and you can get your waffles sweet or savory. Once you’ve secured your waffle, find somewhere comfortable to sit in Market or Burg Square to enjoy your delicious treat.
If you want to learn more about how to make waffles, you can book a 1.5-hour workshop here.
Church of Our Lady & Michelangelo’s Madonna with Child
The Church of Our Lady is a Gothic church with a tower that rises high in the skyline. The tower itself is 115.5 meters tall and made of brick making it the second-tallest of its kind in the world.
Today, the church is known for the amount of priceless art pieces that live safely within its walls. Perhaps the most famous of these pieces is Michelangelo’s Madonna with Child. This marble statue is located front and center.
Make sure to budget some time to admire the many paintings and architecture at your leisure. There’s a lot to see inside the Church of Our Lady.
Day 3 – Ghent, Ostend or Ypres
If you want to venture out of the city when seeing Bruges in 3 days, consider a day trip to somewhere nearby.
Both Bruges and Ghent are considered the fairytale cities of Belgium. Ghent is larger while Bruges has the intimate and charming feel of a small town.
The good news, if you’re staying in Bruges, is that Ghent is only a 30-minute train ride away. Like Bruges, it’s very easy to walk around Ghent but consider calling a taxi or rideshare from the train station.
While in Ghent, make sure to visit Gravensteen, a 10th-century castle with a moat, Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, and Saint Nicholas’ Church. The main square is full of Belgian shopping and restaurants to fill your day trip with delicious food and plenty to explore.
It is also possible to book a half-day tour from Bruges to Ghent.
Shake things up a bit by heading to the coast.
Ostend, coupled with the Ostend Harbor and beachfront, is a great day trip if you want to get away from the tourist crowds. In Ostend, you’ll find historic landmarks from the Second World War, the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church, and a museum of fine arts.
Ostend Harbor is the main port for ferries heading to Britain, but it has also been a popular local seaside spa destination since the early 1900s. Walk along the beach or the boardwalk to enjoy the fresh ocean air before heading back to Bruges.
History buffs will appreciate a day trip to Ypres. The city captures Belgium’s part throughout 20th century wars, especially a series of battles fought between 1914 and 1918 as part of the First World War.
The most famous landmark is the Menin Gate, which historically served as the starting point for soldiers readying themselves to march into war. For more context on the battles fought here, visit the Hooge Crater Museum.
It’s located inside an old church building that was constructed over a battlefield and showcases plenty of interactive exhibits to help explain the history. Take your time exploring the cathedrals and architecture.
This is another great option if you’re looking for a day trip from Bruges that will most likely get you away from the usual tourist crowds. You can book an organised tour here.
Where to Stay in Bruges
Hotel Fevery – Offering double rooms and rooms with balconies, this 3-star hotel in the centre of Bruges is a good option for mid-range visitors. They offer breakfast, private parking and an on-site bar.
Boutique Hotel Die Swaene – A plush and opulent hotel, this is an excellent choice for those visiting Bruges on a luxury budget. There are several ornate rooms and countless amenities to ensure an excellent stay.
Snuffel Hostel – Boasting a 120-bed capacity, this hostel has both dorms and private rooms, a bar for socialising and a perfect location for exploring all Bruges has to offer.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Bruges hotels!
Whether you’re a traveler motivated by food, history, or culture, Bruges has something for you. It’s a charming little city full of impressive architecture, historical landmarks, and tasty local food. Use this sample itinerary for Bruges to help guide your trip and enjoy your time.
Are you planning to visit Bruges? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!