If you’re thinking about venturing from Brussels to Bruges on a day trip, you’ll want to pack in all the key sights, tastes and tours. Here’s our handy guide to help you make the most of your visit.
08:56 – Depart Brussels
There are plenty of SNCB trains running regularly from Brussels to Bruges every day. However, since you’re planning a leisurely day trip, and the journey takes just 58 minutes, go for the 08:56 train from Bruxelles-Midi (Brussels South), getting you into Brugge (Bruges) Station at 09:54.
09:54 – Time for brunch
Did someone say brunch o’clock?! It’s just as well because if there’s one thing Bruges does well, it’s food. But first, it’s a 20-minute bus journey into the city. Hop on the number 13 bus from Brugge Markt and get off at Sint-Pieters station.
A few minutes away and like something straight out of a fairy-tale, Chocolatier Dumon is a quaint cottage and home to the most famous chocolatier in the city. This unmissable shop is the perfect place to load up for the day, you’ll need your energy after all.
11:00 – The Spirit of Bruges
Take a stroll through the windy streets until you reach Markt Plaza, this is a fabulous spot for people watching with its familiar European feel. Keep on walking a little further down, and you’ll reach the Basilica of the Holy Blood – the first of many sights that celebrates the neo-gothic history of the city. Visitors come from afar to visit one of its most sacred relics – a cloth said to contain the blood of Jesus Christ.
12:00 – The Dali experience
Fans of the artist should not miss the amazing and vast collection of his work at the Museum XPO Salvador Dali. A few minutes’ walk from the Basilica, it costs around €10* to enter, which is worth it to pour over original works and sculptures from the renowned artist.
But that’s not all, a block or two away, a very different experience awaits – although it may not be for the faint hearted – The Torture Museum. As you might expect, this experience takes you on a stomach-churning tour of our dark past. Hidden beneath the cobbled roads, the museum explores the history of torture, featuring a number of implements and tools that have been used in the past. It might not be quite what you’d imagine as part of your day trip to Bruges, but it’s certainly worth a visit, if only for the novelty.
*Prices accurate June 2019
14:00 – Waffles, obviously!
All this stepping back in time has made us hungry, so It’s time for a late lunch. Where better than a local hotspot? De Garre brewery is hidden down the narrow streets of the city – ask a local for directions as it’s tricky to find if you haven’t been before. Once there though it's entirely worth it for dreamy waffles smothered in chocolate. Plus, there’s an extensive beer menu with more than 300 tipples to choose from.
14:45 – Belgium Beer Museum
Now fully indoctrinated into the Belgium beer scene, their Bruges Beer Experience should be top of your list. Think of it as a museum and an educational experience, as you take in the history of the hop, in the most hip of ways!
From here, enjoy a light stroll through the cobbled streets until you reach Rozenhoedkaai. This is a pretty spot to enjoy the gentle waterways, with the canal framing views of the Belfry Tower in the distance.
It’s also the perfect spot to embark on a canal ride – one of the best ways to take in views of the city. There are several boat tours and operators here that offer short trips along its famous waterways.
16:45 – When in Bruges
An essential on any day trip to Bruges is the famous Belfry Tower. Film aficionados might be familiar with it from the movie In Bruges. It’s time to do as Colin Farrell did and visit this iconic landmark, which can be seen from various points in the city. Standing 83 metres tall with 47 bells that cause quite a stir, it has a long history spanning back to 1240 – making it a protected UNESCO heritage site. If you’re feeling fit, try your hand at scaling the building (via the steps of course!) There are 336 steps to climb to the top, worth it for the views if you fancy the workout.
18:15 – A Belgium bite to eat
There are more than 10 Michelin-star restaurants in the city, making it a foodie’s haven. If you’re keen to try out one of the high-end eateries check out Hertog Jan (with three Michelin-stars) or De Jonkman, for an unrivalled experience.
But you don’t always need to go five-star to enjoy Belgium food as there are plenty of great restaurants dotted all over the city. For an authentic experience, check out Den Amand, which is within walking distance from the Belfry Tower. Specialising in local cuisine, be sure to sample the local’s favourite – Brapas…or maybe just waffles again then!
19:30 – A final tipple
It would be remiss to take a day trip to Bruges and not visit a traditional Belgium bar for a tipple of their local homebrew. As luck would have it, BAR’N next door is the perfect cosy spot for just that, or for something more refined, the Gingerbread Tea Room is always a winner. Just a block away, the lively Bar des Amis is the place to go and sample the local menu.
Not wanting to miss the train back to Brussels, it’s time to head back to the train station, via taxi or bus, which takes around 20-30 minutes.
20:58 – Return to Brussels
As your day trip to Bruges from Brussels comes to an end, and you wonder how many more local beers you can sample, it’s time to head back. The train from Bruges to Bruxelles-Midi arrives back at 21:53, perfect for one last drink on your return!