Perfect 3 Days in Bruges Itinerary: Weekend Guide

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One of the most charming cities in Belgium, hands down, goes to Bruges (Brugge). Surrounded by enchanting canals and medieval architecture, Bruges has commonly been dubbed Venice of the North. In this Bruges travel itinerary, I am covering how to spend 3 days in Bruges, including a day trip to Ghent!

This Bruges guide also covers where to stay, travel tips, and more!

3 Days in Bruges itinerary
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3 Days in Bruges Itinerary

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Is Bruges Worth Visiting

Bruges is absolutely worth visiting, in my opinion. You may be saying, “But isn’t Bruges touristy?” The answer is yes, Bruges is definitely touristy, but I really don’t think it takes away from the charm.

Furthermore, The Historic Centre of Brugge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Bruges is best known for its beautiful canals and cobblestone alleys.

Because Bruges has been designed with the tourists in mind, it can be a little more expensive than other Belgian cities.

The Historic Centre of Brugge

How To Use This Itinerary

I’ve done my best to make this 3 days in Bruges itinerary as simple as possible with attractions near each other, travel tips, where to stay, food options, and more.

This itinerary does not require a car, but it does require comfortable walking shoes since we will be exploring a ton of the city by foot. Plus, I wouldn’t recommend renting a car in Bruges anyway!

Public transportation is so easy as long as you have Google Maps on your phone. You can pay for the bus by tapping your credit card, and there is even a free shuttle to and from the Bruges train station.

Moreover, I will add my recommendations along with some additional options because I understand we all have different interests, and I want to make planning your Bruges itinerary as easy as possible.

Chocolatier in Bruges

Day 1: Top Attractions

To start off your 3 days in Bruges, you will explore some of the top attractions in the city, including a boat tour down the canals. Some of the top attractions you can plan to see on the first day in Bruges include:

  • Canal Boat Ride Tour
  • Fish Market
  • Rosary Quay
  • Groeninge Museum
  • Boniface Bridge
  • Church of Our Lady
  • Saint John’s Hospital (currently closed)
  • Grote Markt

Bruges Travel Tip: Many attractions do not open until 9:30 AM and close by 5 PM.

If you’re an early riser like me, exploring the city without people can easily be done between 7 AM – 9 AM. However, if you’re looking for something to eat, that’s slightly more tricky.

My favorite bakery in Bruges that opens early is Bakkerij Sint-Paulus (closed on Thursdays). That’s Toast opens up at 8:30 AM (closed on Tuesdays).

While I don’t recommend you eat at the Grote Markt, Craenenburg opens at 8 AM. The waffle and coffee were fine, the omelet, not so much. Dunkin’ Donuts is also right next to Craenenburg, so you can quickly get coffee and a donut.

Day 1 in Bruges Map itinerary
Google Maps Screenshot

Bruges Canal Tour

I believe one of the best ways to get oriented with Bruges is by starting off with a canal boat ride tour. Not only is this one of the best things to do in Bruges, but it is also relatively inexpensive, and you will learn a ton about the city before exploring it by foot.

We used Rederij – “Venetië van het Noorden” boat tours located right next to the fish market and the Chocolate Crown. It was about 12 euros per person and credit cards could be used.

Our guide was trilingual and extremely entertaining. The tour lasts about 30 minutes.

Bruges Travel Tip: If you plan on visiting at least 2 paid museum attractions, getting the Musea Brugge Card is a great way to save money.

Canal Boat Tour in Bruges

Vismarkt (Fish Market)

Next, stop by the fish market, which is the oldest fish market in Belgium. The market was built in 1820. You can still buy fish here in the mornings from Wednesday – Saturday.

In front of the market are benches overlooking the canal as well, if you just want to take it all in.

Bruges Fish Market

Rosary Quay

Moving right along, make your way down the cobblestone streets to Rosary Quay, known as the most photogenic corner in Bruges. If you get here early enough in the morning before the boats start going, you can even catch the buildings’ reflections in the water.

Bruges Fun Fact: Rosaries were sold here.

Bruges Rosary Quay is a must with 3 days in Bruges

Groeningemuseum

If you love art, the Groeninge Museum is a great addition. The museum holds 6 centuries of Belgian art. You can view work by Flemish artists such as Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, and Gerard David.

Additionally, the museum also has some modern art at the end of the walk-through. A lot of the art has a dark realism style. Some of my favorite artworks in the museum include the Plan of the Abbey of the Dunes in Koksijde, Wooded Landscape with cows and goats, and Historia – Tempus – Legenda.

The museum takes less than an hour to walk through. No bags, large jackets, food, or drink are allowed in the museum. They will give you a free token for a locker if needed.

Hours: Thursday – Tuesday: 9:30 AM – 5 PM; Closed on Wednesday

Tickets: Ages 26+: €15; discounted for those under 25 years old.

Address: Dijver 12 , 8000 Brugge

Paintings at the Groeningemuseum

Gruuthusemuseum (Optional)

Visiting this museum is really preference. It is located right next to the Groeningemuseum, and many people see both. This museum is a highly-rated art museum with tapestries, stained glass, furniture, and more. We didn’t personally go in, however.

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 9:30 AM – 5 PM

Tickets: 15 Euros

Boniface Bridge

After wandering through the museum, make your way over to the Boniface Bridge. This bridge is in a very picturesque part of Bruges and was built in the early 20th century.

It is also known to locals as the “kissy kissy” bridge. You come to the bridge to kiss your lover and you’re supposed to remain together. It also provides a lovely backside view of the Church of Our Lady.

Boniface Bridge in Bruges

Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk)

Moving right along to Church of our Lady. This stunning church is a focal point in the city skyline and was built in the early 1200s.

Visiting the inside of the church is free. There is also a museum, O.L.V.-kerk Museum, which you can visit at an additional cost (€8). Many come to see the marble sculpture of the Madonna and Child, which was sculpted by Michelangelo and is located in the museum area.

Fun Fact: The spire of this church is one of the tallest brick towers in the world.

Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9:30 AM – 5 PM

Outside of Church of Our Lady
Inside Church of Our Lady

Saint John’s Hospital

Next to the church, you will find Saint John’s Hospital, which is one of the oldest in Europe. Originally built in the 12th century, you can now tour this medieval building.

When visiting, you will learn about how the hospital functions and see old medical devices. You will also find beautiful artwork and other exhibits inside. It was closed for renovation during my visit, but it is open now.

Grote Markt

One of the most commonly asked questions is, “Where can you find the colorful buildings in Bruges?” They are located at the Grote Markt, which is the main square in Bruges.

If you have been walking around Bruges, likely, you have already walked through Grote Markt. Here, you will find the Belfry and the Historium.

Just up the street is Chez Albert Waffles – one of the most popular places to get a Belgium waffle in Bruges. There is usually a line, but it goes fast. Additionally, there are tons of chocolatiers down the alleys leading away from the square.

During the holidays, Bruges also holds beautiful Christmas Markets here to enjoy!

Bruges Tip: I do not recommend eating at any of the restaurants in the Market Square. If you were to check the reviews on Google, most are horrible.

Grote Markt is a must with 3 days in Bruges Itinerary - horses
Chez Albert Belgian Waffles in Bruges

Night Walking Tour (Optional)

If you haven’t had enough walking, you can consider a nighttime walking tour that explores the dark side of Bruges. This highly rated tour will explore some of the lesser-known corners, tell ghost stories, and end at a local bar.

Also, the city is so beautiful lit up at night!

Don’t forget to have some Belgian beer and fries at some point.

Bruges Fun Fact: Did you know french fries were actually invented in Belgium?

Read: My Belgium Guide for planning your trip (Practical Infomation, Trip Planning & more)


Day 2: City Centre with Additional Options

For a relatively small city, there is still a bunch to see. Get ready for another day of lots of walking around the city. Some of the top attractions you will visit today include:

  • Climb the Belfry
  • Historium Bruges (Optional)
  • Bruges City Hall (Optional)
  • Basilica of the Holy Blood (Brug Square)
  • Visit one of the Museum Experiences
  • Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan or Bruges Beer Experience
  • Minnewaterpark
  • Jan van Eyckplein
  • Windmill The New Parrot

Climb the Belfry (Belfort Brugge)

The Bruges Belfry (bell-free) is one of the most popular things to do, therefore, I recommend starting your day off here. The Belfry is UNESCO world heritage site and was built in the 13th century. The bell tower itself is an incredible example of medieval architecture.

Climb 366 steps to the top of this bell tower and be rewarded with incredible views of the city. Don’t worry, there are a few stops where you can take a break from climbing up the tiny staircase and learn about the bells and the history of the tower.

You can buy a timed ticket entry beforehand to guarantee a spot.

Hours: 9 AM – 8 PM

Tickets: Ages 26+: €15; discounted for those under 25 years old.

Views from the top of the Belfry is a must with 3 days in Bruges itinerary

Historium Bruges (Optional)

Also located in Bruges city centre is the Historium Bruges. While many enjoy this attraction, I find it a bit too touristy. I think it is great for kids, however. This virtual reality experience allows you to go back in time to see how Bruges would have looked in the Golden Ages.

There are several experiences you can choose from, Historium Story, Historium Virtual Reality, and Historium Tower. If you do visit, make sure to check out the Duvelorium Grand Beer Café, which offers lovely views of the square without having to climb all the way to the top of the Belfry.

The tickets offer a discount if you buy them directly on their website and start at 18 euros.

Hours: Monday – Friday, Sunday: 11 AM – 6 PM; Saturday: 11 AM – 10 PM (last ticket at 8 PM)

Basilica of the Holy Blood (Brug Square)

Located in charming Brug Square, you should consider adding a stop to the Basilica of the Holy Blood to your itinerary. This Roman Catholic Church is considered a very important church because it is believed to hold the blood of Christ that was obtained during the Crusades.

This basilica is also one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in West Flanders. It is free to enter the basilica, but if you want to visit the Treasury Museum, it’s € 5 Euros. I chose the free option, and that was good enough for me.

If you wish to see the Veneration of the Holy Blood relic, you must visit from 2 PM – 4 PM and on Fridays from 10:15 AM to 11 AM.

Hours: 10 AM – 5:15 PM Daily

Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges
Inside the Basilica of the Holy Blood

Bruges City Hall (Optional)

Since you’re in the area, you may want to consider taking a look inside the Bruges City Hall. Completed in 1421, it is one of the oldest city halls in the low countries.

You will enjoy a visit here if you’re interested in seeing Gothic architecture and learning more history about Bruges and art. The Gothic Hall, the Historical Room, and life-sized portraits of rulers, including Napoleon, are some of the focal points while inside. We tried to visit, but there was a private event at the time.

Fun Bruges Fact: The city mascot is the Bruges Bear. You can find small bear statues around the city

Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:30 AM – 5 PM

Admission: €8 Euros; Youth discounted.

Bruges City halll

Visit one of the Museum Experiences

You don’t need to necessarily do this as your next attraction since the museums are spread out, but you should consider visiting one of the Bruges experience museums.

Some of the top museums to visit in Bruges include:

  • Choco-Story, Chocolate Museum (takes 1.5 hrs to go through; 13 euros).
  • Frietmuseum – Frietmuseum (the first and only fries museum; 9.50 euros).
  • Torture Museum (small, but was actually really interesting and located in the city’s oldest prison. 9 euros). My mom and I found this one really fun.
Bruges Torture Museum

The Old Chocolate House

If you’d like a unique chocolate experience, I suggest making a spot at The Old Chocolate House. What makes visiting this tearoom a unique experience is that they serve you a giant mug of hot milk, with a chocolate-made cup filled to the brim with chocolate and a whisker.

It looks really cool to dump the whole chocolate cup in the milk for a video, but I recommend putting in a little chocolate at a time for taste. The full chocolate cup was a little too sweet for my taste, but excellent nonetheless!

Seating is limited, so you may have to wait, and if you have mobility issues, the dining is located on the second floor with a tiny staircase. At the store entrance, you can purchase a ton of different chocolates from their shop.

Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10 AM – 5:30 PM; Closed on Wednesday

Drinking hot chocolate at the Old Chocolate House

Belgium Beer Experience

When in Belgium, having a beer experience is a must, and there are two popular places to do it. Both act similar to a museum and teach you about making beer, history, and more.

The first is The Bruges Beer Experience. You can smell, touch, and of course, taste while enjoying the experience. Tickets start at € 12, and it is located near the Torture Museum.

The other option is to visit Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan, a Family-owned Belgium brewery that also has a museum experience and tastings. They even have a pipeline that goes through the city to deliver beer. Moreover, Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan has been in business for 6 generations.

You can purchase tickets online and choose from 2 different tour experiences. This brewery is close to Minnewaterpark, our next attraction.

Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan
Outside Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan

Minnewaterpark

Also known as Lake of Love Park, you can experience a more tranquil vibe of Bruges with swans, ducks, and picnic spots on a nice day. It is the perfect escape from the bustling city. We also passed by it during our boat tour.

Minnewaterpark in Bruges

Jan Van Eyckplein

Next, I recommend strolling over to Jan Van Eyckplein Square. This quaint area of the city is one of my favorites because I love the architecture down the canals. It also feels less busy than the rest of the city.

While here, you will find a large statue of Northern Renaissance painter Jan van Eyck. There is also a free installment that shows you a kind of virtual reality of what the area would look like hundreds of years ago.

Near the square, you will also find the Choco-Story, Chocolate Museum.

Jan Van Eyckplein

Sint-Janshuismolen (Sint-Janshuis Mill)

If you don’t mind heading towards the ramparts at the edge of the city, consider adding Sint-Janshuismolen (Sint-Janshuis Mill) to your 3 days in Bruges itinerary. Here, you can visit one of the four windmills that are still in use today to ground grain!

This windmill dates back to 1770 and is open to visitors. From Jan Van Eyckplein Square, it is about a 13-minute walk. You can view the windmill for free from the outside, or pay €5 to go inside.

Hours: Open from 1 April – 30 October: 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 5 PM; Closed on Mondays.


Day 3: Take a Day Trip

On your 3rd day in Bruges, you have a couple of options. You can enjoy anything you missed in Bruges and just embrace the lively atmosphere.

Or you can take a day trip to Ghent, which is about a 30-minute train ride from Bruges. Some people also include Brussels, however, I think you will feel rushed if you do both Brussels and Ghent.

If I am being honest, I chose to skip Brussels after talking with a lot of other travel friends. Just because I felt Brussels was not for me this go around, doesn’t mean you can’t visit.

Bruges Architecture

Day Trip to Ghent

I personally think a day trip to Ghent is one of the best ways to spend your last day in Belgium. This city is larger than Bruges but still has a similar medieval charm that Bruges has, plus it has a castle!

Ghent is a college town, so you will find tons of cafes dotted along the canals and alleys.

Gravensteen castle in Ghent
Gravensteen castle in Ghent

Getting from Bruges to Ghent

Going to Ghent from Bruges is really simple. When you arrive at Bruges train station, you just have to buy a ticket at the machine to Gent-Sint-Pieters. Make sure you hold onto the ticket because they do come to check it.

The train takes about 30 minutes and you can use Google Maps to direct you on train times.

Once you arrive at Gent-Sint-Pieters, just make your way over to Tram 1. This will bring you into the city center. You can tap your credit card to pay for the tram. The tram does not stop unless you push the button to get off.

Things to do in Ghent

There is a ton to do while in Ghent and you can see a lot that the city has to offer in just a day. Some of the top attractions I would recommend seeing include:

  • Saint Michaels Church: 11th Century Church – Free to visit
  • Belfry of Ghent: If you love the Belfry in Bruges, you will also enjoy the Belfry in Ghent with panoramic views of the city with 254 stairs.
  • Saint Bravo’s Cathedral: Church that dates back to the 10th century.
  • Saint Nicholas’ Church: One of the most beautiful landmarks in Ghent.
  • Werregarenstraat: Unique Graffiti alley with ever-changing artwork.
  • Zuivelbrug: Picturesque bridge with beautiful surrounding architecture.
  • Patershol: Popular neighborhood with eateries, cobblestone streets, and pubs.
  • Gravensteen: Incredible medieval castle that you can tour inside.

Additionally, I would suggest a canal tour that will bring you down the intricate canals of Ghent while learning some history.

Read: More details on Ghent attractions

Ghent Canal Tour is perfect for one day
Canals in Ghent

How to Get to Bruges

Now that you know how to spend your time in Bruges, you may be wondering how to actually get there. Bruges is located near the west coast in the Flanders Region.

One of the best ways to get to Bruges will be by train. Thalys runs fast trains through Brussels and then from Brussels, you can take a local train. Bruges also has an airport, Ostend–Bruges International Airport. However, the airport is still a 1-hour train ride away, so you are likely better off flying into Brussels.

Uber is also available in Bruges if needed. You can find train prices here.


Where to Stay

If you haven’t already decided where you’re staying during your trip, I have done the research for you! Below, you will find all centrally located hotels with raving reviews.

If you’re planning to visit during the Christmas holiday or in the Summer, book as soon as possible as rooms go quickly.

Hotel du Théâtre (3 Stars) – We stayed here and really enjoyed our stay. If I were to give any cons, the rooms have physical keys that are quite large to hold, but the location was great, and the room was large.

Hotel Het Gheestelic Hof (3 Stars)

Hotel De Orangerie (4 Stars)

Grand Hotel Casselbergh Brugge (4 Stars)

Hotel du Théâtre Lobby in Bruges

When to Visit Bruges

In reality, there really is not a bad time to visit Bruges as attractions are open year-round.

If you’d like to experience Bruges with fewer tourists, the best time to visit will be after Christmas during the winter, in the Springtime, or during the Fall.

Christmas time and Summer are the busiest months in Bruges. Summer in Europe is always very busy, and Christmas time in Bruges is very popular for its various Christmas Markets.

If you are planning to visit Bruges outside of Summer, make sure to pack layers with you. Being that Bruges is near the coast, it can get quite cold.


Is 3 Days Enough?

2 full days in Bruges and 1 day to take a day trip is the ideal time to visit.

While many visit Bruges with just a day trip, I highly recommend more than that because Bruges is so special when the tours leave. Although Bruges is small, the city has so much to offer, as you can see above. Additionally, Bruges is the perfect place to base yourself for day trips to Ghent and Brussels.

Furthermore, 3 days in Bruges is also perfect for a larger European trip, with Paris (2.5 hours) and Amsterdam (3 hours) being 2 of the most popular nearby cities that can be reached by train. This is what we did!

Canals in Bruges 3 days itinerary

3 Days in Bruges Weekend Itinerary Wrap-up

This concludes exploring the best this city has to offer. I hope you have an incredible time exploring this Belgian City.

Have any questions about this 3 days in Bruges itinerary or need additional help? Let me know in the comments below, send me an email, or social media DM, and I will do my best to help you!

Did you find this Bruges Itinerary helpful? I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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