Known as the Venice of the North, Bruges is a beautiful medieval city with long canals, historical buildings, Gothic architecture, and narrow, cobblestone streets.
It is the capital and largest city in the region of West Flanders, which has a lot to offer to many worldwide travellers.
In this 2 days in Bruges itinerary, you will learn why Bruges makes the perfect weekend getaway. You will also find out which historical landmarks and tourist attractions you should visit, as well as learn about my favourite cafes and restaurants.
Bruges is undoubtedly one of the cutest European cities. In Europe, it is often overshadowed by the large and extravagant nearby cities of Paris, London, and Amsterdam, but once you arrive here, you'll get my point.
Many people think that all of Bruges' sights can be soon in a single day trip, but ideally, to explore it all, you will need two days. With 2 days in Bruges, you will be able to experience all that the city has to offer. If you have more time in Belgium, the neighbouring city of Ghent also has a lot to offer.
Let's travel back in time through this romantic city - keep your eyes peeled for an action-packed 2 days in Bruges.
I visited Bruges in February to celebrate my birthday. At first, even I thought that a day would be enough to explore the city. However, I was wrong!
The first day of this 2 days in Bruges itinerary is about travelling back in time. Start your weekend trip to Bruges by taking a walk - the good thing is that the city is easily walkable.
Most of its attractions and sights are situated close to one another. You can easily explore without having to worry about transportation.
But first, I would suggest waking up early and having a nice breakfast. These attractions will keep you busy for a few hours, so it’s better to explore on a full stomach.
That’s Toast is a great choice to try a variety of breakfast dishes. The cafe is cosy and well-decorated, and the food is fantastic.
For lunch, head over to Sfeerbistro De Twijfelaar for a relaxed and casual atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas. They offer freshly prepared and cooked food. I would recommend ‘Stingray’ (Skate) and ‘the Steak’, they’re simply delicious.
And lastly, end your day with a dinner at The Olive Tree Brugge. The food here was delicious and the portions were huge. This place deserves my 100% recommendation.
Moving forward, here is what I preferred to do and see in Bruges on my first day.
The Belfry of Bruges is a medieval bell tower overlooking the Market Square. Awarded as Unesco World Heritage Site, it’s one of the most famous things to see in Bruges for tourists. Back in time, it served as an observation tower and as protection from thieves, and neighbouring enemies.
Want to know more about it? Go inside the tower. Step back in time to the Middle Ages and take a look at the old funds and charters. If you don’t mind climbing up to the top, you will be impressed. The 366 steps are nothing compared to the magnificent views of the city that you’ll get to enjoy.
Beneath the Belfry of Bruges, you will find the old Market Square, which is the heart of one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever visited.
Market Square is surrounded by beautiful shops, restaurants, and brilliant architecture. The ambience in this area is also amazing. Strolling around you will spot the colourful brick houses that you may have already seen on the postcards in Bruges.
Continue your discovery of Bruges by exploring the post office architecture and other ancient buildings that reveal the past of Belgium. Take a seat at some of the traditional cafes and enjoy locally crafted chocolate or a great Belgian beer.
Finished strolling around the Market Square? It’s time for the Historium. Step inside, to step back in time.
Discover the city through the medieval Golden era with an 8-minute virtual experience.
The Historium is an imaginative way of sharing the history of Bruges, enhanced by dramatic music, film, and special effects. Take an audio guide and learn everything about the Golden age and Jan Van Eyck.
Don’t forget to take some great photos of the stunning panoramic views of the Market Square.
After that, walk into the exhibition room to find informational postings about the history, architecture, and city layout.
The Historium is a great place to entertain yourself and spend a couple of hours. It was worth adding to my list for a few extra euros.
Another site you should add on your Bruges weekend itinerary is The Church of Our Lady. It’s probably one of the tallest buildings I’ve seen in Bruges.
Built between the 13th and 15th century, it boasts an iconic art collection.
Among the many art pieces, you can find the famous Madonna and Child sculpture by Michelangelo. Moreover, the decorative and ceremonial tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold are in the choir of the church.
There are some other exceptional art pieces and woodcarving such as the paintings by Pieter Poubus - The Last Supper and Adoration of the Shepherds and Gerard David - Transfiguration. But, it is that of Michelangelo’s that drives most of the visitors here.
If you are keen on art and would love to see some classic pieces from the Flemish primitives, then Groeninge Museum is the place where you should head next.
Some of the works are unbelievable, and it’s definitely something you should see.
Groeninge Museum is a famous art museum of Belgian plastic arts. You will also find neoclassical paintings from the 18th and 19th century by Jan Van Eyck and Hugo Van Der Goes. Or marvel at masterpieces from the Renaissance and Baroque period.
The museum contains some of the most beautiful landmark art pieces from the history of European art.
Want to know what the most photographed spot in Bruges is? Head over to Rozenhoedkaai. The place is just a 3-minute walk from the Groeninge Museum.
Rozenhoedkaai is a beautiful historic part of town along the canals that used to be a popular mooring for boats. This iconic site features many beautiful buildings that look like castles of the medieval era. There are also many bars, cafes, and restaurants just beside the canals where you can stop for a drink.
Rozenhoedkaai makes the perfect spot for taking photos with your family, friends and loved ones any time of the year.
No matter if it’s winter or summer, I recommend you sit here for a while to enjoy its timeless scenery.
Take out your camera to create picture-perfect postcards of Bruges. It makes the perfect spot for photographers.
One of the most underrated things to do in Bruges is the Concert Hall or Concertgebouw Circuit. If you are fond of music and design, this is the place to head next.
Inside the modern building, there is a collection of modern music and interactive displays. I was mostly impressed by the famous acoustics and contemporary art collection.
What’s more, you can marvel at the most beautiful views of the entire city here. I think that was the icing on the cake.
If you take a guided tour, you’ll also learn about its musical and artistic qualities.
Check the hours before you decide to go, as they stop letting people in an hour before closing.
No visit to Bruges would be complete without having tasted traditional Belgian waffles. There are also many cafes where you can try mouth-watering waffles, but I would recommend going to Lizzie’s Wafels.
I simply couldn’t get enough of those waffles! The portions were so big so beware when ordering; you might want to share it with your companion.
The waffles are fresh, light and crispy. Also, there are plenty of toppings you can choose from, but I had mine with chocolate cream.
Yeah, and don’t forget to try the hot chocolate, it’s absolutely wonderful. I am so glad I found this place. Worth adding to your Bruges itinerary.
If you are keen on shopping, you are in luck. Bruges offers a variety of speciality shops scattered around the city. Whether it is a lace doily or traditional cookies and souvenirs, you will find it here.
At Depla Chocolatier you can buy truffles, chocolate covered with fruit, or dark chocolate rice cakes. I had one of the best cups of cappuccino here.
But if you are seeking to buy something for someone that likes lace, I would recommend ‘T Apostelientje’. The owner is charming and explained everything about lace patterns to me. All items here are handcrafted.
As you're ending your first day in Bruges after exploring the city's architecture and wonders, I would suggest taking a canal boat tour. A boat tour at the end of your first day will be the cherry on the cake.
Finding a canal boat tour is very easy as there are five landing stages throughout the city. A boat tour lasts about 30 minutes. Once again, you'll enjoy the winding canals and old historic homes.
Add this relaxing activity to your itinerary. After all, you can rest your feet after a long day of strolling around.
A perfect way to end your day, don't you think?
After realizing that a day wouldn’t be enough to explore all of the city’s wonders, I decided that I want to spend one more day here. I added the Burg Square on my Bruges weekend itinerary, which is one of the must-sees in Bruges.
The square is known for its Gothic and Neoclassical architectural designs. The Gothic Town Hall from the 16th century is also there. Painted all over the hall, you will spot vivid 19th-century murals.
I grabbed breakfast in the morning at Books and Brunch, where I had delicious waffles with bacon and a cup of coffee.
For lunch, I accidentally found this place called Brazi’s. It’s a small, cute place where you can have a quick sandwich or a warmed baguette at a reasonable price. You can take it away or eat inside.
And finally, as you are about to end your night, take a walk to De Stove. I had mussels with a superb sauce and a glass of excellent wine in a cosy setting.
I would recommend renting a bike when exploring the eastern part of Bruges.
The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a Roman Catholic Basilica, situated on the Burg Square, just beside the Town Hall. It is thought that the church preserved a cloth that is stained with the blood of Jesus.
The Basilica of the Holy Blood was built in the 12th century, with a lower and upper chapel. The lower chapel has kept its Romanesque character. Dedicated to St. Basil the Great, it’s the only one of such character in West Flanders.
The upper chapel was later rebuilt in the 16th century in the Gothic style. It is where the relic of the Holy Blood was kept. In the 19th century, it was renovated in the Gothic revival style.
Admire a fantastic collection of famous graphics and statues by Salvador Dali. All of these works are authentic and exhibited in a dramatic pink and golden setting.
At the time of visiting, there was a long queue, but it was well worth the wait. If you don’t like to wait, you can go to one of the cafes, rest and come back when the queue goes down.
I paid an extra fee of 3 euros for an audio guide and enjoyed learning the story about his art. The museum is marvellous. I have never seen so many paintings in one place.
I didn’t know much about him until then. However, I really enjoyed learning about him.
For the Chocolate addicts out there, now is your time to taste the real thing. Do not miss out on trying the best Belgian chocolate.
Visit Choco Story Bruges and enjoy a chocolate making experience. You will walk through the history of chocolate, and attend a demonstration of praline making.
During your visit, you will learn about the benefits of chocolate, the history of cocoa beans, and you will get to try free samples of chocolate.
Make sure to leave at least 2 hours for the experience. The tickets are 10 euros per person.
In the nearby shops, you can also find traditional flavours such as dark and creamy chocolate, but also some variations such as lemongrass, spicy chilly, or Moroccan mint.
Lumina Domestica museum is in the same building as Choco Story museum and uses the same ticket office. I bought a combined ticket for both experiences.
It is also known as the Lamp museum where you can find over 6000 antiques and lamps. So if you are looking for something unusual, this is it.
I first thought that it would be boring, but I was wrong. It’s actually quite interesting. The experience starts from the beginning of humans mastery of light, the making of light via fire. The museum then progresses from fire and explains the history of lamps and other light-related inventions.
Sint-Janshospitaal is one of the oldest preserved hospitals in Europe. The hospital worked between the 12th and 19th century, where many nuns helped the sick people.
They used many medical instruments and modern methods for that time. The proof for this is the artefacts in the museum that tell the history of the hospital.
The museum is within the old hospital where you will spot the ancient furniture, silverware, sculptures, pewterware, and medical instruments. There are also paintings by Hans Memling such as ‘The Shrine of St. Ursula’.
I would also recommend adding to your list the Diksmuide attic, old dormitory, custodian’s room, and pharmacy.
Your next stop will be De Halve Maan, the only remaining brewery in Bruges. Since 1865, they have been making the best beer in Bruges.
The brewery is a family run business for six generations now, dating back to 1856.
If you want to know more about the brewing process, take a 45-minute tour to explore the three-kilometre underground pipe. You will find out the trade secrets of making a beer and also taste the local beer Brugse Zot.
Brugse Zot is a strong, highly fermented beer with malt, hops, and yeast.
This is a unique way to try a traditional beer, especially if you are looking for something different.
For a romantic and peaceful time, away from the large crowds, I would suggest the Minnewaterpark. Or as the locals like to call it "The Lake of Love".
The park is surrounded by lovely homes, buildings and trees. It also has canals twisting through it. Minnewaterpark was nicknamed, "The Lake of Love" due to a sad story about Minna and her warrior Stromberg which later evolved into a local legend.
According to the legend, it is believed that you will experience eternal love if you walk over the lake with your loved one. That's why it is one of the most visited romantic spots in Bruges.
You will also see beautiful swans swimming around where you can capture some lovely photos. Or you can just rest your feet in the grass by the canals.
The Diamant Museum was opened in 1999. The city archives confirm that the diamond trading and polishing in Bruges began back in the 14th century.
In the museum, you will find out how Bruges was the first city of diamonds in the world.
There are daily cutting demonstrations where you can learn how they cut and polish diamonds.
The exhibitions also cover some historical facts and information regarding the diamond making process.
You can also find a shop with many diamond products and choose something to buy for a friend or family member.
Please note that photographing is not allowed in the museum.
There are many small whitewashed houses in Bruges that date back to the 14th century. Wealthy citizens or guilds formed them, so single women and elderly people had a place to stay.
However, those who lived there had to pray for the rich people in return. They prayed in special chapels near the houses.
Now, there are about 46 preserved church complexes that serve as shops and historic buildings that reveal the past.
One such complex is the Almshouse de Meulenaere and Sint-Jozef. All of the almshouses are almost the same, but on some of them, you’ll spot bright colours or plants lining the doorways.
It’s interesting that the founder’s name is painted on the structure of each house where you can learn more about their history.
One of the best things to do in Bruges is to take a walk to the windmills. After exploring the shops, cafes, and iconic sites, I escaped the busy city life and headed towards the windmills.
You can find them where the old city borders were once located. Back in time, there were about 25 windmills, but now only four are left. Some of them are open to the public, such as Coelweymolen windmill, built-in 1765.
The Sint-Janshuismolen windmill, built-in 1770, is still open. Bakers built this windmill to help them grind flour.
The atmosphere around the windmills is peaceful, and you can enjoy a coffee or a beer on the grass while observing the lovely canalside.
You can also rent a bike to handle this experience in a few minutes.
Bruges is truly a unique, historic, and picturesque place in the world. I hope you enjoyed my 2 days in Bruges itinerary and that it will help you fully enjoy the Venice of the North.
I am sure it will leave you speechless, and you will want to come back here again. The above itinerary includes some of the best things to do, cafes, restaurants, iconic sites, and museums. Your belly will be full of waffles and chocolate, and your camera full of everlasting memories.
Whether you are looking for a quiet getaway from the bustling city or just a charming spot for a quick weekend trip to Bruges, Bruges is the place to be.
If you have enough time, you can also visit Ghent, which is about 25 minutes by train from Bruges. Ready to tackle your 48 hours in Bruges?
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
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