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3 nights in Bruges with a car itinerary

We're planning to stay in Bruges for 3 nights (having a car) in September and then drive towards Paris.
We like small, cute villages and towns. Any suggestions on a driving itinerary having a base in Bruges? We'd like to see off the beaten path places where you can't get without a car. An suggestions will be very much appreciated.

Posted by
13241 posts

Well, I would spend one full day in Bruges so that leaves you with your other full day. Any interest in WWI?

I visited the Flanders Field American Cemetery on a Rick Steves tour. It would probably be difficult to get to with public transport.

We also visited several other WWI Cemeteries including Tyne Cot (British) and Langemarck (German). Our guide told us very few people visit the German Cemetery and the few who do are often from the Allied countries.

We also visited a really interesting site where you could walk thru some of the trenches left from the war. That was really interesting but I don't remember the name of it.

You could also go to Ostend which is on the sea. There are some WWII remnants there of the Atlantik Wall, again if you are interested in either war. For WWII, Dunkirk is not actually that far from Bruges.

On the Rick Steves tour we spent 3 nights in Bruges and some of our group rode bikes from Bruges to Damme and had a terrific time. It wouldn't be using your car but it's a suggestion.

A little further away is the Delta Works Storm Surge Barrier. I saw you have some time in Netherlands so not sure if this is of interest to you or not.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks Pam for your suggestions. We'll consider your suggestions. We'll definitely spend 1 day just in Bruges, still I want to find some small towns and villages accessible only by car.

Posted by
70 posts

You might find some other towns using Culture They sometimes have interesting suggestions that RS never mentions.

Posted by
31561 posts

I've been to Bruges many times, sometimes train, sometimes car (my own, from home).

Do you have plans for where the car will sleep in Bruges? Many B&Bs and hotels don't have their own parking, and if they do expect to pay - a lot - to park there.

The city has divided on-street parking into two zones, the blue zone and the white zone. If you try street parking be sure which zone you are in and obey just those rules. Enforcement is strict and rapid.

Parking at the station is good, and reasonably inexpensive, but a little distant to the centre.

I have before now parked on the lawn of my B&B. By invitation I stress, but then it was there for the duration.

One lesson learned - we stayed one year at the Crowne Plaza and used their underground carpark. It cost me a fortune - I practically needed a bank loan.

Posted by
1012 posts

“ We'll definitely spend 1 day just in Bruges, still I want to find some small towns and villages accessible only by car.”
I’m trying to understand this criterium, but I don’t get it. Public transport in Belgium is very well organized. Trains connect the largest and medium sized cities. Busses serve small villages. No town or village is accessible only by car. However the fact that they are served by public transport doesn’t mean they aren’t worth visiting. Damme is a lovely small village and Ypres and the area around it is very impressive. Also Ghent is very much worth a visit.

Posted by
6831 posts

I don't know about the Bruges area, but I question how many unspoiled prewar towns still exist in Belgium - especially this prosperous, redeveloped section of the country. I've taken the bus from Antwerp to Turnhout and Antwerp to Mechelen, just to look out the windows. About the only "old" things I saw were 15-year (?) old luxury homes with replica thatched roofs! In general, "destination" Belgian "towns" consist of (exquisite) tiny medieval squares, surrounded completely by modern masonry low-rise small cities. Non-destination towns are modern masonry single-family homes.

The main value I can see to a car is rural sights like green fields that were once battlefields. (There is an oceanfront tram line in Ostend that serves a large section of coast. I used it for a short trip to James Ensor's family church and his tomb. That said, you might wish to look at Lonely Planet Belgium for descriptions of smaller towns. I much prefer the paper edition, but that may be personal.

I have yet to visit the real town near Antwerp that was abandoned intact for the construction of the new river port. I think it's only "open" on Sundays, as an open-air museum.

Posted by
972 posts

I had a car in Bruges. First time, I parked it at the train station, which was not expensive at all. Last time our AirBnB included parking right in the city which was nice.

My favourite drives were one to Vimy Ridge (closer to Lille than Bruges, but easily a day trip if you're in Bruges). This is mostly of interest to Canadians like me. And the other to Zeebrugge then right along the coast. At one point I noticed the signs started to look different and realized I'd crossed into Netherlands. That's Europe for you; you can cross a border and not even know it. Spent the evening in Breskens, which was not so much scenic or historic as just a cool experience to spend a day in a typical European town.