We (2 adult in 30’s) have 3 days in Belgium after visiting the Netherlands. Is 2 days enough in Bruges to have a good Bruges experience and then 1 day in Brussels to see the city center.
I know this is contrary to popular opinion, but I thought Bruges was a (very pretty) snooze. Apparently, 90% of its economy is tourism, making it kind of... dead behind the eyes.
I'd suggest staying in the nearly as pretty, but much more dynamic Antwerp, and making a day visit to Bruges.
I'll further defy popular opinion by adding that I found Brussels to be a rich, engaging city with a diverse, contemporary society. And the Atomiom was SO cool!
We spent 3 nights (2.5 days) in Bruges traveling there upon arrival. On one of the days we took the Quasimodo Flanders Fields tour. The remaining 1.5 days was plenty of time to see and enjoy the town. We also spent two night in each Ghent and Antwerp. The last night was spent in Brussels just to be closer to the airport. To me, other than the Grand Place, Brussels is just a big city.
Hi taliedutoit -
How many days to spend pretty much comes down to how interested you are in what the historic center has to offer. We spent 4 nights/3.5 days there (one of those being day trip to Ghent) and found lots of interesting things to see. So, if you have 3 nights to spend there (3 nights = 2 FULL sightseeing days and maybe some additional odd hours), I think you can have a very nice experience.
The official visitor's website will be helpful:
Be aware that some of the attractions are closed on Mondays, and Sint-Janshospitaal (very interesting!) is unfortunately closed for renovation, although they indicate that the Memling collection may be shown temporarily at another location. Aside from that one, some personal recommendations:
Do additional historical reading about this type of enclave.
Jeruzalemkapel (this was really interesting, and still belongs to decendants of the original family)
A walk through the Markt and Burg:
A walk along parts of De Vesten (city ramparts):
Windmills on this section:
Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed:
We didn't get to do this museum as it was closed for some construction work but I hear it's a good one:
O.L.V. ter Potterie (Museum of Our Lady of the Pottery)
Stadhuis (City Hall):
This square was a wonderful spot for photos in a quiet, early morning:
Time to spare? Just walk. We did a LOT of that. The high--season crowds tend to gather in the general Markt/Burg area so traveling away from it will turn up some quieter streets. Bring the camera; much to point it at! :O)
Thanks for all the links Kathy-saving for our next trip!
You're welcome, Christine! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Thanks so much for all the information guys - much appreciated! Thanks Kathy for all the links - very helpful. Looking forwward to our first time in Belgium. :)
Two late 30s adults here... I think 1.5 days in Bruges would be the sweet spot. We spent just shy of 24 hours there, as we arrived in the late afternoon, and spent a good portion of the second day in Ghent (left around 1:00 and returned to Bruges after midnight). Next time we go, we'll probably spend more time in Ghent, and probably a couple nights in Antwerp. I wouldn't mind spending more time there, but the little time we spent in Brugge was enough for me to not feel the need to return, unless I went with someone other than my husband, as we saw all that we felt the need to see. One of my favorite parts of Bruges was hearing the carillon player. The canal tour was charming and informative, as well. It's a darling town. The church in Ghent was more impressive to me than either in Bruges, and we liked the more authentic feel in Ghent. But Bruges was really scenic, and the belfry is beautiful. Try to hear the carillon player, if you can.
...but the little time we spent in Brugge was enough for me to not
feel the need to return, unless I went with someone other than my
husband, as we saw all that we felt the need to see...
Curious what it was that you felt the "need" to see beyond a canal tour? If your visit was fine for you then that's great! It's just that some travelers may want a wider exploration into the culture and history of the town; see my links. It's a lot more than skin deep.
We landed into town on Ascension Day. It has been a big dang deal in Bruges since the 13th century, and on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Can anyone recommend a tour guide for Bruges and Ghent?
If you base yourself in Ghent. It's like 25 minutes to Bruges by train, 55 minutes to Antwerp and 35 minutes to Brussels. Unless you like to visit a lot of the museums etc. You can see a lot of each city on a day trip. As a Belgian I wouldn't do more than 2 nights in Bruges.