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Bruges - how many days?

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.

Posted by
2267 posts

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!

Posted by
6640 posts

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.

Posted by
15887 posts

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:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en

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:

Sint-Salvatorskathedraal:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/sint-salvatorskathedraal-saint-saviours-cathedral

Groeninge Museum:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/groeningemuseum-groeninge-museum

Beguinage:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/begijnhof-beguinage.
Do additional historical reading about this type of enclave.

O.L.V.-kerk Museum:
https://www.visitbruges.be/highlights/churchofourlady

Jeruzalemkapel (this was really interesting, and still belongs to decendants of the original family)
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/jeruzalemkapel-brugge-jerusalem-chapel

A walk through the Markt and Burg:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/burg

https://www.visitbruges.be/en/markt

A walk along parts of De Vesten (city ramparts):
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/brugse-vesten-bruges-city-ramparts
Windmills on this section:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/sint-janshuismolen-sint-janshuis-mill

Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/basiliek-van-het-heilig-bloed-basilica-of-the-holy-blood

We didn't get to do this museum as it was closed for some construction work but I hear it's a good one:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/gruuthusemuseum

Also:
O.L.V. ter Potterie (Museum of Our Lady of the Pottery)
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/onze-lieve-vrouw-ter-potterie-our-lady-of-the-pottery

Stadhuis (City Hall):
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/stadhuis-city-hall

This square was a wonderful spot for photos in a quiet, early morning:
https://www.visitbruges.be/en/jan-van-eyckplein

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)
https://www.visitbruges.be/streets-and-squares-full-of-stories

Posted by
15887 posts

You're welcome, Christine! Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Posted by
57 posts

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. :)

Posted by
81 posts

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.

Posted by
15887 posts

...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.
.

Posted by
67 posts

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.

Posted by
377 posts

We have enjoyed Brugge on both our visits. Consider 3days (4 nights). Visit Ghent on one day …or…With a nice day, rent bikes and ride the canal paths to the coast and/or detour through the countryside. On our second trip had fun tasting beer at all our meals. Each of us would order a different beer, share sips and record our impressions on a place mat. Tried 20 beers on that stay. Who knows today which beer we liked best. The street foods were always good-French fries, waffles with strawberries/cream (on a warm freshly cooked waffle) and chocolates.

Felt Brussels was only worth the time to admire the beauty of the Grand Place. Your half day stop would have been enough for us. We did spend the night traveling between Brugge and Amsterdam.

We also enjoyed our time in Trier. Stayed in the local convent both times. A car road race took place on one visit with a parade of all the entrants. Just lucky timing.

Consider hiking up to Berg Eltz if you like to hike for the exercise/adventure. Think it was about a hour hike. It was 10 years ago so who knows exactly. Park in the town below or if just want to visit the castle drive up.

Posted by
7401 posts

I personally think that Antwerp or Gent are better second-choices after Bruges. However, the main art museums in Brussels are quite large and important for those with that interest.

Note that it is not necessary to change hotels, because unreserved local trains make daytrips very easy. I personally would sleep three nights in Antwerp and daytrip to Bruges. But there is a large volume of opinion on this board that one must have a few precious hours in Bruges without the crowds of daytrippers. I don't find Bruges to be "the most romantic town on the face of the earth", however.

Naturally, your flight departure for home (BRU?) is a factor in the sleeping decision.

Posted by
16 posts

I just returned from Bruges; we spent 3 nights there and wished we had another day. Plenty to do in Bruges. The canal ride may be touristy but it was a lot of fun. The harp concert, city walking tour, brewery tour were among the activities that we had planned in the town. We also spent a day touring Flanders Fields with Quasimodo tours which was a great use of one of our days. We also ran the canal trail that Rick describes as a biking trail. It got us outside of town on peaceful countryside canal trail. We also went to a Belgian tapas restaurant filled with locals and well outside of the touristy area. Our style of travel is slower paced in which we want to make sure that we have time to enjoy a coffee or glass of wine at a cafe in the late afternoon or early evening.

Taliedutoit, you know what style and pace you prefer. There is plenty to do and see in Bruges. We also did enjoy the EU in Brussels.

Posted by
4911 posts

Nick Ben, I hope you write a Trip Report. We plan to be there next spring, so I appreciate your insights.
Thanks

Posted by
548 posts

I would absolutely agree with your original plan...two days in Brugges and one in Brussels. You will love it!!

Posted by
162 posts

My best day in Bruges was spent getting out of it. Took a lovely bike ride to Damme. Bruges is overrun with tour groups. The only part of it I really liked was near the Van Eyckplein...that whole side of town.

Posted by
5 posts

Just returned from Bruges and was tremendously disappointed. My wife and I visited in 2000 and found the town to be charming and beautiful. Today it is completely overrun with tourists. Absolutely packed, people everywhere, etc...I guess when I first visited many years ago it was a hidden gem but at this point the charm is gone.