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What should we concentrate on seeing in Bruges?

Two young couples in our 60's will be arriving in a car early to mid afternoon. We essentially have one day in Bruges before driving out the next day to the WWII sites in France. Arriving later in the evening in Normandy is just fine so we can maximize our time in Bruges. Just really beginning research on the best experience in Bruges and always like the recommendations from RS readers. How would you spend a day and night in Bruges? Also looking for sleeping recommendations for one night. We've got a couple of prospects from Airbnb, considering hostels but do need parking with whatever so book. I'm assuming parking is at a premium!

Thanks for your help!!

Posted by
8063 posts

See the old town; climb to the top of the belfry to see the town from its highest point.
It is a town where you just wander around outside check out stuff inside. The local tourist info center will have a map listing the sites,

Posted by
23469 posts

Rick Steves' guidebook for Bruges covers it very well. Might check local library for a copy or buy it.

Posted by
3551 posts

Lucky u to have a chance to visit a beautiful place. Realize it has been discovered so plan for crowds if u are there during tourist season. Simply walk and enjoy the old town, that is what it is about. There are some parking lots at perimeter of old town where tour buses also park but hopefully your lodging provides. I was just there this spring, previously about 6 yrs ago.

Posted by
1837 posts

I know many people would be happy spending multiple days in Bruges and look forward to returning on future trips. Personally I found it easy to discover and exhaust Bruges' charms in a day. (I was there in 2016.)

Be sure to find some time to check out some of the many excellent chocolate shops.

My favorite part of the day was renting a bike and riding along the canal to Damme for lunch. It was a nice way to get away from the crowds. The bike path is easy and very pleasant. I seem to recall passing a windmill on the way.

Posted by
33329 posts

Yes, parking there is very difficult.

The city is divided into blue and white areas (on the parking map, but not on the street). Parking in the blue area is very expensive and street parking is short term and very rare. It is a little better in the white area.

Some central hotels have parking underground, count on €25 or more a day. There is a multistory near Astrid park that may work, or many people park at the station and take a bus into the city. Good luck.

The centre is laid out in the same way it was 800 years ago and most of it is cobbled - don't try to drive there unless you know exactly where you are going.

Posted by
10344 posts

For art aficionados, The Brugge Madonna by Michelangelo; and the Memlings and other paintings in the "St. John's Hospital."

And/or just focus on Rick's list in his guidebook.

Posted by
6812 posts

The main part of Bruges is pretty small, so you should have no trouble seeing all the main sights in a day. By the main sights, I’m referring the the square where the belfry is located, the square with the Church of the Holy Blood, and the area along Rozenhoedkaai, by the canal. Just down the street a few minutes walk is, Bonifacius bridge and the Church of Our Lady. If you had time, walk over to the toll house and Jan Van Eyck square.

Posted by
335 posts

We just spent a couple of nights in Brugge a few weeks ago. I recommend staying in the Crown Plaza hotel right off one of the main squares or any hotel near that location. They have onsite parking. The hotel is perfectly located for walking around the old town. We walked everywhere. We also happened upon a free walking tour one morning so we joined. You tip the guide afterwards. If you are driving from Brugge to the D-Day beaches prepare to pay tolls in France. We are a couple about the same age so walking everywhere was not a problem. We did walk to the windmills which I would not do again. I was not impressed.
Btw, make sure you have a very good gps or one in your rental vehicle. I did not pay for GPS in our Hertz rental but it worked very well just the same. Google maps faltered here & there on our trip. You will definitely need it driving into and out of Brugge and other small towns in France & Belgium.

Posted by
33329 posts

nehernan, none of your posts say when this trip is/was. Have you gone? How was it? How did the car work out?

I have several things in Bruges I would mention, but I think maybe you've already gone and returned?

I am not sure if you have been already. But when we went we stayed in a converted monastery, hotel NH Brugge. Really enjoyed it there. Not sure about the parking as we didn't have a car with us.
And for the sightseeing, just walk around and make sure to stop at one of the chocolate stores. If you like beers, I suggest cafe le Trappist. Such a unique and medieval cafe.
Have fun!

Posted by
8293 posts

Do a little investigation of the Beguinage to see if it interests you. We found it fascinating and was the one thing that comes to mind when I think of Bruges.

Posted by
307 posts

I like nothing better than to sit at a table in an outdoor cafe and watch the comings and goings - this is worth doing in every place you visit!