10 min read

A DAY IN BRUGES AND GHENT

Bruges and Ghent are two lovely, small towns in Belgium, each just a short train ride away from Brussels.

Bruges has those cute houses, the many canals, and the charming bridges. I’m sure you’ve heard this many times, but here comes again, Bruges is like being on a fairytale.

On the other hand, Ghent has a pretty historical center, a castle, and many canals. In Ghent, you get the feeling that you went back in history to medieval times.

I visited Bruges and Ghent in a day from Brussels. To really take advantage of the trip I would recommend to get up early, and my best suggestion is to start with Bruges.

Ideally, Bruges and Ghent each deserve their own day for exploring. But, if you don’t have much time, you can visit Bruges and Ghent in a day with a guided tour.

Or if you want to do the trip on your own, here’s a list of the main points you shouldn’t miss out on your one day trip.

MAIN POINTS IN BRUGES

1. Walk Through Bruges

The most important thing to do in Bruges is to walk around so you’ll get the feeling you are truly on a scenario of a fairytale. You can start with the Bonifacius Bridge, which is, in my opinion, the most charming spot in Bruges, and walk your way to the Bruges Markt.

The list below is numbered by location so you can organize your way through Bruges.

Bonifacius Bridge, Bruges, Belgium, Europe, Travel

Bonifacius Bridge

2. Rozenhoedkaai

Rozenhoedkaai is possibly one of the best things to do in Bruges just for the views you’ll get from there! It’s just such a spectacular area of the city and one place you won’t want to miss out.

Rozenhoedkaai is centered around where the Groenerei and Dijver canals meet, making it a perfect spot to appreciate the gothic buildings that surround it and take a lot of pictures.

Rozenhoedkaai, Bruges, Belgium, Europe, Canals, Travel

Rozenhoedkaai

3. The Church of our Lady

The Church of Our Lady dates from the 13th century and is best known for being the home of Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child statue. There are many other lesser-known but equally awesome pieces of art in the church.

The church’s tower remains the tallest structure in the city.

Church of Our Lady, Bruges, Belgium, Religion, Architecture

Church of Our Lady

4. Salvator’s Cathedral

St. Salvator’s Cathedral is Bruges’ main church and the oldest in the city.

It’s worth checking out the parish on the inside just to admire the impressive neo-gothic architecture and the collection of Flemish artwork that’s on exhibit in the treasure-chamber.

St. Salvator Cathedral, Bruges, Belgium, Europe, Travel

St. Salvator Cathedral. Photo Credit: Dimitris Kamaras

5. Bruges City Hall

Bruges City Hall is a truly stunning gothic style building that dates from the early 15th Century.

It’s one of the most impressive and best things to see in Bruges as it’s truly a gothic’s architecture jewel.

And if you thought the building looked incredible from the outside wait until you see the ceiling and the murals inside the hall, it’s absolutely breathtaking.

Bruges City Hall, Bruges, Belgium, Europe, Travel

Bruges City Hall

6. The Belfort

The Belfort of Bruges is a totally extraordinary medieval bell tower. It was built around 1240, the bell tower rises at 83 meters tall and houses 47 bells.

The building is best admired from afar and will be one of your highlights in your photos of your trip to Bruges.

The most important thing to do inside the building is to climb the stairway to the top of the tower and enjoy panoramic views of the city.

The Belfort, Bruges, Belgium, Europe, Travel

The Belfort

7. Bruges Markt

Bruges historic Markt is a beautiful open square surrounded by charming architecture, cafes and restaurants, and many tourists. It’s home to medieval festivals and craft fairs all year round.

The most notable point in the square is the imposing neogothic Provincaal Hof building.

Bruges Markt, Belgium, Bruges, Europe, Travel

Bruges Markt, Belgium

8. Don’t forget Chocolate and beer

The truth is that you can have excellent chocolate and beer anywhere in Belgium, and you can try those in Bruges as well. It’s been a while since I went to Bruges, but I still don’t forget the amazing taste of its chocolate and beer! (You don’t necessarily have to have those together… but, of course, you can try!) 🙂

If you want to know the best places to eat chocolate and drink beer in Bruges, here’s a Beer and Chocolate tasting private tour.

Belgian Chocolate, Belgium, Europe

Belgian Chocolate. Photo Credit: Pixabay

If you are lucky and have the time to take a full day trip to Bruges, here’s a list of different kind of guided tours you can take:

MAIN POINTS IN GHENT

1. Gravensteen

Definitely the most incredible sight in Ghent, Gravensteen it’s a medieval castle built in the 12th Century for the count of Flanders. Today it houses the Arms Museum and the Museum of Judicial Objects. These showcase many weapons used in combat and other gadgets used for punishment and torture during medieval times.

To conclude your visit to Gravensteen, you could go to the rooftop for a spectacular view of the city.

Gravensteen, Ghent, Belgium, Europe

Gravensteen

2. Graslei and Korenlein

Both Graslei and Korenlei were part of the medieval port, and at the time were the centers of great commercial activity, however, they are now a cultural and touristic spot of the city, filled with café patios.

If you want a different view of Ghent, you also can take a boat tour through the city. Here’s a couple of option for a boat tour:

Graslei and Korenlei, Ghent, Belgium, Europe, Canals, Architecture, Flemish

Graslei and Korenlei

3. Michael’s Bridge

One of the best vantage points of the city, St. Michael’s Bridge stands right next to the St. Michael’s Church, near Korenmarkt. It is located on the River Leie, and from there you can see the three towers of Ghent: the St. Nicholas’ Church, the Belfort and the St. Bavo’s Cathedral.

The neo-gothic bridge was built in 1910, St. Michael’s bridge is an ideal spot to admire Ghent and a perfect picture spot.

St. Michael's Bridge, Ghent, Belgium, Europe

St. Michael’s Bridge. Photo Credit: Simononly

4. Korenmarkt

Korenmarkt is a city square in the historic center of Ghent. Placed between the Leie river and St. Nicholas’ Church, it is one of the city’s most important and popular tourist locations. The square is surrounded by several historic buildings, and today houses bars, restaurants, and terraces.

Korenmarkt, Ghent, Belgium, Travel, Europe, Old Town, Architecture

Korenmarkt, Ghent, Belgium

5. St. Nicholas church

Saint Nicholas’ Church is built in the gothic style from the beginning of the 13th century. The church has been extensively renovated over the last 30 years or so. One of the masterpieces of the church is its organ dating from the middle of the 19th century, additionally, there are two huge stained-glass windows also dating from the middle of the 19th century.

St. Nicholas' Church, Ghent, Belgium, Europe, Religion

Saint Nicholas’ Church

6. The Belfort

The Belfort dates from the 14th century and has a dragon sat atop of the tower. The Belfort has an exhibition of bell making but the true attraction is the view of the city of Ghent from the top of the tower.

The Belfort, Bruges, Belgium, Europe, Travel

Belfry of Ghent

7. Stadhuis

The Stadhuis, or city hall, took almost a century to build before it was finally completed in 1600. The architecture is from the Gothic style, and the building is often referred to as the building with many faces (Yep, kind of like GOT).

The rooms of the interior are varied in style but all are beautifully decorated and conserved. Sadly, tourist access to the Hall is limited.

Stadhuis, Ghent, Belgium, Europe

Stadhuis. Photo Credit: Dimitris Kamaras

8. St. Bavo’s Cathedral

The building itself is an impressive construction made from an unusual combination of stone and brick with some beautiful stained glass windows thrown into the mix.

This cathedral houses the “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” painting that dates from the 15th century, which attracts many tourists.

St. Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium, Europe, Church, Religion

Saint Bavo’s Cathedral

And, as always, you have to walk through Ghent! Luckily, the historic center is not very large and can be easily walked in a short amount of time.

And again, if you’re lucky and have a full day to visit Ghent, here’s a list of different kind of guided tours you can take:

As always, all opinions are my own.

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