As the capital of West Flanders in Belgium, Bruges is known throughout the world for its historic buildings and culture. Known as the Venice of the North, Bruges is filled with numerous winding canals and towering architectural marvels. The canals in Bruges once brought merchants from all over the world to this city to sell and buy goods. There are many interesting things to see in Bruges on a weekend and this 2 day itinerary will help make sure you experience this beautiful city to the fullest.
Things to do with 2 days in Bruges – a perfect weekend
2 Days in Bruges: Day One
Visit the Belfry of Bruges
This medieval bell tower is an iconic symbol here in Bruges. Its towering figure looks over the market square below. It was once home to an old treasury which you can visit inside the tower.You can see where old funds and charters were once kept during the Middle Ages. You can also climb up its 366 steps to the top of the tower where you can get a fantastic view of the city below. Occasionally, you might hear this bell tower’s Carillion ringing with its 47 bells drifting beautiful sounds over the city.
Wander Through the Market Square and Buildings
Located beneath the Belfry of Bruges, the Market Square is filled with beautiful and unique buildings. You can walk through the Cloth Hall, the Cranenburg House, and the Historium, all which are located right next to each other. You’ll also find statues in the middle of the square of 14th century war heroes like Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. Sometimes a local market is set up here where you can shop for fresh vegetables and flowers.
Travel to the Historium Bruges
After strolling through the Market Square you can step inside the nearby Historium. This building is home to a special 8 minute virtual reality experience that will take you back in time to medieval Bruges. This experience is filled with dramatic music and special effects all which are inspired by the iconic Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele painting. After time traveling to medieval Bruges, you can step outside to the Historium’s terrace which will give you a fantastic view over the Market Square.
Explore the Groeninge Museum
This art museum is located in what was once Eekhout Abbey. It’s known for being a great place to view Belgian plastic arts as well as 18th and 19th neoclassical paintings by Jan van Eyck and Hugo van der Goes.
Visit the Church of Our Lady
As one of the tallest buildings in this city, the Church of Our Lady is one place you definitely want to visit. This church was built during the 13th-15th centuries and is known for its iconic art collection. It’s home to Michelangelo’s famous Madonna and Child sculpture and also to the decorative tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. After marveling at its architecture and art collection, you can visit its museum to learn more about the city and the church.
Explore the Hansa Quarter
This quarter was once a place where merchants would gather to trade their goods during the 13th-15th centuries. You can marvel at its historic architecture like the House of the Florentines where Florentine merchants once lived and the Old Tolhouse which features intricate gothic architecture. In the center of this quarter you’ll find a statue that honors the painter Jan van Eyck.
Take a Canal Boat Tour
After spending your first day meandering through the city’s many wonders, you can end it with a charming canal boat tour. There are many different ports you can visit around the city, so finding a boat tour is easy. These boat tours are usually about 30 minutes long and will take you through the city’s winding canals that are lined by historic homes and magnificent trees. It’s a beautiful way to end the day.
2 Days in Bruges: Day Two
Visit Burg Square and Buildings
This square is known for its extravagant architecture due to its interesting mix of gothic and neoclassical designs. The square is home to the Gothic Town Hall built in 1376. This town hall was once a political hub in the city. You’ll also find the Old Civil Registry here (which was also the old courthouse) that was built in 1537. The Basilica of the Holy Blood is also located in this historic square and is believed to house a cloth that is stained with the blood of Jesus.
After wandering around through the square and visiting its buildings, you can travel down nearby Blind Donkey Alley. This hidden passageway will lead you to bustling fish markets by the canals.
Enjoy Minnewater Park
If you’re looking for a romantic or peaceful place to spend some time in while in Bruges, Minnewater Park is a place you definitely need to visit. It’s bordered by beautiful buildings and homes and features canals winding through it. In the center of the park, you’ll find the Lake of Love which is home to many beautiful (and sometimes tragic) stories of love. You’ll also find majestic swans swimming through its waters. You can stroll across its many bridges to photograph the park or just enjoy the day by resting in the grass by the canals.
Sint-Janshospitaal, also known as St. John’s Hospital, is one of the oldest hospitals in Europe. It functioned as a hospital from the 12th-19th centuries. Many nuns and monks worked here to help the sick with various medical instruments and modern techniques of the time. You can view these artifacts in the hospital’s museum. This museum is located in the hospital’s old infirmary and features ancient furniture, silverware, and medical instruments you can view. You can also look at a few paintings by Hans Memling such as the Shrine of St. Ursula. After visiting the museum, you can also travel to its herb garden and the Diksmuide attic.
Take Photos in Rozenhoedkaai
After visiting St. John’s Hospital, you can take a quick 7-minute walk over to Rozenhoedkaai. As one of the most photographed spots in the city, Rozenhoedkaai is a spot you definitely want to visit. This iconic part of the city is where many canals, buildings, and cafes are located. Its scenery is stunning which makes it a great place to take family or landscape photos.
See the Almshouses
These small and whitewashed one-story buildings were once home to elderly people and single women back in the 14th century. They were built by the rich as a way to “help” the poor, but it came with a price. The inhabitants had to pray for the rich in special chapels built near their homes. Today, these almshouses serve as shops and historic buildings which you can visit to learn more about the past. All 46 of these almshouses are built almost identically but each has its own distinctive flair. On some, you’ll find bright colors while on others you’ll find beautiful plants lining the doorways.
One thing you’ll notice on these houses is that the founder’s name of the almshouse is painted on the structure. This is a great way to learn about the history and the people who once lived in the houses.
Visit the Windmills
The windmills of Bruges line where the old city borders were once located. There were originally 25 windmills, but now there are only a few left. A couple of these windmills are open to the public to walk through like the Coelweymolen windmill which was built in 1765. There’s also the Sint-Janshuismolen windmill which was built in 1770 by bakers to help them with grinding their flour. Some windmills open to the public today also sell fresh flour sometimes.
Enjoy Some Chocolate and Waffles
To end your second day in Bruges stop by one of the many nearby shops in the city that offer chocolate and waffles. Bruges is famous for its homemade chocolate. Many shops create traditional flavors like creamy and dark chocolate but also offer unique ones like lemongrass, spicy chili, and Moroccan mint. You’ll also find fresh and mouthwatering traditional Belgian waffles in many shops that you can enjoy.
Where to stay in Bruges
Hotel the Orangerie:
A luxurious boutique hotel located in the heart of Bruges, along ‘De Dijver’ canal. The hotel is housed in a 15th-century Carthusian convent.
The Pand Hotel:
Another luxurious boutique hotel in the heart of the historic center of Bruges, housed in an 18th-century mansion.
Ibis Budget Train Station:
Basic clean rooms located next to Bruges train Station.
Bruges is a unique place in the world and this 2-day Bruge itinerary will help ensure that you experience the Venice of the North fully. It’s a historic and picturesque city that will leave you captivated and wanting to return to it again.
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