The best thing about spending some time in Amsterdam is having an endless choice of awesome day trip locations surrounding the city. Taking a day trip to Bruges from Amsterdam is one of the most popular options and for good reason.
The historic city of Bruges is one of Belgium’s most beautiful fairy tale towns filled with picturesque canals, narrow cobbled lanes and charming market squares.
On your day trip to Bruges you can expect to taste the finest Belgian waffles, take in the stunning scenes from a canal cruise and explore the quaint medieval centre by foot.
Spending one day in Bruges is all you need to see the city’s main highlights and hidden gems. After recently visiting this incredible city, I created this detailed guide to help you plan the perfect day trip to Bruges from Amsterdam.
The time spent driving from Amsterdam to Bruges may be fairly long (3 hours each way) but I can ensure you the sites of Bruges are more than worth the trip!
Whether you are thinking of driving there yourself or simply looking to book an organised Bruges day trip, read on to find all of my recommendations below. From where to find the best waffles to locating the best photo spots in Bruges, I’ve covered everything you need to know!
Table of Contents
Day Trip to Bruges from Amsterdam – The Perfect Bruges Day Trip Itinerary
Canal Cruise/Bruges Walking Tour
Upon arrival in Bruges, get the perfect introduction to the city with this popular 2 hour canal cruise and guided walking tour. Allow a local guide show you the best highlights of Bruges by starting off with a 1.5 hr walking tour through the medieval centre.
Pass through famous sites such as the Basilica of the Holy Blood, Gruuthusemuseum, and Huidenvettersplein while listening to the background information from your guide.
The second portion of the tour will show you a different perspective of Bruges as you take in the romantic scenery by boat. Admire the charming historic buildings while cruising along the canals and passing under ancient bridges on a 35 minute canal cruise tour.
Be sure to book your ticket online if you’re visiting Bruges during high season (June – August) as these tours are popular and tend to fill up quickly.
Rozenhoedkaai – Quay of Rosary
One of the most iconic photography locations of Bruges, Rozenhoedkaai (Quay of Rosary) is like a scene from a postcard. This enchanting spot is located near Tannery Square (Huidenvettersplein), where the Groenerei and Dijver canals meet.
Rozenhoedkaai is where you will find the idyllic scene of gothic buildings lining the canal. It is truly a must-see on your explorations around the town. This is a particularly magical sight in the evening when the buildings are lit up and reflecting in the water.
It also happens to be one of the best places in Bruges to grab a beer or a Belgian waffle and enjoy the views. Stay a little longer and have some drinks and food at the Little Venice Cafe, located directly at Rozenhoedkaai.
You’ll likely see crowds of tourists snapping photos and queuing up for Belgian waffles at the many waffle stalls surrounding this busy quay. Plan your visit to Rozenhoedkaai in the morning to avoid big crowds and tour groups. This is also where most of the Bruges canal tours depart from.
Horse-drawn Carriage Ride
Another popular way to get an overview of the most famous landmarks of Bruges is by taking a horse-drawn carriage ride. The historic centre of Bruges isn’t too big and can easily be explored by foot but you can cover much more ground in less time by getting around in a carriage.
Besides, this is such is a fun and unique way to see the highlights of Bruges and gain some insight into the city’s history from your driver. It makes a great idea for couples seeking a romantic experience or families travelling with young children.
Horse-drawn carriage rides in Bruges last for 30 minutes and take you past all the best points of interest along the way. There will be one brief stop near the Begijnhof for the horses to have a drink and allow you to stretch your legs.
At the time of writing, a cash payment made directly to the driver is the only method accepted. During summer months when the weather is warm, horse tours will continue into the evening past 6pm.
There is no need to book your horse-drawn carriage ride online, just arrive at Market Square and wait until one becomes available. Find more detailed information about Bruges horse-drawn carriage rides at the official website.
Hours of operation – 9am – 6pm daily (year round)
Tickets – €60 per carriage (max 5 people)
Indulge in Belgian Waffles
No day trip to Bruges from Amsterdam would be complete without trying a traditional Belgian waffle! Belgian waffles are known worldwide but there’s really nothing like eating them freshly made and dripping with chocolate sauce in a pretty Belgian square.
You won’t have to go far to find a Belgian waffle in Bruges, there are stalls and cafes lining the streets of the old town. The closer you get to the Market Square, the more choices you’ll have for indulging in fresh waffles!
I recently spent my birthday in Bruges and instead of eating birthday cake, I was lucky enough to enjoy the most delicious Belgian waffle I’ve ever tried at Lizzie’s Waffles. Located a short walk from the Market Square, this is one of the most popular places to go for a dine-in waffle in Bruges. Be sure to bring a friend to share it with because they serve them extra large!
If you’re after a grab and go waffle to bring along on your sightseeing, Chez Albert is a very popular option where you’ll often see large queues of tourists (it’s worth the wait though!). House of Waffles is also an excellent choice, offering take away waffles and the option to dine-in. You’ll find a variety of waffles to choose from on their menu ranging from savoury to traditionally sweet.
Before you leave Bruges, make sure to learn the secret behind those epic fluffy waffles by taking a Belgian waffle workshop. Perhaps the best souvenir you can get from Belgium is the authentic waffle recipe so you can make them at home for years to come. Included in the workshop will be the chance to eat as many Belgian waffles as you can handle!
Escape the busy streets of Bruges and enjoy a peaceful walk surrounded by nature at Minnewater Lake, also known as Lake of Love. Not far from the city centre, Minnewater Lake can easily be accessed by foot.
This is a particularly romantic spot to spend some quiet time in a scenic location away from the crowds. Complete with white swans, historic bridges and a pretty castle, the fairy tale vibes are very much alive at Minnewater Lake.
Take a walk across Lovers Bridge for a beautiful view of the lake and surrounding greenspace. Make sure to pass by the Sashuis, a former lock house that once regulated the flow of water into the centre of Bruges. This pretty historic building surrounded by flocks of swans is such an idyllic scene and worthy of a quick photo stop.
On my most recent visit to Bruges, I really enjoyed having a few glasses of wine at the castle that’s located right on the waters edge. Kasteel Minnewater is a restaurant/bar and a beautiful place to have a meal or just a drink on their outdoor patio.
The patio views truly couldn’t get much better and the fact that it’s so much quieter than any of the restaurants in town is an added bonus! The restaurant is run by a local family which gives the place a very traditional and friendly vibe. Remember to bring cash, as they don’t accept card payments!
The bustling heart of Bruges, Market Square, has been the lively centre of town since the year 958! Packed full of history and iconic architecture, you simply can’t visit Bruges without spending some time soaking up the atmosphere of the charming Market Square.
The weekly market has been continuously held in this square since the early medieval days in 985. If you happen to be in Bruges on a Wednesday, you’ll get to experience this market for yourself.
The market has an array of stalls ranging from fresh produce and meats to flowers and handmade crafts. This is the perfect spot to pick up a traditional souvenir to take home. You’ll find the market stalls open to the public from 8am to 1pm every week on Wednesday.
The Market Square is also home to plenty of great restaurants and patios to sip a Belgian beer and watch the world go by. Take note of the well preserved medieval buildings and monuments around the Market Square, some of them date as far back as the 13th century!
Climb the Belfry of Bruges
It’s hard to miss this epic bell tower that has dominated the Bruges skyline since the 13th century. Towering over Market Square for centuries, the Belfry of Bruges is the city’s most famous landmark. This incredible work of medieval architecture has been recognised as a UNESCO listed building.
It’s no surprise that the best view over Bruges can be found by climbing the 366 stairs to the top of the tower. Like most medieval towers, the staircase is pretty narrow and winding which means that limited numbers of people are allowed to climb it at any given time.
Once you reach the top, the panoramic view over Bruges is more than worth the effort. The good thing is that there are a number of rest stops to take a break on the way up. Stop at the old treasury where important city documents were kept during the middle ages.
As you continue climbing the Belfry, you’ll also see the clockwork mechanism, the carillon drum which dates to the 18th century and the keyboard which is used to play the carillon bells from.
The Belfry of Bruges gets extremely busy with tourists through the day, it’s best to climb the tower in the morning to avoid crowds and wait times. You can also choose to buy your tickets online in advance or on arrival at the tower.
Opening hours – 9am – 8pm (hours may change depending on season, find up to date info here)
Tickets – €14/adult, €12/child
If you’re interested to learn more about the history of Bruges and it’s stunning architecture, pop into the Historium for an exciting interactive look into life during 15th century Bruges. Featuring special effects, films, music and virtual reality, this more than just a museum.
A visit to the Historium will take you through the story of Bruges during the Golden Age of the 14th and 15th centuries. Experience the sights, smells and sounds of Bruges during the medieval days. The Historium gives a whole new meaning to taking a step back in time, this may be the closest you will ever get to time travel!
Once you’ve finished up at Historium, make your way over to the Duvelorium. This cosy bar with a terrace over looking the Market Square offers the perfect place to finish up your visit with a beer and a great view. Even if you didn’t visit Historium, the bar is open to everyone.
Historium is the one of the most popular attractions in Bruges and simply cannot be missed during your visit! You’ll find it located in the Market Square, tickets can either be purchased online or on arrival. During high season it’s always best to book online.
Opening hours – 11am – 6pm daily (Saturday stays open until 10pm)
Tickets – €21
Groeninge Museum (Groeningemuseum)
This fantastic museum is home to more than 6 centuries of stunning artwork dating back to the 15th century. Admire the works of some of Belgium’s most famous Flemish artists such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.
Inside the Groeninge Museum you will get to see a wide variety of art collections ranging from classical to contemporary. Listening to the audio guide as you go, you will get a great overview of the evolution of Flemish art and its artists over the centuries.
This is one of the most popular museums in Bruges and it’s well worth a visit. If you have to choose one museum to see here, you won’t regret visiting the Groeninge Museum. Allow for around one hour to get through the entire museum.
Opening hours – 9:30am – 5pm (Closed on Mondays)
Tickets – €14/adult, €12/child
Not too far from Market Square, you’ll find yet another beautiful square filled with rich history and majestic buildings. Burg Square is home to some significant landmarks such as the Liberty of Bruges, Bruges City Hall, and the Basilica of the Holy Blood.
The Basilica of the Holy Blood is possibly the most well known of them all and features some fascinating historic artefacts. Tucked away in a corner of the square and boasting an intricately detailed façade, it’s one of the oldest buildings in Bruges dating to the 12th century.
Inside the building, you will find a vial with a cloth that is said to be stained with the holy blood of Jesus. To enter the Holy Blood Chapel and Treasury Room on the upper level, it costs €2.5 and is often quite busy. The Chapel of St Basil on the lower level is open to the public for free.
The Stadhuis (Bruges City Hall) dates back to the 13th century and is open to the public for €7 per person. The ticket will give you entry to a number of beautifully decorated rooms and a small museum showcasing the history and evolution of Bruges.
If you are pressed for time on your day trip to Bruges from Amsterdam, I would recommend simply strolling through Burg Square to admire the buildings and take a few photos.
As you walk away from the square, you will notice a narrow alley on one side of the City Hall building called Blinde-Ezelstraat (Blind Donkey Street). This adorable little street connects Burg Square and the Fish Market. It’s worthy of a quick stop to admire the beautifully decorated archway that connects the two buildings.
Belgian Chocolate Workshop
Dive into the fascinating art of Belgian chocolate making by joining this 2.5 hr chocolate workshop in Bruges. This unique hands on experience will teach you how to make 3 different types of Belgian chocolate from scratch.
Working together in a small group, you will be taken through each step of the chocolate making process. The tour will finish up with the chance to bring home your work, a box of 35 pieces of fine Belgian chocolates to share with your friends!
In addition to waffles and chocolate, Belgian beer has a reputation for being some of the best in the world. Every town in Belgium is known for its delicious locally brewed beers. Learn all about the history and beer making process by doing this fun and informative beer tour of Bruges.
This 3 hour guided tour will take you on a journey through the streets of Bruges stopping at the Beer Museum and four different pubs/breweries along the way. The tour includes a local guide, walking tour of Bruges and all beer tastings.
The Best Day Tour from Amsterdam to Bruges
Duration – 11.5 hrs
Included – Local tour guide/driver, transportation by air-conditioned vehicle, 1 hr guided walking tour of Bruges, map of Bruges, free time to explore the historical centre.
For those who prefer to leave the planning up to the experts, look no further than this popular day trip to Bruges!
Experience the best that Belgium has to offer on this full day tour from Amsterdam to Bruges. Soak up the rich history of this fascinating city, sample some Belgian chocolates, and enjoy the beautiful countryside scenery as you travel by coach to Belgium.
This group tour departs from central Amsterdam and begins the 3 hour journey to Bruges at 9:30am. Upon arrival in Bruges, you’ll have the option to join a 1-hr guided walking tour to learn more information about the city from an experienced guide.
Enjoy some free time to explore the pretty cobbled streets and take a scenic cruise along the canals. Pass by the Begijnhof (convent) and the 12th century Basilica of the Holy Blood before making the journey back to Amsterdam in the evening.
This tour does not include hotel pick up/drop off or food/drinks. See the link below for more detailed info and to book your Bruges day trip online.
Getting from Amsterdam to Bruges
Train – Getting to Bruges from Amsterdam can easily be done by taking the train from the Amsterdam-Centraal train station. The journey will take around 3.5 hours and requires changing trains in Antwerp or Brussels and then a second time in Ghent.
The train tickets are pretty close to the same cost of taking a fully organised day tour from Amsterdam to Bruges. In my opinion it’s easier, quicker and cheaper to book a tour than arranging everything yourself but the option to take the train is there if you wish.
Bus – Taking the public bus from Amsterdam to Bruges will be a slightly longer journey of 5+ hours. Due to the length of travelling time, I would highly recommend spending longer than just a day if you’re taking the bus.
Taking the Flixbus will cost less than the train and offers several departure times throughout the day, however the travel time can be a little off-putting.
Rental Car – Having your own car will give you a lot more flexibility on a day trip to Bruges from Amsterdam. This makes it easy to take your time and stop as many times as you like along the way.
Every time we travel, we always use Rentalcars.com to find the best deals on car rentals. See the link below to search a variety of providers at the lowest prices.
The Best Time of Year for a Day Trip to Bruges from Amsterdam
Bruges is one of the most popular cities in Belgium for tourism. This means that no matter the time of year you visit, there will always be some crowds of tourists.
During the summer months (June – August) when the weather is warm and the days are longer, you can expect the narrow streets of Bruges to be packed full of crowds and tour groups. Wait times for attractions will be much longer, restaurants will be busier and cost of accommodation will be higher.
For reasonably nice weather and minimal crowds, the best time to visit Bruges would be during spring (April-May) or fall (September-October). Chances of rain will be a bit higher but it’s well worth it for a more enjoyable sightseeing experience. Just be sure to come prepared with a jacket or umbrella!
I recently spent a few days in Bruges for my birthday in the beginning of October. I was very lucky to have nice weather for the entire weekend, the temperatures were a comfortable 18-20°C and there was no rain!
A Brief History Of Bruges
Often referred to as the Venice of the North, the history of Bruges goes back a very long way. I was surprised to learn that the city was actually founded by Vikings in the 9th century. The name “Bruges” (or Brugge) is said to derive from the ancient Scandinavian word “Brygga” which means harbour.
During the 15th century, Bruges became one of the largest and richest cities in western Europe. During this Golden Age, Bruges was a major international trading centre due to its ideal location near the coast. The city flourished during this period when merchants from all over Europe settled in Bruges.
The wealth and prosperity of Bruges began to decline in the late 15th century when the Royal House of Burgundy left the city and the larger city of Antwerp took over most of the trading business. Bruges had subsequently lost its power and importance and by the end of the 16th century, it was one of the poorest cities in Belgium.
At the present day, Bruges is thriving once again thanks to its incredibly well preserved architecture and fascinating medieval history. In the year 2000, the entire medieval centre became recognised as a UNESO World Heritage Site. It is currently one of the most popular medieval cities to visit in Europe attracting nearly 9 million tourists per year!
Amsterdam to Bruges Day Trip Packing List
- Day pack – A good day pack is a necessity for a full day trip to Bruges.
- Good walking shoes – This day trip will involve a fair amount of walking so be sure to have a pair of comfortable shoes.
- Portable charger – It will be a long day and there will be many beautiful sites to capture so make sure your phone stays fully charged.
- Reusable water bottle – Bring a water bottle to ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Sunglasses – You’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors so make sure to protect your eyes from the harsh sun.
- Sunscreen – As mentioned above, keep yourself protected from the sun if you’re visiting Bruges during summer!
- Umbrella – If you’re visiting during bumper season, don’t forget to bring one!
- Rain jacket – The weather in Belgium can change pretty quickly, it’s always best to come prepared.
Where to Stay in Bruges
Perhaps you’ve decided not to make the 3 hour trek back to Amsterdam after your day trip to Bruges. Find some of the best located and highest reviewed accommodation options in Bruges below.
Snuffel Hostel – This budget friendly option is the perfect choice for those who wish to stay in the heart of Bruges. The hostel is very clean, offers free lockers and a great breakfast for only €4. There is a choice of private rooms or shared dorms.
Hotel Ter Brughe – Located in a scenic spot alongside a canal, this popular hotel is only a 8 minute walk from the Market Square. Stay in a historic building near the main attractions of Bruges with cosy rooms and private bathrooms. Option to include breakfast in your stay for an extra cost.
Hotel De Orangerie – Stay in a former 15th century convent on one of the main canals of Bruges. This stunning historic hotel is conveniently located only 250m from the Market Square. If you’re seeking a room with some character and style, look no further than this gem in the centre of town.
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