Can you see Bruges in a day? Yes you can if you narrow your sightseeing list to the top five things I have listed here. If you are a foodie, or love history, then Bruges is the perfect destination for you. It combines contemporary art and architecture with the historic canal-filled center of town. This town has been deemed one of the most romantic cities in the world and I must agree.
Hidden Gem: Windmills
A hidden gem, not far from the main attractions of Bruges, are the windmills.
The four remaining windmills are located just slightly outside the city center on the east side of town.
The oldest of the structures was built over 300 years ago. At one point, there were 23 windmills that were used to grind corn, flour, and press oil.
Address: Sint-Janshuismolen, Kruisvest 3, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Rozenhoedkaai is an area that you cannot miss. It is also one of the most popular and most photographed. Can you see why? It’s so beautiful, no matter what weather you encounter while visiting.
Two canals converge in a neighborhood that is brimming with cafes, charming architecture, and boats. Here you’ll easily find a quaint little place to grab a drink or cup of coffee.
If you are interested in a canal tour, this is the area to pick up a boat.
Gather your strength, take a deep breath, and climb the 366 steps to the top of the Belfry.
A UNESCO World Heritage-listed building, it remains one of the oldest examples of medieval urban and public architecture. Panoramic views await the visitor at the top.
The tower also holds more than 40 bells that are played on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 a.m. to noon.
Address: Markt 7, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Admission: The climb will cost adults 12 euros (around $13), and youth ages 6 to 25 10 euros (about $11) to enter the Belfry. Entrance is free for kids 5 and younger and those with a Musea Brugge Card. The Belfry is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
If religious relics interest you, then stop by the Basilica of the Holy Blood. This church displays, what they believe to be the blood of Christ for all to see. The structure itself is from the 12th century and houses the relics of St. Basil the Great and multiple paintings and sculptures.
If you visit during the month of May, the basilica hosts the Procession of the Holy Blood. This celebration dates back to the 1300s and the blood relic is paraded through the streets accompanied by approximately 1,700 and around 30,000 spectators.
Address: Burg 13, 8000 Brugge, Belgium / The basilica is located just east of the Belfry.
Admission: It is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2 to 5:30 p.m. The basilica itself is free to visit, but tickets to the treasury museum cost 2.50 euros (about $2.75).
Sint-Janshospitaal (St John's Hospital)
Check out the 12th-century Sint-Jans hospital that served as a medical ward for those in need.
At the time of its founding, it also served as a place where weary travelers could find shelter and a hot meal.
Over time it evolved into more of a medical hospital and was used until 1978 when a brand new, updated hospital was built outside the town center.
The oldest part of the structure now serves as a museum that shows what life was like in the old hospital.
Address: Mariastraat 38, 8000 Brugge, Belgium