48 Hours in Bruges - Two Days Highlights Itinerary
Bruges is one of the most romantic cities in Europe. It’s manicured Medieval homes line cobblestone streets and dreamy canals. The city looks like it belongs in a fairy tale, and we’ll show you how to explore it.
If you’ve got two days in Bruges, you’ll have enough time to sample pralines, absorb the history and check off all the top attractions.
On day 1 in Bruges, you’ll take a free walking tour, see one of Michelangelo’s famous sculptures and tour the Half Moon Brewery. On day 2 in Bruges, you’ll climb the Belfry Tower, see a diamond polishing demonstration and visit one of Europe’s oldest hospitals.
Bruges has a rich history and culture. There’s a lot to explore! In fact, the whole historic city center is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the Golden Age, Bruges flourished as a commercial port and a mercantile haven. The famous Market Square in Bruges was used as a marketplace for the last 10,000 years! Historical significance is everywhere…
For walking directions to all of the top tourist attractions, save this Bruges Tourist Map to help guide your way around this 48 hours in Bruges itinerary.
Day 1 in Bruges – Morning
You’ll want to start your first day of two days in Bruges at Bakery Sint-Paulus. The pastries here are divine! It’s also the perfect place to grab a sandwich or snack for later. This amazing bakery in Bruges is located a few minutes from Market Square. The Market Square is your first destination in Burges. This is where you’ll meet up with your Bruges Free Walking Tour.
When I’m in Europe, I love taking free walking tours. These tours operate on tips, so the guides are usually extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic. We took Viva’s Tour of Bruges and had the most passionate guide. This tour is the perfect introduction to your visit of Bruges and will help you understand the city when having just 48 hours in Bruges. You’ll get to hear a bit of the history and get your bearings on the surroundings.
Next you’ll visit the Groeningemuseum— it’s the Fine Arts Museum of Bruges. The content encompasses six centuries of Belgian and Flemish paintings. Most notably, works by Jan van Eyck. Jan van Eyck is one of the heroes of Bruges. There’s even a beautiful square in Bruges named after him! He is credited to igniting the early Renaissance painting movement in Northern Europe. Also, he was one of the first painters to sign his artworks.
Once you’ve had your fill of paintings, you’ll want to check out one incredible sculpture. The Church of Our Lady of Bruges contains the only Michelangelo work to ever leave Italy during his life. This famous Madonna and Child has a distinctly dark style as Mary faces away from the baby Jesus and he sits loosely on her lap. When this sculpture was made, it was not received well by the Catholic Church in Italy, thus had the privilege of making its way to Belgium.
Day 1 – Afternoon
Book a brewery tour at the Half Moon Brewery around lunchtime. Then you’ll have the opportunity to redeem your free beer and have lunch on their terrace. The canal-side terrace at the Half Moon Brewery offers stunning views of Bruges. Although, it’s not as impressive as the panoramic views of Bruges you’ll see during the Half Moon Brewery Tour. The tour gives you access to the building’s exclusive rooftop.
The Half Moon Brewery is the oldest brewery in Bruges that is still in operation today. There was a brewery at the site of Half Moon for the last 500 years! The current brewery has been a family run business for 5 generations. The Half Moon Brewery’s most iconic beer is Brugse Zot —a delicious blonde ale with a malty aroma and a unique bitter flavor. Do not spend 48 hours in Bruges without trying it!
Interesting Fact about the Half Moon Brewery: they have a beer pipeline! That’s right… a 2 mile long beer pipeline brings fresh brew from the distillery in Bruges to their countryside bottling plant.
After you’ve enjoyed your brewery tour and lunch, you’ve got to take a canal cruise through Bruges. There are 6 locations that offer the same 30 minute tour. Only one company is permitted to use the waterways in Bruges because the canals are so narrow. From the canals, you’ll get a unique perspective on this charming city. It’s the perfect time to snap photos of the distinctly Medieval facades and make memories of your 48 hours in Bruges.
Day 1 – Evening
You’ll want to have dinner at the Belgian Pigeon House. It’s refined dining in the heart of Bruges with rustic charm and unbelievable flavors. The main dining room is inside, but they can fashion an outdoor table for you if preferred.
After dinner, if your 48 hours in Bruges are in the summer, make sure to check out Jan Van Eyck Square before sunset. It’s one of the hidden gems in Bruges with lovely homes, a statue of Jn Van Eyck and plenty of park benches. It’s a haven away from the crowds and tourists of Market Square.
Day 2 in Bruges – Morning
Your first stop on day 2 in Bruges is the monumental Belfry Tower. Arrive right around 9:45 AM to ensure your spot on the first climb up. Come any later in the day, and you may wait over an hour in line! This Medieval bell tower has become synonymous with Bruges. It’s a key feature of the Bruges UNESCO site… Views from the top are divine!
Once you’ve climbed the Belfry tower, grab a snack. There’s a local favorite Belgian fries stand at near the base of the Belfry tower, or you can grab the very instagrammable waffle-on-a-stick at Go.fre Brugge.
Your next sightseeing spots in this 48 hours in Bruges itinerary include Basilica of the Holy Blood, the Bruges City Hall building and the Old St. John’s Hospital Museum.
Basilica of the Holy Blood is a very tiny church and quick to visit. It has a distinct and dramatic Gothic facade, as well as two drastically different interior chapels. Make sure to check out the church’s namesake relic —a repository for the holy blood.
Proceed to the Burges City Hall building. You can visit inside if you’d like to see the famous “Gothic Hall,” and the richly decorated chambers. Although, it’s enough to appreciate the splendid architecture of the building’s exterior. This, after all, was a city hall that many buildings were later modeled after. It was built in the early 15th Century and well represented the significance and economic power of Bruges during this time.
Finally, don’t skip Old St. John’s Hospital Museum! It’s one of Europe’s oldest surviving hospital buildings. You must walk through the historic wards and check out some of the earliest medical instruments. There are also many remarkable paintings.
Day 2 – Afternoon
During your afternoon in Bruges, try to catch a Diamond Polishing Show. On weekends you can catch one at 12:15 and 3:15PM. These are held at the Bruges Diamond Museum. Many don’t realize that diamonds were polished in Bruges long before they were traded in Amsterdam and Antwerp. Bruges was instrumental to the 15th Century diamond trade, so it’s worth spending some of your 48 hours in Bruges learning about diamonds and this is the perfect place!
Next, learn more about Medieval life for women at the Bruges Begijnhof. You’ll find this hidden courtyard past a door on a bridge. The door is inscribed with the date 1776. Inside the Begijnhof, you’ll find a museum, church and a cozy community.
Day 2 – Evening
On your final evening in Bruges, you’ve got to have a praline sampling experience. I recommend The Chocolate Line or any other member of the Guild of Bruges Chocolatiers. You can identify members of the Guild of Bruges Chocolatiers by an insignia outside the store. It looks like a yellowish/gold cocoa bean bordered by 2 white swans and a red ribbon across. The lowercase letter “b” is written on the cocoa bean (shown below).
Bruges is one of the best places in the world to eat chocolate! So, make sure that you’re eating chocolate that’s authentic to Bruges! After you’ve had your fill of pralines (and maybe some Belgian hot chocolate yummm…), take a stroll through Minnenwater Park.
If you’re in Bruges with a significant other, make sure to kiss in Minnenwater Park’s Lovers Bridge. Gaze out on to the Lake of Love. Watch the sun set at the historic Quay of the Rosary. Finally, end your 48 hours in Bruges by enjoying dinner at Restaurant De Gouden Kroes.
Considering Brussels too? Then check out our 48 Hours in Brussels itinerary!
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About the Author: Valentina’s Destinations was born from my obsession with meticulously researching, organizing and planning my travel itineraries. I’m originally from Serbia, but I grew up in Chicago. I love hunting down local restaurants, unique experiences and hidden gems.