Take a hop on the map to get to know the charming city of Bruges, in the neighboring country of Belgium. This small medieval city is located just 3 hours from Amsterdam and is perfect for a day trip.
There are mainly two options to visit charming Bruges from Amsterdam. The first, one day, will allow you to discover the city to perfection and the second, two days, combines Bruges with a tour around the Dutch countryside. I'll tell you all about it below:
1. Excursions to Bruges from Amsterdam
The city of Bruges is, without a doubt, a fairytale place. If you think it can only be reached from Brussels, you are wrong. This beautiful Belgian city is just as accessible from Amsterdam and this tour to Bruges from Amsterdam makes it easy for you, taking you there and back in the same day.
What I will see on this tour
Incredible craft markets at the Grote Markt, the Main Square of Bruges with its 85-meter tower, the Belfort Tower; the idyllic Burg Square with the Town Hall; a mysterious lake of love, Minnewater; a tasting of the famous Belgian chocolate at a renowned chocolate shop and a Quay with the surname "the flowers". These are just some of the things you will enjoy on this day trip from Amsterdam to Bruges.
Bruges in the 21st century is a real trip back in time: although many of the structures you will see on your trip to Bruges have had to be renovated since 1900 due to the ravages of time and the floods caused by the Zwin River, this restoration was done following the neo-Gothic style prevailing at the time.
This tour, of 12 hours of total duration, organizes the whole trip to Bruges by bus so you do not have to worry about anything and also includes a guide in English.
Here is a list of all the wonders you will see during this day trip to Bruges:
- Minnewater Lake: the "Lake of Love". The guide will explain the history of Bruges and the love story linked to this lake.
- Begijnhof: founded in 1245, this site tells the story of an incredible group of women.
- Chocolalino: one of the few certified artisan chocolate stores, where you will have a delicious tasting to discover the secrets of Bruges chocolate.
- Walplein: a square where you will learn about the history of Bruges beer.
- Stoofstraat: here you will see original medieval houses.
- Mariastraat 23: a charming bridge perfect for taking the best pictures.
- Sint-Janshospitaal (Museum): where you will learn how the health system worked in medieval Bruges.
- Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, the Church of Our Lady: they will explain some curiosities about the white marble sculpture of the Virgin and Child created by Michelangelo.
- Gruuthusemuseum: you will learn about the history of the most famous and powerful family of Bruges between the 17th and 18th centuries.
- St Bonifacius Bridge: one of the most charming places in Bruges.
- Rose Quay: the most photographed place in Bruges, where you will discover the history surrounding this beautiful place.
- Huidenvettersplein: the Tanners' Square.
- Burg Square: one of the main squares of the city and home to the Gothic Town Hall, the former Palace of Justice and the Basilica of the Holy Blood.
- The Markt: the main and most important square in Bruges.
- Free time to visit the city for 2 hours.
2. Two-day tours to Bruges and the windmills of Zaanse Schans, Marken and Volendam
Want to make the most of your time near Amsterdam? Get to know the beautiful Belgian city of Bruges and add to that the more rural Holland. Everything you imagine when you think of Holland is what you are shown on this two-day bus tour to Bruges and the Dutch countryside. On this tour you will see the typical windmills, the production of its famous cheeses, bucolic landscapes and typical houses from the 15th century.
But let's start at the beginning of your adventure, let's start in Bruges. There you will spend a day accompanied by a guide, visiting some of the most fascinating attractions of the Belgian city, such as the Church of the Holy Blood, one of its most important squares, the Burg Square, its Kantcentrum Lace Center, which shows the history and importance of the renowned Bruges Lace School and the Groeningmuseum.
On the next day and back to Amsterdam will be when you know your postcard fields. You will see authentic windmills in Zaanse Schans, a town nestled on the banks of the river Zaan and dotted with traditional houses of the fifteenth century. On the way to Volendam you will pass through the polders, a term for the land that has been reclaimed from the sea and for which the official name of Holland is "Netherlands".
Volendam is one of the most beautiful fishing villages in the area thanks to its colorful houses, its narrow streets and its beautiful harbor founded in the 14th century. There you will access its cheese factory to learn about the cheese-making tradition of the country and enjoy a demonstration of its special elaboration.
From Volendam you will take a cruise, the Volendam-Marken Express, to visit the picturesque peninsula of Marken, another small fishing village, this one surrounded by the waters of Lake IJsselmeer and connected only by a 10-kilometer dike. In Marken you will understand how the Dutch live below sea level, see a demonstration of how another Dutch icon, the clogs, is created, and walk over beautiful bridges over small canals between wooden-fronted houses.
What you should note is that this excursion only includes the guided bus tour to the above locations, but does not include accommodation in Bruges or meals and drinks during the trip. Fortunately, Bruges is a very well prepared city to accommodate the traveler, so you should have no problem finding a place that suits your needs.
Itinerary from the tour to Bruges and the windmills of Zaanse Schans, Marken and Volendam
- Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges.
- Groeningemuseum, the museum of Belgian art, in Bruges.
- Kantcentrum, the Lace Museum, also in Bruges.
- Burg Square, one of the main squares in Bruges.
- Zaanse Schans, with the original windmills and a visit to an authentic Dutch windmill with a demonstration by a miller.
- Cheese Factory Volendam, the entrance to the cheese factory with a demonstration of cheese making.
- Volendam Marken Express. Boat trip on the Ijsselmeer to Marken.
What is included in the two-day excursion to Bruges and the windmills of Zaanse Schans, Marken and Volendam?
- Professional guide
- Air-conditioned vehicle
- Visit an authentic Dutch windmill and demonstration by a miller
- Boat trip from Volendam to Marken
- Entrance to the cheese factory in Volendam
Why is Bruges worth a visit?
Bruges is one of those places you have to visit at least once in your life. This Belgian city is a true delight for the senses. Bruges repeats the nickname "The Venice of the North" given to Amsterdam. It could not be otherwise, and the name itself gives us a clue of what it hides.
In Dutch 'brug' means bridge and this city is called with the plural of the term: 'bridges'. Like Amsterdam, this small town of 117,000 inhabitants lives and beats between numerous canals crossed by charming and numerous bridges, as well as presenting cobbled streets, beautiful squares and beautiful houses, some of them more than six centuries old, as if they were illustrations of a fairy tale.
A bit of history
It was these busy waterways that made Bruges, founded in the 11th century around a fortress, a hub of northern European trade until the 15th century, making it one of the most prosperous cities on the continent.
Today, the greatest treasure of Bruges is in its historic center, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2000, as it is one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world. Receiving more than 3 million tourists a year (it is the most visited Belgian city, even ahead of Brussels), Bruges is an unforgettable place to visit during your trip to Amsterdam.
Where to eat in Bruges?
As the tours that I recommend do not include meals among their services, I want to recommend some places where you can enjoy in addition to satiate your appetite after so many hours of visit. And, despite what you may think, the gastronomy of Bruges goes beyond waffles, beer, mussels or chocolate. The 7 best places to eat in Bruges:
- At Tattie's. The best sandwiches in town.
- Café de Gilde. To taste typical Belgian dishes in this restaurant of home cooking.
- Chez Albert. Sweeten your visit with the best waffles in Bruges.
- Beers Yesterday's World. The best place to taste the famous Belgian beer.
- Chez Vincent. Famous for its potatoes with sauce and its hamburgers.
- Soup, the healthiest option with delicious soups.
- De Karmeliet, the best restaurant in Bruges, with 3 Michelin stars. Reservations in advance are necessary.
Lunch and dinner times
Typical tourist question and very important, by the way. In Bruges have a schedule typical of the area of northern Europe in terms of meals, which are made between 12:00 and 14:00 at noon and between 20:00 and 21:30 for dinner. Keep this in mind especially when going to a restaurant, since the kitchens of many restaurants close after 14:00 for lunch and 21:30 for dinner.
Typical Bruges dishes
Don't you want to leave the Belgian country without trying some of its most typical dishes? Then prepare your stomach for delicious, but not exactly light, meals and don't miss the following list of succulent and tasty delicacies:
- Flemish Carbonara. A veal stew with beer sauce that is the most emblematic dish of Belgium.
- Waterzooi. This typical Flanders stew with vegetables, fish or chicken is ideal for cold winter days.
- Rabbit with cherry. Different and delicious, it is usually served with apple puree.
- Knuckle with mustard, reflecting the Germanic influence in its gastronomy.
- Mussels, they could not be missing. They are prepared in many ways, although the most typical ones are with celery and white wine.
- Beer, of course. In Belgium it can be even cheaper than water. The most typical beer in Bruges is the Brugse Zot, but there are dozens of great varieties.
- Leave some room to try their famous waffles!
Vicky's Traveller Tip
The climate in Bruges is similar to that of Amsterdam, so you won't need to pack extra clothes in your suitcase.
Other interesting activities in Amsterdam
If you want to continue discovering the surroundings of Amsterdam, I recommend you to explore the excursions that can be done in one day from the city. I leave you a guide I have written with what are, for me, the best visits you can do in Holland: 5 Best Day Trips from Amsterdam.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to squeeze the most out of the Dutch capital, I recommend you rent a bike or sign up for one of its many guided tours. I tell you all about it here: 6 Best Amsterdam Tours.
And finally, the complementary activity that every beer lover should take into account: the Heineken Experience Tickets and Tours in Amsterdam.
Frequently asked questions
How far is Bruges from Amsterdam?
Bruges is about 250 kilometers (155 miles) away from Amsterdam, Belgium. It takes between 2 hours and 40 minutes and 3 hours and 20 minutes to get there, depending on the type of transportation. While the train is the fastest, the most affordable option is the bus.
Why is Bruges so famous?
With more canals than Amsterdam, Bruges owes its fame to its many streets with canals and bridges. The city is also known for its fries, cookies, chocolates and beers, considered true delicacies.
What can you do in a day in Bruges?
Due to the nature of the old city of Bruges, many of its main sights can be visited in a single day, as they are in close proximity to each other.