Six amazing day trips from Brugge

posted in: Belgium | 43

A lot of visitors come Brugge (Bruges), otherwise known as the ‘ Venice of the North’. This pretty amazing city has a lot of amazing things to do and see like take a canal boat trip, climb the Belfry stairs and try a lot of frites on the streets. However a lot of visitors only stop here for a day trip from Bruxelles (Brussels) and go back. We are here to tell you that Brugge is more than a day trip and there is a lot of exciting (and historic) places to check out in the area. Here are our six top things to do away from this amazing city.

Brugge - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Beautiful Brugge with its famous canals

Gent (Gand/Ghent)

Another charming city to explore in the region is Gent which lies a thirty minute train journey south-east of Brugge. The centre of the city is a car-free zone and with its charming medieval architecture, walking around taking in the urban street views is a pleasant one. The main highlights to visit Gent has to be a visit to the Gravensteen, a beautiful castle next to the river which has stood here since 1180 and the Saint Bavo’s Cathedral (Sint-Baafs) with its impressive tower on the western facade. For us, the highlight has to be checking out the riverside in the heart of the centre and checking out the bars and restaurants on the main square which is a great way to end a pleasant day’s sightseeing.

Gent - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Gent by the River Leie
Gent - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Another view of Gent by the River Leie
Gent - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Beautiful Dutch-Style architecture in the centre of the city
Gent - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Gent Cathedral

Damme

A nice little side-trip has to be the village of Damme which is only 6km north of Brugge. The best way to get here is to cycle along the canals (one can hire bikes at the main train station) and check out the windmill (which is pretty we may add) before hitting up the centre of the village (the cycle route follows the canal from Brugge passing Damme to Sluis in The Netherlands which isn’t too far to cycle and is also an excellent day out from the centre of Brugge). Here there is a very small square with the main town hall in the centre with quite a few dining out options (and of course a few local bars to enjoy the beers). Near the centre is the ‘Church of our Lady’ where in the ground there is a famous sculpture by Charles Delporte called ‘Blik van Licht’ (A view of light). A little bit freaky with three faces on a head but worth getting freaked out.

Belgium - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
The cycle track from Brugge to Sluis via Damme
Damme - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Damme Town Hall
Damme - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Freaky head show!

Diksmuide

A short train journey south of Brugge is the small town of Diksmuide, flung out in the Flanders wilderness. Famous for its butter, this sleepy town was badly ruined during the first and second world wars when the area became a huge battlefield. The highlight of the town has to be the IJzertoren (Yser Tower) which is a peace monument built after the First World War but was demolished in 1946 after the Second World War, because there were lots and lots of Nazi German ceremonies in the years beforehand. The tower which stands today was built in the 1950s and is a great place to get a view of the town and the surrounding area from above. It’s not just a major viewpoint but also inside the tower it hosts a World War I museum where visitors can take in the smells of mustard gas which was commonly used during the war.

Diksmuide - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
The IJzer tower in Diksmuide
Diksmuide - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
A view from the top of the IJzer tower overlooking Diksmuide

Other things to do here is to have a nice meal next to the River Yser where’s in the town itself, there is the market square for great places to eat and drink and to see the town hall plus the belfry tower.

Diksmuide - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Diksmuide
Diksmuide - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Diksmuide


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Ieper

Near the French border and south of Brugge is the town of Ieper (the French name of Ypres is more commonly used). This beautiful small town with its cobbled streets and nice restaurants (and of course, the bars) are worth getting lost in. The main square with the huge cloth hall (which now houses the museum dedicated to the Flanders region and its role in the World Wars) dominates the square and on top of the building has one of the largest belfry towers in Belgium and France.

Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Ieper’s Cloth Hall and Belfry tower

Just to the north of the square is the ‘Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing’ which commemorates the soldiers of the British Commonwealth (apart from Newfoundland and New Zealand) who fell in the area during the First World War before 16th August 1917 who have no known grave. (Others who died after this date are commemorated elsewhere including those from Newfoundland and New Zealand). The memorial now has over 54,000 names inscribed into bricks.

Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Menin Gate
Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Menin Gate
Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Menin Gate
Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Menin Gate
Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Menin Gate
Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Menin Gate

The location to the memorial is important as it lies on the eastward route from the centre. This route is where the soldiers would have left the town and many never returned. Every evening since 1928 (apart from when the Nazi Germans were occupying Ieper), the traffic around the Menin Gate has been stopped while the Last Post is sounded beneath the gate by the local fire service. A moving touch and something worth watching and remembering those who have fallen.      

“Who will remember, passing through this Gate,

The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?”

— Siegfried Sassoon, On Passing the Menin Gate

Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Menin Gate

To the east of the town is Sanctuary Wood Museum (Hill 62) which is where a lot of trenches built by the British have been left intact in woodland to give visitors what life was like during the First World War. Also here is a museum where a lot of items found in the area from weapons to bomb shells are displayed and is worth a few hours to check out.

Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
The trenches at Hill 62
Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
The trenches at Hill 62
Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
The trenches at Hill 62
Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
The museum at Hill 62
Ieper/Ypres - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Painting of a scene in Flanders region of Allied Forces against the Nazi Germans in the trenches

De Panne 

The westernmost town in Belgium is on the North Sea coast and has beautiful sandy beaches nearby (but only go on a very hot day here otherwise it can get very cold and windy). The town is an important transport hub for cars (as it’s on the main highway between Dunkerque and Bruxelles) and in the past a lot of drivers would stop here to go ‘shopping’ for cheaper goods (on their way to France or Great Britain) and also one of the main train from Bruxelles terminates here (in the past there was a train line from here to Dunkerque but hasn’t operated in years but there are plans to bring it back, instead a bus service operates).

De Panne - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Beautiful canals to cycle and walk along outside the town of De Panne
De Panne - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Belgium does have fun as well in this region – its Plopsaland theme park where characters from Studio 100 are found.

Verne

Between De Panne and Diksmuide is this beautiful small town where the centre is surrounded by a canal. A popular destination for cyclists to have a rest stop (cycling in this part of the world is a major draw and the cycle tracks are amazing, check out Danik’s ride from UK to Netherlands which came through Flanders HERE), as there is plenty of good bars and restaurants in the main square.

Verne - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
The main square in Verne
Verne - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
The main square in Verne

We really hope you like our suggestions for day trips whilst staying in Brugge. Have you been to any of these places? We would love to hear your views.

Belgium - Six amazing day trips from Brugge
Belgium border sign near Verne

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43 Responses

  1. Robin Rue

    I have never even heard of Brugge, but it sounds like there is a lot to do there and in the surrounding area. Thanks for the travel tips.

  2. The scenery is beautiful! The architectural designs of those buildings are stunning. I could walk around and look at them all day long. These surely are amazing day trips.

  3. Our Family World

    Thanks for taking me on a virtual tour of beautiful places in Belgium. For now, I can only dream of places like these. The architecture of the buildings are just awesome, and the memorial is so moving.

  4. Your architecture shots are just amazing! I would absolutely love to travel to Belgium one day and take my own photos!

  5. Brugge is one place I haven’t visited. Love looking at all your photos. The old buildings just fascinate me. Love the history and learning about different places.

  6. I love all these photos. I was in Brugge YEARS ago–as a teenager, so I didn’t really appreciate it. I’d love to go back someday.

  7. I honestly didn’t know Bruges had so much to offer, thanks for the recommendations. I am due to visit Brussels soon so I will make time for Bruge and most especially want to visit Ghent

  8. Oh my goodness at school I went to Ypres and as part of that we went to Hill 62, even just looking at your photos brought back the haunting chill I felt walking around it.

  9. Day trips are my favorite way to get away. The kids also love driving somewhere, exploring for a few hours and then coming back home at night. It sounds like there’s a lot to do around here.

  10. Ohhhhhh I totally need to check out Bruges. I so didn’t know that it had so much great things to do and see. This place looks awesome.

  11. Wow Brugge looks absolutely beautiful! I would love to go if I am ever in Belgium!

  12. Claudia Krusch

    These are great day trips to do around Brugge. I am always looking for new places to explore.

  13. Wow! What an amazing and beautiful place! How I wish I can be here! 🙂

  14. Ayushi Arora

    The architecture there looks amazing, some gothic architecture with pale colors. Also I loved the clown sculpture that was there. The palm trees on Damme gives an astonishing look. It was wonderful!

  15. I would LOVE to take any one of these. I’ve always thought that was such an interesting area.

  16. Amazing! I would love to visit these places. Canal boat trip sounds fun too.

  17. Bonnie G

    Looks like a great place to visit and experience a lot of different things. Loved the pictures.

  18. It is just an amazing place to visit. All pics are so beautiful. The scenery is so catchy.

  19. Danik really awesome. I’ve heard of Gent before but never knew it had car-free zones. Pulls me in to visit even more. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Ryan

  20. Fi Ni Neachtain

    The architecture is so amazing in Belgium, isn’t it? So many great places to visit. I know my other half would love to visit the Menin Gate.

  21. I’ve heard so much about Gent, I even have friends living there and I still haven’t managed to visit. I definitely need to do it soon!

  22. I’ve heard Ghent is amazing. I have yet to visit Brugge but my husband has seen the film In Brugge and said it looks a fascinating place.

  23. Megan Jerrard

    I’ve visited Brugge and loved it, though I was one of those who made the day trip from Brussels. Now I see that it would be a great base in it’s own right for discovering more of the surrounds. Thanks for this list of day trips!

  24. I’ve been to Flanders before, but just to the major cities and really want to go back and explore more of the countryside and the smaller towns. And relax. And eat chocolate.

  25. Great posts guys. I have wanted to visit ypres for a long time since I found out about my Great Uncle who died in the first World War and was buried not far from Ypres. I imagine it is such an emotional place to visit, my Grandparents visited a few years back and said it was such a moving experience. However, they also told me how nice Brugges is and well, they made that film too! ha ha!

  26. Gent looks gorgeous, especially that cathedral, absolutely stunning!

  27. Oh my gosh, Gent looks absolutely incredible!! I had no idea!!

  28. Ghent is one of my favorite cities! I wasn’t much a fan of Brugge. I wish I could have seen some of these other small cities in Belgium, though! Guess I have to go back…. 🙂

  29. Vicki Louise

    So many great day trip ideas here – I really need to explore Brugge itself before thinking about day trips, but its so nice to know there are so many options available that you could use to build a really complete itinerary.

  30. Thank you for mentionning the Yser tower in this blogpost 🙂

    Greetings from Diksmuide!

  31. I don’t know which of these 6 great side trips I’d rather do – they all have unique and interesting attractions like Diksmuide’s Yser tower and the trenches at Ypres – so the only solution would be to stay in Bruges another week, and do them all!

  32. Looks completely fascinating. From food, architecture, history, and landscapes it is a beautiful area. Interesting how one area can be a display of how wonderfully creative and productive people can be while at the same time can be display of how destructive also.

  33. Never heard of this place but it looks beautiful and sounds like a great destination! Thanks for sharing

  34. Bruges is really charming. I find Ghent really fascinating too. I remember a poem that we learned in English which was titled, “How they brought the good news from Ghent to Aix”. Would love to visit these places someday.

  35. Ah great info here! I’d love to visit one day. I’d really love to see that cute town Ieper, it looks awesome 🙂 🙂

  36. Bruges is one of those fairytale towns which set the standards so high, that few others can surpass them. Unfortunately, we missed Ghent, but to be honest, I hadn’t heard of any of the five towns that you mention here.

  37. Brugge is a spectacular destination, Danik! It is a piece of paradise!

  38. I think I am completely in love with Gent! The architecture is simply stunning and I can spend days walking around, clicking and walking around more. I feel there is magic in the city 🙂

  39. I love Belgium and I adored Brussels but am yet to make it to Brugge. I now realise I need much longer than anticipated. I’ve heard of Gent but not the others – all look like exactly where I’d want to spend some time!

  40. I had thought that there is nothing much to do in Brugge apart from spending a day, well, I’m so wrong! I would love to check out the memorial and spend some more days! Love the architecture.

  41. Ghent is one of my favorite places in Belgium! I just found the architecture stunning and the city itself to be really clean and charming. I’ll definitely bookmark this post and check out the rest of these places in the future. Thanks for sharing!

  42. These all look awesome but I keep hearing about Ghent! I think I need to prioritize a visit. I’ve never been to Belgium but as a foodie and beer lover I think I need to put it on my list!

  43. I travelled to Brussels and Ghent last June and I loved it! The vibe, the architecture, both cities were amazing. I have yet to explore the others you’ve mentioned above. Can’t wait to do so one day!

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