On our first visit to Belgium we wanted to see as much as possible but we were limited on time. We were staying in Brussels and weren’t sure when we would next get back to Belgium. We wanted to see something of Belgium outside of the capital and Quasimodo Tours seemed to have the answer – the Best of Belgium and Triple treat guided Tour from Bruges. Read on to find out if a day trip to Bruges and West Flanders from Brussels is worth your time.
Getting to Bruges from Brussels
The best method of transport for your day trip to Bruges and West Flanders from Brussels is to get the train from Brussels to Bruges. We found the trains to be reliable and fairly easy to use. You can prebook train tickets and check current timetables on the SNCB website.
When you arrive in Bruges you can arrange with Quasimodo Tours to collect you from the train station to start the tour. The Best of Belgium and Triple treat guided Tour is a full day tour from Bruges covering the Province of West-Flanders, which is where Bruges is located. The tour starts at 9.15am and finishes at approximately 5.30pm so you will want to plan your train journey to give you plenty of time.
Our first stop of the day was at Tillegem Castle which is just outside of Bruges. Tillegem Castle dates back to the 12th century and is locally known as Kasteel van Tillegem.
We stopped for around 20 minutes or so at Tillegem Castle giving us plenty of time to take in the huge building. Tillegem Castle is a moated medieval castle so the exterior with the moat was a sight to see.
A short drive from our first stop we pulled up to another castle, Loppem Chateau. More romantic than medieval this castle was built in the 1800s and the same family who built it still own Loppem Chateau today.
The Loppem Chateau is known for its art collection and you start seeing the collection as soon as you enter the castle in the grand entrance hall.
We got to tour inside of Loppem Chateau and it was as beautiful inside as it was outside.
The tour stays at Loppem Chateau much longer than we were at Tillegem Castle. We spent around 1 hour 30 minutes at Loppem Chateau which was just long enough to see plenty of the art collection and the castle interior as well as exploring the grounds.
Abbey ter Doest
The West Flanders area of Belgium certainly has its fair share of historical buildings. We left Loppem Chateau and our next stop was the former monastery of Ter Doest which has the oldest gothic building in Belgium.
You can get refreshments from the restaurant at ter Doest, this is also where you have the first part of the triple treat which is included in this tour. It’s at ter Doest that you get to try Belgian waffles. We do need to slap our wrists here though as we are missing a photo of the waffles!
The old building that dominates the landscape at ter Doest is the 13th century monastery ter Doest. This is the oldest gothic building in all of Belgium.
After leaving ter Doest we headed through the Belgian countryside. Soon the bus passed an impressive canal – the Damme Canal. This canal was built on the order of Napoleon Bonaparte and connects Bruges with the Western Scheldt at Sluis in the Netherlands.
You don’t spend long on the bus on this tour which we really appreciated. We came here to see more than the inside of a bus! We were soon off the bus again exploring Damme, which is a municipality to the north east of Bruges.
Our first stop in Damme was to see an old stone windmill – Schellemolen. It’s in a very picturesque setting on the edge of the town.
Damme is beautiful, as much as Bruges though it’s much smaller. We explored the town taking in the beautiful architecture here. In the 13th century Damme was the port for Bruges.
The last stops of the tour are back in Bruges. One of my favourite stops was near the end. Part 2 of the triple treat is Belgian chocolate. We were taken to Roose’s Chocolate World to see Belgian chocolate being made and to try some. You can also buy real Belgian chocolate here, they have every type of Belgian chocolate you could want. A great stop for buying gifts to take home – or just some for yourself!
The tour ends at a local brewery where you can end the day the right way trying different Belgian beers.
We got a late train back to Brussels from Bruges and we would recommend you do the same for your day trip to Bruges and West Flanders from Brussels. This tour has you spending most of the day outside of Bruges in the surrounding area which is well worth seeing – but so is Bruges itself.
Before heading back to Brussels spend at least a couple of hours after the tour exploring historic centre of Bruges which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The variety of architecture in the centre of Bruges has a bit of a Baltic feel about it. UNESCO describes the historic centre of Bruges as;
The Historic Centre of Brugge is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble, illustrating significant stages in the commercial and cultural fields in medieval Europe.UNESCO – Historic Centre of Brugge