‘Bruges can be explored entirely on the bike’ said Tom, my guide, as we got acquainted outside a bike rental on the cobbled streets of the Belgian city.

Dating back to the 9th century, Bruges  was discovered by the Vikings. It rose to a major trading town in the 12th century, owing to the excellent waterway connections. Since 20th century, it has continued to grow as a major tourist destination mainly due to the art and architecture of the city.

I got comfortable on my bike as we started our six-hour exploration of Bruges and its magical outskirts. We walked past the magnificent Belfort with our cycles. From Vlamingstraat, we pedalled towards Jan van Eyck’s statue on the intersection of Academiestraat and Spiegelrei.

The Burg Square was my last stop among the main sights in the city.

Riding on Coupure, we reached Conzett Bridge. Here began Bruges’ beauty. With wide open green spaces, waterways hugging the main centre and windmills dotting my trail, this Belgian city was nothing like I expected it to be. We crossed Kruispoort, a tower gate leading into the main city, and rode towards Sint-Janshuis Mill and Koelewei Mill.

A major turn across the highway took us to the countryside of Damme. Approximately 7 kilometres north-west of the Belfort, this town is frequented by tourists owing to its proximity to the city.

The scenes of the picturesque countryside were breathtaking. We rode along the banks of Damse Vaart or Damme Canal.

Damme is a medieval town, about 6 kilometres away from Bruges. This town was the transhipment port of Bruges. Pedalling along the Flemish agrarian villages, by the shade of the magnificent poplar trees, the countryside looked like a watercolour on canvas.

We parked our cycles outside De Uilenspiegel restaurant and tearoom and stopped for lunch. After a steak and a glass of sangria, I continued pedalling.

After crossing Damme, we continued riding perpendicular to the two big canals—Schipdonk and Leopold canal— towards the sleepy village of Oostkerke. It was approximately 4 kilometres away from the restaurant.

The first thing that struck me about Oostkerke were the trees that flanked the way to Oostkerke Castle. The path was mesmerising with these windswept trees and the comforting silence.

As we reached Sint-Kwintensstraat or Saint Quentin street, we turned our cycles around for our return towards Bruges. The distance we had to cover was 12 kilometres.

Crossing the crowded Beguinage towards Walplein, I began missing the serenity of Damme and Oostkerke. We paused for an ice-cream break here. As I sat amidst the crowd of tourists, souvenir shops and my bike on a side, I knew I had seen one of the most beautiful settings in the world.

Read: Madrid in a Day

One of the first sights of the waterways.
Away on cobbled streets.
As we moved away from Bruges.
Riding past Sint-Janshuis Mill and Koelewei Mill.
After crossing the highway, the scenes became even more spectacular.
Countryside visuals.
Tom explaining the bike lane codes to me.
Nature’s watercolour on our way to Damme.
The tall poplar flanked our way to Damme.
Looking from the other side of the canal.
Lunch and hydration break.
The introverted Oostkerke Castle.
The trees outside Oostkerke Castle, with thick trunks branching out vertically.
Admiring the pathway to Oostkerke Castle.
In the middle of nowhere.
The delicate Belgian lacework grace the windows.
Just another home.
As we returned to Bruges’ guild houses.

Where to eat

Bonte B; Dweersstraat 12, Bruges; +32 50 34 83 43
Brouwerij de Halve Maan; Walplein 26, Bruges; +32 50 44 42 22
De Uilenspiegel restaurant and tearoom; Kerkstraat 44, Damme; +32 50 73 40 78

Where to stay

Hotel Aragon; Naaldenstraat 22, 8000 Bruges; +32 50 33 35 33

Read: Photo Story: Florence, Italy

Which is your favourite bike-friendly European city?

Note: I was invited on this media trip by Visit Flanders.  

To see more photos from my travels Like my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram.

Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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17 thoughts on “Photo Story: Cycling Around Bruges, Belgium”

  1. Looking forward to one day getting to Bruges, on my own bicycle. I’ve heard, and the images confirm, that it’s a wonderful place to visit.

  2. Looks like a fun experience! We were in Brugges January this year and I absolutely loved it! <3 Almost like walking in a town in some other era! Wish we had gone a bit out like you as well :)

    1. Thank you for stopping by Nisha. Bruges is wonderful, whether on foot or on two wheels. I’m glad we both got a slice of it :)

  3. This is just, WOW! I’d read about the Damme Canal, but after figuring it was only doable on bike, I dropped it from the itinerary. But your pictures and account of the quaint things you saw along the way have given me sooo much FOMO, i’m scrambling to add it back! Will be there next week, so this post comes just in time! Also, don’t leave us hanging! More stories from this trip, please!

    1. How was your trip? Bruges is doable on bike, foot and anyhow. The beauty is a must see. I’m sure it made space in your trip :)

  4. Hey Amrita,
    Lovely photo essay and historical trivia, especially about the bits outside the old town. I’d been to Bruges old town and your photo essay has convinced me that I have to make another trip to this Flemish town and take this bike ride outside the old town. It’s a whole other world outside and it seems as stuck in time. Damme and apparently a brewery in Bruges are things yet to be seen.


  5. Hello! Nice blog, I hope you don’t mind us sharing it somewhere next week on our Facebook and Twitter channels. We will tag you of course!

    1. Hey, of course! Please feel free to share the blog link on our social media links and tag me. Thanks so much!

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