How to get to Bruges and Ghent in a day from London

The town of Bruges is lovely and draws many people to its peaceful cobbled streets and beautiful canals. If you’re already planning a visit there and with neighbouring Ghent so close by, why not just combine them both! You have to be organised and keep to time so you can make all your train connections, but it’s easy to do. Read on for how to get to Bruges and Ghent in a day from London!

Contents

1. Planning and booking tickets

The best way to visit both Bruges and Ghent in a day is to travel by train. Travelling by Eurostar and with a journey time of about 2 and a half hours, it’ll take no time at all to get to both.

When booking your Eurostar tickets, make sure you choose your arrival station as either ‘Any Belgian station (via Brussels)’ or ‘Bruges (with Any Belgian Station ticket)’. Doing this means you can travel from St Pancras International to Brussels Midi/Zuid station, then catch another train to Bruges – all without needing to pay a separate fare from Brussels.  You’ll only need to buy a ticket from Bruges to Ghent, and then from Ghent to back to Brussels.

Eurostar - booking tickets for Brussels_Ria Vistas
Eurostar - booking tickets for Brussels

2.  6:13 am-9:22am: From St Pancras International to Brussels

Start your trip by heading to London’s St Pancras International for the Eurostar train to Brussels. If you can, book the earliest train possible so that you have more time to split between each city. I took the 6:13am which got me in to Brussels at 9.22am.

Eurostar at St Pancras International London_RiA Vistas
Eurostar at St Pancras International London

The train from London may also make stops at Ashford International and Ebsfleet International before reaching Brussels. If those stations are more convenient, book a train from either of those.

Brussels Midi train station - Belgium_RiA Vistas
Brussels Midi train station - Belgium
Destinations
Blue divider - thin
Tips & Advice

3.  9:53am – 10:51am: From Brussels to Bruges

The Eurostar’s last stop is Brussels Midi – also known as Brussels Zuid. When you get off, make your way down to level 1 for all of the other platforms. You’ll also find access to the metro from this level too.

Trains to Bruges depart every 15 minutes and there are many of them! It’ll take approximately an hour to get there from Brussels. It does stop at Ghent along the route but don’t get off then!

To get to the town, exit via the main entrance and walk straight across the road – you’ll cross over the canal. Continue ahead and make your way through the cobbled streets.

Stunning Rozenhoedkaai - Bruges
Rozenhoedkaai - Bruges

If you need a head start, here are a few things you can do in Bruges in a couple of hours:

  • Stop by the Church of Our Lady Bruges
  • Wander through Dijver market along the canal
  • Take some pictures by Rozenhoedkaai
  • The Basilica of the Holy Blood
  • Stroll around Grote Market (Markt)
  • Grab a bite to eat at Lizzie’s Waffles
Along Dijver Market - Bruges
Along Dijver Market - Bruges
Some real tasty waffles at Lizzie's Wafels - Bruges
Lizzie's Wafles - Bruges

4.  2:31pm-3.19pm: From Bruges to Ghent

After you’ve spent some time in Bruges, head back to the station for the train to Ghent.  The journey from Bruges to Ghent will only take you about 30 minutes.

It’s at this point, you’ll need to decide which station to get off at in Ghent as you have two options.  The first is Ghent Sint-Pieters – the main station.

Gent Dampoort - Ghnet
Gent Dampoort - Ghnet
Try some nose of Ghent
Nose of Ghent
Beautiful Ghent Canal
Ghent Canal - Ghent

From Ghent Sint-Pieters, it’s about a 30-minute walk from the town centre.  You can also get the number 1 tram from there and get off at Korenmarket.  

The other option is to get off at Bruges Dampoort station. It’ll shave about 10 minutes off your walk to the centre. From there you could also take the number 3 bus.

Here’s a few things to see and do while in Ghent

  • Wander around the Korenmarkt square
  • Visit Gravensteen – the medieval castle
  • Stop by St. Nicholas Cathedral
  • Climb up Ghent Belfry
  • Try some Nose of Ghent
  • Visit the Patershol neighbourhood
  • Stroll around Baudelopark

6.   6.25pm – 7:07pm: Ghent to Brussels

After you’ve wandered around Ghent, tried some Nose of Ghent and pretty much tired yourself out, it’ll be time to head back to Brussels. Take the tram, bus or taxi back to either Dampoort or Sint-Pieters stations.

You’re back in Brussels, so where to next?

Well, I wanted to show you how you can get to Bruges and Ghent in a day from London and you’ll see that, although this itinerary is quite tight, it’s certainly doable to get back to London in the same day after your whistle-stop tour of Bruges and Ghent. This is based on actual train times. If you do really only have one day to do both, then this is how you can do it.

So, is it back to London…?

Brussels Train Station - Belgium

6.   7:34pm-10:38pm: Brussels to St Pancras International

If you have to head back, the latest train you could get back to London from Brussels would be around 7.30pm. Check the timings as this may change based on the time of year.   But if you fancy spending a bit more time…

Brussels train station - Belgium_RiA Vistas
Outside Brussels train station - Belgium

How about a stay in Brussels?

Since you can easily spend about four to five hours in each city, why not extend your trip and stay in Brussels for a night or two.  I did that, visited both Bruges and Ghent in the same day, and then stayed two nights in Brussels.   If you decide to stay in Brussels, you can spend longer in each of the cities and use Brussels as your base.

Personally, based on my experience of visiting Bruges this time and previously, I’d suggest spending a bit more time there.  It’s absolutely gorgeous!

Check out my post on more things to do in Bruges and Ghent.

Let me know how you get on!

Brussels
Overlooking Brussels

8.  Tips

  • All the stations have luggage lockers so if for some reason you’re carrying a little extra, you can leave your things there.  If you decide to stay on in Brussels, you can leave your luggage at Brussels Midi/Zuid station.
  • If you do decide to leave any luggage, there’s a staffed luggage area or automatic lockers. In the automatic section there are three locker sizes, and the prices start at €4 for the smallest one and go up to €5.50 for the biggest. Make sure you have some lose change on you as the machines only take coins.
  • Eurostar occasionally has offers on some of its routes with tickets from £29 one-way. To make sure you know when these tickets get released, it’s worth signing up to its newsletter.
  • You could also add a few days and stay in Brussels if you have time.  Which is what I did.
Locker storage at Brussels Midi_RiA Vistas
Locker storage at Brussels Midi train station
Get an activity

Want to look for activities in Bruges?

For more, read my post on things to do in Bruges and Ghent.
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