One day we did a day-trip from Bruges, taking a vintage paddle steamer out to the tiny quaint village of Damme. It was a little tricky to find – we took a bus to outer Bruges and walked through the suburbs to the canal and the waiting paddle-steamer. See directions below.
In sunny weather this would be a pleasant shady trip down the waterways, but otherwise it was a little chilly. It was nice to sit and watch the world go by, but there wasn’t much in the way of scenic views, apart from farmland, a few houses, and a windmill as we arrived in Damme.
Damme was small and quaint, and much quieter than Bruges. Only the most determined tourists had made the trip there. There were only a couple of streets to it, so we had a quick walk, peeked into a local art-gallery and a church, then had a lunch of crepes (cash only, no cards), before taking the paddle-steamer back again. We were only in Damme for 2 hours, but you can choose which boat to take out and back.
Overall, it was nice to see sleepy Damme, and it is often interesting to get off the beaten track a bit and see some of rural Belgium and the outskirts of Bruges which we wouldn’t otherwise have got to. However I much preferred Bruges so on reflection I think our time would have been better spent in Bruges which is a much larger, with much more choice for food etc and also more scenic!
How to get to Damme:
Paddle-Steamer: The Paddle Steamer goes from Lamme Goedzak Terminal on the canal. This isn’t in central Bruges so you will need to get there first. You can either take the bus or walk from central Bruges.
We took bus 4 from central Bruges (the bus stop outside Sint-Salvatorskathedraal). It was around a 20 minute bus ride, and we got off the bus at Brugge Sint-Jozef (which is 2 bus stops past Dampoort). From the bus stop, we walked 5 minutes down the suburban street Louis de Potterstraat, to the canal. The paddle steamer was moored at Lamme Goedzak Terminal, and you will see it waiting (assuming you are arriving at a time when the boat is due to go – see online for the timetable).
On the way back, we walked from Lamme Goedzak Terminal back to central Bruges to save the bus fare, and also to explore the Northern quarter of Bruges. It took around 30 minutes, but you can walk past several windmills and through the quaint streets so it was a pleasant walk.
The Paddle Steamer itself to Damme is fairly expensive and cost 13 Euros return per person. Plus the bus from central Bruges cost around E4 each.
Bike: You can rent bikes in Bruges. This is the kind of thing we would normally cycle as a day-trip, but I was hesitant as I was pregnant (and unfit), and it was cold weather, so we opted for public transport. However when I saw how slow the paddle-steamer went, and how flat the cycle path was, I immediately realised we could have easily managed it by bike!
Also, just to add another combination, you could cycle one-way and take the paddle-steamer back, as I think they allow bikes on board.
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