Europe

Bruges, Belgium

A Guide to the Best Places to Run in Bruges and Surrounding Countryside

Located in the Flemish region of Belgium, Bruges is the capital and largest city in the province of West Flanders. As one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, this UNESCO World Heritage city has a population of about 200,000 but attracts nearly 7 million visitors annually. The small old city is surrounded by four gates along the old rampart, although Bruge’s official limits stretch down to the Zeebrugge, or port, on the North Sea. From the ramparts around the preserved old city, to path-lined canals, fields, farmland, and great beaches and boardwalks of the nearby coast, running in Bruges is a sheer delight.

The best places to run in Bruges, and a great way to see the old city, are the inner or outer canal paths. Nearby, there are wonderful trails by castles in Tilleghem and an extensive network of canal paths that are popular for biking and running. We also love the 6 km canal-side run the the pretty town of Damme. On the coast about 15 km north, there are miles of ocean-side paths and fantastic beach running in Blankenberge, De Hann, and Ostend, and the unique Zwin Nature Park. For park-like and wooded paths, we recommend Ryckevelde, Beisbroek Forest, and the extensive network in Bulskampveld. The countryside around Bruges is also lovely for running — there are extensive paths and quiet rural roads passing by fields, farms, and historic sights of the Great War.

There is decent public transport in the area, consisting mainly of buses and trams. A light rail does go to the coast, and trains to other cities in Europe. For exploring the countryside, a car is helpful.

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Some of our favorite runs in Bruges, Belgium

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Inner Canal Route

Bruges Area, Belgium

A short loop of Bruges's Inner Canal packs in a lot of key sites. Most of the route is along the water, which is lined with older homes and buildings. Can be combined with other sections of historic Bruges or sections of the outer canal loop, ~1 km away.
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Run to Damme

Bruges Area, Belgium

A wonderful canal-side run for 6 km to the historic town of Damme. Pretty and pastoral. Options for paths on either side of the canal. Includes a 1.5 km loop around the star-shaped moat encircling Damme. Out and back or bus for return.
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Tilleghem Forest & Castle

Bruges Area, Belgium

This park-like area, 7 km south of Bruges, offers some wonderful running opportunities. There are numerous paths winding through fields, woods, and meadows...and a castle! There are several marked trails that can be done as running loops.
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Beisbroek Forest

Bruges Area, Belgium

Forest park 10 km southwest of Bruges offering numerous paths that are pleasant for running. Mainly wooded, and fairly gentle trail running. Can be combined with Tillegembos for a longer run.
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Ryckevelde Area

Bruges Area, Belgium

A 180-hectare area centered around a historic castle, offering a good variety of running opportunities. Located in the suburb of Sint-Kruis, 6 km east of Bruges. Two well-marked running loops combine woods, fields, meadows, gardens, and a castle.
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Zwin Nature Park

Bruges Area, Belgium

This 159-acre nature park, located 20 km northeast of Bruges offers numerous paths along coastal plain, salt marshes, dunes, and along the water. Get away from the 'tourist' area of the park to the outer paths for some lovely running.
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Bulskampveld Area

Bruges Area, Belgium

A forest area located 12 km south of Bruges. Excellent variety across some 150 km of trails, from walled landscaped gardens to stately avenues, quiet roads past country residences, and many wooded paths.
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Bruges has an oceanic climate, with cool winters and mild summers. Average high temperatures in summer are in the 23C range (73F), with cool-ish nights. Winters are cool and feature a lot of overcast, with temperatures typically around 6C (mid-40sF) during the day and around freezing at night. The 836mm (33 inches) of rainfall are fairly well spread out throughout the year. For running, always best to bring layers and something for wet weather, since there is precipitation on about 40% of days. 

Running Stores

There are numerous stores in the area to buy running and outdoor gear. Best spots include:

Running Center has numerous stores in the area.

Jack Wolfskin has a store in central Bruges.

Tri-Active sells running and other outdoor gear in Oostend.

Group Runs

The Bruges Jogging Club has weekly runs Wednesday and Sunday mornings in the Ryckeveldebos area.

 

Bruges is a small city so there are only a handful of running races right in the city. But there are many events occurring in the surrounding towns and countryside — here’s a good running calendar for Belgium.

Great Bruges Marathon. October. Neat run to the coast.

The Midsummer Run is a popular race held in June near the solstice in nearby Kortrijk.