Damme was once Brugge's outer harbor where ships loaded and unloaded their cargo until 1520 when the inlet silted over. It was at one time an important village, the marriage of Charles the Bold and Margaret of York was celebrated here in 1468.
We took the paddleboat SW Lamme Goedzak to Damme but I think a better way to visit might be to rent a bicycle. It's only 4-5 miles from Brugge to Damme, there's a flat straight path along the canal and it's quicker than the paddleboat plus you aren't tied to the paddleboat's schedule. The paddleboat was 6.70E return (6.50E for us with our hotel discount card) and the paddleboat only ran 5 times a day, roughly every two hours between 10am and 6pm. The ride took about a 1/2 hour.
After we got off the paddle boat, we had less than an hour before the final boat of the day and didn't really have enough time to eat a full meal so we walked through the town stopping by the Stadhuis and the remains of the Church of Our Lady.
To be honest, this wasn't really a highlight of our trip, the scenery is flat and the town, especially after seeing the spectacular cities of Gent and Brugge, just didn't hold a lot of interest for me. But I think I might have enjoyed it more had we bicycled there and back.
If you do want to take the paddleboat, pick up a city map (Brugge Winkelrouteplan) and look for Dampoort in the upper right corner, our map showed a boat to the northeast of Dampoort where the paddleboat left from.
On our way to Brugge, we made a short stop in the little town of Sluis.It is located on the border of Netherlands and Belgium. The unique thing about it was that, at the time before euros, prices were quoted in Dutch guldens and Belgian francs. It was also a tacky little town with a variety of sexually oriented shops.
Ghent is just a twenty minute train ride from Bruges and it would be a shame to visit one without the other. While not as obviously picturesque as Bruges, Ghent is a fine town confident of it's own attractions. The principal attraction is of course Van Eycks Ghent altarpiece, The Lamb of God. The many panels of this amazing altarpiece exemplify evrything that is notable about Northern European painting in the 15th century. If you only choose to see one work of art while in Belgium you won't find one more spectacular than this.
After the near perfection of Bruges, any other town in the region can seem disappointing, but there are several places of interest that you may like to explore.
Damme : In the summer you can take a paddle boat canal cruise from Noorwegse Kaai in Bruges to Damme. Alternatively take a No4 bus from the railway station or walk or cycle along the canalside paths. This picturesque village located 7km (4 miles) northeast of Bruges.
Veurne : A small town like Damme just 7km (4miles) from the border of France.
Veurne grew from a 9th-century fortess and now has an attractive central marketplace, among the best in Belgium.
Ghent: The city is a little bigger than Bruges, but most of its historic attractions are clusted together within walking distance of one another. Like Bruges, Ghent offers canal boat cruises in the summer. It is also fun to tour the city by tram. The main tram terminus is outside Sint-Pieters train station
This cute little town just outside the mad tourist buzz of Brugge used to be its main seaport. Nowadays it's a sleepy little place surrounded by picturesque tree-lined canals in the countryside. For all its smallness, however, Damme is of significant important as it's the hometown of medieval writer Jacob van Maerlandt and the spiritual home of legendary folk hero Tijl Uilenspiegel.
Make a day trip to Damme, a quaint, medieval village in the green flatlands not far from Bruges.
Damme is well known for its bookshops, good restaurants and beautiful architecture.
From April until the end of September, the Lamme Goedzak Steam Wheeler travels 5 times a day between Bruges and Damme. A single trip takes 35 minute.
The landing stage in Bruges is Noorweegse Kaai 31.
Have a look at my Damme page for more pics and info.
It's not completely off the beaten path but if the tourist hordes in the centre of Bruges get too much then just step sideways and head off for the picturesque village of Damme, 7km away.
There are several transport options; by bus, though the service is infrequent, by boat along the Damse Vaart canal or by cycle, following the canal side cycle track, which is my preference.
Once in Damme, you will find several restaurants and cafes along the main street, Kerkstraat, where you can re-fuel. The windmill by the canal bank is open for visits at weekends.
We rented bikes and went for a half-day ride outside of Brugge, along the beautiful, peaceful canal roads all the way to Holland. We spent some time shopping and having coffee verkeerd (served with hot thick milk) in the lovely town of Sluis, Holland. Complete with windmills.
The ride was the best part though, with canals on one side, and fields of farmhouses and giant Belgian draft horses (do they just call them 'horses' in Belgium?). Mind the cobblestones though, you might need a soft seat cushion the next day!
Damme is a little town not so far from Bruges, ideal for a afternoon visit.
Check out my Damme page.
You can visit Damme by bus (bus nr. 799) or by bike.
Visit the small villages near Brugge.
Lissewege is a pitoresque village with white houses. More pictures in our travelogue at our West Vlaanderen page. It can be reached by bicycle from Brugge.
Or go to Damme. The church is worth seeing in this village that is dedicated to books. Damme can be visited from brugge by boat: de Lamme Goedzak takes half an hour. There are also bustours from Brugge to Damme.
For 'off the beaten path' I would like to take you ten kilometres North of Brugge to the little village (it has however cityrights!) of Damme. Now-a-days it doesn't even have a thousand inhabitants, but it's surely worth a visit from your stay in Brugge. When the harbour of Brugge was so undeep by the slib that was deposited in it (in these days they didn't have the technique to deepen the harbour again) the town of Damme took over the transportfunctions of the harbour. Only for a very short time as they suffered soon the same troubles as Brugge. That's why Damme has few, but magnificent monuments. The half-collapsed cathedral holds a very special atmosphere.
Sluis is a small town, but this small town had 4 or 5 sex shops...that I noticed. I'm not sure why these places are so numerous. Maybe, it's just to lure in the tourists? Should ask someone from the Netherlands.
In Brugge, I rented a bike and followed an easy route to the Netherlands. The path was next to the tree-lined Damme canal with the occasional windmill and small town on the side - there was even a pub or two for emergency refreshment breaks. The towns on the way are Damme, Ooskerke, Hoeke. I rode for about an hour and fifteen minutes to reach a town called Sluis. The website shows the route from Brugge to Sluis.
Damme is recommended in the tourist bumpf, and there's a stern-wheeler ferry that takes you there - in season. We were there too early, and walked - it's about 6 km. There's a recreation trail along the canal.
The ZEEBRUGGE 2003 Sand Sculpture Festival takes place on the Zeebrugge beach, and will run daily from August 2nd through to September 7th 2003.