Kayak on the Damse Vaart in Bruges.

The Damse Vaart is a scenic canal that stretches between Bruges in Belgium and Sluis in the Netherlands. This man-made waterway was commissioned by Napoleon and construction began in 1810. Today, the Damse Vaart is divided into three sections, making it possible to kayak from Bruges to the Netherlands. However, kayakers would need to transfer their kayak twice along the way. For those looking for a more leisurely day activity, kayaking from Bruges to Damme and back is an ideal option, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty and enjoyable paddling.

About kayaking on the Damse Vaart

Although there are no official kayak jetties along the entire length of the Damse Vaart, there are convenient options for kayakers to enter and exit the canal. Starting in Bruges, there is a spacious concrete dock that provides an ideal spot to inflate your kayak and safely enter the water. As you paddle along the canal, you’ll come across fishing spots that can be utilized for temporary stops or transferring your kayak if needed.

One of the advantages of kayaking on the Damse Vaart is that the canal does not have an active current, making it a suitable and enjoyable route for kayaking. However, it’s important to note that wind conditions can play a role in your kayaking experience, so it’s recommended to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. With its calm waters and scenic surroundings, kayaking along the Damse Vaart offers a delightful opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy a peaceful day on the water.

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Bruges to Damme

The most scenic stretch of the Damse Vaart is the section between Bruges and Damme. As mentioned earlier, the ideal starting point for your kayak adventure is the spacious concrete dock at the beginning of the canal in Bruges. From there, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter the charming paddle steamer “De Lamme Goedzak,” which adds a touch of Mississippi-style nostalgia to your journey. Make sure to stay on the right side of the canal as it passes by, as “De Lamme Goedzak” is the only motorized boat permitted on the canal.

As you continue kayaking along the canal, you’ll be immersed in increasingly beautiful natural surroundings. Depending on the season, the appearance of the canal will vary, with the period just before summer being particularly enchanting. During this time, the trees are lush green, and water lilies bloom, creating a stunning backdrop. It’s important to avoid paddling through the water lilies, as they serve as breeding grounds for fish and should be preserved.

At one point along the canal, you’ll encounter a left turn. If you’re fortunate, you might spot storks soaring above the canal. If not, keep your eyes peeled for their nests on the rooftops of some houses in Damme during the spring and summer months. After approximately 4 kilometers, you’ll reach the city of Damme, where a beautiful stone windmill awaits you on the left side of the canal. When you reach the bridge and turn around, you’ll be treated to a spectacular view of the canal with its tree-lined banks, the windmill, and in the distance, the iconic “Church of Our Lady” in Bruges. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for the tiniest candy shop in the world, just behind the bridge.

When you’ve completed your exploration of Damme, you have the option to return to Bruges by kayak or, if you’ve had your fill, disembark at one of the fishing spots and take the boat “De Lamme Goedzak” back to the starting point in Bruges.

The kayak trip from Bruges to Damme and back covers a distance of slightly over 8 kilometers, making it an ideal excursion for both beginners and experienced paddlers.

Damme to ‘the Siphon’

If you still feel fresh it is possible to continue the Damse Vaart until the Siphon. Its a beautiful extention from around 2 kilometers one way of your kayak trip until you reach a dead end. From there you’ll have to turn around direction Damme and Bruges. For those who want to reach the Netherlands, they can exit the water thru a fishing point but will need to transfer the kayak. More information about the next part will come later.

The kayak trip from Bruges to the Siphon and back covers a distance of slightly over 12 kilometers, making it an ideal excursion for more experienced paddlers.

Rent an inflatable kayak

If you don’t have your own inflatable kayak, there is an option to rent one at Decathlon, located at B-Park in Bruges. Decathlon offers affordable kayak rentals, providing you with the equipment you need for your kayaking adventure. For more details and information about kayak rentals at Decathlon, please visit their website. (Only available in Dutch or French.)

For those who want to go rent a kayak at Decathlon with public transport, from the trainstation of Bruges, take bus number “40 (B-Park – Blankenberge), 41 (Knokke) or 49 (Wenduine – Zuienkerke)” from “Station Perron C8“. Stay on the bus for about 11 stops until you reach “Sint-Pieters Blauwe Toren B-Park“. Decathlon will be on your right side. To return cross the street and grab any bus direction “Brugge Station“. From there continue reading at below.

The Damse Vaart with Public Transport

Take bus number “6” at Bruges train station “Station Perron A2” direction “Koolkerke Dorp” or “Sint-Jozef Ghandy“. Buses run approximately every 10 minutes. Stay on the bus for about 8 stops until you reach the “Sint-Jozef Louis de Potterstraat” bus stop.

Continue walking in the direction of the bus and take the first street to the right (Louis de Potterstraat). Turn right twice more and you’ll end up at a bridge. Cross the bridge and find the concrete dock at the left side of the bridge.

These directions will guide you to the designated spot, ensuring a smooth and convenient start to your kayak adventure along the Damse Vaart.

Where to stay near the Damse Vaart

Snuffel Youth Hostel is a vibrant and welcoming hostel located in the heart of the enchanting city of Bruges, this hostel offers a comfortable and affordable accommodation option for travelers from all over the world. The hostel provides a range of room types, from shared dormitories to private rooms, catering to different preferences and budgets.

For a wider selection of accommodations in Bruges, we recommend exploring Booking.com.

If you need assistance with booking accommodations, we recommend reading our How to use Booking.com guide.

Parking your car at the Damse Vaart

There is a convenient free car parking area located at Lodewijk Coiseaukaai, 8000 Bruges, which is approximately 1.4 kilometers away from the starting point of Damse Vaart. It takes around a 20-minute walk to reach the starting point from there. To make the process smoother, I recommend dropping off one person with the kayak at the starting point while the driver parks the car. By the time the driver reaches the starting point on foot, the kayak should be inflated and ready to go. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 51.225599, and E 3.227536.

The Damse Vaart with camper

In Damme, there is a small parking area called “Parking Damme Zuid” that offers three free camper parking spaces. However, please note that during weekends and peak season, it can get busy, and there is a possibility that the parking spaces might be full. It’s always a good idea to have alternative parking options or arrive early to secure a spot. The GPS coordinates for this location are N 51.248636 and 3.276745.

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