In the 13th century, Damme was the port for Bruges, to which it was linked by the river Reie. The river has now been canalised into the long, straight, treelined and picturesque Damse Vaart, which continues across the Dutch border to Sluis. The line of the town's star-shaped fortifications can still be traced by lines of tall poplar trees and in places by a moat. It was the site of the Battle of Damme, fought on 30 and 31 May 1213.
Today, Damme is a popular side trip for tourists who are visiting Bruges and is a popular venue for eating out, and a destination for boat trips. Damme has more recently become known as a book town, with numerous bookshops and regular book fairs.
The most popular ways of travelling to Damme are by canal boat that runs during the summer high season or all year round by bus or bicycle. The bicycle route is along the canal path taking the same route that the canal boat takes.