Swans swim its canals; medieval buildings shadow its cobblestones; willow trees weep over its lake; rich chocolates peer from behind its windows; pints of Belgian blondes sit on its café tables; and carillon chimes fill its air with music: This is Bruges. This idyllic city in northern Belgium is more touristy and yet more quaint than the capital city of Brussels. So you visit Bruges for a taste of medieval Europe in the 21st century, for a friendly small-town feel with world-class charms (the Historic Centre of Brugge to name one) and, of course, for the beer, fries and chocolate, all national treasures. Some also visit because they're fans of Colin Farrell. The violent and yet still somehow comedic 2008 film, In Bruges, was shot here. And fans of Farrell (Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes too) can trace the actors' steps through this small city. Whatever your reason for coming to Bruges, we're pretty sure you'll be charmed.
Brussels has been the de facto capital of the European Community (and now European Union) for decades, and for a good reason. The city’s gothic- and baroque-style squares, set between medieval streets, are the playgrounds of international politicians and adventurous tourists alike. Authentic Belgian fare offers full three-course meals, and daily doses of chocolate and beer are worth every cent. Brussels is cosmopolitan in ways other cities are not — it's truly multilingual (French and Dutch) and almost a third of its residents aren't Belgian. The multicultural influences have led to an explosion of museums, marketplaces, restaurants and boutiques that make it far more than just a sleepy alternative.
Best Places to Visit in Europe