One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Bruges in Belgium is considered as the Venice of the North and is the most popular tourist destination in Belgium. The medieval city is perfectly preserved and evokes a world long gone. Renovated to maintain its medieval appearance, Bruges feels like a trip back in time with its clock towers, canals, and cobblestone streets, although a lot of the architecture was only built in the 19th and 20th centuries so it feels more like a fairy tale than a real historical past.
Besides the sights and usual tourist attractions, Bruges is in recent years becoming known for its food and 21st century avant-garde cuisine. There are a lot of Michelin star restaurants and chefs in the city and plenty of traditional pubs, bistros and restaurants that serve local favorites like beer-based Flemish pie or stew, mussels and frites or fricadellen (frites with mayonnaise), fried goose liver serve on top of apple tarte, and vol-au-vents. Classic French dishes and French haute cuisine are also excellent here. A lot of the restaurants and food joints do not open until six in the late noon.
The Central market place, the Grote Markt, and the Burg Square is where most tourists go to eat but you can find better places and experiences if you wander off the beaten track. Avoid the restaurants in the historic old town where prices are exorbitant and choose a local favorite where the menu is only in Dutch and the chef or stadd are happy to translate for you or recommend the specials. Make sure to pass by the numerous creative chocolate shops that stock confections by experimental chocolatiers and the local beer pubs that offer a wide selection of rare Belgian beers from the regions breweries.
Head off to the street market on ‘t Zand square first thing in the morning and shop for Belgian cheeses, freshly baked loaves, smoked herring, and mini-boterwafels, and sweet butter waffles.