Many people may never have heard of Bruges before the release of the recent Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes caper “In Bruges”–I can't admit to having see the movie, but I can tell you about the amazing little city it takes place in.
Bruges is a perfectly preserved medieval town (where a building from the 18th century looks out of place because it's too new) located in the Northern Flemish region of Belgium, about an hour's train ride from Brussels. Sometimes called the Venice of the North, there are quaint little canals that run throughout the old part of the city. You can take one of the many boat tours through the canals (or kayak on your own boat like we saw many people do) or wander around on foot or by bike (a very popular option).
The historic center is surrounded by a moat, on the other side of which is a hill that's home to rows and rows of windmills, so make sure to not miss that section.?Back in the city center there are endless amazing medieval city square after city square all lined with homemade chocolate shops (including some touristy ones that makes chocolate breasts?), cafes with Belgian beers the size your head, and buckets of mussels and frites. Most of the friendly, Dutch-speaking residents will have picked up some English from the ubiquitous British tourists (it's just across the channel), so you'll never feel too out of place.
There are a couple of top quality museums to check out, including one with some Hieronymus Bosch altarpieces that are awesome. There's also an old medieval outdoor market that's full of local craftsmen and goods for sale that's a must on Saturdays.
The main thing to focus on when in Bruges is taking it slow and enjoying this quaint, friendly and welcoming city whose classic beauty is truly enchanting. And if the current state of the US dollar against the Euro is frightening to you, Bruges is full of places like this wonderful gem: the Passage, a cozy little cafe under a hotel full of great character and great Belgium beers for just 2 to 3 Euros and dishes of food for 6.