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Consider yourself lucky if you have to choose between Amsterdam vs Brussels. Both cities are incredible destinations! We believe that the two capitals are equally beautiful, full of culture, and entertaining. However, that’s where the similarities end.

We’ve been to the two cities countless times. We have friends in both! The last time we went to Amsterdam we spent a whole month there. In Brussels, we stop every time we are in Europe. We are sure we can help you!

You must decide to visit Amsterdam or Brussels based on your interests and tastes. Broadly speaking, the capital of Belgium is smaller. The Dutch capital is one of the biggest cities in Europe. That said, both are part of massive urban areas.

Amsterdam vs Brussels

Amsterdam or Brussels

Quick Comparison

To understand both cities, you have to look at their countries. The Netherlands and Belgium are small countries with a high population density. Some 18 million people live in The Netherlands, which has an area of 16,000 sq miles (40,000 km2).

Belgium has an area of 12,000 sq miles (30,000 km2) and a population of 10 million. Since almost 20% of the Netherlands is water, it’s much more packed. This is a major difference. Almost the same number of tourists visit both countries each year.

Amsterdam or Brussels

If You Have to Choose

If you have less than 4 days, you have to choose between Brussels or Amsterdam. If you have a week, visit both. Go to Amsterdam if you like museums and architecture. The city has some of the best in the world.

Choose Amsterdam if this will be your first trip to Europe. We bet you’ve been dreaming of the grandest cities on the continent, and Amsterdam will never disappoint. Choose Amsterdam if you like the sea and epic views. The North Sea canal connects it to the sea.

Choose Brussels if you like chocolate, wine, and coffee. Probably Brussels offers better day trips. Go to Brussels if you like parks. The Belgian capital is one of the greenest in Europe. Choose Brussels if you like luxurious hotels. Prices in Amsterdam are much higher.

Brussels or Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of our favorite cities in the world! There isn’t a city as fun as Amsterdam in all of Europe. No matter what ticks your fancy, you will find it here. The Dutch have built a tolerant multi-cultured society where everyone is welcomed.

Today, people from all over the world and walks of life live in the city. The city works wonderfully. You can be as free as you want, and nobody bugs each other. It’s intoxicating to be in a city that respects all preferences and tastes.

As architects ourselves, we can’t stop admiring the city’s architecture. Amsterdam has some of the best historic and contemporary buildings in the world. The city is the birthplace of the Amsterdam School. The same can be said about its museums. Top of the world! The food, cocktails, and coffee are fantastic too!

Canal in Amsterdam

Main Sights

Amsterdam’s main sights are not buildings but rather squares and parks. We have to mention only the main ones. World-class museums preside over Museumplein. The massive green area is perfect to chill and enjoy the sun. There’s always something going on in the park, including festivals and exhibits.

A visit to the 120-acre (47-ha) Vondelpark is a must. Locals and tourists flock to the 19th-Century park to socialize, exercise, and hang out. You will gravitate towards the center. The iconic canals cross the historic center.

You can spend hours walking around the center searching for beautiful architecture. Look out for Amsterdam School buildings. Check out the area next to the train station over the canal. The views will take your breath away.

Dutch Royal Palace

Museums

There are over 50 museums in Amsterdam, and including some of the world’s best. Thus, you need at least an entire day to enter the main ones. You can spend hours inside Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh, Stedelijk, and Moco Museums. The four are on Museumplein.

A visit to the Anne Frank Museum is mandatory. It’s in the center. The photography museum FOAM is on a canal nearby. The Our Lord in the Attic is a hidden old church in a mansion in the center.

The EYE Film Museum is a futuristic structure on the other side of the canal. It’s fantastic inside and outside. Walk to the NEMO science museum. You have two contemporary buildings to check. The Maritime Museum is nearby.

Museumsplein

Hotels

Amsterdam has better hotels than Brussels. Our favorite hotel in the city is the Grand Hotel Amrâth. The luxurious property is an Amsterdam School masterpiece next to a canal in the center. It is worth every penny.

We recommend two other historic hotels. The Hotel NH Collection Amsterdam Flower Market has an unbeatable location in the center. They revamped the old Carlton Hotel with taste and class. Their other property in a perfect location is the posh Hotel NH Amsterdam Center from 1928.

If you have the money to spend, do so at the Hotel Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam. We spent a weekend there and loved it. The rooms are big and extra plush. They have several restaurants, a super cool bar, and a library. The spa is superb.

Grand Hotel Amrath

Restaurants and Bars

Though there are restaurants for every taste in Amsterdam, the city is not a culinary heaven. To eat with epic views, head to the highest rooftop in the city. Floor 17 serves delicious food and cocktails on top of the Leonardo Hotel. We always drink and eat at Zoku Amsterdam, the only rooftop greenhouse in the city.

Malabar in Hotel Jakarta is one of our favorite bars. It’s got unbelievable views over the canal. A’DAM is next door and offers the best views in the city. You can eat and drink and dance in Canvas, on top of the Volkshotel building!

We always eat Indonesian food at Aneka Rasa Restaurant in the center. Stop for cake and coffee at the Café Americaine, a luxurious coffee house from 1902. Moeders is a simple restaurant full of photos serving the best local food in the city.

Gay Street in Amsterdam

Moving Around

The best way of moving around Amsterdam is by walking. Though there are lots of things to do and see in Amsterdam, the city is not that big. You can walk from Vondelpark to the main train station in 45 minutes.

The city is known around the world for its cycling. Unfortunately, things have changed, and it is not as easy as it was. There are way too many bikes, and sometimes motorcycles use the designated lanes. Be careful. We’ve seen way too many accidents.

Parking in the right place is also difficult. Rent a bike from a shop, use it nonstop, and return it. Hire this tour and enjoy a safe ride. Amsterdam’s transportation system includes trams, buses, metro, and trains. Official info here.

Amsterdam waterfront

Day Trips

The Netherlands is a small country with a superb transportation network. Thus, you can be everywhere in no time. Alkmaar and Zaanse Schans are two popular destinations half an hour from Amsterdam. You will see a traditional Dutch village and incredible mills.

Edam and Volendam are half an hour by bus from Amsterdam. If you like cheese and cute towns you’ll love both places. A train to The Hague takes 45 minutes. One to Utrecht 25. It’s one of our favorite cities in the country.

If you like nature, head to Waterland in Old Holland. In less than an hour, you will be in the middle of channels, fields, birds, and epic scenery. Almere is an under-the-radar city close to Amsterdam. Bike for hours under trees admiring the modern architecture.

Zaanse Schans

What’s Special about Amsterdam

Granted, the city is absolutely beautiful. Few cities in the world are distinct and as superb as Amsterdam. What can we say? Amsterdam is an architect’s dream. How many times did we mention the unique Amsterdam school? Besides, some of the best museums in the world are here too!

However, as incredible as the city is, the best of Amsterdam is its people. The Dutch are polite, cultured, and so much fun! No other city in Europe is as liberal, open, and welcoming as Amsterdam. People here want you to have a good time and to be yourself.

Every time we visit we have the most interesting conversations with the locals. We share a drink or smoke, laugh, dance, and exchange ideas. We’ve made great friends that we plan on visiting every year!

Het Schip

Brussels

What we love about Brussels is how easygoing it feels while being one of the world’s most vibrant cities. In Brussels, you can go to a museum, eat deliciously in a creperie, have a beer with friends, and dance the night away the same day.

Don’t get us wrong. Massive office and governmental buildings dot the city. The city is the center of the European Union, and it shows. You will see luxurious and absurd cars with little flags and important-looking people everywhere.

Brussels is the birthplace of Art Nouveau. However, its grand buildings are much older. Incredible architecture from different styles decorates the city. Evidently, having chocolate, beer, French fries, and crepes is a must! Fortunately, you can exercise in any of the city’s splendid parks.

Mont des Arts

Main Sights

The city’s main attraction is the Grand Place, in the center. The UNESCO-listed square is one of the prettiest in Europe. Check out the opulent Guild Houses, the City Hall, and the Bread House building. Brussels’ oldest citizen, the Manneken Pis, is two blocks from the plaza.

UNESCO also included 4 Art Nouveau mansions in its List of World Heritage Sites. These are Hotel Tassel, Hotel Solvay, the Van Eetveld Mansion, and Victor Horta’s House. The other listed Art Noveau masterpiece is the Stoclet Palace, out of the center.

The European Quarters is east of the Grand Place. Check out the European Parliament and the European Commission, and walk to the Triumphal Arch Park. The iconic Atomium is to the north. Our favorite place in the city is the Sonian Forrest, a UNESCO-listed natural beauty.

Belgian Royal Palace

Museums

Brussels has more museums (80 in the metropolitan area), but none are world-famous like those in Amsterdam. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts is a group of outstanding museums. You have 6 to visit: Oldmasters, Magritte, Modern, Antoine Wiertz, Fin de Siecle, and Constatin Meunier. You can spend an entire day here.

From there, walk to the Museum of Musical Instruments, the Royal Palace, the Mont des Arts, the Notre Dame Church, and the Bozar Art Center. Walk north to see the Comic Art Museum and the Museum of the Bank of Belgium.

For contemporary exhibits, head to MIMA. The former brewery next to a canal is one of the coolest art centers in the country. As you will notice, the city is an open-air museum. Cool graffiti and art installations dot Brussels.

Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History

Hotels

Hotels are more affordable in Brussels. The best hotel in Brussels is the Juliana, on Martyr’s square. Everything is luxurious and elegant at the Juliana. The rooms are huge, plush, and come with marble bathrooms. The spa has a sauna, hammam, and a big pool. It’s worth every penny.

Considering its class and location, Hotel Le Plaza Brussels is great value for money. The monumental property is in the heart of the shopping district and within walking distance of most attractions. It has grand marble stairs, high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and lots of class.

You can’t get closer to the Grand Place than at the Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo. The luxurious historic property is within walking of most attractions. The rooms are big, elegant, and come with lots of chocolate! The service is in a class of its own.

Hotel in Brussels

Restaurants and Bars

Brussels is all about food, coffee, wine, chocolate, and drinks. Thus, it is a better choice if you are into food.  You can sit anywhere in the city and have great coffee, pastries, and cake. In the center, we go to Corica Café and Comptoir Oriental, behind the Brussels Bourse.

To indulge in sumptuous chocolate, go to Rue Beurre. Leonidas, Elisabeth, and La Belgique Gourmande are some of the best shops that line this cute street in the center. The best French fries are the ones sold on the street.

Cocktails we always have at Perche, the coolest rooftop bar in the city. For epic views over the city head to Secret Rooftop by Warwick, next to the Mont des Arts. To people watch, go to the Royal Gallerie of Saint Hubert.

Downtown Brussels

Moving Around

The best way of moving around Brussels is walking. Not only that, but Brussels streets never seem crowded and walking about is a pleasure. If you get tired, all you have to do is sit in a coffee house or in any of the countless parks.

Biking is a great option too. However, we don’t recommend biking in the center. Most of the attractions are close to each other so it makes no sense. Biking is great out of the center. The city has a bike sharing system with stations everywhere.

Brussels has a state of the art public transport system. You can go everywhere in no time with trams, buses, and the metro. You can check official info here. Buy discount tickets or pay with your contactless card. If you get lost, ask around and you’ll be kindly helped.

Brussels Metro

Day Trips

Belgium is one of the smallest countries in Europe. Since the transport network is fantastic, you can go to the entire country in no time. Brussels, Gent, and Antwerp are 45 minutes by train from each other. You will fall in love with both.

Stop in Mechelen on your way to Antwerp. Van Dyk did the impressive St. Rumbold Cathedral. Leuven, to the east, is the epicenter of Belgian beer. The old town is pretty cool too. World-famous Bruges is 90 minutes northwest by train.

However, Bruges is so pretty you must spend at least a night there. The same applies to Lille. The stunning French city is less than an hour east by train. You must spend a night there to enjoy it fully.

Bruges

What’s Special about Brussels

What makes Brussels special is the mix of architecture, great food, and fun people. The city is as cosmopolitan and lively as other major European capitals, but it is still relaxed and warm. Step out of the main streets, and you’ll find peace.

When it comes to architecture, few cities in Europe have the quantity and quality of styles that Brussels has. It’s basically a tour du force through the best architecture in the continent. No wonder the city keeps evolving with new cultural centers and venues opening all the time.

There’s a magical connection between people and food in Brussels. Only lovely people can prepare such delicious chocolate, coffee, cakes, crepes, everything! Talk to locals and you will be directed to the right place. Belgians rock!

Musical Instruments Museum

If You Still Haven’t Decided

As you can tell, our Brussels vs. Amsterdam match ends in a close tie. There simply isn’t a bad choice. There is something magical about both cities. Though the Dutch and Belgians are quite different, both cultures are welcoming and prioritize fun.

Both excel in food and drinks. Maybe Brussels is a bit more atmospheric to drink wine and dine in cute creperies. When it comes to nightlife, fun, and options of things to do, we believe Amsterdam wins. You’ll never have a dull moment.

All things considered, Amsterdam is more expensive than Brussels. Especially regarding hotels and transportation. If you don’t like crowds, we believe you’ll have a better time in Brussels. You can always find space in one of its parks.

Brussels vs Amsterdam

Quoted from Various Sources
Published for: Valentino Pattaya