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10 Incredible Border Towns (& What To Do There)

Traveling to a city that straddles or rests against a border is an experience like no other due to the everyday cultural influences that have been shared throughout the passages of time.

The ability to relocate from one country to another with nothing more than a gentle hop is a reality for travelers that head to certain points on the map, with unique experiences sure to happen in each. Here are ten of the most remarkable cities to visit that have long standing connections with their immediate neighbors.

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10 Baarle-Hertog, Belgium

This unusual municipality sits on the extremely fluid border of Belgium and the Netherlands and is the creation of medieval treaties and land swaps between royals of times long gone. Some houses here actually straddle the border, meaning it is possible to cook a meal within Belgian territory before consuming it in the Netherlands without ever leaving home.

When it comes to passing there time in Baarle-Hertog, there is nothing better than quite simply walking the complicated streets and trying to work out which building belongs to which country. Luckily, a paved border helpfully winds its way through the streets to settle any lingering arguments. 

9 Longwa Village, India

Intersecting the Indian and Myanmar border, the residents of Longwa Village have the rare ability to cross borders as dual citizens without any paperwork. The two countries are so entwined that the home of the village chief rests half in India and half in Myanmar.

Those willing to undertake the long journey to Longwa Village are rewarded with a truly unique experience of the serene and unplugged way of life the tribes here live with everyday. Visitors are welcomed warmly and treated to a night under the stars not possible anywhere else in the world.

8 Derby Line, America

Shared by Canada and the U.S, the town of Derby Line is another location that has buildings spread across two countries. Indeed, the Opera House here was purposefully built along the border and allows visitors to enter the building in America and watch a performance on the Canadian stage.

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After taking in a show, jump in the car and take a jaunt to Seymour Lake where you will see more of the wondrous scenery Eastern America is so famous for.

7 Lille, France

Occupying the northern tip of France and within earshot of the border with Belgium, Lille is known world-wide for its wonderful range of culinary delights that takes inspiration from its varied cultural surrounds.

When it comes time to get out and explore this beautiful town, Palais des Beaux-Arts is the place to go. A magical sight both inside and out, the building is a 19th Century summer palace and holds priceless artworks dating back to the 1400’s upon its walls.

6 Bratislava, Slovakia

Sharing a border with both Austria and Hungary, Bratislava is the Slovakian capital and seems to only increase in wonder with each passing year. History flows through each street and alleyway here, constantly reminding visitors and locals of the storied history Slovakia holds.

The reconstructed Bratislava Castle has watched over the city throughout the journey of time and is the perfect place to discover the past while looking over a border that serves all three countries at a busy intersection on the map.

5 Malmo, Sweden

A part of Denmark until the 17th Century, Malmo now rests inside the Swedish border but still maintains roots within its country of origin in the shape of a remarkable bridge that reaches all the way into Copenhagen, a wonderful symbol of an enduring relationship.

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When visiting in summer, there is no better place to spend an evening than Lilla Torg, a gorgeous cobblestone square in the city centre. In use for centuries as an open-air market, locals and visitors can now dine in the street here, flanked by some of the most beautiful buildings in Europe.

4 San Sebastian, Spain

Resting extremely close to the border, San Sebastian has retained much of the French architecture that has so influenced the city over the centuries. This is a perfect spot to visit for some of the finest food on the continent, mixing cultures and ingredients with the ease of a master chef.

For the best views of San Sebastian’s incredible coastlines and mountains, be sure to take the antique funicular up Monte Igueldo where there is a 16th Century tower to climb that contains glass windows filled with perfect panoramic views.

3 Tijuana, Mexico

Sharing an at times tumultuous relationship with the American border, Tijuana is a city that can truly claim to have it all. An intricate blend of cultures and ways of life, it is a gritty city that can be a shock to some travelers. The emergence of a dynamic food and art scene in recent years has seen the tourist population rise rapidly.

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It is all about the shopping here. Visitors can head out alone or make use of one of the many tours on offer, but everyone is guaranteed to end the day with bags full of bargains. When hunger strikes, street food is the best way to combat it, just keep on eye on how much chili goes into the mix.

2 Nan, Thailand

Nestled into a river valley beside the Lao Border, Nan is a quiet, peaceful city in Northern Thailand that contains some of the most enchanting Buddhist temples in all of Asia. Dating back to the 14th Century, the imposing structures make a visit to this border town a must.

The area also contains Doi Phu Kha, the country’s largest National Park. It is home to hill-tribes that are almost startlingly removed from the modern world but will welcome peaceful travelers into their villages with open arms and giving souls.

1 Basel, Switzerland

Separated from France and Germany only by the banks of the Rhine, Basel is the cultural capital of Switzerland and boasts a simply stunning medieval town centre with an endless list of ancient sights each more amazing than the last.

While cruising around the Old Town, it will be impossible to miss the City Hall, constructed from striking red sandstone and towering over the fairytale streets. Enter through its perfectly curved archways to spend some time in the captivating courtyard before sampling the relaxed nightlife of a truly one-of-a-kind city.

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