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Magical Places and Fairytale Towns in Europe That You Need to Visit!
I am told quite often that I am a bit of a ‘Dreamer’. And that is something I must admit is true. I like to storm up some far fetch ideas that other’s would deem ‘impossible’ but in some strange way I manage to make them a reality. Well, that apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and my ‘dream’ like mindset is something I use in all aspects of life. Particularly, when it comes to travel. I tend to find myself getting excited when I find fairytale like villages, towns and scenery. I love getting that ‘pinch me I’m dreaming’ feeling when I first set eyes on a new destination. Almost like I am in disbelief that this scenic setting actually exists in real life. So, if you are anything like me, I can presume that you to enjoy visiting some of the most magical places in the world, places where the movies meet reality. I wanted to set myself a bucket list of some of the most magical places and fairytale towns in Europe. I asked my fellow travel bloggers to help me complete this list. So, Down below is some of the most beautiful small towns in Europe for you too to add to your bucket list!
1) Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Contribution by Eniko at Travel Hack Girl
Lauterbrunnen is a cute Swiss town, that looks like an image from a fairy tale. It is located in a valley, that is surrounded by rocky cliffs, snowy mountain tops, glaciers and several waterfalls.
But what makes this place so dreamy?
The architecture in the town is beautiful. There are several chalets featuring wood carvings and classic style windows. You can also find a cute church with the famous Staubbach Falls in the background.
And…that’s not all!
In the summer it is possible to walk behind this waterfall as well. But that is not the only waterfall in the area. You can spot several big and small ones, as you walk around. The area is popular amongst paragliders and hikers.
The Lauterbrunnen Valley offers several hiking trails. The path to Stechelberg is an easy and scenic one, which is also suitable for bikes, wheelchairs and prams. In the spring you can see wildflowers on the meadows, which makes this place even more magical.
2) Rovinj, Croatia
Contribution by Lara at BothFeetOnTheRoad.com
Rovinj is a tiny, lovely town located in the province of Istria in Croatia. Anyone who’s looking for a feeling of walking in a magical fairytale in Croatia should add Rovinj to their list. With its location on a small hill, the beautiful pastel-colored houses, the romantic feel of strolling through the small cobbled streets, and a view of the Adriatic Sea, it is hard not to love Rovinj. But besides admiring the mere beauty of the town, there are plenty of things to do in Rovinj to keep tourists entertained.
The most obvious thing to do is to stroll around the old town on the most popular street in the town, Grisia. The Grisia leads all the way up to the church of St. Eufemia and is filled with art, jewelry, and souvenir shops. On top of the hill at St. Eufemia church a climb to the top of the bell tower is well worth the reward of the stunning view of the Adriatic Sea.
As Istria is famous for its truffles, a truffle tasting in one of the small boutiques on Grisia is also a popular thing to do in Rovinj. Even better would be to combine a truffle tasting with a tasting of Croatian wine. To finish off a perfect day in the romantic town of Rovinj, head to one of the many beaches to cool off in the Adriatic Sea. Check out Lone Bay beach, and the beaches along the Golden Cape Forest and Punta Eva.
3) Sighnaghi, Georgia
Contribution by Maggie at The World Was Here First
Though a bit more offbeat and unknown compared too many beautiful towns in continental Europe, the lovely hilltop town of Sighnaghi in eastern Georgia is one of the most magical places to visit in the entire country.
Sighnaghi is easy to reach from Tbilisi and it is one of the best places to visit if you want to learn more about traditional Georgian wine and experience some of the country’s world-class cuisine. Situated atop a hill and overlooking the beautiful Alazani Valley in Georgia’s Kakheti region, Sighnaghi is one of the most beautiful and romantic towns in Georgia and, arguably, in the entire Caucasus region.
Surrounded by city walls and peppered with winding, cobbled streets, Sighnaghi is sure to instantly charm you. As it is located in the centre of Georgia’s main wine-producing region, there are also countless family-run wine cellars where you can sample traditional Georgian wine and learn about how viticulture dates back more than 8,000 years in Georgia.
So, if you’re looking for an incredible fairytale towns in Europe, then you cannot go wrong with a visit to Sighnaghi, Georgia!
4) Kilkenny, Ireland
Contribution by Laura from Live Adventure Travel(Site Owner)
Ireland is country known for its castles and old celtic ruins, so no matter where you go in Ireland you are bound to find fairytale like buildings. However, one place in particular springs to mind when thinking of magical places would have to be Kilkenny.
Kilkenny is a small Irish city located only a short hour and a half drive from Ireland’s capital, Dublin. Making it the perfect destinations for those looking to go on a Day Trip from Dublin.
The city is home to charming village style high streets, with many shops, restaurants and cafes. Visitors can also enjoy themselves by enjoying a beautiful walk along the River Nore.
But…Wait…That’s not all there is to do in Kilkenny…
Right in the middle of the city centre lies a magnificent castle. It is possible to take a tour of the castle (guided €12) or enjoy the evening on the castle grounds with a picnic in hand.
Either way, a trip too Kilkenny is a must for those looking to add a bit of magic into their Ireland Itinerary.
5) Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Contribution By Emily at Wander-Lush.org
Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a must-visit on any trip to the Balkans. It also happens to be one of the most fairytale-like places in all of Europe.
Located in the south of the country, Mostar can be visited as a day trip from Sarajevo (the capital) or from Split or Dubrovnik in neighbouring Croatia. This charming city is best-known for Stari Most (‘Old Bridge’), the iconic half-moon bridge that unfurls across the river in the heart of the old town.
Originally built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, it stood for almost 500 years until 1993 when it was destroyed during the Balkan War. It was later reconstructed using some of the original stonework.
There are numerous points along the river’s edge – including some delightful cafes and restaurants – where you can get a view. Mostar is particularly lovely in spring when crowds are thin and the bridge is fringed with greenery. The soft blue waters of the Neretva river and the slate-tipped minaret of the nearby Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque complete the picture-perfect scene.
If you think it looks good during the way, Mostar by night is pure magic. Vendors set up at either end of the bridge and through the winding streets of the old town, selling copper coffee pots and carpets. Illuminated by lanterns, it has an otherworldly feel.
As with every fairytale, there is a dark side to Mostar. The turbulence and pain this part of the world has been through – and its triumphant transformation – only adds to the magic.
6) Telč, Czech Republic
Contribution by Matěj at Czech The World
Telč is a small fairytale-like town surrounded by ponds, fields, and forests in Vysočina Region. Telč’s main square is one of the most romantic places to visit in the Czech Republic. Imagine colorful historic houses with high gables and arcades build in a Renaissance and Baroque style where you can find lovely cafes, galleries or little shops. It’s an ideal destination for everyone who wants to escape the big city rush and enjoy the atmosphere of an old historic town and its countryside.
Don’t forget to visit the 17th-century Renaissance chateau with an English-style park, one of the gems of Moravian Renaissance architecture. Chateau‘s façade is decorated with beautiful sgraffito technique, which can be found also on other buildings in town. In general, houses and buildings in Telč are characterized by a diversity of decorative elements. Telč’s historical center is rightly part of the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Besides the romantic walks around the historical center, there are many other activities you can do in your free time. The most popular activities are cycling, horse riding, swimming, rope-courses, nearby steam mill, and many others.
7) Sibiu, Romania
Contribution by Jade at The Migrant Yogi
Romania may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think fairytale cities in Europe. Yet, Sibiu, a small city in Southern Transilvania, has all the makings of a fairy tale. With its pastel-hued buildings and eclectic mix of architectural styles, Sibiu is a visually stunning place to visit. Not to mention all it has to offer its visitors – its food, it’s culture, its history, and of course, its people.
Sibiu’s initial settlement by Saxons in the mid-12th century gives it a distinctly Germanic feel in contrast with the rest of Romania. The buildings of the Old Town are painted in varying shades of cotton candy, where old-world romance effortlessly meets small-city charm.
Narrow tunnels and secret stair passageways line the curved cobblestone streets, connecting the upper town with the lower town. Sibiu boasts a wide array of museums – History of Pharmacy, Steam Locomotives, Romanian Art, Saxon Ethnography, Natural History, as well as its pride and joy, an open-air museum complex (just to name a few). The city also has a thriving culinary scene, as well as Medieval walls to follow and feel the history of the city. Not to mention, its location in the Carpathian basin means it’s perfectly situated for a number of outdoor activities – hiking, trekking, skiing or snowboarding, and lake-swimming are common seasonal activities. Visitors will have no problem finding things to do in Sibiu.
While Sibiu is not very well-known in comparison to its Western counterparts, in 2007 it was named Cultural Capital of Europe and in 2008, Forbes’ designated Sibiu one of Europe’s most Idyllic Places to Live. The perfect introduction to Transilvanian culture, Sibiu makes for a rustic and picturesque stay in Romania and will not fail to provide a magical experience.
8) Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Contribution by Gemma at Two Scots Abroad
When you think of fairytale castles in Scotland you think of Edinburgh Castle perched on Castle Rock or Eilean Donan Castle sitting by three lochs, right?
What if I told you that there is a whole region of fairytale towns and historic castles condensed into one road trip that can be done in less than three days?
Well, it’s true!
The Castle Trail in Aberdeenshire is must for any dreamy travel fan or photographers.
Notable Aberdeenshire towns with castles worth stopping at include Stonehaven for the medieval fort, Dunnottar Castle, Braemar to see the castle that looks like it’s upside down and Alford for the pink castle, an Instagram favourite, Craigievar Castle.
You can also see where modern royalty resides. Edinburgh is not the only residence of the current royal family.
Aberdeenshire’s Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since 1852 and visitors can tour the grounds and gardens.
There are more than 200 castles, ruins and stately homes in Aberdeenshire making it a fairytale road trip!
9) Budapest, Hungary
Contribution by Laura from Live Adventure Travel(Site Owner)
As far as big cities goes, Budapest certainly wins the prize for the most fairytale like architecture. No matter where you walk in the Hungarian capital, you are sure to find some sort of magical backdrops just waiting for a picture to be taken.
If you are chasing the magical views of Budapest, start your exploration at the Castle District on the Buda side of the Danube River. Here you will find the Buda Castle, Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion, all perfect additions to a fiarytale lovers itinerary.
The Hungarian Parliament is also a wonderful building which was made with such amazing attention to detail you will feel as if you are looking at a building designed purposely for a Disney movie.
On the complete oposite side of Budapest lies a 302 acre city park, the park is famous for popular tourist attractions such as Hero Square and the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. However, inside the park there is something rather unique, perfect for those looking to add a little magic to their Budapest itinerary.
And that is…Vajdahunyad Castle.
Vajdahunyad Castle literally is a fairytale, words can not describe how magical this area feels. The Castle was first built in 1896 and the architecture style was inspired by various time periods such as Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance.
10) Sintra, Portugal
Contributed by Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan
A haven from the summer heat for Portugal’s royalty and aristocrats, Sintra is absolutely packed with castles, palaces and fortresses, all set within a lush green, mountainous landscape. It’s most often visited as a daytrip from Lisbon but is really worth at least two or three days of exploration. There are so many beautiful palaces and chalets to explore that it’s impossible to see them all in one day.
If you’re really going for that fairytale experience, be sure to visit both Pena Palace and the Quinta da Regaleira. Pena Palace was built in the mid-19th century in an eclectic mix of styles and looks exactly like a little girl’s fantasy of what her castle would be like if she were a princess. The Quinta da Regaleira, on the other hand, is full of mystical, esoteric symbolism. Don’t miss the “initiation well”, said to be used for Masonic initiation rites.
Sintra is easy to reach from Lisbon by train. The various sites are spread out across the hills, though, so you’ll need to take a bus or tuk-tuk to get around once you’re there. Keep in mind that the restaurant options here are not as good as in Lisbon, particularly for vegans and vegetarians.
11) Hallstatt, Austria
Contribution by Kristen and Jeff Miller from Our Passion For Travel
Nestled along a lake surrounded by giant mountains in Austria is where you’ll find one of the most beautiful fairytale like villages in Europe, Hallstatt. Think pastel coloured and wooden buildings built up into the hill, the glassy reflective lake with church spires mirrored in perfect symmetry.
A small village, one day in Hallstatt is a perfect amount of time to explore. Grab the iconic photo at the postcard perfect spot on the edge of town. Wander through the village, ensuring you check out the gorgeous facades of the buildings in the Market Square. Get out onto the lake for a different perspective of Hallstatt, by taking a boat or hiring a swan paddler. Lastly, make the trip up to the Hallstatt Skywalk by cable car, for a stunning view over the UNESCO World Heritage area of Dachstein Salzkammergut.
Your hardest decision when visiting Hallstatt will be working out which season to visit. Will it be winter with a snow capped mountain backdrop, a radiant summer visit or spring when the town is decked with stunning foliage. Or maybe you’ll just have to make the trip a few times.
12) Post Setenil de las Bodegas, Spain
Contribution by Joanna from Andalucia in my Pocket
Setenil de las Bodegas is one of those fairytale places that you don’t believe they exist until you visit them. Carved inside river Trejo’s canyon, Setenil de las Bodegas is a unique white village of Andalucia, in Southern Spain, because it is the only one which is not located on top of a hill. Instead, the village grew from the river up, through an extensive network of caves which are still inhabited today.
Walking around the village is magical: the narrow roads are flanked by white facades which hide people’s homes, bed and breakfasts or restaurants. Here and there big boulders cover the streets. Going up the hill, you can reach the ruins of what used to be a majestic 40 towers castle with its glory days in the 14th century. Only one tower remains today. There are plenty of small little streets and houses decorated with colourful flowers waiting to be discovered in Setenil de las Bodegas.
One of the must dos in the village is having the traditional sopa cortijera (a wild asparagus soup with chorizo, eggs, rustic bread and paprika) at one of the terraces from Calle de las Cuevas.
13) Annecy, France
Contribution by Laura from Live Adventure Travel(Site Owner)
Annecy is a picture perfect town located in the South of France. The old town, otherwise known as the ‘Vieille Ville’ really add to Annecy’s fairytale image, with it’s cobble stone streets, pastel town houses and stunning canals.
The Thiou River flows nicely from the town into Annecy Lake, the lake is the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. Not to mention, the outstanding view of the Alpine Valley that reflects upon the lakeside.
It is common for those visiting Lyon to take a day trip to Annecy!
14) Castle Combe, England
Contribution by Darek from Derek and Gosia
The village of Castle Combe in England is definitely one of the most beautiful fairy-tale places in Europe! It is known for its medieval character, many stone houses, a church and amazing market buildings. It was elected the most beautiful (1962), best (1993) and most picturesque (2001) village of Great Britain.
The central place is a small Market Square from the fourteenth century, located in the middle of the main street, because Castle Combe is simply a streetcar, a dozen houses one way from the Market Square and a dozen or so the other side and it is actually a whole village. There is of course a historic church. Only 350 people live there, most of them are rich
Castle Combe, despite many wonderful places in Europe, is one of the most charming and idyllic places in Europe to visit! If you have the opportunity to be nearby, we highly recommend visiting Castle Combe.
15) Lake Bled, Slovenia
Contribution by Laura from Live Adventure Travel(Site Owner)
Lake Bled is a is a small lake side resort in Slovenia. The resorts backdrop offers picture perfect views that perfectly resemble those of a fairytale. In the middle of the pristine lake lies Bled Island, it is possible to rent a row boat or have someone take you over on a Pletna Boat.
Located on the island is 99 steps leading to a 15th century church, a medieval castle and a wishing well.
It really doesn’t get anymore magical than that!
Visitors to the island are free to roam around, go for a swim and take in the wonderful views. Lake Bled is the perfect fairytale destination to any Europe Itinerary.
16) Colmar, France
Contribution by John from carpediemeire.com
Looking like the inspiration for Beauty and the Beast, Colmar in Eastern France exudes fairytale charm. Set on the banks of the River Lauch is Colmar’s most beautiful area, Little Venice. This area is defined by half timbered houses, their facades a myriad of beautiful colours. It’s easy to see how the area acquired its name. These remarkable colourful houses line many of Colmars street, and it’s centuries old centre is one of the best preserved in Europe.
A peaceful boat ride through the heart on the river is the way best to capture the magical mood of the city. Colmar is much more than just aesthetics though. Its cuisine is acclaimed as the best in France, and Colmar is the capital of the Alsace wine region. It serves as the perfect base to explore the rich horticulture of the area. Furthermore, the art collection at the Unterlinden museum is world class, and the Bartholdi Museum tells well the story of the man behind the Statue of Liberty. Combined with the rich Alsatian culture, Colmar’s allure is in no doubt.
17) Cinque Terre, Italy
Contribution by Chrysoula from Travel Passionate
When it comes to fairy tale destinations it doesn’t get much more magical than the five towns of the Cinque Terre. Made up of a collection of fishing villages – which are now a UNESCO World Heritage site and popular tourist attraction – the Cinque Terre is the perfect destination for those who want to combine the laid-back Italian way of life with some stunning walking trails.
Each town in the Cinque Terre is identified by a hillside of pristine buildings in pretty pastel hues, with the houses seemingly cascading down the cliffside creating a patchwork quilt of colours.
The joy of the Cinque Terre is that each town is connected by protected hiking trails, so visitors are able to walk between the towns, stopping off in each one to soak up the local atmosphere, landscapes, and cuisine.
Travellers can either choose one town as a base from which to explore the others, or move between destination, spending time in all of the five fishing villages to really get a feel for each place.
Days on the Cinque Terre can be spent hiking on cliffside trails, dining on fresh Italian cuisine (including lots of gelato, of course!), taking dips in the clear harbours and meandering through the towns. And to top it all off, don’t miss the sunsets which are simply spectacular on the Cinque Terre!
18) Bruges , Belgium
Contribution by Lauren from Always Find Adventure
Bruges is a small fairytale village located in the Flemish Region (northwest) of Belgium. It’s canals, picturesque cobbled streets, and medieval architecture buildings are what give this city it’s fairytale feel.
The historic city centre (Markt) is an UNESCO World Heritage site. Very close by to the centre, is the Belfry, the city’s tallest building spanning 83 meters high. Some of the more charming sites include the Markt, Steenhouwers Canal, the famous view from Rozenhoedkaai.
The city is best viewed by taking a canal boat tour, which will take visitors by Minnewater, otherwise known as the Lake of Love where more than 100 swans spend their day. Bruges is a small safe town so many people end up ditching the map, and wandering through the charming streets to admire the medieval-style buildings.
It might feel like candy land, especially due to all the Belgian chocolate and waffle shops. If you’re looking for inspiration, you can watch the movie “In Bruges” starring Colin Farrell. Come here for a day, or a weekend to take in all the fairytale beauty.
19) Edinburgh, Scotland
Contribution by Laura from Live Adventure Travel(Site Owner)
Scotland’s outstandly beautiful capital city, Edinburgh should be high on the list for one of the most fairytale like places in all of Europe. Some of the city’s fairytale highlights include, the Medieval Old Town, Edinburgh Castle, Arthurs Seat and Calton Hill. In fact, the either city makes you feel as if you have step right out of a scene in a Disney movie.
Edinburgh is the perfect place to spend a long weekend, visitors are free to roam the streets and are sure to find fairytale like architecture in every corner.
20) Kotor, Montenegro
Contribution by Ashley from Jet Set Jansen
Off the beaten path in Europe is the city of Kotor, Montenegro that looks as if you’ve stepped into a storybook. The city sits on the shore of a bay and is surrounded by rolling mountains.
The stone city has winding streets and medieval architecture. It’s a smaller city, great for taking strolls and enjoying the surroundings. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the city is that the old town has fortress walls that climb up the side of a mountain. The views on the way up are spectacular and well worth the long, hot hike. If you make it all the way to the top, you’ll find St. John’s Fortress.
Whether you’re stopping through or staying for a while, Kotor is a great place to see and explore. It’s a special place and you’ll definitely feel like you’re in a fairytale.
Thanks for Reading!
That brings us to the end of our Fairytale Towns in Europe post, I really hope you enjoyed reading it and have found some nice additions for you bucket list. I just want to take a moment to take all the wonderfully talented travel bloggers who helped me put together this amazing blog post. They are all amazing!
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