Life may not be a fairy tale, but if you love everything magical it’s only natural to seek out charming villages and castles on your travels. You can visit fairy tale theme parks, or venture to these real-life destinations which seem to come straight out of a storybook.
1) Magic Mountain Lodge, Chile
We’ll start this tour in the Andes, at the Magic Mountain Lodge of Patagonia. It’s a hotel made for fairy tale fans, with a waterfall crashing down one side and rooms carved out of tree trunks. You access the hotel via a whimsical rope bridge. The lodge is located in the Hulio Hulio reserve, which is home to the world’s smallest deer standing at just over two feet in height. A stay here is like being lost in a fairy tale forest, surrounded by woodland creatures far away from the day-to-day world. Bring your Snow White fancy dress and let the forest be your guide here.
2) Admont Abbey, Austria
If you prefer Beauty and the Beast to Snow White, head over to Austria’s Admont Abbey. It’s home to one of the world’s largest libraries, which Belle would surely swoon over. The library’s decorated in high baroque style, with light-filled chambers and painted cupola frescoes. These showcase different phases of the enlightenment, inviting you to wander and get lost in the power of literature.
3) Jaipur City Palace, India
European castles are filled to the brim with history and fantastic architectural flourishes, but it’s hard to top the beauty of India’s pink City Palace in Jaipur. An intricate maze of lush gardens, tranquil courtyards and rosy pink stone walls make it a palace fit for a princess. You can view the lavish courtyards where the maharajas would greet visitors, paved in pink and white marble. There is an art gallery contained in the Hall of Public Audience, including fascinating works of art and miniature manuscripts. If you are visiting Jaipur with kids, check out this list of the best things to do in Jaipur with kids.
4) Swallow’s Nest Castle, Ukraine
A more modern example of a fairy tale castle is the Swallow’s Nest, perched on a craggy cliff overlooking the Crimean Sea in Ukraine. Designed by the Baron von Steingel for his mistress, this little love nest is impossibly picturesque and has served as the set for many Soviet films. Constructed in a Neo-Gothic style, complete with turrets and balconies jutting out over the ocean, it looks precarious and even enchanted.
5) The Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland
Many fairy tales have a dark edge, with dangerous creatures lurking in the deep, dark woods. Northern Ireland’s Dark Hedges are said to be haunted by the “Grey Lady,” who wanders this famous road at twilight. You may recognise the famous beech tree-lined avenue from Game of Thrones, which has used it as the setting for the King’s Road. Although it can look spooky in the evening, when light hits the trees at just the right level the entire road glows.
Visit one of these magical destinations for your next getaway, and you’ll feel as if you’ve wandered into a classic story from your childhood.