Europe has some of the most beautiful towns and villages in the world. Full of historic buildings, castles, towers, bridges and cobblestone streets, there is no continent which has such pretty and photogenic towns that look straight out of a fairy tale. If you are looking for travel inspiration for your next trip to Europe, read on for the most beautiful fairytale towns in Europe that you need to visit.
Most Beautiful Fairytale Towns in Europe
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- Most Beautiful Fairytale Towns in Europe
- Hallstatt, Austria
- Sintra, Portugal
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
- Königswinter, Germany
- Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
- Giethoorn, Netherlands
- Bibury, England
- Echternach, Luxemburg
- Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
- Loket, Czech Republic
- Kaysersberg, France
- Dinan, France
- Rigny-Usse, France
- Stari Grad, Croatia
- Bacharach, Germany
- Monsanto, Portugal
- Bled, Slovenia
- Maastricht, Netherlands
- Delft, Netherlands
- Alberobello, Italy
- Cinque Terre, Italy
- San Gimignano, Italy
- Bruges, Belgium
- Tallinn, Estonia
- Sighisoara, Romania
- Sibiu, Romania
- Brașov, Romania
- Alpbach, Austria
- Kotor, Montenegro
Contributed by Medha from Hopping Feet
This fairytale town in Austria is perhaps as romantic as it can get! Although I spent only a day here, it was the most magical experience I’ve ever had. I visited Hallstatt because I had seen stunning pictures of it, the lake with the pastel-coloured wooden houses stacked one on top of the other, the iconic church with its steeple and the hills in the backdrop.
Hallstatt is very small – there isn’t a lot to do in this sleepy town. You could take a leisurely stroll along the lake, sip on a coffee with the most incredible views, hike up (or take a funicular) to the World Heritage Skywalk, an observation deck offering gorgeous vistas of the town, visit the museum in the town that talks about its salt mining history, buy souvenirs at the Market Square or visit the famous Catholic parish church of Hallstatt.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also known as the Pearl of the Salzkammergut and is located 1.5 hours away from Salzburg. It can be reached by either bus (from Salzburg) or a train (from Vienna or Salzburg) followed by a short ferry ride across the lake. Click here to book a half day tour from Salzburg.
Contributed by Kevin Wagar from Wandering Wagars
Sintra is a fairytale town about 33 km from the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. It’s close makes it a popular day-trip. Sintra contains an amazing variety of architecture. The candy coloured façade of Pena Palace appears drawn from a fairytale and beckons visitors to explore once they enter the historical centre. Close by is the National Palace with it’s distinctive chimney stacks and intricately decorated rooms. The palace holds the title of being the most lived in royal palace in Portugal. The blend of Gothic, Manueline, Moorish, and Mudéjar architecture makes it easy to imagine those bygone days. Although not as frequented as the National and Pena Palaces, the Moorish Castle is a worthwhile stop. The hike along the walls beckons images of knights protecting the kingdom. Plus, the views from the top are spectacular. Click here to book a day tour from Lisbon.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Contributed by Lindsey from Hello Jetlag
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is Germany’s best preserved medieval walled town, and one of the most popular stops on the Romantic Road. Step inside the walls of the Old Town and you’ll feel as is you’ve been transported into a story book. In fact, Walt Disney’s Pinocchio was inspired by sketches of the town.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is an easy day trip from either Frankfurt or Munich, taking only 2.5 hours each way. Or, opt to spend the night and enjoy the town all to yourself, as 80% of visitors come only for the day. Take a romantic stroll, snack on snowballs (a local specialty made from shortcake dough), or shop for Christmas ornaments in the famous Christmas Village (open all year).
From the picturesque streets to their year-round infinity for Christmas, Rothenburg ob der Tauber might be one of the most beautiful fairytale towns in Europe.
Contributed by Chelsea from The Portable Wife
Located an hour’s train ride from Cologne, Königswinter makes for an ideal fairy tale day trip in western Germany. The village is incredibly charming, with timbered buildings, colorful cafes, and tree-lined walkways along the Rhine. Spend some time browsing the unique shops of the Marktplatz, and wander the cobblestone alleys with a traditional bienenstich pastry in hand.
The biggest draw for Königswinter is Schloss Drachenburg, a perfectly preserved castle atop the Drachenfels hill. To reach the castle, travelers can take a scenic 45 minute hike, or ride the quaint Drachenfelsbahn tram to the top. The castle grounds are gorgeous and whimsical, with topiaries, gold statues, and towering trees. Once inside, visitors can explore the ornate halls, peer into lavishly decorated rooms, and even climb a tower for amazing views of the Rhine valley.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Contributed by Allan from Live Less Ordinary
Cesky Krumlov is a cute town and UNESCO zone, famous for its well-preserved heritage buildings and Bohemian architecture, found in the Bohemian regions of the Czech Republic. The historical centre of the town is compact, easy to navigate, and pedestrianized (parking is found outside of the castle walls) and it should take no longer than a leisurely hour to circle the entire perimeter. And I recommend doing so, as the scenes are straight from a fairy tale picture book, of old Bohemian Europe. Dotted throughout the central areas are bohemian taverns selling traditional dishes like Vepro Knedlo Zelo, a plate of roast meats with ‘knedli’ dumplings, accompanied by all sorts of game meats, like venison, rabbit, and pheasant. Not to forget the local meads, schnapps, ales and grogs in various Bohemian taverns.
Contributed by Manouk from Bunch of Backpackers
Giethoorn is a charming little village in the Netherlands. The village is known for its waterways, steep wooden bridges and old Dutch farmhouses. Some people say it is the most beautiful village in the world! Motorized traffic is not allowed in the old part of Giethoorn, so the best to explore Giethoorn is by boat. You can easily hire a boat yourself or take a canal cruise. In the evening you can go for an atmospheric moonlight cruise. Giethoorn also has two interesting museums ‘Het Olde Maat Uus’ and ‘De Oude Aarde’.
Contributed by Emily from Kids and Compass
Tucked away in the Cotswolds in SW England, Bibury is the quintessential English village. In a region known for its beautiful towns and villages Bibury is one of the most visited, and for good reason.
At Bibury you’ll want to explore the famous Arlington Row, a picturesque row of higgledy-piggledy cottages that date from the 14th Century. Take a gentle walk past the stream to the Bibury Trout Farm where you can catch your own lunch and enjoy the gardens. If you’re not in the mood for fish then there’s a lovely pub next door to the trout farm.
A tip: you’ll want to arrive first thing in the morning or out of season to avoid the tour buses. You can book a one day tour of the Cotswolds from London or from Oxford. If you’re not on a tour then you’ll need to drive to Bibury, but be aware that parking is limited. Bibury is a short drive from the nearest large town, Cirencester.
If you have more time to explore surrounding towns and villages, the Cotswolds is one of the best places in Europe for a road trip.
Contributed by Sarah from CosmopoliClan
Just half an hour drive from Luxemburg’s capital you’ll find Echternach, which is the country’s oldest city. Built around the abbey, the town features a maze of cobblestone streets, pastel-coloured houses around a cozy market place and a gorgeous gothic-style town house. All these charming features contrast against a green backdrop because, right outside of the city walls, you’ll yourself amidst nature. There’s the Echternach lake, offering several sporting and leisure activities. But Echternach is mostly known as the heart of the region called Little Switzerland, the Mullerthal. There’s no better place to unwind after a day of hiking than at one of the many lively little bars and eateries that dot Echternach’s enchanting marketplace. This fairytale town in Europe is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.
Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
Contributed by Aditi Kapoor from Travelogue Connect
Karlovy Vary is a dreamy fairytale town in Czech Republic. It is one of the non-touristy places rich in history and well worth exploring for a day or two.
The main attractions in Karlovy Vary are its hot springs, spa-influenced architecture, age-old glass museum – The Moser Visitor Centre, Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Karlovy Vary Museum and Art Gallery, Loket Castle, Historical Motorcycle Museum and more!
The spa town of Karlovy Vary is also a cultural hotspot boasting a performing arts center, art galleries, and a number of museums, and is famous for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, one of the longest-running events in Europe.
Karlovy Vary can be easily visited as a day trip from Prague.
Loket, Czech Republic
Contributed by Amanda from The Boutique Adventurer
This charming medieval town remains remarkably intact from its 12th century creation. It is best known for its fortified castle which is well worth a visit – apart from the particularly gory torture museum! Indeed this town and the castle are so lovely they were even featured in the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale.
After visiting the castle wander the cute cobblestone streets and visit the baroque town hall and church and enjoy some pork (it will definitely be on the menu and be tasty if you are in the Czech republic) at one of the local restaurants.
This lovely town is located less than 10 minutes from the gorgeous spa town of Karlovy Vary and 2 hours from Prague.
Contributed by Bec from Wyld Family Travel
Kaysersberg is part of the Alsace region and it is an absolutely stunning area. Tiny picturesque towns that look like they are straight out of a fairy tale dot the area and Kaysersberg is one of our favourites. We have wandered the town in both summer and winter and it just gets better every time we go. The town is made up mostly of colourful stone and wood houses with a chateau that sits high on a hill over looking the town that is surrounded by grape vines. You can sit in a gorgeous little square and enjoy a meal, people watch, have a wine and marvel at the sheer beauty of the town. During winter it has one of the most amazing Christmas markets that is well known for being one of the best in Europe. For us it is just simply gorgeous and we could have wandered it for hours looking at all the houses and walking over the 16th century bridge a thousand times.
Contributed by Mayi from Secret Moona
Brittany has an incredible number of charming villages and Dinan could easily be called the most beautiful town of Brittany. This preserved medieval port town is full of charm and character.
Dinan is great to explore on foot. Walk along the quaint cobbled streets of the Old Town and admire the timbered houses. As you wander around the streets be sure to stop by the famous Rue Jerzual lined with art galleries, craft and pottery shops. Strolling atop the ramparts of the walled town or climb the Tour de l’Horloge (clock tower) to enjoy sweeping views of the Rance valley are a must.
In the evening, take another stroll by the port. There are plenty of restaurants and crêperies along the quay where you can sit back, relax with a glass or two and admire the boats come and go. Thanks to its history, heritage and preservation, Dinan is one of the most sought-after, tourist destinations in Brittany so why not go and see it for yourself.
Get there: Trains run from Paris Montparnasse to Rennes, taking about 2hrs. From there, the bus 7 (illenoo) runs to Dinan.
Contributed by Eloise from MyFavouriteEscapes.com
Rigny-Usse is a small French rural town along a calm river in the Loire Valley region. Walking around French villages is always picturesque, but what makes Rigny-Usse special is its castle. As soon as you get a glimpse at Usse Castle (le chateau d’Usse), you’ll feel like you’re in a fairy tale. That’s where Charles Perrault got his inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty castle. The best way to explore the town is on foot. After you wander in the town centre, you can walk along the river for an easy stroll in nature. But the best part is when you arrive in front of the castle. As you cross the bridge and pass through the gates, you enter a different world. The castle receives visitors every day. From one room to another, you discover different styles and arts. The tower is dedicated to the Sleeping Beauty. And the gardens were designed by Le Notre, who created the Versailles garden.
You’ll need a car to get to Usse. It takes 2.5 hrs to drive there from Paris. Alternatively, you can catch a train from Paris to Tours (1 hr) and then drive from Tours to Usse (45 min).
Stari Grad, Croatia
Contributed by Lotte from Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog
Stari Grad is a fairy-tale town on the island Hvar one of the many beautiful islands in the Central Dalmatian Archipelago of Croatia. Founded 400 years BC it’s one of the oldest towns in Europe. Stari Grad is exceptionally well preserved Stari Grad and a UNESCO Heritage site.
The little village is one of the prettiest towns (perhaps even the prettiest town) I have ever seen. With it’s cute cobblestone streets, little boutiques selling wine, arts and crafts, lovely stone houses, hidden restaurants and friendly people Stari Grad is one of my favourite places in the world (and I don’t say that lightly!).
How to get there? The best way to get there is with a sailing boat, but if that’s out of the budget you can take the direct ferry from Split. A ticket costs 39 Croatian Kuna (€5), the trip will take around 2 hours.
Contributed by Jessica Norah from Independent Travel Cats
Bacharach is a small picturesque town in the Rhineland-Palatinate state of Germany. It is best known for its timber framed houses and 12th century castle that sits on top of a hill above the town. It is a popular postcard town along the Rhine River.
Although there are no must-see attractions here, it is a great town to spend a couple of hours walking around and exploring. Some of the major sites are the old timber framed houses, old market place, ruins of a Gothic church, the old town walls, and the 12th century castle on the hill. There are no tours offered of the castle as it is now a hostel and the inside just looks like a hostel. If you are overnighting here, we can personally recommend staying in Burg Stahleck in Bacharach which offers dorm-style and private rooms.
You can reach Bacharach by car, train, bike, or river cruise. There are several shops and places to grab food and drinks in the town.
Contributed by Lara & Valter from Heart of Everywhere
Monsanto is one of the most picturesque places you can visit in Portugal.
This tiny village is one of the 12 Historical Villages of Portugal. It has a castle where you can climb to enjoy the magnificent view from the top. But the true beauty of this village lies in its unique architecture where man and nature worked together to create such an unusual place. While strolling around Monsanto it´s not unusual to find a perfect symbiosis between tiny granite houses and huge stones.
The best way to explore central Portugal and its Historical Villages is by renting a car. The closest cities to Monsanto are Castelo Branco, Fundão and Covilhã.
Contributed by Kay Rodriguez from Jetfarer
With its iconic lake and backdrop of snow-capped mountains, Bled, Slovenia is undoubtedly one of the most magical places in all of Europe. Located a short drive or bus from Ljubljana, Bled is the perfect relaxing weekend getaway. Whether you like nature, history, or food, there are so many things to do in Lake Bled, Slovenia for travelers of all kinds.
While in Bled, you can tour the lake and the small church that sits on Bled Island, making a wish by ringing the bell three times. Alternatively, you can explore Bled Castle for some amazing views of the lake and a history lesson on the town. Hike up to the Ojstrica and Osjonica viewpoints for postcard-perfect panoramas (sunset is a great time for this), or make your way to Vintgar Gorge and explore its turquoise waters jetting through a steep set of rock formations. And, of course, top it all off with a coffee and a slice of Bled’s famous cream cake, a delicious dessert that’s a specialty in the area. No matter what you do during your visit, you’re sure to fall in love with the charm and beauty of Lake Bled. Click here to book a day trip from Ljubljana.
Contributed by Bruna from Maps n Bags
Striking architecture, medieval atmosphere, and cozy cafes, Maastricht is a real fairytale city in the south of the Netherlands. This is a fairly easy day trip from Amsterdam by train. I might be biased because I used to live there, but I promise I won’t exaggerate: Maastricht is straight out of a fairytale book. The city’s gate and the basilica are the oldest in the country and both are very well preserved. They give Maastricht that ancient look that you can only find in some cities and towns in the Old Continent (aka Europe). While strolling across the city, be sure to stop by the Selenyz, an impressive bookstore inside a church. Afterward, enjoy a beer in one of the many cozy beer cafes in the city. You’ll love it!
Contributed by Karen from Wanderlustingk
Delft is a picturesque town that is an easy day trip from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Anyone who has heard of Delftware might have heard of Delft, however they may not realize that Delft has beautiful canals and architecture dating back to medieval times. This university town has a lot more to offer beyond pottery and lovers of vegan food will find many great food options. For the best view of the city, be sure to climb up to the top of the New Church before enjoying a local beer at one of the many cozy beer cafes. As Delft is super small, you can easily stroll across the city within a day.
Contributed by Alina from The Happy Kid
Alberobello is a small village in Italian Puglia region. UNESCO World Heritage site, Alberobello is famous for the Trulli, traditional conical roof houses. There’s a whole hill with these funny shaped buildings. They are linked by a maze of cobblestone streets that seem to be coming from a fairytale. As you walk by, you will be tempted to stop at each souvenir shops, they all have a different offer, with a new story to be told. Everything is local, authentic, nothing like the kitsch-style souvenirs offered nowadays in top touristic locations. To fully enjoy the experience, try a Segway tour through the Trulli area!
You can easily reach Alberobello from Bari in about one hour and a half via train or bus. Just make sure to check the schedule in advance, as the trains might not run in the weekends.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Contributed from Kieren at Got My Backpack
Cinque Terre is not just one destination, but the name given to five fishing villages along the Italian Riviera coastline; Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The colourful houses across the cliffs and beautiful hiking trails will ensure a trip to remember.
Without any cars, the best way of getting between the villages is via the local train from La Spezia which runs frequently and stops in each of the villages.
If you get the opportunity, hop on a boat tour to view the villages from the sea, alternatively take to the beaches and try some of the local gelato.
San Gimignano, Italy
Contributed by Pilar from el antitour
Set amongst the lush and serene Tuscan hills, San Gimignano is the ultimate fairytale town in Italy.
Famous for its skyline of medieval towers, there are over 70 of these structures around town, some of which you can climb for privileged views of the surrounding valley.
San Gimignano’s charms are no secret, though, so expect flocks of tourists and lines to major attractions, which include a Romanesque Cathedral and the City Hall, which boasts the highest tower of all.
However, escape to one of its less crowded side streets in the early or late hours and you’ll be able to appreciate the real magic of this place. A good tip to do so is to stay overnight in one of its romantic B&Bs or agriturismo farms on the outskirts of the town.
And of course, I couldn’t talk about an Italian location without mentioning the food: eating dinner at one San Gimignano’s many restaurants will provide you with the utmost Tuscan experience in the form of delicious wines, salamis, cheeses, soups and sauces.
Whichever way you choose to enjoy it, I believe San Gimignano is bound to get a top spot in your list of European fairytale towns!
Contributed by Kelly from A Pair of Passports
With its charming almshouses and cobblestone streets, Bruges is a fairytale town that you can wander around for hours, falling more in love with it by the minute. Bruges is a city based on canals, which means that there are plenty of bridges to walk over, many of which offer stunning views of the canal houses. The Markt square is lined with bistros offering outdoor seating in the warmer months, and in the winter the entire place transforms into a Christmas wonderland.
For a real fairytale experience, wander over to Minnewater and the Lovers Bridge. Legend says that walking over the bridge will bring you eternal love. Even if you’re not looking for love, the scene is one that you’ll remember.
The easiest way to get to Bruges is by arrival into the train station. There are frequent trains from Brussels. There are also day trips from Brussels and Amsterdam.
Contributed by Lesia from Dutch Wannabe
Tallinn is a charming city with an ever-present legacy from the middle ages. The city dates back to the 13th century and you can feel the history as you explore the city center. Walking through the crooked Old Town streets will plunge you deep into a real-life fairytale: cobblestone paths, old city walls and gate, and amazing food on every corner. What makes Tallinn extra-special are the many viewing platforms on Toompea Hill which offer a magnificent prospect of the old city center. With the slanted red-tiled rooftops and the church spires, the view is superb. The city combines Nordic qualities with a Western European feel. It’s also a great destination to combine on a Baltic Cruise as the port offers opportunities to sail to Helsinki, Stockholm and St. Petersburg.
There are so many things to do in Tallinn, from eating in a medieval pub to enjoying its Christmas Market stalls. This city very diverse which makes it a great destination for couples, families and solo travelers alike.
Contributed by Rachelle from Adventure is Never Far Away
I fell in love with Sighisoara, Romania the first time I walked into the walled old town. Picture this: vibrantly colored buildings, a cobblestoned city center, red clay roof tiles, flora and fauna exploding from every nook and cranny. Sounds like a dream, no? Sighisoara is a real-life fairytale town. Spend your days exploring the defense towers that still stand as sentinels for the fortified old town. Climb the Scholar’s Stairs, an enclosed wooden staircase originally built for the school children to reach the School on the Hill. Or just sit in the old town and admire the UNESCO historic center. Any Dracula fans out there? Sighisoara is said to be the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler. Did you know you could visit his alleged birthplace? Because doesn’t every good fairytale need a villain?
Contributed by iuliana from Authentic Travels
Sibiu is one of the oldest medieval towns in Romania. German settlers came to Sibiu 800 years ago. They brought their culture, traditions, and knowledge. For this reason, the local architecture has a strong Saxon imprint while the Evangelic Church dominates the townscape with its 73-tall bell tower.
The three main squares (Huet, Grand Square, and Lesser Square) feature an urban complex of high architectural value. In one corner of the Lesser Square, the Liar’s Bridge hides a lot of legends while in the Grand Square, the Haller House still preserves medieval frescoes. Besides, the Brukenthal Palace houses the first museum in Romania, while the first hospital in Transylvania was developed around the Asylum Church. This is only a small part of this fairytale town of south-eastern Europe but strolling its streets, you will discover many other hidden places.
Sibiu has a small airport with a few international connections to Europe. Getting around the historic town it’s very easy if you just walk, and enjoy!
Contributed by Emma from TravelFace
Brașov is one of my favourite fairytale towns in Europe. Whilst it is the perfect base for exploring Transylvania, such as Bran Castle, it packs a charming punch itself.
To get there is an adventure, as you journey into Romania’s wild. Take a bus or hire a car from Bucharest. Soon you meet twisting mountain roads surrounded by snow capped peaks and towering forests with peaking churches and roaming animals. Then Brașov greets you; with its Old Town being as picturesque as its backdrop.
Wander the cobblestone streets lined with colourful buildings, and cosy cafes. Visit the medieval watchtowers, and admire gothic architecture, such as the Black Church, with its own story to tell like much of historic Brașov.
Then venture into its magical surroundings whatever the season, with everything from hiking to skiing on offer. One thing is for certain: Brașov will remain as beautiful as ever.
Contributed by Nicola from Suitcase and Wanderlust
Alpbach is truly a scenic village, just like you see towns in fairytales. It is embedded in the beauty of the Austrian Alps surrounded by mountains and lush meadows. All houses are built in the same style with wood as the main material used. The consistent architecture makes the town so unique and cozy. It is the perfect place for hiking and mountain biking in spring, summer and fall with plenty of trails for everyone, no matter if you’re into slow hiking or mountain climbing. Its one of those nature paradises with clean, fresh air and the best tap water you can imagine. In winter, the town transforms to a marvelous spot covered in snow. You can ski during the day and stroll through the romantic village in the evening enjoying traditional Austrian food and a glass of wine at a fire place.
How to get there? The nearest airport is Innsbruck (about 40 minutes drive) or Munich (about 1,5 hours drive) and its best to take a rental car to get around easily.
Contributed by Nate from Unbridled
The beauty of Montenegro has made me speechless so times. Especially a small town called Kotor impressed me the most. Located in the Bay of Kotor, this medieval old town makes you feel like you are in a different world. You can spend your day strolling through the narrow alleys and admiring the cute cats. One thing everyone should do is hiking to the Kotor Fortress, which offers spectacular views over the old town and the bay. Believe me, you cannot stop taking pictures and looking at this scenic landscape! Kotor is a pretty small town. So if this doesn’t fill your day, you can take a boat tour around the bay and to other gorgeous places like the Lady of the Rocks or the blue cave. However, Kotor itself is one of the most beautiful places in Europe that I would always revisit. Click here to book a day trip from Dubrovnik.
Hopefully this list introduced you to some fairytale towns to visit in Europe. What do you think are the most beautiful European fairytale towns?
Need more inspiration for traveling Europe? Check out some of my other articles:
- Most Beautiful Cities in Europe You Need to Visit
- Underrated Cities in Europe
- The Ultimate Europe Bucket List: 100+ Epic Things to Do in Europe
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