Do you ever dream of taking a vacation in one of Europe’s fairy-tale, postcard-perfect towns? Blessed with abundant scenic beauty, everything from stunning sun-soaked Greek islands to majestic Swiss Alps is worth visually feasting on. There are little-known fishing communities, green hamlets based along mountains, picturesque villages right on the coastal belt, and a host of other awe-inspiring towns that will leave you asking for more.
But Europe isn’t about glitzy wonders of the world and high-end shopping destinations, it is also about the nature splashed beauty of small and relatively unexplored towns.
Here is our list of expert recommendations on the top 10 European towns to visit.
1. Manarola, Italy
A popular Cinque Terre town, replete with an assortment of rainbow-hued houses carved in stone walls along the alluring Mediterranean coast, Manarola looks straight out of a travel brochure. This tiny fishing community is known for its fantastic wine, Antonio Discovolors’ paintings, and a pleasant no-cars rule. Park just outside town and set off on a pollution adventure into this effortlessly gorgeous, Instagramable town.
Back in the 9th century, this spectacularly colorful town has earned the title of “Little Venice” owing to its network of waterways and cobbled medieval streets. Visit Alsatian village, famous for its exquisite wines and local bakeries (with German and French-inspired creations), or witness the charm of Colmar’s Neo-Baroque and German Gothic style architectural structures.
One of Austria’s oldest communities (dating back 5000 BC), Hallstatt is a storybook town in the mountain that features a mining history spanning more than a thousand years. Hallstatt’s prosperity is evident in its pretty square-rigged, ivy hued buildings and gorgeous setting (juxtaposed between an idyllic lake and verdant mountains) on the Hallstatter See banks. This well-preserved and visually stunning town is a treasure of fascinating human history.
Nestled prettily on the flourishing green, hilly region of Cotswold, Bibury is known as England’s most photogenic town. First mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086), the town dates back hundreds of years. Featuring verdant, emerald meadows, ancient stone houses, and the dramatic River Coln, this Enid Blyton style town will sweep you off your feet. Visit Arlington Row, famous for its scenic town region and 17th-century sepia-colored cottages.
The Giethoorn Netherlands is all about rustic charm, untouched beauty, and simple living. The pristine Dutch town nestled in Overijssel doesn’t have any roads and is interlinked via an old-world style canal system. Every home features tiny private islands. You can only reach via water or foot as vehicles are parked just outside town. Expect to see beautiful canal ways and farmhouses built by 18th-century Mediterranean fugitives. The 1958 flick Fanfare brought the town plenty of global fame.
Juxtaposed between Meuse River and a citadel, Dinant is known for its striking architecture and gorgeous, mountain top views. Enjoy a day trip to witness Grotto of Dinant’s waterfalls or head to the Sanctuary of Beauraing (where you can plonk yourself in one of the local open-air cafes), where you can enjoy gorgeous vistas from one of the continent’s most picturesque cities.
Located 2, 460 ft over sea level on the picturesque Lake of Lungern shore, this mountainous town radiates a hard to resist the fairy-tale appeal. Apart from the charming Lungern village, this scenic region includes Burglen and Kaiserstuhi settlements, the Obese hamlet (featuring old-world style homes), and other strikingly pretty communities and natural wonders.
This tiny yet spectacular Norwegian fishing community (located within the Lofoten Archipelago, a stunning group of islands in the Arctic Circle) speaks straight to the nature lover’s heart. Housing a population of about 300 people, this is a great place to enjoy a laidback, slow-paced holiday, eat to your heart’s content, and witness the spectacular northern lights phenomenon.
Located in one of the country’s most picturesque Alps valleys, Lauterbrunnen is sandwiched between gigantic rocks and lush mountain peaks. With over 72 lashing waterfalls, isolated valleys, vividly-hued alpine meadows, and secluded, family-run mountain inns, the town also feature one of the largest Swiss conservation regions. Experience the 300 meters high Staubbach Falls, the glacier Trummelbach Falls and a cable car ride from Stechelberg to Schilthom Mountain for stunning views.