Top 10 Prettiest Towns in Europe that Came Straight Out Of a Fairy Tale

When it comes to uncovering Europe’s charm, it’s often the small, hidden gems that leave the most lasting impressions.

Ready to fall in love with Europe all over again? Let’s meander through the ten prettiest towns that deserve a spot on your travel bucket list, complete with tips to make your visit unforgettable.

When planning your visit, remember that the secret to truly experiencing these fairytale European towns lies in wandering off the beaten path, embracing the local way of life, and, of course, keeping your camera at the ready for those unexpected moments of beauty that await around every corner.

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Colmar, France

Nestled in the heart of Alsace, Colmar is a destination that feels like stepping into a living, breathing painting. Imagine wandering through streets lined with timber-framed houses, their facades blooming with flowers as if they were competing for your attention.

Don’t miss the “Little Venice” district, where you can enjoy a boat ride surrounded by medieval timber-framed houses. This picturesque district, with its canals and colorfully painted houses, looks like it’s straight out of a storybook. Colmar’s markets are a carnival of sights, smells, and tastes. Indulge in local cheeses, wines, and the freshest of pastries. The vibrant Marché Couvert is a must-visit for any food lover.

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Hallstatt, Austria

Perched by the serene Lake Hallstatt and overshadowed by the Dachstein Alps, Hallstatt is nothing short of magical. Hallstatt Lake, with its crystal-clear waters reflecting the imposing Dachstein mountains, offers tranquility and serenity.  Rent a traditional wooden boat to enjoy the scenes.

For a panoramic view that will take your breath away, hike up to the World Heritage View skywalk. Hovering 350 meters above the town, this platform offers breathtaking views of Hallstatt and the surrounding mountains. Plan your visit during one of Hallstatt’s many cultural events or festivals to experience the local traditions, music, and cuisine.

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Manarola, Italy

One of the famed Cinque Terre villages, Manarola is a riot of color with its vibrant houses carved into the rugged coastline. There’s no sunset quite like a Manarola sunset. As the sun dips below the horizon, the sky and sea perform a symphony of colors, with the pastel buildings providing a stunning backdrop. Watching the sun dip below the horizon here, with a gelato in hand, is pure bliss.

For the adventurous, Manarola’s crystal-clear waters are irresistible. Swim in the harbor, or for the thrill-seekers, join the locals in cliff diving into the turquoise depths below. The path from Manarola to Corniglia offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and the vineyards clinging to the cliffs.

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Ghent, Belgium

Far from the hustle of more crowded destinations, Ghent offers a serene yet vibrant atmosphere, inviting travelers to step into a world where every corner tells a story. Its canals, quirky art scene, and stunning architecture make it a must-visit. You can rent a kayak to explore the canals and see the city from a different perspective.

The twin riverbanks, Graslei and Korenlei, are Ghent’s pulsating heart, lined with stunningly preserved medieval buildings that reflect beautifully in the water. In the middle of the city stands the imposing Gravensteen, a castle that harks back to the days of knights and legends.

Art enthusiasts will find their haven at St. Bavo’s Cathedral, home to the Van Eyck brothers’ masterpiece, “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.” This stunning altarpiece is considered one of the most significant works of art in Europe for its complexity and beauty.

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Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

This UNESCO World Heritage site, with its stunning castle perched above a meandering river, looks like it’s straight out of a postcard. Take your time meandering through its labyrinth of cobblestone streets, discovering hidden courtyards, quaint cafes, and artisan shops. Every corner holds a new surprise, from elaborate frescoes to whimsical signs.

Explore the Český Krumlov Castle: Dominating the town’s skyline, the castle and chateau complex is the second largest in the Czech Republic. Its blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture is a feast for the eyes, while the panoramic views from the castle tower are truly breathtaking. Don’t miss the Baroque theater, one of the world’s most beautifully preserved.

Tip: Visit during the fall when the crowds thin out and the foliage turns the town into a palette of fiery hues.

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Bibury, England

Often described as the most beautiful village in England, Bibury is like stepping back in time. The iconic Arlington Row cottages are a highlight.

Whether you’re wandering along Arlington Row, exploring the ancient church of St. Mary’s, or simply soaking up the serene beauty of the countryside, Bibury offers a timeless escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Tip: Bring a picnic and enjoy it by the River Coln, a perfect spot to watch swans glide by.

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Reine, Norway

Located above the Arctic Circle on the Lofoten Islands, Reine’s beauty is stark, raw, and breathtaking. This little fishing village is all about epic landscapes and cozy vibes. Imagine kicking back with a cup of coffee, surrounded by nothing but towering mountains and the clear, blue fjords.

Whether you’re up for a hike up Reinebringen for those unbeatable views, trying your luck with fishing in the Arctic waters, or just chasing the midnight sun, Reine has got it all. In winter, it’s an excellent spot for viewing the northern lights. In summer, the midnight sun is an equally mesmerizing spectacle.

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Sintra, Portugal

Sintra, with its lush landscapes and extravagant palaces, feels like a living, breathing fairy tale. The Palácio da Pena, with its vibrant colors and eclectic styles, is a must-see.

Hike up to the Moorish Castle for stunning views of the palace and the surrounding countryside. Spend a day exploring the colorful Pena Palace, standing bright on a hilltop, or wander through the mysterious Quinta da Regaleira, with its secret tunnels and enchanting gardens. And don’t get me started on the views from the Moors Castle – they’re the kind that makes you pinch yourself, wondering if it’s all real.

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Riquewihr, France

Riquewihr is a real-life postcard town in the heart of Alsace, France. Imagine a place where time pauses, letting you wander through centuries-old cobblestone streets lined with colorful timber-framed houses.  This place is a wine lover’s haven, where each vineyard and cellar offers a taste of Alsace’s rich heritage in every sip.

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Soglio, Switzerland

Dubbed “the gateway to paradise” by the painter Giovanni Segantini, Soglio is a blissful retreat that offers stunning Alpine views. Don’t miss a walk through the Palazzo Salis garden for a serene experience. Start your adventure in the heart of the village, where you’ll find the charming Piazza Segantini. Admire the historic buildings and soak in the tranquil atmosphere of this picturesque square.

Explore the medieval Castello Salis, a stunning fortress perched on the hillside overlooking the village. Marvel at the panoramic views of the surrounding Alps and learn about Soglio’s rich history. Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails of Val Bregaglia. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual stroller, the valley offers a variety of routes for every skill level. Don’t miss the scenic hike to the nearby villages of Bondo and Castasegna.

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