The Most Adorable Towns in Europe

Europe is known for its busy, culture-driven cities like Rome and Paris. But between all the landmarks and selfie-taking tourists, you’ll find literally hundreds of charming little towns with populations smaller than the line for the Eiffel Tower. Whether it’s a lakeside in Austria or an eerily beautiful village in Romania, these storybook towns are the stuff European vacations dream about. Get ready for a lot of bell towers and cobblestoned streets.

Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt is a small village, clinging to the side of a mountain, hugging the edges of the pristine Hallstätter See with houses clustered together in every shade of wood possible draped in ivy with a backdrop of lush autumn trees. Around every corner and every other step offers something even more pleasing to the eye than the step before. Hallstatt is the true definition of European fairy tale charm and is without a doubt one of the best small towns to visit in Europe

Appenzell, Switzerland

Appenzell, Switzerland
Alternating Swiss and Appenzeller flags line the bridge welcoming you to Switzerland’s most colorful village, Appenzell. Lavishly painted with elaborate patterns and vibrant rainbow colored houses one after the other, the town smells of its famous Appenzeller cheese and cute Swiss cows munch away just in the distance and a soft clinging of bells can be heard. The main street is lined with a few tourist shops, cafes and restaurants while gnomes have invaded a corner of town.

Sighișoara, Romania

Sighisoara
If you like your Eastern European towns to come with a fear factor, then the Transylvanian city of Sighișoara is for you. The historic town is the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the vicious Prince of Wallachia who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. For the best thrills, you can tour his childhood home (which includes a tiny torture museum) or brave Holy Trinity Church’s eerie and creaky stairwell after dark. Not a fan of the macabre? Sighișoara’s UNESCO-protected historic center and streets lined with colorful houses provide a nice fairytale vibe.

Colmar, France

Colmar, France
Colmar sits in one of the most beautiful regions in Europe, between France and Germany. With canals throughout the city, wooden boat rides and houses painted of every color of the rainbow, Colmar tops the list as one of the most colorful towns in Europe! It’s also considered the wine capital of the Alsace region, so with such beauty and good wine, it’s no wonder the two countries ping ponged this beautiful town back and forth over the last centuries!

Castelluccio, Italy

Castelluccio, Italy
Located atop a steep hill 5,000 feet above sea level, Castellucio is the highest village in the Appenine Mountain Range—and arguably the most beautiful. On one side, the village is backed by snow-capped mountains, and on the other, lush, fertile plains that blossom with red poppies, violets, and rapeseed in the spring (time your visit to the “Flowering,” from late May to early June). Sadly, a 2016 earthquake rendered the village virtually uninhabitable, but some remaining residents have re-opened shops and restaurants that are currently open to visitors.

Monschau, Germany

Monschau, Germany
Nestled right on the border to Belgium, in the North Eifel is one of the most adorable half-timbered towns in Germany you’ll ever come across! Just an easy day trip from Aachen, Monschau often rivales Rothenburg ob der Tauber for the title of “most beautiful”. Monschau is a quaint little town that has been preserved in time and is practically exactly as it was 300 years ago making it 100% totally Instagrammable. It’s one of the few German towns that escaped the Great Wars unscathed and each nook and cranny of this town is even more picturesque than the last.

Ísafjörður, Iceland

Located in Iceland’s unbelievably gorgeous Westfjords peninsula, the tiny town of Ísafjörður is nearly swallowed by the towering mountains surrounding it. With winter temperatures dipping down to the 20 degrees Fahrenheit and summer temperatures rarely reaching above the mid-50s, Ísafjörður is pretty much the opposite of your go-to Italian and Greek resort towns—and therein lies its appeal, especially if you prefer your vacations more rugged than ritzy.

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
Český Krumlov is a small medieval town almost completely unchanged as it was almost completely forgotten about, therefore, preserving it’s unique appearance. The city grew around the 13th century Gothic castle perched above the town and is encircled by the Vltava River. By far one of the most interesting towns to visit if you feel like stepping back to a time long gone, making it a great alternative to Prague!

Rye, England

Rye, England
An important shipping center since Roman times, Rye in East Sussex was once entirely surrounded by sea. The best views of the hodge-podge of medieval terra cotta roofs and and timbered walls are from St. Mary’s Parish Church tower or the Ypres Tower, the two oldest buildings in town. Rye is a scenic, two-hour train journey from London St. Pancras International, making it an easy day trip.

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina
While a visit to Mostar is not exactly at the top of everyone’s list, and the entire town is not exactly picturesque, the historic old town has been beautifully restored to its former beauty, as it was prior to the Balkan War, thus Mostar makes the list! With the stunning Old Bridge (Stari Most) gallantly stretched across the turquoise blue waters of the Neretva. Stroll through the old town and peruse the Bazaar or watch divers spring from the Old Bridge into the river below, but no matter what you choose to do, a visit to Mostar will be one of the best cities in the Balkans to visit!

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