There’s something about Europe’s old villages that just scream ‘magical’. The historic buildings, colourful houses, cobblestone streets, and local folklore. Add some bright flowers in the spring, or festive market stalls during the holiday season and I always feel like I’ve left the real world and stepped into the pages of fairytale storybook. There’s no shortage of beautiful European villages, and although I’ve visited my fair share of fairytale towns I’m always looking for more, so I asked some fellow travellers to add to my list. So from my favourites to theirs, here are 45 European fairytale towns to add to your bucket list.
1. Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany
I first heard about this European fairytale town from my parents who visited during their Honeymoon thirty years ago. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is walled village with colourful old houses, and a bit of a gruesome (but interesting!) history. I’ve been twice now and think it’s most magical during the holiday season with the lights, a small Christmas market and two incredible Christmas stores (Kathe Wohlfahrt). If you go, be sure to try the delicious Schneeballen pastries and take the evening walking tour with the Night Watchman.
2. Brasov, Romania
From: Two Drifters
Located in the region of Transylvania, Brasov, Romania certainly fits into the European fairytale town category. Like many of Europe’s charming cities it has a pastel-tinged Old Town Centre with beautiful buildings and narrow alleyways. There’s a distinct charm here, and the surrounding mountains add to that. Less than an hour away you’ll find two amazing castles that are waiting to be explored. Brasov is its most magical in the winter season, when snow dusts the storybook landscape and the Christmas market bursts to live, serving hot wine, sweet treats, and holiday cheer.
3. Vianden, Luxembourg
From: Tassie Devil Abroad
Less than an hour’s drive from Luxembourg City you will find the fairy-tale-like town of Vianden. This charming village features winding cobblestone streets leading up a hill to the impressive Vianden Castle overlooking the valley and River Our below. In summer, the cafes next to the river are a lovely spot to relax, and the entrance fee for the castle is well worth it purely for the stunning views from the battlements. Peeking inside at the lovely medieval rooms are just an added bonus!
4. Trebon, Czech Republic
from: Bobo and Chichi
Trebon, Czech Republic is one of the most adorable storybook villages we have ever been to. Not only is there a castle and a tower at town hall you can climb and get an aerial view, but the town is full of colorful charming townhomes that look like a colorful gingerbread village. The entire town is picturesque and even has an interesting and ingeniously designed canal system to farm their local delicacy, carp fish. If the beautiful town didn’t already have enough appeal Trebon is also known for its wellness and spa retreats. Without a doubt, Trebon is a real fairytale town in Europe.
5. Ludwigsburg, Germany
From: Passing Thru
Ludwigsburg, just one train stop away from bustling Stuttgart, is our favorite fairytale town in Germany. Home of a magnificent baroque castle, Ludwigsburg is named after a duke whose 18th century plan for a simple hunting lodge grew into a sprawling principal residence. Visit its entrancing “Fairytale Garden,” ceramics museum, classical private theater with intact stage machinery, and meticulous formal gardens. Der Märchengarten (“fairytale garden’) is a human-scale village with vintage mechanical puppets and animations which recreate favorite stories such as Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel. Adjacent are the original Palace craftsmen’s residences and a charming main square. Especially delightful at Christmas with an extensive holiday market.
6. Castle District of Budapest, Hungary
from: Where in the World is Nina
Budapest itself is a magical fairytale land of a city. Everywhere you turn, there’s a building or a setting where a princess could live or a unicorn can pop out from. Is this place even real? Was this city built for a real live Disney film that we are unaware of? Nope, this is simply Budapest, an incredible city full of some of most beautiful architecture you will ever lay your eyes on.
My favorite area is the Castle District on the Buda side (the “best” side). While some of the most marvellous sites here aren’t technically castles, they are equally as magical and I can’t recommend staying on the Buda side enough for this very reason. Who doesn’t want a castle as a neighbor?! The two most notable, for me, are Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
7. Dingle, Ireland
Ireland is full of adorable villages but I think Dingle is my favourite and a definite contender for the best fairytale towns in Europe. It’s the perfect base to explore the Dingle Peninsula (much prettier drive than the Ring of Kerry in my opinion) and it has a local dolphin named Fungie which you can go visit on a boat trip. Colourful houses, ocean views, and traditional Irish hospitality make it one of my favourite spots in Ireland.
8. Stockholm, Sweden
from: Family Travel Life
My favorite fairytale city in Europe is Stockholm. Stockholm stretches across 14 islands on the central-eastern coast of Sweden. Among the many waterways and green spaces that make up 60% of the city, you will find Gamla Stan (Old Town). Gamla Stan is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe with its narrow, cobbled-stone streets. Up and down the many streets that make up Gamla Stan, one can discover quaint cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, churches, and beautiful sights all around. Also within Gamla Stan, is the Royal Palace. If timed just right, there will be a parade to watch as the guard changes just outside.
9. Noyers-sur-Serein, France
Noyers-sur-Serein is a quaint medieval village on the banks of the River Serein in the Burgundy region of France. It is listed as a ‘most beautiful village of France’, because it is. In Noyers-sur-Serein there is a lovely 15th-century medieval centre, half-timbered old houses and a small farmer’s market on every Wednesday. The village has 19 of the original 23 fortified gates, and meandering cobble stoned streets with window boxes cascading with brightly coloured flowers.
10. Siurana, Spain
from: Once in a Lifetime Journey
The tiny village of Siurana was the last Saracen Muslim stronghold in Catalunya and the last bastion of the Christian reconquest. In the 12th century when all the villages in the area had been conquered by the Christians, Siurana remained under Muslim control as it had been for 300 years. Several knights were necessary to conquer it back. Today, Siurana is a pilgrimage destination for climbers from all over the world and a lovely weekend escape from Barcelona, 2h away by car. Its narrow cobblestone streets and its Romanesque church, perfectly preserved, are a romantic and magical way to spend the daydreaming of a time of kings, princesses and knights. A definite fairytale town in Europe.
11. Azenhas do Mar, Portugal
from: Life Part 2
Built into cliff tops above the Atlantic Ocean, Azenhas do Mar, Portugal, located about an hour from Lisbon, in Sintra National Park seems as improbably constructed as it is beautiful. Because of its beautiful beaches, the handsome little village is known primarily known as a summer destination, but its narrow, cobblestoned alleyways, whitewashed houses and sea views make it a beautiful destination any time of the year.
12. Stein Am Rhein, Switzerland
Stein Am Rhein is a delightful medieval town located in the north of Switzerland, not far from the German border. Over 1000 years old, the town is most famous for its well-preserved half-timbered buildings richly decorated with frescoes. Even after having seen photos before arriving, catching my first sight of the beautiful buildings clustered around the main square took my breath away. While the town is delightful to visit in summer when the window boxes are full of flowers, a visit during the yearly Christmas market would also be magical for those looking to experience the fairytale towns of Europe.
13. Monsanto, Portugal
Monsanto is a medieval village situated in the hills of Northern Portugal. Monsanto has a magical appearance, like something you might find in a fairy-tale, thanks to the giant boulders that are dotted around the town. Rather than try to move the boulders, or find somewhere else to form a town, the villagers simply built around them, on them, or even under them. This means the village is extremely narrow, which has the added benefit (to tourists and photographers, anyway) that you won’t see any cars here. The donkey is still the main mode of transport here. A good time to visit is on the 3rd of May, during the Festival of the Holy Cross. On this day, women carry rag dolls (marafonas) to the top of the castle and throw clay vases filled with flowers from its walls.
14. Gruyeres, Switzerland
Gruyeres is a gorgeous old town in the mountains of Switzerland. There isn’t much to see nearby, so it’s an easy day trip. When you do visit be sure to check out the castle and the HR Giger Museum. While you are here you should definitely indulge in a local cheese fondue. They are to die for! You don’t need much time to explore this European fairytale town, but it’s absolutely worth a visit.
15. Montcontour, France
from: Orient Excess
Moncontour in Brittany, France, is a village that has kept the charm of its medieval era. The city wall dating from the 13th century means that things on the inside have rarely ever changed, locals even seem to want to keep it this way and every shop in town displays wonderful wrought iron signs in an old fashioned style. The baker, the butcher, even the bank and the hotels all have those signs and it is worth hunting them down during a visit.
Come in August for their Medieval Fair where you might enjoy a proper throw back, or simply visit in spring, summer to appreciate fully the “ville fleurie” in full bloom.
16. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovnia
from: Two Scots Abroad
For those looking to experience Europe’s fairytale villages, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Mostar is simply magical. The most striking part of town has to be its Stari Most, Old Bridge. Come summer the streets flood with visitors from Sarajevo and Croatia who have travelled to catch a glimpse of the bridge sitting over the Neretva river. What luck some of these tourists may have, as although they won’t catch any Rapunzel’s in towers they will see local lads in their swimwear scaling the Bridge and jumping off, for a small fee of course. These daredevils entertain the crowds, plunging into the green waters for 25 euros. It’s not just the town and the circus acts that are mesmerising, the bus journey from Sarajevo is worth the fare alone.
17. Giethoorn, Netherlands
from: From Real People
In the North-East of the Netherlands about 120 km from Amsterdam is the beautiful water village of Giethoorn. Often called “The Little Venice of the North” it’s covered with over 90 km of canals and canoe trails. There are almost no roads, which gives the village a calm and peaceful atmosphere that is almost unknown in today’s modern world. The most important thing to do in Giethoorn is to rent a boat and explore this stunning village at a nice leisurely pace. If you are feeling a little more energetic you can even rent an inflatable ball and literally walk your way around the village’s waterway’s. The best time to visit is in the Spring, when the flowers across the village start blooming and cover the village in colour.
18. Portree on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Isle of Skye is a mystical and magical Island on the northwest coast of Scotland. Boasting medieval villages, roaring waterfalls, glistening lakes, beautiful beaches, enchanting castles and dramatic rugged landscape it is no wonder that it has become the perfect outdoor playground for humans and fairies alike. Although Scottish folklore is filled with myths and magical creatures such as unicorns, kelpies and giants it is the fairies who will hold your attention here. Visit the Fairy Glen with its grassy mounds and strange stone circles. The Fairy Pools with their clear water and stunning waterfalls and the Fairy Bridge just a few miles away from Dunvegan Castle, the home of the fairy flag. The landscapes are the real highlight in Skye, but you can use the cute and colourful village of Portree as a base to explore this magical part of the country.
from: Wanderers Hub
Liechtenstein is a 162-square mile country in Europe, sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland. It has gothic castles, aerial and scenic mountains- a place we loved being to. With about 37000 people only, this small realm is unknown to the masses. It is a quirky and quaint place! People visit here for outdoor pleasures. The His highness of the country calls for an annual party for all the residents on the national holiday at Vaduz Castle, the ancestral residence of the Prince. You can go there with broken tooth too – it is the largest and the leading manufacturer of false teeth. So, this place is a complete picturesque destination and a fairytale land we always thought existed only in books! Disclaimer – If you don’t want to get a hole in your pocket, try not to go to Liechtenstein during off-season (April-May or September end-October).
20. Bled, Slovenia
From: Our Escape Clause
Bled, Slovenia is home to an incredibly clear lake surrounded by gorgeous mountains, a tiny island in the middle of the lake with the most picturesque church one could imagine sitting on it, and a castle that overlooks the scene. Whether you choose to stroll around the lake on a quiet path, visit the castle and enjoy the scene from above, or rent a small rowboat to head out to the island, you are certain to have a view that will make you fall in love with Bled. Without a doubt, Bled is a true European fairytale town.
21. Nuremberg, Germany
From: Travellers Archive
Nuremberg is one the old cities of Germany and lies in Franconia in the South. It has a romantic old part with cobblestoned streets, half-timbered houses, not to forget the old Nuremberg castle overlooking the city. But definitely the most fairy tale part comes up in wintertime, when the original Christkindlesmarkt takes place in the old town. Every December the Franconian city is almost bursting with Christmas spirit. With 180 traditional red and white decorated wooden stalls. With bright lights garlands everywhere. And with an old carousel that moves so elated while you can hear the bells of the old stagecoach from afar. Don’t miss the famous Elisen-Gingerbread, the hot mulled wine and, of course, the one and only Nuremberg roast sausages.
22. Ambleside, England
From: Travels with Carole
All of England’s Lake District seems magical to me, but I think Ambleside has a particular fairytale quality–perhaps because it was once the home of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” author Beatrix Potter. Her creaky-floored Hilltop Farm House is still there, operated now by the National Trust and open now to visitors. (Unlike what you might think with her living on a farm with a garden and all, that famous story was actually based on her own pet bunny, Peter Piper. It was the first of her 23 tales.)
23. Delft, Netherlands
From: Owl Over the World
For me, Delft is absolutely one of the real-life fairytale towns in Europe.This small Netherlands town, located less than a half an hour tram ride from Den Haag is truly gorgeous and it’s a great day trip destination. The town is famous for the blue pottery but except that, Delft has to offer lots of other things to see and things to do. What makes it so magical? The architecture, the atmosphere, it’s all wonderful! And if you happen to visit it during the weekend, you’ll be able to witness many cool street performances.
24. Alberobello, Italy
from: Notes of Nomads
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale, a trip to Alberobello in southern Italy will bring that fantasy to life. Here you’ll find 1,500 miniature gnome-like houses known as trulli. The trulli are distinctive with their conical stone roofs and white exteriors, and looking out over the quaint town, it’s hard to believe that the trulli began as an elaborate method of tax evasion! In the Middle Ages, the reigning feudal lord moved peasants to the area to work the land, but in order to avoid paying taxes to the King of Naples, it was important that Alberobello not be considered a permanent settlement. The trulli are made of stacked limestone with no mortar in between so they could be quickly knocked down at collection time and easily rebuilt. Today Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage Site drawing thousands every year who want to walk amongst the trulli. For a really magical experience, you can even pay to stay in one overnight!
25. Banska Stiavnica, Slovakia
From: Kami and the Rest of the World
It’s quite a journey to reach Banska Stiavnica as the town is hidden in the valley surrounded by rolling hills of central Slovakia. But when you finally get there you will realize right away it was worth all the effort. The town is such a gem and for me it’s one of the most beautiful little places in Europe. Banska Stiavnica has long and rich history that was strictly connected with mining industry. It was also one of the richest in the area hence the number of monuments is really impressive here: elegant squares, Renaissance palaces, 16th century churches or charming lanes are in abundance here. The most stunning place is the main square with the plague column but no matter where you go in the town you’ll enjoy it for sure! In 1993 UNESCO rewarded Banska Stiavnica with the World Heritage List title.
26. Copenhagen, Denmark
From: Travel Loving Family
Home to the late author of some of the most world-famous fairy tales – Hans Christian Anderson, Copenhagen is truly a fairytale destination. I’ve been fortunate to visit the Danish capital on many occasions and always thoroughly enjoyed my time in the picturesque and very friendly city. More recently we visited as a family and found the city incredibly kid friendly with lots of magical attractions to visit. Our favourites were the Winter Wonderland at Tivoli Gardens, Little Mermaid statue (during a boat ride) and Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tale House. Copenhagen is one of the best European fairytale cities.
27. Tossa de Mar, Spain
from: Singapore N Beyond
Tossa de Mar is the perfect place for a romantic fairytale outing. Marc Chagall even called it “Blue Paradise”. At one moment you’re lounging on La Mar Menuda beach and the next, you’re transported to a magical medieval world of stone walls, cylindrical towers and cobblestone streets. The old walled-in quarter, or Villa Vella Enciente, is a perfect display of medieval Catalan heritage. It’s almost as if you’ve hopped in a time machine and entered another world, even if the old Governor’s House has become the Municipal museum. Villa Vella is situated on top of the mountainous hinterland with some gorgeous views of the surrounding beaches, natural springs and gorges.Tossa de Mar is situated between Barcelona and the French border (about 1h30 from Barcelona) so expect a perfect Mediterranean climate, yet it does get chilly in winter. Fun fact for animal lovers – Tossa de Mar was the first place in the world to declare itself an Anti-Bullfighting City (in 1989).
28. Bremen, Germany
from: Chasing the Unexpected
As soon as you get off the train at Bremen’s station, Germany, it feels just like any other European city. It’s only when you get further into the old quarter that it feels like stepping over a fairy tale. Known for Grimm’s fairy tale “Bremen Town Musicians”, I entered the old quaint neighborhood looking for the four traveling animals and wannabe-musicians, only to find out that my quest was going to be far more complex. This, in fact, is only one of the fairy tales and myths that populate this picturesque quarter. The best way to enjoy Bremen is to get lost in this fantasy world of animal musicians, of the seven lazy brothers, sons of a local farmer according to an old legend, that were not lazy at all and can now be seen at the fountain under their name in Böttcherstrasse, or the lovely carillon, also in Böttcherstrasse, that every hour from April to December plays folk songs with its 30 porcelain bells. The charming architecture is the perfect surrounding for such a fairy-tale experience and the town’s food market the ideal stop for a delicious lunch before resuming this one-of-a-kind journey.
29. Krakow, Poland
from: Migrating Miss
Krakow is the second largest city in Poland and one of the oldest, with a true fairytale history. Legend has it that Krakow was founded over a dragon’s cage, and you can even see the dragon’s bones in Wawel Cathedral today (it’s likely they’re mammoth bones but let’s not spoil the fun!). There’s also the impressive Wawel Castle, the beautiful old town with towering church spires and the largest market square in Europe to see, as well as the old Jewish quarter. A horse and carriage ride through the streets will have you feeling like you’re straddling somewhere between the past and present.
30. Sibiu, Romania
From: The Globetrotting Teacher
Sibiu, Romania will absolutely steal your heart. Upper and Lower Old Town is a preserved medieval gem painted in pastel-colored hues. Maybe it’ll be the houses with eyes, the wide-open squares, the winding staircases leading to cobblestone passageways, the fortress tower walls, or the imposing Gothic cathedral, but this little town surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains will have you swooning. No worries, you won’t be alone. Sibiu was even named one of Europe’s top 10 most idyllic places to live! Better yet, whether you visit during the annual Christmas market or for one of the many cultural and sporting events in the spring, summer, or fall, you won’t find overwhelming crowds. That’s because (shh..) Sibiu, Romania is still somewhat off-the-beaten path for visitors to Europe.
31. Yvoire, France
from: GO Beyond Bounds
Yvoire is pretty medieval village south of France on the shores of Lake Geneva or Lac Leman as the French call it. We were based out of Geneva in Switzerland and from here it is around 40 minutes drive, or one can even opt to travel by ferry from Nyon port 10 minutes train ride from Geneva. The small village of Yvoire has several well-preserved 14th-century stone houses overflowing with bright colorful flowers if you visit late summer. A walk through the village is more like a walk through a flower garden. Also worth a visit in Yvoire is a 11th-century church of St Pancras and the Garden of the Five Senses.
32. Budva, Montenegro
from: Travelling Lifestyle
Budva is definitely the most popular spot of Montenegro and dates back to 5th century. Atmosphere and streets of the old town will “teleport” you back into the past, right after you past the gate. Don’t plan, just get in, start walking and get lost. When you reach St. Ivan Church, take a scenic walk around city walls and if you have extra time go to the beach to take a look on majestic “city peninsula”. I would suggest avoiding peak season because of high tourism and wild nightlife. You can enjoy it much more in early spring or after summer months.
33. Tallinn, Estonia
From: Everybody Hates a Tourist
Tallinn, Estonia is perhaps the most beautiful capital city in Europe. With stone towers, winding cobblestone streets, and dramatic views, the historic center of Old Town Tallinn is like something out of a storybook. For the best views of all of the towers, visit Toompea Hill, especially at sunrise or sunset. Or, if you’re more adventurous, climb the stairs to the top of St. Olaf’s Church, the largest Medieval building in Tallinn. With great bars & restaurants, Old Town Tallinn is a great place to visit any time of year. At times, the city feels like a movie set of what a Medieval town should look like, it’s just that pretty.
34. Gjirokastër, Albania
From: Mind of a Hitchhiker
A rare mix of communist bunkers and ancient castles, Albania is really something special. The town of Gjirokastër in particular is a shining example of Ottoman architecture, while simultaneously being the birthplace of communist leader Enver Hoxha. It’s been awarded status of UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005 and attracts visitors throughout the year. The old town’s castle overlooks a dreamy valley reminiscent of an era none of us have lived in. It’s only a matter of time before the city will be used as a film set. It’s also the stage of the National Folklore Festival, which takes place every five years, presumably again in 2020.
35. Kitzbuhel , Austria
from: Contented Traveller
Kitzbuhel is a medieval village in the Tyrolean region of Austria, and is a premier ski resort attracting visitors from around the world. Kitz, as it is affectionately known as, is home to the annual Hahnenkamm downhill ski race but also attracts skiers and boarders because of the amazing terrain. Not only is the snow amazing, but the town is charming, and colourful. Kitz does attract a lot of wealthy visitors so the quaint cobblestoned streets are lined with chic designer boutiques. There is also some interesting street art, paying homage to the villages historic routes and its religion. Kitz is big on chic, big on cute, and big on snow. Kitzbuhel is about 80 minutes from both Salzburg and Innsbruck.
36. Bruges, Belgium
From: Travel Passionate
One of the most picturesque towns in Europe is Bruges. Located in the north of Belgium, Bruges makes the perfect day trip from Brussels and other nearby European cities. Designated by Unesco as a World Heritage City, Bruges has some charming canals that can be explored with a boat tour, cobblestone alleyways and a market square with the cutest colourful houses and a 13th century Belfry. As it is a very popular destination it is better not to visit during the summer and especially during the weekends.
37. Wroclaw, Poland
from: Love Traveling
Wrocław – a city in Poland, located halfway between Brussels and Kiev.
Over the centuries Wrocław changed hands often. Founded by Czech duke, it used to be Polish, then Czech again, Habsburg, Prussian, German and Polish again. Each country left a distinct mark on the city’s landscape. My favorite symbol of the city are… dwarfs. They appeared on the streets of Wrocław in 2005 and each year their number is growing. Now there are 165 dwarfs located all around the city. It’s a popular attraction among tourist to go for “Dwarf Hunting”. Each of them is different, has it’s own, funny name and history. Each year the citizens of Wrocław organize an action of dressing up dwarfs for winter in fancy, hand-made hats and scarves, so that the little fellows will be warm and safe till the next spring. A perfect fit for this European fairytale city.
38. Kronberg Castle, Denmark
To be or not to be that is the question!
These sounds reverberate the yard inside the Kronborg Castle, everyday. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is played on almost all days in the castle at Helsingør town situated an hour north of Copenhagen, Denmark. What is special about this castle you might ask? This is the very castle which formed the backdrop of Shakespeare’s famed play. Kronborg castle, located in Zealand island at the narrowest part of Öresund, is perhaps the most visited and most important renaissance style castle in Denmark.This castle was of strategic importance as it controlled shipping route from the Baltic sea via the narrow strait between Denmark and Sweden. While the 600 years old castle has a lot of history and stories to tell, the most goose-bumping one was when we were ushered by Horatio into the damp and slippery casemate and witnessed the ghost of the King Hamlet telling the story of how he was killed, before he faded into the darkness screaming. The best time to visit Kronborg is in the summer.
The historic hilltop village of Vézelay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in central France, is one of the most beautiful fairytale towns we’ve visited in Europe.
A single cobbled street leads up a gently sloping hill through the historic village, reaching the summit at the beautiful UNESCO inscribed Basilica of St Magdalene Abbey and Church. The colourful street is lined with quirky old buildings and houses with tiny shops selling everything from local arts and crafts to ice cream, wine and cheeseboards. The panoramic views across the countryside from the hilltop are simply breath taking with the ancient abbey dominating the vista.
40. Peratallada, Spain
From: My Kids in Tow
Peratallada , located in the Girona region of the Baix Empordà in Catalonia Spain , is the most beautiful and authentic medieval village in Spain, and maybe all of Europe. Its labyrinth stone streets , its fairytale castle with a moat and the beautiful vines strangling the stone walls and windows made me feel like I was stepping back in time to the middle ages.
Peratallada, a perfectly preserved and functioning town dates back to the middle ages. The streets of Peratallada show the original layout. In some areas lie the same roads people walked on more than five centuries ago. The summer flowers blend with the stone in the streets and alleys.
In Peratallada, you can feel the authenticity. Travel slowly through this fairytale town, feeling the ancient cobblestones beneath your feet. It is best to visit at dusk as the charm is multiplied. a thousand fold.
The Peratallada festival – the Festa Major, is held every year in early August with concerts and activities and there is also a medieval festival in autumn.
41. Lewes, England
From: Wanderlust Wayfarer
From the moment you step foot in Lewes, you’ll feel as though it was torn from the pages of a children’s fairy tale. Nestled in the heart of East Sussex just a one-hour train ride from London, Lewes is a quintessentially English town. Steeped in rich history, a walk along Lewes’ narrow alleyways will give you a glimpse of what living here was like in medieval times. Visit a 1,000-year-old castle, tour through the house Anne of Cleves lived in following her divorce from Henry VIII, or take a workshop at The Needlemakers, an ancient brickwork market where candles were made during World War II. From antique dealers to farmers’ markets and bookshops to boutiques, there’s something for everyone on High Street. To make the most of your time in Lewes, spend the night in a local bed and breakfast, dine on fish and chips in a traditional pub, and simply soak up the picturesque atmosphere of the rolling hills and majestic cliffs.
42. Sintra, Portugal
From: Wandering Wagars
Sintra, Portugal is the epitome of European fairytale towns. This colorful village, located not far from the capital, Lisbon, will transport you into a world that feels like magic is real. From thousand-year-old castle walls, candy colored buildings, and mystical mountain skies, Sintra is a place where every frog could be a prince and each room holds the promise of a sleeping beauty waiting to be awakened by a kiss. A walk through Sintra brings you through a thousand years of history, all standing within moments of each other, but each location harkens to a drastically different age from the history of this incredible city.
43. Cochem, Germany
from: Tassie Devil Abroad
Located on the banks of the Moselle River roughly in the middle between Frankfurt, Cologne and Luxembourg City is the gorgeous medieval town of Cochem. Filled with the ubiquitous half-timbered houses that make many of Germany’s small towns magical, Cochem also features stunning views over the river and the vineyards lining its banks if you climb the hill above the town to visit the castle! Cochem Castle itself is also beautiful and well worth a tour to view the medieval architecture and decorations and learn about the history of this fairy-tale town. Especially magical if you visit around Christmas, when the holiday decorations and likely snowfall makes the whole place even more delightful!
44. Echternach, Luxembourg
from: Paulina on the Road
Even though Luxembourg is in the heart of Europe, it’s often skipped by travellers. The only Grand Duchy in the world is mostly known for its banks and tax system. But it holds several hidden gems for those who want to discover a not so known European destination.Whereas Luxembourg’s most visited location is its capital, you shouldn’t miss Echternach, the small fairytale town in the east of the country. Surrounded by lush forests with enchanting rock formations and numerous hiking trails, Echternach is Luxembourg’s oldest town. Echternach’s history goes back into the Roman times, but it’s a monk from England, St. Willibrord, who elevated Echternach’s importance in medieval Europe due to its large abbey and renowned scriptorium producing some of the finest manuscripts at that time. It is in the honour of St.Willibrord that the only Dancing Procession in the world takes place annually on Whit Tuesday. Nowadays Echternach is a popular destination for weekenders and hikers who enjoy the town’s picturesque natural setting along the river Sauer forming the border between Luxembourg and Germany. Echternach’s highlights are its medieval marketplace and palace of justice, the Romanesque Basilica housing St. Willibrords tomb and of course its abbey.
45. Besigheim, Germany
From: Explorer on a Budget
I love to live in Stuttgart (Germany) since its surrounding area is very pretty. My favourite little town is the city of Besigheim, 30km north of Stuttgart. The municipality states it to be the most beautiful wine village in Germany. The old town is situated on an elongated hill above the rivers Neckar and Enz. The medieval city centre with its city wall, town hall and parts of two old castles from the 13th century are well preserved. I particularly love the place for its crooked half-timbered houses which are adorned with blooming flowers. In my opinion, the best time to go would be during the week when there are less tourists, but it does have some bigger festivities like the wine festival every two years or the two-day Christmas market with an artisan market.
Which European fairytale towns would you add to this list?