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If you think that fairytale places exist only in books, you are quite mistaken. Though not aplenty, there are certainly a fair number of fairytale-esque towns and places to visit in Europe that will transport you into a different dimension altogether, not quite literally though! But, have you ever wondered how it would feel if you could quite literally shut down the humdrum of your daily life and suddenly step into a place where everything looks magical?
Welcome to Europe, where, in some unassuming corner, you will be greeted with a laid-back town that will appear to be an ‘out of place artifact’, as if someone has deliberately placed it there in contrast to the dizzying skyscrapers with shining glass facades!
In this article, we will take you on a journey where you can discover the most vividly colorful places in Europe that can be neatly placed on the list of Europe’s best travel destinations. From small towns in Europe to off the beaten path destinations, this list is unlike what you will find on websites of tour agencies. The list remains carefully curated with only one focus – ‘hunting for fairytale-like places’. Here you go!
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Table of Contents
- 1 30 Fairytale like Towns and Places to Visit in Europe (That Will Tickle Your Wanderlust!)
- 1.1 Rothenburg, Germany
- 1.2 Giethoorn, Netherlands
- 1.3 Bibury, England
- 1.4 Hallstatt, Austria
- 1.5 Reine, Norway
- 1.6 Gruyères, Switzerland
- 1.7 Colmar, France
- 1.8 Sintra, Portugal
- 1.9 Bled, Slovenia
- 1.10 Positano, Italy
- 1.11 Cinque Terre, Italy
- 1.12 Hvar, Croatia
- 1.13 Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
- 1.14 Cong, Ireland
- 1.15 Bruges, Belgium
- 1.16 Gimmelwald, Switzerland
- 1.17 Potes, Spain
- 1.18 Sibiu, Romania
- 1.19 Mittenwald, Germany
- 1.20 Santa Maddalena, Dolomites, Italy
- 1.21 Annecy, France
- 1.22 Santillana del Mar, Spain
- 1.23 Eguisheim, Alsace, France
- 1.24 Chipping Campden, Cotswolds, England
- 1.25 Arcos de la Frontera, Spain
- 1.26 Castle Combe, England
- 1.27 Meissen, Germany
- 1.28 Corinaldo, Italy
- 1.29 Ronda, Spain
- 1.30 Zahara de la Sierra, Spain
- 2 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
30 Fairytale like Towns and Places to Visit in Europe (That Will Tickle Your Wanderlust!)
Rothenburg inspired Walt Disney to create Pinocchio and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had its set up here at Rothenburg for its scenery. If there is something that’s truly akin to a fairytale town, Rothenburg fits the bill with its lovely and colorful buildings tightly knit along the cobblestone streets. Stepping into Rothenburg gives a feeling of entering into a time capsule where you can buy hand-crafted trinkets and cuckoo clocks.
No, it cannot get better than Giethoorn. A serene village with thatched-roof houses, miles of canals and no place for motorized vehicles, Giethoorn is all about tranquility. Quaking of ducks is perhaps the loudest sound you can hear. With around 200 bridges crossing the canals, boats and walking are the only means of transport. Oh yes, those lovely gardens and towering skeletal tree just add to the magic.
Stone cottages with steeply pitched roofs standing in a hush, only to be disturbed by the sound of water flowing through River Coln. Yes, that’s Bibury where your only fate is to be smitten by nature’s beauty. Take a stroll through the lush meadows fringing the stone cottages and listen to the words of Mother Nature. Nothing can be more blissful and magical.
Hallstatt is among one of the most picturesque places in Europe. Sitting along a serene lake and guarded by high hills on the backyard, the brightly-colored town is straight out of storybooks. Colorful houses with rich decorations and evangelical church leave simmering reflections in the calm waters of Lake Hallstatt. Both boat and train can be taken to reach the town. Take the boat, please!
Lofoten archipelago to Arctic Circle’s north is home to a tiny fishing village called Reine. Bright red cabins with thatched roofs dotting Norwegian Sea’s coastline along with dramatic mountain peaks, soaring fjords and sapphire bays – Reine is straight out of a postcard. Better yet, the midnight summer sun and winter’s Aurora are breathtaking.
Ate Gruyères cheese? Now visit Gruyères – medieval hamlet – boasting the mighty Gruyères Castle, waiting to the accessed by the wide cobblestone street fringed with symmetrical colorful houses. It is Switzerland’s bite of fairytale sitting in Saane River’s upper valley right in the lap of Swiss Alps. Days are a bit busy by nights are absolutely charming and fairytale-esque.
At the height of WWII, soldiers think its too beautiful to be destroyed! Yes, that’s Colmar – one of the best places to visit in France. Often known by the moniker ‘Little Venice’, this storybook village is blessed with snaking waterways, cobblestone streets, brightly colored half-timbered houses and air filled with exquisite aromas of wines and baked food.
Tucked in at the edge of Europe, Sintra in Portugal boasts the fabulous Pena Palace. This small village is home to an enigmatic Pena Park filled with exotic trees, ponds, black swans, and fountains. With its bright colors and its hermetical settings, Sintra or Cintra is centuries old fairytale land amidst the fast-paced modern Europe.
Nestled between the majestic alpines, the Bled town in Slovenia is Mother Nature’s very own fairytale setting. Sitting right next to Lake Bled with colorful houses and the clean air, the only thing the town lacks is perhaps a dash of fairy dust. Sitting on an isle amidst the glacial blue waters of the lake is Bled Castle which makes the place as enigmatic as one can possibly think of. Sunrise of sunset, the castle remains the focal point of day’s outing followed by a sugary and creamy treat of Kremšnita!
One of the best places to visit in Italy, Positano is just too beautiful to be true. The pastel-colored houses cascade down the mountain only to halt at the edge of at the beaches where intense blue waters kiss the golden sands creating a picture perfect world. The serenity is magnified by the clear skylines that remain unadulterated by strict building codes preserving the centuries-old beauty in its pristine form.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Bogged by the question, ‘what to see in Italy?’ Welcome to Cinque Terre – a conglomerate of 5 colorful grape-growing and fishing towns on Italian Riviera. It is a setup that is found in fairytale books. Sitting on rocks and not connected with highways, the towns are dotted with pastel-colored houses that look unreal. Dashes of lights here and there make it too irresistible.
Ever wondered how it would feel to be on a piece of land completely surrounded by water but with some of the most elegant and postcard-perfect medieval fortresses and monasteries? The calm and tranquility echoing between the walls and the cobblestone streets screaming the journey through time – Hvar in Croatia is that perfect fairytale town you shouldn’t miss. The village, the town, the monastery – everything is right out of a storybook and can be accessed through ferries.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Medieval Castles, bright red pitched roofs of small cottages, lush green meadows, and a bright blue sky – sounds pretty much like the set up of a fairytale movie. But, that’s real. Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic is one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in entire Europe. This small town might not have a lot of activities but you can definitely give blacksmithing a try!
Head for Ireland and in every nook and corner of the country, you can find adventure but in Cong, it is a whole different story. Small cottages – inexplicably cute and absolutely tempting – appear to have been deliberately put in place. While there is a lot to do in Cong, those fragments straight out of fairytale are what make Cong so irresistibly magnetic.
One of the most amazing places to visit in Europe in Belgium. And, talk of Bruges, this is where you should be if you want a perfect setup for your next fairytale movie. Known by the moniker – ‘Venice of the North’, Bruges is something to experience and not described. The whole of Bruges is medieval and neatly preserved. Oh yes, chocolate and beer are something found aplenty.
A true postcard community! Yes, that is how Gimmelwald is best described. Untouched by prying eyes of modernization, this alpine village lies in an avalanche zone. The sheer amount of scenic beauty is what makes it so magical that even with the risks, the village is frequented by tourists. Guess what? The brightly colored tiny cottages with thatched roofs have been like this for centuries, making Gimmelwald one of most picturesque places in Europe.
Sitting on a steep terrain of mountainous north of Spain, Potes is a land of impossible beauty, perhaps even surpassing fairytale. To get around the rivers, centuries-old bridges of stone such as the La Cárcel and San Cayetano over the famous Quiviesa River are some of the attractions that cannot be missed even in wildest of dreams. Guess what? The stone facades screaming history which smothered by blooming plants make Potes an absolute ‘must visit’ destination.
Wearing a Bohemian-chic vibe, the Transylvanian city of Sibiu in Romania is all about out-of-textbook medieval charm. Sibiu is Romania’s cultural capital and it becomes vibrantly alive after the sun sleeps. Sibiu is undeniable, one of the best places to visit in Europe.
Sprinkle some magic dust on a fairytale book and see it spring to life. What you get is Mittenwald in Germany. Known as a “Village of a Thousand Violin”. Nestled in the Bavarian Alps, a beautiful train ride takes you to a land embedded in a time capsule. Don’t miss the organ festival and violin making contest between June and September.
Santa Maddalena, Dolomites, Italy
Known for its unbeatable beauty and the famous church named after the place itself, Santa Madalena Church. This humble village is located in South Tyrol of Italy and one of the faces of Val I Funes, The Dolomites by the Italian Alps. You’ll find yourself surrounded by epic nature and beautiful snow-capped mountains. In winter, you’ll find the whole area covered in snow and there’s a ski resort in the area where you can spend a relaxing holiday.
How about this? Europe’s cleanest lake fringed with France’s prettiest medieval town? Sounds fairytale? The mountain-bordered lake with glittering crystalline waters makes Annecy a fairytale-esque town but also the European Capital for Outdoor Sports. Do we need to say more?
Santillana del Mar, Spain
Spain’s most historic town, Santillana del Mar is better known by the name ‘The Town of Three Lies’ because as the name suggests, the town is neither Santo (Saint), nor a llana (flat) and nor is it by Mar (Sea). That didn’t stop it from becoming UNESCO World Heritage Site where medieval history is preserved at its best. At a stone’s throw from this fairytale town is the Cave of Altamira where 35,600-year-old paintings are present.
Eguisheim, Alsace, France
If you are wondering what to see in France, start with Alsace. Nestled in Alsace is a small town called Eguisheim. This fairytale-esque town looks like it has just popped out of a storybook. For the history buff, you will be right in the middle of a time capsule where you find footprints of the Paleolithic.
Chipping Campden, Cotswolds, England
An embroidered masterpiece of craftsmanship and limestone, this lovely and small town of Cotswolds, England has a rich history since the medieval era. Most attractive of all is the High Street that remains flanked on both sides by an almost continuous terrace beneath which lay hordes of different architectural styles. Did we say it looks like a setup of a fairytale movie? Also, in about 3-4 hours away from Chipping Campden you’ll find yourself in West Yorkshire where you can have a delightful day trip or relax on a spa break in one of its famous establishments. Why not truly make your princess moment last a tad bit longer?
Arcos de la Frontera, Spain
Perched on a cliff, the Arcos de la Frontera in Spain looks like one of those fairytale castles we often see in movies and storybooks. During the 13th century, Arcos de la Frontera remained on the frontline of the war against Moors but has managed to maintain its glory to this day.
Castle Combe, England
Often boasted as one of the best travel destinations in Europe, Castle Combe is England’s quintessential countryside. Stone facades with pitched roofs, stone bridges crossing over streams and working clock from the medieval era, this place in England is something we usually find in novels. There isn’t much to do but is definitely a place to breathe in some tranquility.
Cradle of porcelain manufacturing in Europe, Meissen is just as beautiful as it can get. In 1710, Meissen received its first castle and today is one of the most colorful places in Europe. With bright brick-red roofs and colorful facades, its soaring Gothic cathedral, Meissen looks like it has come straight out of a postcard.
Corinaldo is Fairytale. It is a village that is so well-preserved that it looks almost exactly the same as it back when it was built. The most famous attraction of the village is its flight of 100 stairs, right in the middle of which one finds Pozzo Della Polenta – a well, which is connected with Contessa del Pozzo Della Polenta – a re-enactment of a historical event that takes place in July 3rd week each year. One can literally relive medieval history here in Corinaldo.
The whole town is sheer drama. Perched on an inland plateau, Ronda is the first answer to your question – what to see in Europe? The El Tajo gorge tears apart the plateau with a 100-meter deep fissure, which is closed by 3 dramatic stone bridges to ensure the town’s continuity. Don’t fairytale places carry a bit of drama? Ronda surpasses that!
Zahara de la Sierra, Spain
Zahara de la Sierra is the most spectacular of all Pueblos Blancos (Spanish name for the ‘white villages’). It is one of those places in Europe where fairytale meets reality. Cascading down a hillside into vineyards and olive orchards and surrounded by Zahara-el Gastor reservoir’s turquoise waters, this tiny village in Spain is always ready to take away your breath. You have been warned!
Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Founder of Pretty Wild World and one of the leading experts in Europe travel, the Nordics, and Scandinavia Destinations.
Evan Kristine has been mentioned in big publications such as The Huffington Post and the Thought Catalog has been sharing her useful travel tips and hacks to the world for more than five years now.
Nowadays, she is a full-time traveler exploring and documenting her journey around the world providing you the next best travel idea for your great next adventure.