Looking into visiting some of the history-packed medieval towns in Europe? In this post, we have detailed some of the destinations whereas if the clock has turned and you’re taken back in time.
Europe has seen the era of turmoil and a lot of changes during the Middle Ages, but it is also the period where we have heard some of the modern urban legends. These beautiful fairy tales covered everything from knights in glittering armor, royal courts, and medieval castles in Europe.
Europe is a destination where stories of witches and wizards, Robin Hood, and dragon slayers spread like wildfire. Locals are used to hearing and telling those stories as their fantasies to get rid of daily stress, but they have their cultural influence like any medieval event.
This spectacular era of history was ended and left nothing but serene and fascinating historical places in Europe. From walled cities to small medieval villages with medieval castles in Europe, there is no lack of ancient towns in Europe that managed to retain the charm of medieval architecture, elements, and flair.
There are lots of well-preserved attractions from small villages to the medieval towns in Europe, and Gothic meccas. Without further ado, have a look at some of the best historical places in Europe.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 15 Medieval Towns in Europe
- 1.1 Carcassone, France
- 1.2 Edinburgh, Scotland the UK
- 1.3 Prague, Czech Republic
- 1.4 Tallinn, Estonia
- 1.5 Riga, Latvia
- 1.6 Siena, Italy
- 1.7 Mont Saint Michel, France
- 1.8 Rothenburg, Germany
- 1.9 York, England, the UK
- 1.10 Cochem, Germany
- 1.11 Ávila, Spain
- 1.12 Colmar, France
- 1.13 Hallstatt, Austria
- 1.14 Bamberg, Germany
- 1.15 Eze, France
Top 15 Medieval Towns in Europe
When you approach Carcassonne, it seems you are heading to a huge fairy tale castle until you get to know that it is a very massive city wall.
This significant medieval wall makes it the best walled and oldest city in Europe. You will beyond any doubt fall in love with this medieval town in Europe as well as its towers, which are so exciting that you want to take your time to explore the full city itself.
Visiting Carcassone is, indeed, a treat in the Provence region of Southern France.
Edinburgh, Scotland the UK
With own unbeatable charm and urban castle, this Scottish city gives value for money to Edinburgh as the best medieval settlement in Europe.
As you walk the worn streets, your trips can quickly get down the perfect magical tales as you get to hear the melodious music from bagpipers, tales of Braveheart William Wallace and the Loch Ness Monster, who came from the North.
Since the 1100s, Edinburgh also had the Royal Castles, but it is less about serene sights and more of the folklore and history where we embrace the medieval city.
Prague, Czech Republic
When the city center is untouched so widely by the bombings in World War 2 which crushed other capitals in Europe, Prague is the well-preserved and oldest city in Europe. Some of the rest of the small towns in the Czech Republic may be more compact or have intact city walls.
Prague is considered as sizeable enough to be cozy and impressive enough to feel more inviting and warm. With a thriving culture, rich architecture, a world-class drink, and even a remarkable urban castle, Prague is one of the best medieval cities in Europe.
You will undeniably get the feel of going back in time from the architecture of bridges, castles, towers, town squares, and cathedrals, to life in a medieval village. The ancient city wall in Prague was removed almost entirely, and facades of the buildings got some renovations in Baroque style over the centuries.
You can also get the experience of the medieval era at Karlovy Vary, an idyllic village, with its natural moat, the Bone Chapel made of 40000 human skulls of Kutna Hora, or the serene Karlstejn Castle near Prague.
Read also: Top 10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia and the largest city in the country. Positioned on the Gulf of Finland, Tallinn is one of the most visited cities where thousands of tourists are flocked every year. The old town in Tallinn is the main attraction which has Europe’s some of the well preserved historical monuments.
The Old City was founded in the early 13th century and has several centuries-old monuments, including the historic Toompea Castle (which hosts Estonia National Assembly), the 16th century-old St. Olaf’s Church, and Church of the Holy Ghost.
Riga is the capital of Latvia, a northeast European nation. It is one of the less-visited old towns in Europe. It is a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant nightlife and a place with so much to see and do. It is well-known for its historical oldest town in Europe. Here, the buildings are recognized for their unique Nouveau Art style.
When you walk along the old city, you can explore the hundreds of magnificent castles with intense facades. The city thrives with bars/pubs, coffee shops, and clubs for all types of travelers at night. Riga is a happening city as it has been part of several states.
Founded by the German in 1201 looking to rule the native Livonians, Riga has been a trading hub over the ages.
The old-world charm of Siena rivals any city in Europe, and it should be at the top of any itinerary for Italy. This Tuscan city has a serene vibe which is a blend of early Renaissance elements and medieval charm which is accented well by its excellent wine and food. There may not be a more authentic feel on the list, so restaurant chains have tried to copy the magic of Siena.
Palio di Siena is one of the best festivals in town. It is a horse race where riders compete twice a year in the half-circle main square of the city. This focal point was laid out well during the height of Siena power, and it is known as the leading Medieval Square in Italy.
Mont Saint Michel, France
Mont Saint Michel is a small yet freaking awesome city which has just 44 residents, but they are so lucky that they get the most magical experiences as part of their lives. The city is located atop the massive rock formation sticking off the ocean opposite the Northern coast of France.
It is capped atop the rock by a huge cathedral which looks almost like it is being supported by shops and homes below which hug the sides of the formation.
There are plenty of mom and pop hotels along with these homes which are convenient at Mont. This tiny town is usually the most unaffected medieval European city as it has remained almost the same over the centuries.
Rothenburg is a quaint German village that seems frozen in medieval times. Usually, it is not an authentic medieval city from top to bottom. The old city wall still covers the city, while trying with its might to curtain the medieval magic of Rothenberg.
The vivid half-timber homes, city gates, narrow passageways, and cobblestone streets will make you feel that you have left the real world and accessed into a film location.
From the picturesque vistas of Plonlein Corner to the Christmas Market, you can snap pictures left and right. Once you wrap your head around the beauty of Rothenberg, you can find a lot to do here. There are two well-preserved historical villages towards the south of Rothenburg – Dinkelsbuhl and Nordingen.
Relataed read: Christmas in Germany: 10 Best Christmas Markets in Germany
York, England, the UK
York is one of the rare towns of England where you can stroll along the original medieval city wall, which was built by Constantius Chlorus, a Roman emperor, in 300AD, who died six years later in York, and it was reinforced in Middle Ages. The 2 miles long mighty stone wall remains 95% intact. It is renowned as the longest preserved wall from the medieval era in England.
York also has lots of large city gates despite having the odd naming system. The streets in York are known as gates for some reasons, and the city gates are known as bars, which are quite confusing. If you want to get some drink, be sure to look for pub, not bar.
This small village has 5000 residents clinging to the Mosel River banks. This unreal medieval town has the rows of vivid houses which are dominated by the Gothic tower of Cochem castle perched atop the hill. It was restored in the 1800s after being destroyed by the French. There are large sections from the previous castle remain which date back to the 1100s.
The castle had achieved imperial status when Germany’s first king, Conrad III stayed here in the year 1151. The Cochem Castle stuck to its roots and still offers a knight’s meal, great ghost tours, and a medieval feast. Berg Eltz, one of the most magnificent castles in Europe, is the main attraction of Cochem and Mosel River.
The palace is located in a serene valley and can be accessed from Münstermaifeld by taxi or by a dreamy hike from the train station.
The 2 miles long Avila in Spain is one of the best medieval city walls in the world. It was initially a Roman settlement, but it has hit its height from 1088 to 1600 due to its surprising wall. With hundreds of drum towers, nine massive gates, and atop 2500 merlons, the 40ft tall and 10ft thick wall comes straight from the storybook.
The city has also got its impressive interiors as it has the highest range of Gothic churches in the country per capita. Toledo is an old-world wonder, but Spanish towns are loved well with medieval castles. Granada has Alhambra, Segovia houses Alcazar castle, and Navarra houses Castillo de Olite.
If you have to snap the real-life village straight from Disney’s famous fairytale Beauty and the Beast in your head, Colmar is the best historical village in Europe. The half-timber, bright colored houses and weeping willow trees cling to the canals’ edges from Lauch River giving the eclectic feel.
Some of the must-see attractions here are the Little Venice named the Fishmonger’s District, where you can rent a rowboat, one of the best Christmas markets of Europe, and lots of iconic complexes from 1500 to 1600s.
The Oeuvre Notre-Dame Art Museum is the hottest favorite medieval attraction in Colmar at the foot of the cathedral which holds the best paintings and sculptures of the Middle Ages in the Upper Rhine River Valley.
Do you want to see more of Colmar? Here’s a really good Alsace Villages Half-Day Tour from Colmar.
Hallstatt in Austria is well known as the medieval town older than Rome, and this dreamy town will undoubtedly melt your heart. It is full of history, compact settlement, and quite tranquil lakeside village. Strolling around the streets is indeed a treat when you capture the beautiful sights.
The eerie painted skulls in Bone Chapel, vivid Market Square, a boat ride along the lake, and the incredible wooden headstones in a cemetery are some of the major highlights.
If you have some more time, it is recommended to visit the oldest Salt Mine in the world, located above the 7000 years old city. If you love some thrill, you can take the alpine lift far off the village and explore the Giant’s Ice Caves. You can have a guided tour in the cave for fun. At the 5 Fingers Lookout, walk on some elevated platforms.
Bamberg is well regarded as Little Venice for all good reasons. The Regnitz River splits Bamberg and the Old Town; it runs along and sits in the mid of the flow. Alte Rathaus built the Old Town Hall in the center of the river and is connected to the town with some bridges. It is the most picturesque spot in Bamberg, and there are also the great murals pained along the edges of Old Town Hall.
The river banks cover most areas of the town. So, you can easily rent a rowboat here. Bamberg is a city well regarded for its beer, along with its sights and buildings.
It is one of the authentic medieval cities in the Alps. This small village is mainly located on the mountainside leading to Centenaire Palace and has old and narrow streets that you can explore on foot.
Eze is the back alley and not overly flashy. But it has the old world feel which still holds its strong medieval vibe. The city feels as if you are getting in a hidden passageway which may also be a reason why Walt Disney rented a hotel room permanently in the heart of town.
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.