The world is full of really eye-catching and fascinating villages and small towns – you’ll find some of the most interesting in the list below.
15 of Europe’s Most Beautiful Small Towns:
Tellaro is one of those classic European town with the archetype narrow winding roads down cliffs and picture postcard style houses abutting each other in bright colours. With step gardens winding around the walls of houses and classic 19th century buildings in rose with tiled roofs, this town epitomizes unspoilt old world charm like few other towns. There is a tiny harbour too at the edge of the town for a bit of that seaside charm. Tellaro makes up the eastern tip of what is called the Gulf of Poets. This area has caught the fancy of the greatest of poets for centuries including Shelley, Byron and D H Lawrence.
Stone cottages with tiled roofs and majestic chimneys? Check. Verdant meadows running between the houses? Check. Garden creepers growing on walls. Check. Classic Victorian architecture. Check. Narrow paved pathways cutting through the meadows to the houses. Check. Bridge over river running through town. Check. This village is about as English as you can get. The most popular area in Bilbury is Arlington Row, a line of cottages which had been built back two centuries back for weavers working in the Arlington Mill nearby. Bilbury was once described by the famous poet and novelist William Morris as the most gorgeous village in all of England.
The picture perfect town of Hallstatt in the mountainous region of Salzkammergut in Austria sits by the banks of the Hallstatter See near a mountain that rises majestically from the banks of the lake. This had been a salt-mining town in the days gone by and the prosperous inhabitants constructed a beautiful square ringed with buildings covered in ivy. The 16th century houses are characteristic of the alpine region and a church with Gothic style architecture sits on the western shore of the lake. A rope car railway connects the town to an ancient salt mine with a salt lake below the ground. You also have trails leading to a valley with glacial potholes and a waterfall.
Folegandros is one of four Greek islands forming the southern half of the Cyclades. It is a spectacular habitation with slate paved streets, whitewashed buildings and a few churches with blue domes every now and then. It is made up of three different villages, Agali beach, Ano Meria and the Chora. There is nothing here by way of touristy attractions, just restaurants, houses, scenery and authentic Greek culture. Ano Maria is a beautiful village with several ancient stone wall constructions amidst idyllic fields. There are also small beaches near the port and surrounding areas of Karavostasi.
Colmar is a village in the Alsace region of France near the German border. This is a classic heritage village with cobbled streets, half timbered medieval houses, canals flowing through the town and Renaissance era architecture. A range of architectures can be found in the town, from French Baroque to German Gothic. The town was in fact spared from destruction during the second World War due its immense historic and architectural beauty. The composite cultural influences are best exemplified in the local bakeries which sell both kugelhopf and croissants with restaurants selling both sauerkraut and foie gras.
Reine is a picture postcard fishing village located north of the Arctic circle in a Nordic wilderness area of stark beauty full of deep blue bays in between majestic mountains and fjords. The fishermen’s cabins are typically bright red in colour and are called rorbuer in the local vernacular. Many of them are prime properties overlooking the Norwegian Sea and have been converted into visitor cottages. With yachts in the harbour against a background of craggy mountains and an estimated population of just 300, Reine is a calendar picture come to life where you can see the northern light and take a hike to Reinebringen, a mountain nearby.
Telc, Czech Republic
Telc is a small town in the province of Moravia which is a fairy tale picture come to life. It is famous for its gorgeous main square built by Lord Zacharias, full of townhouses of similar proportion and size, with gables all in the same colour of pastel. However, each building has a unique surface decoration. The architecture encompasses both Baroque and Renaissance styles. Telc represents the finest of Renaissance architecture northwards of the alps. The square is bounded by a grand succession of facades, walkways and covered arcades. Telc is a UNESCO world heritage site, recognize in 1992 for its 16th century architectural spectacle.
Albarracin is a slice, no, make that a bite sized chunk of a medieval era Spain. This village lies within old fortifications still in good condition and nestles among the barren hills of the Aragon region. You have the narrows alleys, old stone towers, castles and chapels of a medieval town. A cathedral with Islamic art style fine detailing built in the signature Mudejar style towers above the village. This sleepy village is perched 3878 feet above the sea. A brilliant melange of Moorish and Christian influences makes for a rich tapestry of architecture and culture. Adding to the scenic beauty, the Guadalaviar river nearly circles the town below.
Pucišca is located on Brac island in Croatia. It is a gorgeous seaside village with absolutely magnificent architecture. Villas in white stone with terracotta roofs stud the landscape, of a beauty so unreal that they seem to have been painted by hand into the surroundings. Cobbled pathways and stone paved square add to the effect of being in heritage town. Pucisca is a true Mediterranean paradise with the surrounding areas renowned for the production of vine, olive oil and figs.
Cong is Ireland’s own Lake district straddling the border between County Galway and County Mayo. This village is fully encircled by streams that have formed an island because of their flows. It is one of the most picturesque villages in Ireland and is about 24 miles from Galway. This is a region of vibrant green meadows and lakes. The medieval legacy of Cong includes many stone bridges, the ruins of an abbey and Ashford Castle. Ashford Castle is a Victorian estate converted into a luxury hotel.
Gruyeres, ah, what a beauty. A village located at the foot of the pre Alps in western Switzerland in the valley upper of the Saane river, one look at this place and you know this is from a different world altogether. Quaint heritage buildings line up the sides of a stone paved street which leads up to a magnificent 13th century castle, the Gruyeres. The village is also famous for its cheese of the same name famous the world over. The castle has imposing fortifications and has fantastic views of the surrounding Alpine hills.
If you would look at picture of this town, you may be forgiven for thinking that this is a picture taken for the Lord of the Rings. Nestled around the shore of the glacially blue waters of Lake Bled, this Bled is an alpine town located in the northwestern part of Slovenia in the foothills of the Alps. There is even, believe it or not a small island in the middle of the lake with a church in the Baroque style. You could not have imagined a landscape better than this. The Bled castle is located on a cliff near the lake which has a chapel, a museum and a printing press.
What you see when you go to Obidos near the western coast of Portugal is a slice of Iberia as it existed 700 years back. This town was a gift from King Dinis to Queen Isabel in the 13th century. Behind the fortified walls lie classic looking villas in white all adorned with bougainvillea and cobbled streets. Among the most gorgeous towns of Portugal, Obidos is just a day trip from Lisbon. The highlight of Obidos is the wonderful Porta da Vila, the main gate to Obidos. It is decorated by azulejos tiles which show the Passion of Christ. Just walk around the town walls and you can enjoy exceptional views of tiled roofs, villas and magnificent painted houses.
The alpine village of Guarda is located in the Lower Engadine region of eastern Switzerland at an elevation of 1650 metres. This hamlet has preserved its quaint architecture with wonderful paintings, etched windows and old inscriptions adorning the many magnificent houses. Even more incredible is the fact the locals speak a language called Romansh that is found only in this region. It is nestled between meadows and rolling hills, offering stunning views of the Engadine Mountains.
Giethoorn is a village in Netherlands with miles of canals that goes by the name Dutch Venice. You have numerous small canals going past picture postcard farmhouses. Many of the houses cannot be reached by road and there are over 90 kms of canoe trails and many motorboats to rent. There are several canal side museums and restaurants. Footpaths besides the canals are great for walking and cycling.