Europe: Fairytale Towns You Can't Miss
Even though there aren’t direct flights you can take to most of these extremely picturesque beauties, you can’t possibly miss them while on your trip to Europe. Here’s the thing no one tells you, especially if you’re a novice traveler. Most big European metropolises exist in a mosaic of old and new, where older settlements, art and culture are found in patches around the big city which is mostly composed of glass and steel. The transition between the old and new parts of the city is often so abrupt, that as a traveler it feels like the city is having an identity crisis. Why do you think "Old Town" is identified as a separate sector anyway – it’s to help shepherd the disoriented travellers into the ‘touristic’ parts of the city.
The ‘real’ Europe, the one that makes you feel like you’ve stumbled upon on a movie set, or in fact gone back in time, that immersive European experience, you’ll probably find only in smaller villages and towns. I completely understand the need to check off all the well-known “Big Cities”, which offer the most bragging rights on FB/Insta/Twitter/SC, or whichever new social media medusa head pops out next. And by all means, satisfy that craving! But take the time and effort to include smaller towns that offer exclusive experiences, which are sure to become the highlights of your trip when you look back on it.
Without further ado, here is a list of absolutely can’t miss magical towns and villages in Europe:
1. Baden-Baden, Germany
Located in the Black Forest region of Germany, accessed via the incredible route 500, Baden-Baden became famous for its thermal baths which have attracted royals and other elite over the years. It’s relatively overlooked amidst the regular tourist community, and therefore much less crowded than many smaller towns mentioned in this list.
2. Hallstatt, Austria
16th century houses? Gothic church by the lake? Surrounded by breathtaking scenery? I wouldn’t even know where to start with this tiny, yet so picturesque, it’ll break-your-heart-with-its-beauty town! Since it's located extremely close to Salzburg, it's well worth it to take a day trip to Hallstatt– if you spend the night, you’ll be more than welcome to feast your eyes on this delightful by-the-lake town.
3. Como, Italy
Located on the border of Switzerland and Italy, this beauty of a township boasts signature Italian architecture of tiny red roofed houses, located in between mountains, alongside lake Como. Pay attention road-trippers who're in this region, you definitely don't want to miss this!
4. Brasov, Romania
If there was a way to bypass Bucharest altogether on my trip to Romania, I’d have happily done so. Located at the base of a lush green valley, Brasov will steal your heart with its ancient walls, hidden alcoves, gothic architecture and vibrant main square. Let yourself be swept away by the legends of Dracula and tales of gore in this cobbled, mysterious town!
5. Krakow, Poland
Krakow is, in my eyes, the beating heart of Eastern Europe. I can’t even fathom why someone would come to Eastern Europe and not include Krakow on their itinerary. I mean – you know that there’s a castle inside the city right?
Make sure you visit on the weekend, so you don’t miss the warm smells of fresh bread and sausages in the local market on the main square, Rynek Glowny.
6. Aberdeen, Scotland
Aberdeen is the closest I’ve come to feeling like I’ve stepped into the Harry Potter world. I know, I know, I’ve been to Edinburgh and yes it’s spectacular, I agree. But Aberdeen is my version of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and the Wizarding World in general. It’s gothic silver buildings against the azure blue sky (on a clear day - I mean it is Scotland, so expect lots of cloud cover) make a real impression, even on muggles (non-magical folk).