Europe’s most charming villages are at the heart of a fairytale story—gorgeous views, colorful scenery, and port-side, romantic stays against a backdrop of natural beauty. Take out the imaginary pumpkin carriages and glass slippers at midnight and these romantic spots still have a certain magic that will transport you back in time. This is Europe travel at its most dreamy!
You will be spellbound by rolling green hills, ocean cottages hidden behind snow-topped mountains, and unforgettable sights that are a travel photography dream. Get ready to learn about the history, the quirks, and what makes them stand alone in grandeur among the rest. So, forget Disney and Hogwarts and Belle’s castle! Here is a list of the 10 prettiest villages in Europe for your romantic Europe travel getaway:
Kilkenny is a beautiful medieval village tucked away in southeast Ireland. Its terraces of Georgian cottages and trailing, cobblestone streets lend it an atmosphere of old world charm. Through stone castles and stunning cathedrals, Kilkenny shows you its history in pieces beyond anything you’ve ever seen before. The Kilkenny Castle, Rose Garden, and Park, Saint Mary’s Cathedral (free admission!), the Rothe House (now the headquarter library and museum of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society), the Black Abbey (another largely-visited cathedral), Dunmore Cave (a famous series of chambers formed over millions of years), and, for our hikers, the Brandon Hill Loop, a 7.5 mile trek across hillside lands to the peak of a mountain are some of the most popular sights to see. Travel to Kilkenny and you won’t be disappointed!
Welcome to wine country! The picturesque Manarola in northern Italy is known for its tall, colorful houses, coastal scenery, ancient cathedrals, delicious Italian cuisine (and its wine, of course). Manarola is a part of the Cinque Terre, a group of five villages set on the cliff coast of Liguria, Italy. Manarola is the perfect honeymoon destination! One of its most popular travel attractions is the Via dell’Amore, or “Lovers’ Lane.” It’s the most romantic stretch of coastline.
What exactly is the love story behind the Via dell’Amore? After World War II, a trail between two villages—Manarola and Riomaggiore—was reopened for neighbors to see each other again. Like the Ponts des Arts in Paris, France, a footbridge of padlocks that memorializes love, the Via dell’Amore became a meeting point for boys and girls from the two towns. Travel to Manarola and you will fall in love at every turn!
Reine, Nordland County, Norway
Have you ever wanted to escape just for a little while? Reine, located on the island of Moskenesøya in the Arctic Circle, is the ideal location for a practicing escapist. This quaint, romantic village has a population of 300. It’s quite adorable and atmospheric, lending an image of how nature intended the world to be.
If you’re looking for a travel destination where you can “rough it” and live like the locals, Reine offers you rorbuer houses as places to stay, old fishermen cottages that have been altered to suit your accommodations. You can sleep under the Northern Lights on beaches or ride a ferry to the village next door or conquer some of Norway’s best hikes, one of which carries you to the top of Reinebringen, a mountain with a view of the Arctic islands at the finish line. Travel to Reine and you won’t want to leave!
The next little town in Europe will transport you to a canvas of fairytale-like beauty. Colmar is a jolie place to travel to in northeastern France near the border of Germany. Streets lined with early Renaissance buildings, the old town is nestled among vineyards. It’s also the capital of the Alsacian wines. You won’t be able to resist visiting the restaurants, cathedrals, and shops to take a piece of Colmar back home. You’ll love walking through Old Town and Little Venice, touring the Eglise St-Martin and the House of Heads (sounds creepy, but it’s a collection of sculpted têtes on its exterior with a restaurant inside), viewing a replica of the Statue of Liberty, and seeing many other monuments. It’s hard to believe this enchanting place even exists. Colmar will easily become a travel photography favorite!
Cadaques, Girona, Spain
Ready for bay views, quiet coves, and gorgeous coasts? Cadaques is the perfect travel destination for the summer months. The village is on a bay in the middle of the Cap de Creus peninsula on the Costa Brava of the Mediterranean. It’s only a 2.5 hour drive from Barcelona. Cadaques has been a source of inspiration for famous painters (like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso) for hundreds of years. It’s a creative centre that shares a cultural world of art with many museums and art galleries for you to enjoy. The top activities to experience are hiking through the Cap de Creus National Park, visiting the Dali-Museum House that will take you around the home of the artist, Salvador Dali, seeing the Esglesia de Santa Maria, and, of course, going to Spain’s beautiful beaches to relax under the sun. A travel paradise waiting to be explored!
A tale as old as time, the historical, picture-perfect village of Gruyères has preserved its medieval character for centuries. This old, charming town lies on a hill above the Saane river; the HR Giger Museum dates back to the 13th century and cherishes 800 years of history, culture, and medieval architecture. A popular place to visit when you travel here is the Château de Gruyères, the most romantic castle in Switzerland. With towers, spiral staircases, courtyards, and sprawling gardens, the Château de Gruyères is a definite must! Other sights that will make your trip unforgettable are the Maison Cailler chocolate factory (with unlimited free samples!), Les Bains de la Gruyères (hot spring baths), and La Maison du Gruyères for a cheese-making tutorial. So, pack your bags and get ready to take some cheesy photos!
Do you enjoy spending time on the water? Located in the southeast region of Malta, Marsaxlokk is known for its fish market, colorful boats, and seafood restaurants. The most popular sights are St Peter’s Pool, Fort Delimara, built by the British to protect Marsaxlokk Harbor, Delimara Lighthouse, the Megalithic Temples of Malta, claimed as the oldest free-standing structures on Earth, and other museums and nature parks for you to experience during your trip. Travel to Marsaxlokk and get ready for some fabulous travel photography!
As one of the most remote places on Earth, Ittoqqortoormiit (try to pronounce that one!) is frozen for nine months and is in the middle of the largest national park and longest fjord system (a glacial marine basin) in the world. The Northeast Greenland National Park is a definite favorite. Ittoqqortoormiit is easily one of the most unique, different landscapes you will ever see! This edge-of-the-universe village is scattered with red, blue, yellow and green houses, the population totaling to 450 people. Camping, hiking, snowmobiling, sledding, kayaking and ice skating are some of the favorite summer and winter activities. Travel to Ittoqqortoormiit for an unforgettable winter wonderland adventure!
Bibury, located in Gloucestershire, is described as the most beautiful village in England. Home to the famous “Arlington Row,” Cotswold stone cottages, Bibury is truly magical in personality and nature. During your stay, be sure to check out the many walking tours this enchanting place offers. The Chedworth Roman Villa (one of the largest Roman villas in England), the Lodge Park and Sherborne Estate, the Mechanical Music Museum (an extensive display of extraordinarily-preserved music boxes), St. Mary’s Church, and tea houses are some of the top travel sights. Travel to Bibury for the quintessential English countryside escape.
Looking for a taste of traditional Portugal? Perched high above the rolling countryside, Monsaraz is a charming, tiny village with a towering castle at its edge. With a population of 800, Monsaraz will guide you to views over the Alqueva Dam and olive groves. This charmer is best known for its restaurants, Alentejan cuisine, artisan shops, and whitewashed cottages that rest beneath a sunset-painted sky. Travel to Monsaraz to enjoy Portuguese culture and an adventure of a lifetime!
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