One of the things I mostly miss during lockdown is travelling, for sure. With holiday reservations cancelled but with the hope that we will be able to travel safely again soon, I’ve made a list with ten charming small towns and villages around Europe, that I had seen and would certainly love to see again. From Lavardin, charming small village in France, to lovely Sintra in Portugal or fairy-tale Fredrikstad in Norway and Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany, here’s a personal selection of ten places whose visit will certainly put a big smile over your hearts.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber – Germany
I think this is, by far, one of the most beautiful small towns I had ever seen. Best preserved medieval fortified city in Germany, surrounded by old defensive walls, with small cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, the town takes you back in time, in a world full of history, fairytale and magic. Although it has only 12.000 inhabitants, millions of tourists get here every year, attracted by the unique atmosphere. It is also known as “the city of Christmas” due to his main attraction – a Christmas Museum, with a permanent exhibition, opened all year long, where tourists can pick from more than 30.000 traditional, handmade Christmas decorations. The place is a land of dreams itself – with music, atmosphere, lights, everything you need to simply forget what time of the year it is and feel the spirit and the beauty of the most beautiful holiday of the year.
Bellagio – Italy
Located approximately 45 kilometers from Milano, it’s that kind of small “jewelry town” that you dream one day you will live in. Small streets, charming family small restaurants, souvenir shops, flowers, old and pieces of stories in almost every corner. And the fabulous view over The Como Lake – actually, Bellagio is considered “the pearl” of the area, the most beautiful small town located around Como Lake.
Lavardin – France
Located on a river, in the picturesque Loire region, Lavardin is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France. With less than 200 inhabitants, old medieval bridges, stone houses covered with ivy, Romanesque churches and even an old castle on the top of a hill, the place gives you peace, a wonderful feeling of “good”, simple happiness while walking in the streets and admiring the beauty of authentic, simple life. Lovely place to relax, admire, take time with yourself, breathe and smile with your heart.
Fredrikstad – Norway
Fredrikstad is one of three Norwegian cities that have been fortified, and the only one where the fortifications are still intact. The entire old town is extremely well preserved, and a perfect destination for a romantic afternoon with the one you love. Small streets, charming gift shops, terraces, history and story, wonderful views and smiley, welcoming people, enjoying a place that seems to be taken out of time. Located almost 100 kilometers from Oslo, the capital of the country, it’s a place that is definitely worth seeing – don’t miss it if you get in the area.
Porto Moniz – Madeira
This small town of less than 3.000 inhabitants is located in the northwest corner of the island of Madeira, a region comprised of towering mountains and views over endless deep blues of the Atlantic Ocean. Is famous for the seawater lava pools that are naturally filled by the ocean’s high tide, and offer a dramatic setting for swimming or paddling in.
Novigrad – Croatia
This charming, small touristic town is located on a small peninsula on the western coast of Istria, approximately 25 kilometers south of the border with Slovenia. Lovely for an entire afternoon to spend here, with cobblestone streets, old houses and beautiful views of the small port. In summer, you’ll find it full of tourists, and with many colorful umbrellas covering parts of the charming old streets.
Thal – Austria
This typical Austrian village is located just few kilometers from Graz, Austria‘s second largest city. The village contains a small lake called Thalersee, has an old church dating from 1735, and is famous for being birthplace of Arnold Schwarzenegger. In July 2011, Schwarzenegger opened his childhood house as the Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum, and you will have the surprise of discovering here many interesting things about his life, before becoming famous all over the world.
Sighisoara – Romania
Located in the picturesque region of Transylvania, this old XII-th century citadel, last medieval citadel still inhabited from south-eastern Europe and UNESCO heritage, will surely have a place in your heart – it’s enough to see it once and you will want to come again and again. It has history, legends, charm, stories, places to stop the time, to laugh, to embrace with heart, to feel, to remember and to tell about them. Give yourself time to discover a small piece of heaven – and to enjoy every moment spent here. Visit the Clock Tower, the Old Church built between 1345 and 1525, the ancient towers of the old guilds. Do not bypass antiques and souvenirs shops – you will certainly find something you will love.
Sintra – Portugal
Located on Portuguese Riviera, Sintra is a major tourist destination in Portugal famed for its picturesqueness and for its numerous historic palaces and castles. And if you get in the area Colares is also a wonderful place to visit, with rural, authentic views, simple life and feeling of back in time, also. And has such magnificent views – wonderful nature and the endless beauty of the Atlantic Ocean.
Balcik – Bulgaria
This small town on the coast of the Black Sea is famous for its Palace and Botanical Gardens. The complex appeared as a summer residence of the Romanian Queen Maria (1875-1938). The palace was designed by Italian architects and construction works started in 1924. As part of the residence, in 1926 the Swiss botanist Jules Jani designed and built a park complex. Twenty nine years later, the Sofia University “Saint Kliment Ohridski “ created at this place a botanical garden with an area of 65 decares. Today, it has more than 2.000 plant species from 85 families and over 800 genera.
PHOTOS FROM PERSONAL ARCHIVE