Home to many quaint cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and charming little villages, Europe is one of those destinations where children’s storybooks come to life. Trust me between the fairytale castles, scenic lakes, and medieval fortresses, sometimes I’ve had to pinch myself to make sure what I was seeing was real. To inspire you to visit this wonderful continent, take a look at some of these incredible fairytale looking towns that you didn’t even know existed! On a side note, if you are living anywhere in Europe or in the US, consider yourself extremely lucky! I almost had a heart attack looking at how insanely cheap flights to get to these destinations were. So without further ado, here are a few of my top European fairytale destinations that look out of this world.
Locate close to Salzburg is a small lakeside town called Hallstatt. Often referred to as one of the most beautiful lakeside towns in the world, this place is truly magical and is pretty one of a kind. The town itself is quite small but what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm as you can see quaint houses with the stunning lakeside as your backdrop. During winters, this place becomes even more picturesque as you see the snow capped mountains around you.
How to Get to Hallstatt: If you’re coming from Salzburg or Vienna, take the train until Attnang-Puchheim. From there, switch trains to the one heading towards Bad Ischl & Obertraun. You then get off the train at Hallstatt Station and take a ferry across the lake.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled is one of those places that I’ve seen countless photos of. I admit to staring at these photos wondering intently if it looked just as good in person as it does in photographs. To my delight, yes, Lake Bled is as picture perfect in real life. Boasting of a tall church steeple located on an islet, a medieval-looking castle, and mountainous alpine mountains gleaming in the backdrop, it’s hard not to fall in love with this place. Popular for honeymooners, families, and even backpackers who want to experience the many outdoor sports available by the lakeside, Lake Bled is definitely one of those picture perfect fairy tale towns in Europe.
How to Get to Lake Bled: From the main bus stations in Ljubljanabu, the Slovenian capital. It takes about 70 minutes to get to Lake Bled via bus. If you are traveling by car, take the A2 highway northwest out of the city and follow the signs for Kranj or Jesenice. This journey takes about 40 minutes.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
If you like Prague but find it a little too overpopulated, wait until you see the beautiful town of Cesky Krumlov. This town is a Unesco World Heritage site has earned its rightful place as one of the most beautiful fairytale towns in Europe. Featuring a castle above the Vltava River, an incredibly historic town square, and an old town full of medieval streets and Rennaissance architecture, this place is a must visit while in the Czech Republic. During the summer months, this town is alive and kicking with plenty of riverside bars and picnic spots. During the Winter months, it transforms into a magical out of this world scenery with white blankets of snow covering all the rooftops.
How to Get to Cesky Krumlov: In order to get to Cesky Krumlov, there are trains links from Prague which runs every 2 hours, taking a total of 3 hours and 30 minutes each day. It is very much recommended to stay in the town for at least a night (or two) in order to really make the most of the long train rides. The train rides are pretty scenic and cost about €19 for a return trip.
During my very first trip to Europe, I ended up hitchhiking and catching a lift from this guy we met at our hostel until the dreamy town of Amalfi. Because of this, despite being the broke backpacker that I was, I was able to see the stunning towns of Positano, Sorento, and the rest of the beautiful Amalfi region in style as we drove around in a convertible. With the wind blowing in our faces and the incredible viewpoints that we saw along the way, my first glimpse of Positano made me believe that this place was truly magical! Whitewashed and pastel-colored rood tops, the gleaming coastline, not to mention the number of incredible restaurants and gelaterias, this place was a coastal paradise for me.
How to Get to Positano: The nearest airport to Positano is Naples. From there, Positano is merely an hour and 15 minutes away. If you want to travel by train, take the Circumvesuviana from the station on Corso Garibaldi in Naples. This runs every 20 minutes and takes one hour and 10 minutes heading to Sorrento, costing about €5. Once you get to Sorrento, catch a blue CITA bus to Positano from right outside the train station which costs about €1.50. However, the best way as mentioned is to rent a car so you can stop along the coast to take in the stunning views.
Traveling around Europe? Check out our Europe Packing List if you want a detailed guide on what to bring!
During my first visit to France, I honestly found the entire country, especially Paris overrated. Two trips later, I am head over heels in love with the place, especially if you venture past the main cities and stick to the small towns and villages. Colmar, located on the northeastern side of France near Germany is no exception. This quaint little village is famous for its many vineyards, traditional houses, and water canals. Take a stroll along this awesome village, sit down, have a coffee (or a glass of wine) and constantly pinch yourself at how unreal everything looks like.
How to Get to Colmar: If you are flying, the easiest way to get to Colmar is through the landing at the airport in either Basel or Strasbourg From there, there are direct train lines which you can take that will take you to Colmar.
Putting aside the fact that this place makes phenomenal cheese and other delicacies, the town of Gruyères is a sight to see, featuring a post-card perfect medieval town located on a small hill. Despite its small-town feel, this place is home to three museums as well as a castle, making it not only a photographer’s paradise but also a place full of rich history and culture. During Winter time, the entire village turns into an incredible winter wonderland and is incredibly beautiful and picturesque.
How to Get to Gruyères: The closest airport to this scenic town is Geneva. From there, Gruyères is about an 1 hour and 20 minutes away by car. Alternatively, you can also hop aboard a high-speed train which takes about an hour.
Going back to my falling in love with France story, part of this was due to a visit in the South of France with my partner and his family. During this time, we traveled across some of the most picture-perfect towns and Dinan was no exception. I remember walking around the little town with Christmas music being played all throughout the cobblestone streets. Not only did it make me feel nostalgic, it also gave me the holy-crap-is-this-place-even-real type of feeling. You know. The ones you get when you find yourself frolicking in a medieval town after a delicious family meal with lots of wine, cheese, and other French goodness.
How to Get to Dinan: Although the closest airport to Dinan is St. Malo, most people will be coming from somewhere a little bit more central like Paris. Wha you can do is to take a train up to Rennes and then pick up a hired car from Rennes train station.
Last but not least, the town of Sintra, home to the Pena Palace which is a bohemian beauty of a castle makes me feel like I just walked out of a Persian dream with its incredible details, bold colors, and sweeping views. Located not far from Lisbon, this city is a fairy tale come to life and is worth the day trip even for those on a tight schedule.
How to Get to Sintra: From Lisbon, the main town, Sintra is a 40-minute train ride and is easily accessible from the Rossio train station.
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