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11 Charming fairytale towns in Europe you need to visit

Europe is home to the best fairytale towns in the whole world. 

There are towns nestled between mountains and lakes, perched across beautiful rivers and above the sea. There are incredible towns everywhere each with a unique history and charm.

If castles and cobbled streets are your thing you need to add these 11 European villages to your list.

1. Bled - Slovenia

Bled is a small lakeside town in the Balkan country of Slovenia. It offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and pristine lake. This incredible town is becoming more and more popular as the secret gets out!

In the middle of the lake, there is the famous Bled island which features an amazing 15th-century church, medieval castle and wishing well. This island looks straight out of a fairytale and is possible to visit by boat.

Bled is also the perfect place to visit for lovers of nature with lots of mountain hikes and camping nearby.

Lake Bled takes just 2 hours to walk around. To get the best views of the lake and island you can do the Ojstrica hike.

Bled is easy to reach from the main city of Ljubljana by a short bus journey. It is possible to visit for just a day or you can spend a few days exploring.

2. Mostar - Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Mostar is located in the Balkan country of Bosnia-Herzegovina and is easily accessible by bus from the capital Sarajevo or from Split in Croatia. It is home to one of the prettiest fairytale towns in Europe. 

Mostar has a distinct Turkish vibe, complete with Bosnian coffee, lanterns, sheesha, Turkish style food and tiled lanterns along the river's edge. You will feel like you are in a fairytale walking through the winding cobbled streets, crossing bridges and streams. By night time the sparkling lights, streets and streams are pure magic.

Mostar, however, is most famous for its 24m ‘Stari Most’ bridge that connects the two sides of the town over the turquoise Neretva River. It was originally built by the Ottomans in the 16th century. The bridge stood for almost 500 years until 1993 when it was destroyed in the Balkan War. It has since been rebuilt with some of the original stonework. The members from the local diving club are always on hand to jump into the river to entertain tourists.

It is also a fascinating place to visit if you are interested in history as the country was involved in a war only 25 years ago.

3. Bruges - Belgium

Bruges, known as “Venice of the North", is a small town in Belgium which is home to beautiful canals and medieval architecture, giving Bruges a real fairytale feel. 

It takes just an hour to reach by train from Brussels and is a must-visit fairytale town in Europe. For such a small place Bruges has a lot to offer, no matter the season.

Wander through the cobbled streets and main square (Markt), which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, to admire the architecture. There is a famous church in the middle of the main square which you can climb to the top to be treated with some amazing views. 

You can take a boat tour through the canals to the Lake of Love where more that 100 swans reside.  Indulge in Belgian Waffles, chocolate and fries. There are also many bars where you can enjoy a delicious Belgium beer.

Before you set off for Bruges make sure you watch the film “In Bruges” starring Colin Farrell for some inspiration. 

Bruges accessibility to the rest of Europe makes it the perfect one-night weekend escape.

4. Cesky Krumlov - Czech republic

Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic is located in Bohemia's south and is another incredible fairytale town you need to visit in Europe.

The town is dominated by a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site castle that is lined with many historical buildings. The famous orange roofed buildings resemble Prague but on a smaller, more idyllic scale.

The Old Town is surrounded by charming houses, restaurants and shops to explore. Cesky Krumlov is small enough to be explored on foot. Spend the day getting lost walking through the cobbled streets and narrow alleyways, taking in the fascinating architecture.

Don’t miss finding the quaint hidden restaurants where you can refuel and warm up with potato dumplings, sauerkraut, cinnamon pastry and beer!

The Czech Republic not only has incredible Eastern European history and architecture, it is also one of the most affordable places to visit in Europe. Witness the seasons change in Spring or Autumn or come for a Christmas winter escape.

5. Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Aberdeenshire is located on the north-east coast of Scotland and encompasses an area around Aberdeen city. It features beautiful coastlines, sandy bays and charming towns. Aberdeenshire is home to many hidden gems like old distilleries, beautiful rivers and more than 200 fairytale castles.

The Castle Trail is a must for anyone who loves dreamy architecture. Towns that are home to some of the best castles in Aberdeenshire include Stonehaven for the fort, Dunnottar Castle, Braemar and Alford for the famous pink Cragievar castle.

Modern-day royalty also resides in Aberdeenshire’s Balmoral Castle which has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since 1852.

6. Kotor - Montenegro

Kotor is a small fairytale town in the Balkan country of Montenegro. It sits just off the Adriatic sea, on a calm bay nestled between mountains.

The charming old town of Kotor is fully walled, complete with a water mote. It is an emerging destination that is becoming increasingly popular with travellers, and it’s easy to see why.

It is easy to reach Kotor by car or bus from the popular tourist destination of Dubrovnik in Croatia in a couple of hours. There are many buses that come to Kotor from all of the surrounding towns and countries.

Climbing to the Castle of San Giovani is the highlight of Kotor. Just behind the old town, there is a steep climb up to the castle, where you follow the old castle walls. When you reach the top you are treated to the most spectacular views of the mountains and Kotor Bay. It is worth going up just in time for sunset.

There are other hikes around these mountains for those of you with an adventurous spirit. Otherwise, you can waste the day away walking from gate to gate, exploring the utterly charming old town, visiting churches, dining alfresco and soaking in all of the amazing vibes. 

7. Hallstatt - Austria

Hallstatt is one of the most beautiful fairytale villages in all of Europe. It is Nestled along a lake and surrounded by huge Austrian Alps. The wooden buildings are pastel colours and built up into the hill and the still lake mirrors the beautiful church perfectly.

A day trip to this quaint village is enough time to see everything. Don’t forget to get the postcard-perfect photo on the edge of the town on your way in.

Wander through the village to admire the buildings and facades of the main square. Take a boat ride or a leisurely swan paddler on the lake to see the village from a different perspective.

You can also take a trip up to the Hallstatt Skywalk by cable car for sweeping views of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Dachstein Salzkammergut.

Hallstatt is another place that is perfect to visit in every season, each with its own charm and special touches.

8. Chester - England

Chester is one of England’s most historic cities. It is located in England's northwest near Wales.

Chester was founded as a Roman fortress in the 1st Century AD and is known for its red sandstone Roman walls. It is the most well preserved walled city in England with the walls making a full circuit around the town. 

Chester has a beautiful old city filled with arcades and Tudor-style timber buildings. It is famous for its rows which are covered walkways on the first floor of the main streets, allowing for double level shopping. This style of architecture is not found anywhere else in the world. 

The charming streets and buildings in Chester make this arguably the prettiest city in England and definitely fit for a fairytale.

You can spend your time checking out the famous Eastgate Clock, walking the length of the city walls, exploring the rows, visiting the Roman amphitheatre and taking a walk along the river canal. Beautiful!

9. Castle Combe in the Cotswolds - England

The Cotswolds is home to the most picturesque, fairytale villages in England. This is a rural area in England covering parts of 6 counties which include Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. It is famous for its rolling hills, thatched medieval villages, churches and cute homes built of distinctive yellow limestone. You will really feel like you have stepped inside a storybook.

Castle Combe has long been considered one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. It has charming stone buildings set along a beautiful river. Make sure you stop to wander through the streets and pop into the local pub for a pint and a hearty English meal.

The Cotswolds are located about 2 hours west of London and are best explored by car. Take a few days off and tour through not only Castle Combe but a number of fairytale Cotswolds villages. There are miles and miles of charming towns just waiting to be explored. 

10. Rocamadour - France

Rocamadour is a small clifftop village in Southwestern France. It is built into the side of a cliff and is accessed via the Grand Escalier staircase. It is known for its dramatic architecture and complex of religious buildings. Rocamadour is a famous pilgrimage site for those seeking its shrine to the Virgin Mary.

The best way to enjoy Rocamadour is to hire a car and drive there. Before you enter the town you can stop to take in the epic views of the town from a distance before walking up to explore the village itself.

Climb the stairs and stroll down the single street to admire the ancient buildings and climb to the top for some incredible views. Explore inside the churches where one wall is just sheer rocks!

Rocamadour is a unique town that will truly take your breath away.

11. Cinque Terre- Italy

The Cinque Terre is the fairytale destination of Italy. It is made up of five colourful fishing towns, perched on the dramatic Italian coastline. The Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a very popular tourist destination in Italy with awe-inspiring views and Italian village vibes.

You can combine beautiful walking trails with the laid back Italian lifestyle on a trip to the Cinque Terre. Climb the hillside for the best views and relax the rest of the day away swimming in the ocean and dining on Italian wine and food. 

Each of the five towns is identified by a hillside of incredible pastel-coloured buildings, cascading down the cliffside. It is a view that is unforgettable. Each town is connected by protected hiking trails, meaning you can spend your days’ town hopping and enjoying everything the Cinque Terre has to offer at your own pace. 

To top it all off the Cinque Terre offers spectacular sunsets each and every evening.

There you have 11 of the most breathtaking fairytale villages that Europe has to offer.

Make sure you check some of these incredible places off your list on your next European adventure.