12 Fairytale Towns in Europe So Enchanting They Don’t Seem Real

Europe is home to spectacularly picturesque towns that look like something from a fairytale. Here are 12 of the most magical.

Europe is home to hundreds of magical destinations steeped in history. With their castles, squares, and cobblestone streets, they seem frozen in time and fit for a fairytale.

Here are 12 of the most beautiful fairytale towns in Europe that must be seen to be believed.

1. Colmar, France

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This charming medieval town in Alsace, northeast France, is one of the most beautiful places in the country. It’s famous for its iconic, colorful, half-timbered buildings (many of which line picturesque canals in an area known as “Little Venice”) and an Old Town characterized by maze-like cobblestone streets and squares.

2. Giethoorn, Netherlands

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Giethoorn is another fairytale destination in the Netherlands with similarities to Venice. Expect thatched houses connected by canals instead of roads and locals who drive boats, not cars.

This reality explains Giethoorn’s nickname as the “Venice of the North.” It’s a quaint, postcard-perfect place, unlike almost every other town on the planet.

3. Bled, Slovenia

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Bled is the quintessential fairytale town. Its focal point is an eponymous glacial lake surrounded by alpine mountains. At Lake Bled’s center is tiny Bled Island, upon which sits the Church of the Assumption.

Look up from there, and you’ll see Bled Castle perched high on a cliff overlooking the lake – an iconic fortress with the best views in town.

4. Interlaken, Switzerland

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European villages don’t get much more charming than Grindelwald. Located in the Bernese Alps, it’s a quintessential alpine paradise.

The lifestyle revolves around skiing in winter and hiking in summer. However, with some of Europe’s most iconic peaks in the vicinity – including the notorious Eiger, it’s also a haven for mountaineering.

5. Albarracin, Spain

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Geology and history combine to make Albarracin one of Europe’s most striking fairytale towns. Alongside its meandering Medieval streets and traditional houses, expect towering defensive walls and the impressive Albarracin Castle, first built by the Moors in the 10th Century.

This dramatic, memorable place is nestled atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the Guadalaviar River and the hilly landscape beyond.

6. Monschau, Germany

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This small German resort town near the Belgian border offers another incredible glimpse into medieval history. With its age-old, half-timbered properties lining the banks of the Rur River, Monschau is like Germany’s answer to Colmar, France.

Maze-like cobblestone streets and a 13th-century castle on a hill above the town center add to the allure.

7. Dinan, France

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Brittany, northwest France, is home to the fairytale town of Dinan. It’s another impeccably preserved medieval masterpiece with half-timbered properties and those cobblestone streets we adore.

To borrow a French phrase, though, the piece-de-resistance is the 14th-century Dinan Castle (aka the Château de Dinan) and its medieval ramparts.

8. Gruyères, Switzerland

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You may have heard of the eponymous cheese made famous by this place. However, that only scratches the surface of the reasons for visiting this glorious Swiss town.

There’s history, natural beauty, and medieval charm in abundance here, not to mention innumerable culinary delights. Come to Gruyères to step back in time, spend time in nature, and dine on outstanding regional food.

9. Rastoke, Croatia

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The village of Rastoke seems tailor-made for a fairytale. It’s located in a valley where two rivers converge, creating picture-perfect waterfalls that cascade right through town.

Watermills and traditional wooden houses add to both the vibe and aesthetic appeal. Expect peace, quiet, and rustic natural beauty at this hidden gem in Croatia.

10. Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

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Český Krumlov (pronounced chez-key krum-Lohv) is an enchanting place nestled in the hills of South Bohemia in the Czech Republic.

The Vltava River runs through its center, and a 13th-century castle dominates the entire area. There’s a delightful old town crisscrossed by cobblestone streets that add to the general sense of being stuck in a time warp.

11. Castle Combe, England

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Few villages are more quintessentially English than Castle Combe, in Wiltshire. With stone cottages, traditional pubs, scenic walks, and the Bybrook River flowing through its heart (itself crossed by an iconic stone bridge), it’s idyllic.

Likewise, the last time anyone built a new house in the historic part of Castle Combe was the 1600s, so it offers an unparalleled glimpse of medieval England.

12. Hallstatt, Austria

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No list of fairytale destinations in Europe would be complete without Hallstatt. You’ll struggle to find anywhere so picturesque. The small town is located on the shores of Hallstatt Lake, with the dramatic Dachstein Mountains providing an epic backdrop.

Fun fact: Hallstatt was only accessible by boat or narrow trails until the late 19th Century. These days, the locals probably wish that was still the case. Hallstatt is inundated with tourists every year, so expect crowds if you decide to visit!


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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.