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Fairytale Towns in Europe: Part 2


You know the feeling you get when a fairytale town is described either in book form or in a movie and you can usually automatically picture it. Well these ten towns definitely belong in stories of their own. Looking at pictures of these towns can make you imagine that you are in your own fairytale. We have covered this topic once before but there are just so many towns around Europe that belong in their own fairytales.

 
 

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium, is distinguished by its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. Its port, Zeebrugge, is an important center for fishing and European trade. In the city center’s Burg square, the 14th-century Stadhuis (City Hall) has an ornate carved ceiling. Nearby, Markt square features a 13th-century belfry with a 47-bell carillon and 83m tower with panoramic views.

 

Positano, Italy

Positano is a cliffside village on southern Italy's Amalfi Coast. It's a well-known holiday destination with a pebble beachfront and steep, narrow streets lined with boutiques and cafes. Its Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta features a majolica-tiled dome and a 13th-century Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary. The Sentiero degli Dei hiking trail links Positano to other coastal towns.

 

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Český Krumlov, in Bohemia’s deep south, is one of the most picturesque towns in Europe. It’s a little like Prague in miniature – a Unesco World Heritage Site with a stunning castle above the Vltava River, an old town square, Renaissance and baroque architecture, and hordes of tourists milling through the streets – but all on a smaller scale; you can walk from one side of town to the other in 20 minutes. There are plenty of lively bars and riverside picnic spots – in summer it’s a popular hang-out for backpackers. It can be a magical place in winter, though, when the crowds are gone and the castle is blanketed in snow.

 

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mostar is a city in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, straddling the Neretva River. It’s known for the iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge), a reconstructed medieval arched bridge. The nearby alleys are full of shops and market stalls, and the Old Bridge Museum explores the bridge’s long history. A narrow staircase leads up to the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque’s minaret for panoramic city views.

 

Mittenwald, Germany

Nestled in a cul-de-sac under snowcapped peaks, sleepily alluring Mittenwald, 20km southeast of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, is the most natural spot imaginable for a resort. Known far and wide for its master violin makers, the citizens of this drowsy village seem almost bemused by its popularity. The air is ridiculously clean, and on the main street the loudest noise is a babbling brook.

 

Sighișoara, Romania

So resplendent are Sighişoara’s pastel-coloured buildings, stony lanes and medieval towers, you’ll rub your eyes in disbelief. Fortified walls encircle Sighişoara’s lustrous merchant houses, now harbouring cafes, hotels and craft shops. Lurking behind the gingerbread roofs and turrets of the Unesco-protected old town is the history of Vlad Ţepeş, the bloodthirsty, 15th-century Wallachian prince. He was allegedly born here, in a house that is visitable to this day. Ţepeş is best remembered as Vlad the Impaler, or Dracula, fuelling a local industry of vampire-themed souvenirs.

 

Annecy, France

Nestled by the northwestern shore of its namesake lake, Annecy is the jewel of the Haute-Savoie. From its crowning Château d’Annecy down to its gurgling canals, Annecy’s Vieille Ville (Old Town) is infused with antique charm. Made great by the medieval Counts of Geneva and augmented by the Dukes of Savoy, Annecy still has numerous 16th- and 17th-century buildings, now painted in shades of peach and rose and housing restaurants, bakeries and boutiques. Canals trickle through town, earning Annecy its reputation as an 'Alpine Venice'.

 

Eguisheim, France

Eguisheim is a medieval village in France’s Alsace wine region. The narrow, concentric streets of its old town are lined with many preserved half-timbered houses. The central Château Saint-Léon is a centuries-old castle. Southwest at Husseren-les-Châteaux are the ruins of the Three Castles of Eguisheim, which date from the Middle Ages. Northwest is Hohlandsbourg Castle, with formidable ramparts.

 

Dinan, France

Set high above the fast-flowing Rance River, the gorgeous narrow – and sometimes plunging – cobblestone streets lined with crooked, creaking half-timbered houses of Dinan's old town are straight out of the Middle Ages. This guarantees a tourist bonanza in the warmer months, of course, but choose anything slightly off-season and you may find the place deserted. Even when it's busy, by around 6pm, someone seemingly waves a magic wand and most of the crowds vanish and a sense of calm settles once more over the charming town.

 

Chipping Campden, England

A standout gem, even for an area of such pretty towns, Chipping Campden is a glorious reminder of Cotswolds life in medieval times. While 'Chipping' derives from the Old English ‘ceapen’, meaning ‘market’, it owes its conspicuous prosperity to its success in the wool trade. Its gracefully curving main street is flanked by a picturesque array of stone cottages, fine terraced houses, ancient inns and historic homes, most made of that beautiful honey-coloured Cotswolds stone. Westington, southwest of the centre, holds some especially striking thatch-roofed cottages.

 

San Gimignano, Italy

As you crest the nearby hills, the 14 towers of the walled town of San Gimignano rise up like a medieval Manhattan. Originally an Etruscan village, the settlement was named after the bishop of Modena, San Gimignano, who is said to have saved the city from Attila the Hun. It became a comune (local government) in 1199, prospering in part because of its location on the Via Francigena. Building a tower taller than their neighbours' (there were originally 72) became a popular way for prominent families to flaunt their power and wealth. In 1348 plague wiped out much of the population and weakened the local economy, leading to the town's submission to Florence in 1353. Today, not even the plague would deter the swarms of summer day trippers, who are lured by a palpable sense of history, an intact medieval streetscapes and the enchanting rural setting.

 

Budva, Montenegro

Budva (Будва) is the poster child of Montenegrin tourism. Easily the country’s most-visited destination, it attracts hordes of holidaymakers intent on exploring its atmospheric Stari Grad (Old Town), sunning themselves on the bonny beaches of the Budva Riviera and partying until dawn; with scores of buzzy bars and clanging clubs, it’s not nicknamed ‘the Montenegrin Miami’ for nothing. Though Budva has been settled since the 5th century BC, you’ll be hard-pressed finding much – outside of the Old Town – that isn’t shiny and relatively new. Development has run rampant here, and not all of it appears to be particularly well thought out. In the height of the season, Budva’s sands are blanketed with package holiday makers from Russia and Ukraine, while the nouveau riche park their multimillion-dollar yachts in the town’s guarded marina. That said, Budva has a hectic charm all of its own.

 

So that brings us to the end of this list. While these are not the only fairytale towns in Europe, this is just my list. Check out part one here. Fairytale Towns In Europe

 
 

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