European towns can be some of the most beautiful in the world. Steeped in history and culture, and with some delicious food on sale, they make the perfect place for a holiday. Here are ten European towns you need to visit.
1. Le Havre, France
Le Havre is a commune in the Normandy region of northern France. It is a picturesque town with plenty to see and do – from the Andre Malraux Museum of Modern Art to the Parc de Rouelles. The commune itself has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site after the city was rebuilt using Auguste Perret’s plans following the destruction of the city during the Second World War. It is a fascinating place filled with history, business, and culture.
2. Bergen, Norway
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bergen is one of the most colourful places in the world. The houses that line the docks range from red to yellow to orange to umber. Bergen sits within sailing distance of the famous Norwegian Fjords and you can take a boating tour around the gorgeous landscape. The town itself is very old, being established in 1070 AD, so it is a place steeped in history. Bergen also hosts a live music festival, a local food festival, and is home to the world’s biggest gingerbread city! A whole miniature town built out of gingerbread houses!
3. Ghent, Belgium
Ghent sits in the Flemish region of Belgium. Not as famous as Bruges or Brussels (you may never have heard of it), but Ghent is one of the most beautiful hidden gems in all of Belgium. Once you are there, you can visit the medieval castle known as Gravensteen which now houses a museum displaying Medieval war weapons and torture devices. There are a number of gorgeous churches and cathedrals that can be visited too, or you can take a walk down to the Graslei and Korenlei and take a boat ride along the river.
4. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, Germany
This Bavarian town is filled with sprawling woodlands, glistening lakes, and the tallest glaciers in all of Germany. Take a cable car to the top of Zugspitze and gaze across the 400 snowy peaks, or engage in sports like skiing, snowboarding, and paragliding. If heights are not your thing, you can bask in the wonder of the Partnach Gorge with its flowing waterfalls and hidden springs. When you’re done, spend a night at the hotel by the picturesque Riessersee lake.
5. Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt is known for its gorgeous “old town.” The setting looks like something out of a movie or The Good Place. All the houses are brightly coloured and dripping with ivy and flowers. Another attraction is the Skywalk, a platform suspended 350 metres above the ground that allows you to take in the stunning views of the Dachstein Salzkammergut region. The region around Hallstatt and Salzburg has been known for thousands of years for its salt mines, and you can take a tour of these when you visit. There is so much to see and do here—you will not be bored.
6. Monteriggioni, Italy
As European towns go, Monteriggioni is not well-known. This little commune sits upon a hilltop in Tuscany, Italy. Monteriggioni is entirely walled in, secluding it from the world. The small town is filled with Medieval Italian architecture and Renaissance houses. The town locks its gates at night, giving it a private feel which is perfect for a romantic getaway. The true highlight of visiting Monteriggioni is talking a walk along its impressive walls and gazing out over the fields of Tuscany.
7. Albarracín, Spain
Albarracín has been described as “the most beautiful village in Spain”. It is one of the smallest European towns on this list. The village was left in ruins after the Spanish Civil War but was heavily restored to its former glory by the Spaniards. The village hosts a castle, a cathedral, and some very intimidating stone walls, which stretch up and over the mountain the village is built into. Given how small the village is, it is never busy in Albarracín and you will have the freedom to explore at your own pace.
8. Sintra, Portugal
This town is located within the hills of the Serra de Sintra. It is one of the most extravagant European towns you will ever find. The Palácio Nacional da Pena is a stunning palace that is painted in the boldest shades of yellow and red and looms over the town, whilst the Palácio Nacional de Sintra is a Gothic palace with ornate ceilings and a colourful history. The town also contains an impressive castle ruin and a number of lavish mansions.
9. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Yet another of the European towns on this list with a UNESCO World Heritage Site status, Cesky Krumlov is situated in South Bohemia. The town is home to a wonderful castle, which sits over the Vltava River. Cesky Krumlov also has its own old town filled with Renaissance and baroque architecture. Unlike some of the other towns mentioned so far, Cesky Krumlov has a thriving nightlife with many bars and pubs. The town itself looks like one you would see on a postcard or a jigsaw, a colourful and artistic paradise with quaint streets and pretty rivers.
10. Annecy, France
Located on the edge of Lake Annecy, this picturesque French town is surrounded by stunning snow-covered mountains. It is known for its variety of beaches, lined with deck chairs and loungers for basking in the sun. The town has its own canal system and is fondly referred to as “Venice of the Alps”. The houses are painted in soft pastel colours and adorned with pretty flower boxes and balconies. There are farmers’ markets on the streets selling delicious produce, or you can visit the gelaterias for ice cream.