Between the dramatic scenery, historic cathedrals and castles, quaint villages, and cobblestoned streets, Europe is home to many destinations that seem to bring our favorite childhood fairytales to life. While there are many places to see whose grandeur will inspire feelings of awe, if pure magic is what you’re looking for, then these spots won’t disappoint.
We’ve gathered the best fairytale towns in Europe that should be on everyone’s bucket list — complete with insider tips on where to stay!
5 Fairytale Towns in Europe
This stunning fishing village set in the picturesque Lofoten Islands is characterized by red and white fisherman’s huts scattered along the shoreline, rocky islands jutting up from the still water, and roughly 300 locals waiting to give you a taste of their day-to-day life.
In Reine, outdoor activities rule, so plan to take part in some fishing, whale watching, biking, hiking, or kayaking. Also, because Reine rests within the Arctic Circle, you’ll probably be able to catch the always-magical Northern Lights on chilly, clear nights from roughly September through April.
Where to Stay in Reine, Norway
Accommodations in Reine will likely mean staying in a traditional fishing hut, also known as a Robuer. For a good mid-level Robuer option, check out Lofoten Bed & Breakfast Reine. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, try out Reine Robuer or nearby Eliassen Robuer.
Read more: What to Pack for a Trip to Norway
As far as fairytale-like destinations in Europe go, the whole of Switzerland is a strong contender. A country known for its dramatic mountains, gorgeous valleys, and rich food, it can be hard to single out just one magical winner destination. That said, Lauterbrunnen is home to everything just mentioned, and more, in spades.
Located in a trough valley in the Swiss Alps, Lauterbrunnen is nestled between spectacular mountain peaks and gorgeous rock faces. Nearby, you’ll find an abundance of roaring waterfalls, colorful meadows, and majestic wildlife.
Where to Stay in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
For excellent budget accommodations in Lauterbrunnen, check out Hotel Oberland, for something more mid-range, the Hotel Schützen Lauterbrunnen is a great option, and if upscale is more your style, then check out Swiss Alp Resort & Spa in nearby Grindelwald!
Read more: Women’s Packing Guide For Switzerland
Cinque Terre, Italy
A string of five romantic fishing villages set along the dramatic Italian Riviera coast, Cinque Terre isn’t exactly off the beaten trail, but what it lacks in seclusion it makes up for in charm, history, and grandeur.
Located within a national park, Cinque Terre is characterized by colorful buildings that seem to sprout up from the Mediterranean Sea, fields of terraced vineyards that have been shaped over millennia, and harbors filled to the brim with picturesque fishing boats.
While in Cinque Terre, consider taking advantage of one of the many hiking trails in the area that will guarantee you some spectacular views, indulge in the region’s specialty sauce, Pesto, and be sure to see the coast from the water.
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre, Italy
For budget accommodations in Cinque Terre, consider Locanda La Lanterna in Corniglia, for a good mid-range option, check out in Hotel Villa Argentina in Riomaggiore, and for luxury accommodations try Grand Hotel Portovenere in nearby Portovenere.
Read more: Cinque Terre Travel Tips
Mljet National Park, Croatia
If you’re looking to explore Croatia by way of a pristine, nature-filled island home to friendly locals, breathtaking views, and fresh seafood, then look no further than Mljet.
Covering the entire northwest area of the island, Mljet National Park is a mostly-undeveloped oasis that borders two inland saltwater lakes – Veliko and Malo Jezero (Large and Small Lake). While visiting the park, be sure to visit Sveta Marija, a small island on the Large Lake that is home to a 12th century Benedictine Monastery, rent a bike to take you through the small villages that border the coast of the lakes, and hike up the hills to find some truly stunning scenery.
Where to Stay on Mljet Island, Croatia
Resting on the edge of the River Dourdou gorge in the heart of the Lot Valley, Conques will journey you right back to the middle ages with its original town walls and gates, narrow (and sometimes cobbled) village streets, and the true-to-the-era houses that dot the hillside. Currently home to roughly 300 people, plan to spend most of your visit on foot, as the historic center of this quaint village is car-free.
While visiting this picture-perfect destination, be sure to visit the Abbey Church of Saint Foy, swoon over medieval relics at the Treasury of Goldsmith Art, check out the views from the water by canoeing or kayaking the Lot River, and relax at one of the many café’s in the village.
Where to Stay in Conques, France
For excellent budget accommodation try out Auberge Aux Portes de Conques, for a great mid-range option, check out Hôtel Sainte Foy, and for luxury accommodations consider Hôtel-Restaurant Hervé Busset.