Throughout all of my travels, smaller towns have really seemed to capture my heart. That is not to say that Rome, Paris, and Istanbul are not amazing cities. There is just something so special about these tiny, quaint little cities that are so charming and unique that they really leave an everlasting impact on you.
Fun fact: the one thing all 4 of these towns have in common? They are all car-less!
1. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Cesky Krumlov is a car-free town located in the South Bohemian Region. The Old Town, surrounded by the Vltava River, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture is what makes this tiny city so unique, and can be described as a blend of Renaissance, Baroque, Medieval, and Gothic. You will instantly feel as if you’re stepping back in time.
Must-See: Cesky Krumlov Castle will give you an amazing view of the town and the surrounding land. Not to mention, it’s one of the well-preserved castles I’ve ever been to.
How to Get There: A 3-hour bus ride from Prague and costs about $18 roundtrip on Student Agency Bus. Busses run every 2 hours.
Time Needed for Visit: You can do the trip in one day. It’s a small city so a day trip from Prague is all you need.
Bonus: In the summer, you can raft/tube down the river running through the city 🙂
2. Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt is the quintessential fairytale town. Nestled between the salt-topped mountains and a beautiful lake, it is so unbelievable picture-perfect that it looks like it’s photoshopped. Unsurprisingly, there has even been a real-life replica of the town built in Luoyang, China. Fairly unknown to most, this makes this town refreshingly untouched by mass tourism (at least in the winter).
Must-See: Everything!!! Just walk around the village for numerous photo-ops, you really can’t go wrong.
How to Get There: A little tricky to get to, but it’s well-worth it. It takes about 3 hours total by bus from Salzburg, and you must switch busses twice. The total cost is about $18 each way. (Bus 150 from Salsburg Hbf, then switch to Bus 542, then 543). It’s a lot smoother than it sounds. Don’t let it overwhelm you! Another option is to take a ferry across the lake.
Time Needed for Visit: The village is extremely small so a day trip is all you need.
3. Positano, Italy
Probably the most well-known on this list, but it doesn’t take away from the beauty and magic of this place. The colourful houses nudged into the mountainside, the breeze from the ocean, and the heir of romance make this place so magical and unforgettable. Positano is far from cheap, but it’s one of those places you must visit once in your lifetime.
What to do: Take a private boat tour to the island of Capri for the day, explore the tiny streets and many steep steps of the city, sunbathe on the beach with a breathtaking backdrop of the city behind you, enjoy the fabulous food in one of the seaside restaurants, admire the artists painting live images of the town right in front of your eyes.
Where to eat: Chez Black Restaurant for authentic homemade pasta, seafood, and wine.
Splurge on: Reserve a spot on the balcony of La Sirenuse Hotel restaurant for a spectacular view of the city and a magnificent sunset. Cocktails run about $18, but the view is well worth it.
How to Get There: A 2.5-hour bus or train ride from Naples will run you about $20.
4. Zermatt, Switzerland
I had never heard about Zermatt until my travel partner suggested we visit there on our trip to Switzerland, and man was I blown away! Think of the most beautiful, cozy, make-believe ski town you could ever imagine, and there you will find Zermatt! Home to the infamous Matterhorn Mountain, you will not be disappointed at the endless picture-perfect viewpoints at each and every corner. On top of the shear beauty of this place, everyone is extremely nice, helpful, and happy, something very refreshing to see in a place that is so ritzy and glamorous.
Must-See: To say Switzerland is expensive is an understatement, so if you would like to splurge on the cable car to the top of the mountain (about $85) or paragliding over the alps ($200+), go for it! However, I chose to forgo these expenses and just enjoyed strolling around this visually stunning city while snapping pictures along the way.
How to Get There: Located in the far Southeast of Switzerland, a train ride from Geneva, Zurich, or Basel will take you anywhere from 3.5 to 4 hours.
Time Needed for Visit: Due to the extremely high prices, this city can be done in one entire day.
What are some other small fairytale towns you recommend? I’d love to add some more to my list!
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