Once upon a time: 5 fairy-tale towns and cities in Europe

written by Kiri Nowak March 7, 2018
Sighisoara medieval city, Transylvania, Romania

Whether you’re roaming around Budapest’s beautiful castle district or visiting Copenhagen’s famous Little Mermaid, there are fairy-tale towns and cities waiting to be discovered all over Europe.

Places so picturesque and Disney-like you’d believe you’ve been transported to another world. Of all the destinations I’ve visited, I find it’s those unexpectedly magical ones oozing with character that tend to stay ingrained in my memory.

With that said, here are five lesser-known but no less charming fairy-tale towns and cities you need to visit…

1. Lucerne, Switzerland

Kapellbrücke over Lake Lucerne


The Old Town in Lucerne is a wonder to behold, especially when the snow settles in winter and the streets become lit by hundreds of Christmas lights. Stroll along the quaint cobbled streets and marvel at the intricately designed architecture. Gaze out over the River Reuss and try to catch a glimpse of the mountains in the distance.

Stand on the Kapellbrücke (or Chapel Bridge), which juts out diagonally across Lake Lucerne, and watch as the swans and ducks cruise by without a care in the world. Chocolate shops pop up around every corner, and there’s even a mirror maze to make you feel like you’re in some strange wonderland.

It’s easiest (and most environmentally friendly) to make your way around Lucerne on foot. Plus, you’ll likely get a free bus pass if you stay at a hotel in the city centre – so there’s absolutely no need to rent a car.

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More about Switzerland: Photographic proof that Switzerland is the most beautiful country in Europe

2. San Gimignano, Italy

Medieval village of San Gimignano


As you approach this stunning medieval hilltop town, located to the west of Florence, you’ll experience all the feels. From afar the road winds and you can see its ancient towers looming over the town.

It’s hard not to imagine you’ve stepped back in time, thanks to the twisting paths, 12th Century church and rustic old houses. And don’t even get me started on those views – wow! Head to the viewing point for epic panoramas consisting of miles and miles of Tuscan countryside peppered by pretty Italian vineyards.

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More about Italy: 6 cities in Italy to visit before everyone else does

3. Primošten, Croatia

The Old Town island of Primošten

Paul Prescott/Shutterstock

Primošten is an adorable little fishing village in southern Croatia’s Šibenik-Knin County. The water here is crystalline, and its dazzling blue shades could fool you into thinking you were somewhere far more exotic.

The Old Town is actually based on a separate island you can walk out to, and small seafood restaurants are dotted along its shores. Make your way into the centre to truly experience the beauty of its courtyards and building, which date back as far as the 1500s.

The vibe here is chilled and quiet. Plus, there are 20 kilometres of beach, so even in the busy summer period you can find a spot. It’s just so sweet – a real postcard-perfect town.

More about Croatia: 7 stunning Croatian spots where you can avoid the crowds

4. Lake Bled, Slovenia

View of Lake Bled, Slovenia


Lake Bled is an excellent example of how enticing Slovenia can be. It looks just like a scene from your favourite fairy story, with its castle-like church, sitting in the middle of a piercing, emerald green lake.

This destination is fab to see year-round. During the cooler months it’s possible to ice-skate on the lake to your heart’s content, and in summer you can row across it whilst soaking up the magical 360-degree countryside views that surround you. You’ll witness some of the tallest peaks of the Julian Alps too, as well as Bled Castle, which is perched atop the cliffs of the lake.

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5. Sighisoara, Romania

Looking for something a little darker? If whimsy isn’t your thing, then perhaps you’ll prefer the mystical scenes of Sighisoara in Romania. You may have heard of Transylvania – well, this is the region where Sighisoara resides. And it’s famous for one thing, the legend of Dracula!

Crammed full of thousands of years of fascinating history. You’ll be charmed by the cobblestone streets, charming clock tower and soft pastel coloured houses. This town is so vibrant it’s as though it’s been painted with all the colours of the rainbow. Plus, there’s creepy graveyards, eerie churches and a weapon museum all ready to be explored too.

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More about Romania: 5 budget destinations in Europe you won’t want to miss

Ready to have your own fairy-tale adventure? Check out our range of enchanting trips across Europe.

Feature image C/O Tatiana Volgutova via Shutterstock.

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