From the lakeside wonders of Verenna to the views of Wengen, there’s just something special about villages you can’t experience in big cities. Europe is home to some of the world’s most enchanting villages, from fairytale towns to seaside views. These villages in Europe remain unmatched to the rest of the world. Which ones are on your bucket list and which are your favourite villages in Europe?
1. Reine, Norway
Let’s start off in northern Norway in the village of Reine. Located in the Lofoten Islands, Reine was founded back in 1743 as a fishing village and trading post. Today, it has a population of around 300 residents, but it’s visited by thousands of people thanks to its unique beauty. You will be blown away by its massive sea mountains that dwarf over the village! Reine is also full of those classic red and yellow Norwegian houses and looks right out of a postcard. The one thing you can do while you’re here is hike up to the nearby mountain called Reinebringen. You’ll be able to get some incredible views over Reine and the surrounding villages!
2. Varenna, Italy
Located on Lake Como this is one of the most idyllic villages in Europe with a history dating back to the 8th century. You’ll love walking around the village through all its cobblestone alleyways, exploring it’s great plaza and impressive church. There’s also a little beach on the southern side which is a nice place to enjoy some of Lake Como’s water. One of the most beautiful places in Varenna is the northern shore. There are restaurants and a little stone beach where you can watch the small waves roll in, accompanied by some of Lake Como’s majestic swans. You definitely have to enjoy at least a sunset on the docks.
3. Wengen, Switzerland
The mountain village of Wengen is quite possibly home to the most beautiful view in the world as it overlooks the valley below. The village is home to around 1,300 residents year-round, but it gets many visitors during the summer and winter months. Now to get to Wengen is not as easy as taking a drive, as it’s one of Switzerland’s car-free villages. Instead, you can either hike or take one of the most scenic train rides from the town of Lauterbrunnen which winds up the mountain and offers breathtaking views. Once you get to Wengen, you can walk around its paths and just marvel at all the Swiss cheese and incredible views of the valley below!
4. Grindelwald, Switzerland
Nearby Wengen is the alpine village of Grindelwald, which is the classic image of Switzerland. Swiss chalets, green pastures and mountains everywhere you look. The village is overlooked by the majestic Eiger mountain and it’s hard to fathom just how big it is unless you see it for yourself. You can actually rent e-bikes and ride them up the mountain! There, you can explore the famous first cliff walk or even take a trip to Lake Brienz. There’s just something magical about this Swiss village that you only have to experience to know.
5. Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
Located in the south bohemian region of the Czech Republic, Český Krumlov is a medieval fantasy. Go Google some of its pictures and you’ll be blown away by its beauty. The town dates back to around 1240, when the Český Krumlov Castle was built and a settlement emerged beneath it. Thankfully, it escaped the bombings of WWII, which is the main reason it is so well preserved. Today it stands as one of Czech Republic’s most beautiful towns. Make sure to visit its famous castle, which is surrounded by a moat not full of water, but bears instead. You can also visit the castle tower for the best views of the town!
6. Rothenburg, Germany
In the German village of Rothenburg you’ll feel like you’re walking in a fantasy movie. It’s one of the best preserved villages in Europe. During the middle ages, Rothenburg thrived as it was located at the crossroads of European trade routes. At the beginning of the 15th century it became the second largest city in all of Germany, but faced adversities such as the 30-year war and the bubonic plague in the 17th century. Without resources, Rothenburg’s growth was halted, which preserved the town in its medieval state. Rothenburg is a major inspiration for Disney and it’s not hard to see why. If you go, make sure to check out the famous floating corner or witness the beautiful Christmas markets!
7. Alberobello, Italy
In southern Italy, Alberobello is believed to be founded around the 14th century. The town has grown in popularity thanks to its uniquely shaped houses called trulli. They are white-washed houses with conical roofs, and at over 1,400 it is the largest collection of them in the world. They are made of limestone from nearby rock beds without any mortar or cement. There are some theories of why the trulli was built in such a unique way, and some speculate it was an elaborate form of tax evasion. Since you had to pay taxes to the king if you had a permanent dwelling, the people may have found a loophole since the trulli didn’t have cement and could be dismantled quickly. Gotta love some medieval tax evasion!
8. Carcassonne, France
There’s no better place that captures medieval Europe better than the fortified city of Carcassonne. Located in southern France, the town began as a Roman fortified hilltop and was given to the Visigoths in the 5th century, who continued to fortify and build the city throughout the centuries. Carcassonne remained as an impregnable fortress and today the city consists of 53 towers protected by its two outer walls. It is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful villages in Europe as well as a treasured medieval gem.
9. Hallstatt, Austria
Located in the Austrian alps, Hallstatt is rumoured to be the inspiration of the town Arendelle from the Disney film Frozen, and you can totally see the resemblance! Hallstatt began as a salt mine nearly 7,000 years ago and today the village is one of Austria’s most popular tourist attractions. However, due to its popularity, the town also suffered consequences from over-tourism. As of 2020, the number of people allowed to visit is limited, and priority is given to tourists with an overnight booking.