When you think of a European vacation, which destinations first come to mind? It makes sense if the places are major cities and famous landmarks that millions of tourists fly to from around the world. While destinations like London and Rome are worth visiting, there are smaller towns that are just as beautiful yet criminally underrated. Some are located off the beaten path while others would make the perfect day trip when you’re visiting a nearby major city.
Check out these towns and consider checking them off your travel bucket list during your next trip.
Once you’re done pub hopping in Dublin, venture south-west to visit Dingle. This charming small town has over 6,000 years of history and boasts sweeping views of the Kerry coastline. Aside from admirable sea views, visitors can enjoy views of the peninsula on the Conor Pass. This single lane mountain road takes you through twists and turns that will have you snapping photos at every corner.
There is plenty more to see and do on Green Street. From cozy pubs to independent shops to colorful storefronts, you’ll spend hours exploring what locals have to offer tourist.1
If you want to feel like you’re living in a postcard, then you’ll have to visit Montreux. You’ll be following in the footsteps of famous entertainer Charlie Chapin who spent 25 years living in the hills.
This resort town is nestled alongside Lake Geneva and cascading mountain terrain. It’s the perfect winter escape for those who enjoy hitting the slopes, snowshoeing or Christmas markets. You could also visit in the summertime and take advantage of its prime location alongside the lake.2
Anyone who is tired of bumper to bumper traffic in their daily lives will love spending the day in Giethoorn. This dutch village consist of thatched farmhouses connected by over 170 small wooden bridges.
It’s described as Dutch Venice since the best way to get around is to take a boat trip in the canals. This area is also has many restaurant options located along the water’s edge, so you’ll be able to enjoy a meal with a view.3
Castle Combe, England
One English town that looks straight out of a fairytale is Castle Combe. This village is defined by its cobblestone streets, stone cottages and curvy roads. It’s located west of London and just 20 miles away from the city of Bristol.
Spend your day wandering the streets and visiting local shops. From baked goods to charming bed and breakfasts to St. Andrew’s Church, you won’t run out of things to do. Don’t forget to stop by the bridge at the bottom of the village for an iconic photo opportunity!4
The Eiffel Tour is a must-see attraction, but you won’t regret venturing to the south of France to visit Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. This beautiful village is home to just 700 residents and relies largely on tourism for its economy to flourish.
There’s no shortage of sights in Moustiers thanks to the village walls, chapels, fountains and other distinct figures. It’s nestled along a sweeping mountain range where you could encounter wildlife like goats, roe deer, and bats.5
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
With cobblestone streets, medieval-styled architecture, and endless photo stops, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the perfect small town to visit on your trip to Germany. History buffs will love how there aren’t any modern buildings to disrupt the town’s old-timey feel.
Pay a visit to the Rothenburg Museum to learn about the town’s history from the early Middle Ages all the way to World War II. Alternatively, transport back in time with costume guided tour. You can also wander through the old quarter to admire the town’s 42 towers along a four kilometer trail.6
Anyone who has seen the film Call Me By Your Name will instantly recognize the town of Crema. Located in northern Italy just 40 kilometers east of Milan, you can sightsee the many churches and colorful residential buildings.
Basilica Santa Maria della Croce, Centro Storico di Crema, and Duomo di Crema are just a few churches worth checking out. Crema is a town where you can enjoy a true Italian experience without large swaths of tourists everywhere you go.7