10 Little Towns in Europe You Need to Visit Now!

Positano, Italy - The Overseas Escape-56

10 Little Towns in Europe You Need to Visit Now!

10 Beautiful Towns in Europe - The Overseas Escape
Check out what I consider the 10 most beautiful, charming, little towns in Europe. I hope this wanderlust-inducing list kicks you into booking your next trip, because really, you just have to visit!

1 | Burano Island, Italy

In the Venetian Lagoon, this little island is known as the residence for a large population of fishermen. The vibrantly colored rows of houses were historically used as beacons for finding their way home after a long day at sea. In recent years it’s become a Pinterest sensation and a true photographer’s paradise. While there be sure to try fresh octopus (but not coupled with espresso, like I did).

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2 | Positano, Italy

On the Almalfi Coast, this little town is a true treasure. Stunning mountains leap from the clear Mediterranean offering dramatic views while the UNESCO-approved village feels as though you’re in an Italian dream. The vacation destination for the stars, I claimed it here as the most beautiful place in Europe and I mean it.

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3 | Oxford, England

Whether you’re a Harry Potter enthusiast or just appreciate history, Oxford is truly captivating. Home to one of the oldest institutions in the world, the town is riddled with stories, beautiful architecture and great pubs! Charming cobble stone streets led through picturesque alleys walked by the likes of Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, Margret Thatcher and… Hugh Grant. 🙂 Here are notes from my afternoon stroll.

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4 | Hallstatt, Austria

A shockingly beautiful lake village nestled in the Alps, Hallstatt is the true definition of European charm. Boating on the Hallstatt Lake was one of the most scenic boat rides I’ve ever taken and bucket list worthy for every traveler.

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5 | Ronda, Spain

Positioned in the mountains of Andalusia, the views and eats in Ronda are incomparable. High above a steep gorge, the dramatic Puente Nuejo (New Bridge) connects the old and new city. The New meaning 1793, of course. Take a hike down to the gorge then end with yummy churros and hot chocolate. We felt like nobility when we got a free uber-upgrade at Parador de Ronda (two balconies are better than one!).

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6 | Nerja, Spain

On the Costa Del Sol this white washed beach town is a true retreat. During your visit expect high stress on deciding which tapa to eat and which beach to relax on. The beauty and fun of the beach plus the vibrant culture of Spain makes it a win-win combo.

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7 | Bruges, Belgium

Known as the ‘Venice of the North’ the cozy town of Bruges is a photographer’s AND beer drinker’s dream. Take a canal cruise, munch down moules and frites (mussels and fries), admire the architecture or just sip that lovely Beglian goodness. A super-duper easy train ride from Brussels, Bruges is a MUST if you’re in the region.

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8 | Sirince, Turkey

An hour from Izmir, Sirince is a remote village famed for it’s olive oil and fruit wines. So beautiful that at one time it was called ‘Cirkince’ (meaning ‘ugly’) by residents to deter visitors. It wasn’t until 1926 that it was renamed to Sirince (‘beautiful’). Settle in for an amazing Turkish feast with fresh ingredients from the countryside (I claimed this as my best meal of 2013), later stroll the streets and peruse local handcrafts.

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9 | Heidelberg, Germany

Perhaps the most beautiful place in Germany, I absolutely adore this town and not just because it’s my hometown. In the Alstadt (old town) lies endless shopping and fantastic restaurants. Stroll the Neckar River, explore the magnificent ruins of the Heidelberg Castle, enjoy city views from the Philosphenweg (Philosopher’s Walk) then end the day with a glass of local Reisling. (Here’s A Quick Guide to Heidelberg)

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10 | Garmisch, Germany

Garmisch is an adult playground. Endless outdoor activities (especially Alpine skiing) and fantastic restaurants are all set in a storybook town. On the border of Austria, the looming Alps hugging the town are simply stunning while the traditional German cross-timbered architecture has all the charm you could hope for. (Heading that way? Here’s A Mini Guide to Bavaria)

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To help out the map-oriented folks like me:

Did I miss YOUR favorite village? Let me know in the comments below!

  • Positano is so beautiful. I would also add Lugano, Switzerland to the list 🙂

    http://www.madelinefedmont.com

    http://www.madelinefedmont.com

  • Burano Island is so gorgeous!

    http://www.thetouristoflife.com

  • This is why after ten years in Europe, I just can’t picture leaving! Gorgeous pictures!

  • I loved Bruges! I wish we had stayed there for longer!

  • I feel ashamed, I’ve visited only one of these towns: Oxford. Which is my favourite town in England by the way. I fell head over heels for it. You haven’t included any French towns by the way! I love Annecy, which is not far from where I was born (Lyon). xx

  • I absolutely have to visit Oxford! I loved Bruges… it was like a fairy tale. But I prefered Ravello to Positano. Well, Positano was beautiful, obviously but Ravello just made me fell in love head over heels.
    xx,
    E.
    http://www.theslowpace.com

  • Burano Island, Italy , it just needs to happen, looks so beautiful!

  • I love this! I love visiting places that are different from the typical major tourist destinations. 🙂

  • I absolutely adore Bruges – the canals are just picture perfect! And I’m going to #1 and #2 later this month, so now you’ve got me even more excited 🙂

  • I really do need to visit positano.. NOW! 😛 i never really thought to visit austria, but it looks really charming from your photos.

  • I’ve never been to any of these but should definitely change that! 🙂 I’ll change that soon though – definitely going to visit Oxford after I move back to the UK next week! So sooooon!

  • Well, I’m sold- those all look unbelievably charming and picturesque! Thanks for mapping them. I sounds like we need 3 days at each spot, and a train to get to them. 😀

  • …They all definitely seem to have their charms, ESPECIALLY Burano!!..I wonder if I could fit it in with Florence and Rome (???)…

  • All of them are SO gorgeous! I think, however, I would visit Austria right this second if I could! It just looks so clean and storybook-ish and just…I need to be there!

  • I don’t think there’s a term yet for how much I love your blog. Every time I visit you’ve topped yourself and I am enjoying it immensely.
    x Justina // abentpieceofwire.com

  • This is such a great list. I love all of these towns!

  • So many beautiful places to see. I understand that I really need to travel even more then what I do now because I would like to see all these places. Great post and beautiful pictures 🙂

  • Out of all of these I’ve somehow only been to Heidelberg, how can this be! Hallstatt is high high high on my list though.

  • ha, I’m positive that you have built up a longgg list of cute little towns that I’m dying to visit too! Yes, yes, yes, to Hallstatt though!

  • Thanks, dear! Glad to provide a little inspiration! 🙂

  • Thanks, Corinne! Glad you agree! 😀

  • Justina, you make me blush! Thanks so much for your super-sweet words! My blog (and I!) love you back! 😀

  • Oh girl, I completely agree, Austria has my heart. I adore it.

  • Hmm, I’m not so sure. It’s a 20 minute boat ride from Venice but from Rome or Florence it might not be so easy. Instead, how about the Almalfi Coast? There’s an easy train you can hop on from Rome. 🙂

  • Yes, precisely! And take me with you! 🙂

  • Yes, I agree with your diagnosis! You do need to go to Positano right this instant. Tell your boss! 😀

  • Oh hooray! You lucky duck, you! Have fun!

  • Ha, you’re the best. Seriously. 😀

    A big long yesssss for visiting Bruges. I believe (not 100% on this) that there’s a convenient straight there after you cross the Chunnel. Christmastime or anytime, it’s absolutely lovely.

  • Yes, me too gal! I’m 100% on board for off the beaten track destinations – have any recommendations for places in Europe?

  • I agree! It’s so charming. It’s honestly more of a village and there aren’t all that many restaurants/shops but it’s such a fun place to take pictures.

  • …Excellent suggestion–I’ll keep that in mind, Margo!!…

  • Ohhh, noted! I haven’t been to Ravello yet so now you’ve given me a great reason to go back. Grazi! 😀

  • Valerie – you are SO right. I actually was just in Annecy two weekends ago – gorgeous! We went paragliding and everything, it was spectacular. I have to admit, I had this post cued up for a few weeks now because I’m on a work trip right. Annecy certainly deserves a spot. As for Lyon, I’m dying to visit! Have any recommendations on places to see and restaurants to try? (That’s a tough question, isn’t it?)

  • Jess – you have a great point there. I’ve only been here one year and similarly can’t imagine departing either, at least not until I’ve visited every vineyard, lake, and village. 😀

  • Ya know what? I think we should both go on permanent vacation and just stay wherever we want for as long as we please. Whattdoya say? 😀

  • Yay Belgium!! I love Bruges, it’s such a lovely city. Also, yay! Oxford. I love it when I have actually been to a few places on the list 🙂

    Personally, I think Belgium is a little underrated 🙂

  • I’m lovin that idea

  • Of the ones on your list, I’m most dying to visit Hallstatt. Actually, scratch that, I’ll take a ticket to ALL OF THEM! I’ve been to Bruges, actually (the only one on this list) and I just didn’t like it that day… probably because it was sooo hot and crowded. The town itself is lovely though!

  • i’ve been to a few, but there are still soooo much more amazing places to go. thanks for sharing this list!
    xo, cheyenne

  • Thanks for the list!! I LOVE the little towns in Europe the most 🙂 I wholeheartedly agree with Bruges and Oxford…hopefully I can see the rest soon! We are thinking of going to Hallstatt in a few weeks–do you have any recommendations on where to stay, eat, etc? (and p.s. your dog looks pretty happy on that lake lol). xo

  • Your shared bucket list is breathtaking. It really helpful for the visitors who are planning their visit. Almost I have visited the all destinations. After visiting your blog and taking the glimpse of Hallstatt, Austria. I am sure something I missed it. I am planning to visit there after completing my grand canyon skywalk bus tours with my college mates. Any suggestion that make my visit unforgettable would be much appreciated there.

  • Jen Schilling

    I fell in love with Garmisch but I haven’t been there since Dec 2002. I’m itching to get back there one day. Great list!

  • I live in Oxford!! Love it <3

    xo,

    Emma

    http://www.sassystreet.com/

  • ieatistay

    Love this! Hallstatt and Oxford are top small cities for me. I worked in Birmingham for a year and my brother studied in Oxford…I adored driving to see him for the Weekend and getting to explore the quaint City. Another smallish City is Innsbruck….a true Tirolean gem in the Mountains! Check it out!

  • Kim

    Wonderful blog! Just found you through Pinterest. I love Bruges and Oxford. Bruges is truly magical and is a Unesco World Heritage site as most of the building were built in the 1400s and are still remaining. It truly is like stepping back in time! Looking forward to checking out your other posts. You must be loving living there! KIm

  • LeAnna Brown

    I’ve been to just about all of these except the ones in Spain; for some reason, I just don’t get over there much! I need to put it back on my list! If you have any military members that read here, here is my “How to Stay at Garmisch on a Budget” (military members only for the on Post lodging options)
    http://www.economicalexcursionists.com/edelweiss-lodge-and-resort-on-a-budget/#.VVnqRPmqpBc

  • Daniela Borowsky

    I love how you included Heidelberg 🙂 It´s one of my favourite German cities and I´m really sad that it´s quite expensive to live there.. Great list, I will try most of them, especially Oxford 😀

  • i love it!! 🙂

  • whoa, totally love this list! i’ve only been to positano (which i agree, is one of the most beautiful places, ever) but am eager to visit the rest of your recommendations.

  • Dorothy Ogans Garza

    Spain has a few awesome places. I would highly recommend Tossa de Mar, Sitges and Girona in Spain (Catalonia area). IF you love Medieval towns see Besalu, Beget, Camprodon and Santa Pau.

  • Dorothy Ogans Garza

    One of my favorite places in Italy…Cinque Terre.

  • Ilene

    I agree with Dorothy, The Cinque Terre is one of our favorite spots in Italy. We are moving to Italy shortly (with dual citizenship!!) and can’t wait to revisit some of our favorite places and find many new ones.

  • Rémy Pilliard

    I’m Missing Stein Am Rhein, Appenzell, Saas Fee beneath the Matterhorn, Epesse, all in in Switzerland, And a lot more in Germany, France, Tchec Republic, Polen, etc. Sure they are nice, the ones you choose, but it’s too much restrictive.

  • Rémy Pilliard

    Well I missed to mention that in Scotland, Norway and the Baltic Countries there are a lot of nice little cities too.

  • Great list! We’d add the Cote d’Azur town of Nice and neighboring Eze Village – just beautiful, with that gorgeous blue coastline! 🙂