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  • Writer's pictureNate + Christa

Top 10 Small Towns to Visit in Europe

Updated: Jun 15

Our top 10 small towns to visit in Europe is by no means an easy list to compile. While the grand cities of Paris, London, Rome, Madrid and Vienna are amazing and offer everything, they are met with large crowds and often less value. If you can manage to rent a car, the opportunities to explore the lesser known villages are endless and rewarding beyond the typical European city. If you’re not sold, here are our top reasons why you need to experience the small villages of Europe. Then, we’ll break down our top 10 must visit small towns in Europe.

Our list of small towns often have a unique charm and character that has been preserved over time, giving visitors an authentic taste of local life and culture, yet they're not too far off the beaten path so access is relatively easy. Some are more touristy and others you will encounter locals that are excited to see travelers and want to share their traditions!

All of the small towns on our list are located in beautiful natural surroundings, remote mountains, pristine lakes, and gorgeous beaches, providing visitors with breathtaking views and outdoor activities. Ideal when you need a break from the museums and sites, the small towns provide the best escape for serenity!

Given this is Europe, every small town has a rich history with well-preserved architecture, museums, and cultural sites that offer a glimpse into the past without the higher price admission sites of the larger cities.

Slow pace? This is an obvious benefit after visiting Paris, Rome, Madrid. These small towns offer a slower pace of life than big cities, providing you with a chance to relax and unwind in a peaceful setting. If you live in the typical rat race, the benefits of slow travel cannot be overstated!

While we’re picky eaters and admittedly not the most adventurous with cuisine, I did try (accidentally) pig intestine meatballs in Gordes, France. Small towns often have a distinct culinary scene, with traditional dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients, providing visitors with a unique and authentic gastronomic experience. You’ll find the most off-the beaten path meals that offer the most authentic ambience.

Visiting small towns in Europe provides a unique and authentic travel experience, allowing visitors to connect with the local culture, history, and scenery in a more intimate and personal way. So what are our top 10 best towns to visit in Europe? This is in no particular order and offers just a glimpse into each town, but we provide a deeper dive into these small towns throughout our guides.

Top 10 Small Towns to Visit in Europe

Positano, Italy - Known for its colorful hilltop homes perched above the cliffs with incredible views of turquoise blue water, it's a true scenic seaside paradise. Pack your hiking shoes and wander through the nearby villages along the Garden of Gods Hike!

Rovinj, Croatia - Rovinj is a charming fishing village with narrow streets and beautiful stone houses, surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea. Formerly ruled by the Venetians so you know they have great food and art!

Gordes, France - Gordes is for art lovers and natural beauty. It is a beautiful town perched atop a dramatic ridge with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and luberon vineyards. Easy to access from one of our favorite cities, Aix-en Provence.

Sintra, Portugal - Sintra is a fairy-tale town with a stunning royal palace, castles, and gardens, all set amidst the lush greenery of the Serra de Sintra hills. It’s touristy and hot during the summer but worth the drive.

Hallstatt, Austria - Hallstatt is a picturesque village situated on the shores of Lake Hallstatt, surrounded by mountains and known for its stunning Alpine scenery. One of the most photogenic backdrops in all of Europe.

Bled, Slovenia - You’ve seen the picture-perfect island church surrounded by the turquoise lake, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for nearby adventure!

Colmar, France - Colmar is a beautiful town with well-preserved medieval and Renaissance architecture, including brightly-colored half-timbered houses. Come for the Christmas markets starting in late November!

Biarritz, France - This is Basque Country, so make room for tapas. Small surfer village with elegance and royal history, the biscay bay produces large crashing waves against the epic limestone cliffs for the most beautiful sunsets.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Rothenburg is a medieval town with a well-preserved wall and gates, cobbled streets, and a beautiful town square. Another must visit for their Christmas markets!

Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland - This is more of a cluster of small villages including Murren, Gimmewald, and Wengen perched in the moutains high above Lauterbrunnen Valley. These villages only accessible by train or cable cars and remain trapped in time with endless charm. We loved glamping in the Valley and having easy access to some of the best hikes in the world!

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