There are a lot of classically beautiful places in Europe, right? Paris – yep. Prague – certainly. Venice – without a doubt. That’s part of what makes Europe such a fun destination to visit, the romantic notions stirred by architecture, culture and history. But there are some smaller places that take that innate beauty to the next level. Places where you’re uncertain whether what’s in front of you is actually real or somewhere that belongs in a storybook. These towns I’m thinking of owe part of their fantastic charm to being a little quieter than superstars like Paris and Venice, but still deliver stunning scenery. So here are five fairytale towns in Central Europe that you’ll feel are too beautiful to be real.
If you’re like me and enjoy looking at beautiful, interesting places to travel to on social media and the Internet, then its almost guaranteed you’ve seen pictures of Hallstatt. I mean, look at it! This darling of Instagram is a small lakeside town hidden by mountains in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. Hallstatt is situated on a steep hillside next to a lake of the same name and around the town in all directions are giant, looming alpine mountains. In town you will find incredibly pretty wooden houses all painted and built in the traditional style. Walking through its streets, you’ll struggle to accept that people actually live here it’s so achingly lovely.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
When it comes to classic old towns overlooked by stately castles, Cesky Krumlov should be right near the top of the list. First off, what a name! This gorgeous little town is nestled in the curves of the Vltava river with charming cobbled streets and an impressive castle that has views over the entire town. Walking through the castle grounds there are a series of elegant courtyards connected by tunnels that bring you up above town to viewpoints and a huge palace garden you could get lost in. Down in town, you will find well-restored traditional buildings and even several quaint watermills. I find it hard to fathom someone not falling for such an endearing place as Cesky Krumlov.
Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina
I picked this small town in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina because it’s a little left field and probably the least known among the towns on this list. And I think that’s a massive shame as it’s a truly beautiful place. Here you have a fortified town covered in greenery with a surprisingly powerful waterfall running a few minutes from the centre of town. In the centre of town is a sizeable hilltop fort and only a few kilometres away, a series of lakes that flow into each other via small waterfalls. There’s something incredibly serene about this little known, but picturesque town.
There’s honestly one reason to come to humble Bojnice in central Slovakia and that is the town’s epic castle. Bojnice Castle would definitely look at home in a Harry Potter or Disney movie. This massive castle is almost textbook with its swan-filled moat, walls, drawbridge and long spires. Plus, it’s so large that it can be spotted miles away and dwarfs the town around it. Inside it only gets better with chambers where you can easily imagine knights fighting one another with swords and the lavish Golden Hall whose ceiling is completely gilded. It’s the kind of place where it’s worth taking a tour through, even if it’s unlikely to be in English.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
When it comes to the beauty of Lake Bled, it’s really not about the town of Bled itself. Where the magic happens is the stunning Church of the Assumption of Maria situated on a tiny island and the small cliff top castle that watches over the lake. Oh and all of this set on a backdrop of big pine forests and the mighty Alps. As you walk around the lake, you’re able to see both the castle and the church from different angles and it just gets better and better.
In fact the best view of the church is from the castle walls, where the church is a little spot in the middle of the blue and green landscape of lake and trees. To reach the island church, you can take a small traditional boat called a pletna, a devastatingly relaxing option. In the end, at Lake Bled it’s all about seeing the charming cliff top castle that sits high above the lake and exploring the tiny island and it’s church. It may not sound like much, but trust me it’s worth it.
Have you ever been to any of the above fairytale towns? Where else do you think looks so unreal that it must have been ripped from a fairytale? Please share in the comments below.
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