15 Fairytale Towns in Europe That Look Like a Storybook Setting

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Looking for fairytale towns in Europe? You’re in the right place!

At some time or another in your life, surely you’ve wondered what it might be like to be able to walk right into a fairytale. To see a real castle, to wander through craggy mountain paths and slightly spooky forests, to admire pastel buildings festooned with ivy… this is the stuff dreams are made of!

While studying abroad in Europe, I knew that I wanted to see as many storybook settings as I could. Especially as Americans, we don’t have views like that here!

Now, we can’t promise cooperative, helpful wildlife or wicked stepmothers with magical powers, but there are still towns in Europe that can help you get a real taste of life in a fairytale.

If your inner prince or princess is screaming for Me Time in the perfect fairytale setting, be sure to pin this list of fairytale towns in Europe to your mood board so you can get inspired for your next round of world travels.

Fairytale towns in Europe

Positano, Italy

A scenic view of Positano with colorful buildings cascading down the hillside towards the beach and a cerulean sea dotted with boats, under a clear blue sky.

Lovely cliffside Positano is a dream straight out of a watercolor postcard. With its seaside location, colorful terraced homes spilling down the cliff, and delicious fresh local produce, you’ll feel as though you really have escaped into a fairytale here. 

Be sure to explore the Piazza dei Mulini to find crafts by local artisans, tiny but charming wine bars, and a truly enchanting view of some of the cliffside terraces. 

Menton, France

The pastel-colored buildings of Menton on the French Riviera, with the Basilica of Saint-Michel Archange standing tall above the seafront.

A true gem in the crown of the French Riviera, Menton, nestled just on the Franco-Italian border, is a city of contrasts–small, yet capacious in its scope for activity; ancient, yet modern; cosmopolitan, with an Old World charm.

Walking through the slim winding streets past gardens with streamers of flowers spilling over their fence railings makes you realize this is one of those fairytale places that really exist!

Menton is known for being the home of the Menton lemon, so you must spend at least one delightful afternoon seeking out every lemon dish you can find and transporting yourself to a heady, citrus-scented foodie heaven.

But also spend time strolling the dreamy beachside promenade and enjoying the terrace cafés there.

Sibiu, Romania

Sunset over Sibiu's main square, with pastel-colored buildings and a patterned cobblestone plaza, reflecting the rich heritage and tranquil ambiance.

Dracula who? While Transylvanian Sibiu is located in the region where Stoker’s mopey vampire was said to live, this modern city with a fairytale-esque historic center couldn’t be further from the image of moody, isolated Gothic horror. 

Head right into the heart of the city to admire the candy-colored buildings, many of which have medieval “eye” gables that make the structures look whimsically alive.

Don’t forget, too, to visit the Podul Minciunilor, also known as the Bridge of Lies–in the springtime, this flower-festooned bridge is a charming photographic opportunity and features some stunning views, but mind your tongue as you cross it; legend says that lies told on this bridge will make its very foundations shake! Now, that’s right out of a Grimm’s anthology.

For even better views and no risk of quaking architecture, should you tell a fib, head up the Stairs Tower for a birds-eye experience of Sibiu. And if you’d rather keep your feet firmly on the ground, the Great Square is dotted with lovely little restaurants for you to sit and enjoy a meal or coffee in.

Cinque Terre, Italy

Colorful stacked houses clinging to the rugged cliffs of Cinque Terre overlooking the Ligurian Sea, highlighting the dense urban landscape.

The coastline of the Italian Riviera, with an average of 300 days of sunshine a year and a reputation for some of the best seafood in the world, is a real little paradise on earth.

The charming fishing villages of the Cinque Terre are the gem in the crown of this dreamy coastal escape, featuring tumbling terraces of colorful cliffside homes, gorgeous beach promenades, and seawater in an array of unreal blue shades from cobalt to aqua.

It may be hard to believe that fairytale places like this really exist, but spend one hour daydreaming here, and you’ll not only believe, you’ll never want to leave!

Read More: 9 Cinque Terre Beaches You’ll Want to Know About 🏝️

Quedlinburg, Germany

Historic half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets in Quedlinburg, Germany, adorned with green ivy and bright red flowers under a sunny sky.

Saxon Quedlinburg is the quintessential German fairytale town, with a city center that seems pulled straight from the illuminated pages of old manuscripts.

From the architecture–the city boasts around 2000 characteristically German half-timbered houses scattered amongst her cobbled streets–to the hilltop Church of St. Servatius, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another world entirely.

While there are modern touches, much of Quedlinburg is still rooted in her medieval past, making it one of the best fairytale places in Europe.

Get lost roaming the picturesque crooked streets, stop for drinks at a café terrace, and eventually, make your way up Schlossburg for a breathtaking rooftop view of Quedlinburg at sunset.

Giethoorn, The Netherlands

Twilight descends on Giethoorn, the Netherlands, known as 'Dutch Venice', with thatched-roof houses beside the tranquil waterways.

Giethoorn is known as the Venice of the Netherlands, so as you can imagine, renting a car is not going to do you much good in getting around in this little thatched-roof fairytale paradise.

You can walk, or you can cycle, but why do either of those when you can just… sail? In your own wee boat? Because this is an option. You can also have someone sail you around if that’s more your speed.

In spring and summer, Giethoorn’s charming paths, bridges, and canals are lined with vibrant greenery and fragrant flowers.

On a sunny day, idly sailing through the village, being able to moor your boat and grab a beer canalside… it’s all the most perfectly fairytale experience you could ask for.

Füssen, Germany

Winter view of Hohenschwangau with Neuschwanstein Castle in the background, nestled in the snowy Bavarian Alps near Füssen, Germany.

Füssen, surrounded by mountains and castles, is the southern anchor of Germany’s Romantic Road–and romance is a staple in many a fairytale, is it not? It’s where the famous Neuschwanstein Castle is located.

In the springtime, Füssen is in full, green-grass, blue-sky bloom. Stroll the charming cobbled streets of her Old Town, with pastel buildings lined up like pretty toy soldiers.

Or visit a grocery store to grab a few supplies and go have a casual picnic in the lovely expanse of the Baumgarten, where stunning mountain views and winding paths will enchant you no end. 

Winter is not to be discounted in Füssen, either. Fans of ‘Frozen’ will be right at home amongst snow-topped mountains, frost-tipped trees, and the stunning clarity of the River Lech. This can absolutely be where your best winter wonderland fairytale dreams can come true!

Read More: How to Take a Day Trip to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich 🏰

Grindelwald, Switzerland

Panoramic view of Grindelwald, Switzerland, showcasing traditional Swiss houses amid verdant fields with the Eiger mountain in the distance.

Alpine Grindelwald is nestled in a glacial mountain valley in the Interlaken-Oberhasli district of Switzerland. Every time you step outside, you’ll see the snow-dusted mountaintops looming over you like gentle and craggy fairytale giants.

Known as a gateway for hikers and skiers–there are several resorts in Grindelwald’s immediate vicinity, and in the springtime, mountain paths are ripe for exploration–the village, one of the largest in the region but with a cozy small-town feel and classic Swiss styling, makes you feel like you could find Snow White around any corner, any minute.

For a dreamy fairytale experience, canoodle over a delicious pot of Swiss fondue in one of Grindelwald’s several restaurants, hike around and admire the beautiful clear lakes, and take the gondola up the mountain, watching the majestic views of the valley spreading beneath your feet.  


Where should you travel next?

Bled, Slovenia

Aerial view of Lake Bled with its iconic island church surrounded by lush greenery and the Julian Alps in the background.

Of all the fairytale villages in Europe, Slovenia’s Bled may rank amongst the best. Located on the shore of a beautiful glacial lake with a literal castle rising imperiously over it at one end and a Pinterest-popular island that’s home to a tiny chapel of the Magdalene with a wishing bell at the other, Bled couldn’t be more of a storybook idyll if it tried!

The best thing is that the castle isn’t just for show–it is a museum and a restaurant, and it has wine tastings available from the castle’s own wine cellar.

One lovely afternoon can be spent taking a horse-drawn carriage up to the castle, enjoying the spectacular views, and then having dinner on the restaurant’s terrace overlooking the lake.

Strasbourg, France

Twilight reflections on the water in Strasbourg's La Petite France district, with traditional Alsatian half-timbered houses and vibrant window boxes.

Situated very near the French-German border, Alsatian Strasbourg is a modern city with a storied past, a blended culture, and a fairytale heart. Roam the city center, and you’ll find a strangely appealing architectural mixture of German half-timbers and French wrought iron, as well as the delicious French-German influenced Alsatian cuisine–just two of the many instances of the cultural mish-mash that is the foundation of the region.

Old Strasbourg is full of winding little streets crammed with café tables, lovely old buildings, grocers with fresh produce spilling from display boxes, and, as a centerpiece, the stunning Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg.

As you marvel at the magnificently intricate stonework and the towering spires piercing the Strasbourg sky, imagine how many people must have bowed their heads within its walls; the cathedral’s construction began in the 11th century. 

Reine, Norway

Panoramic view of Reine, Norway, showcasing majestic mountains surrounding a serene fjord with a small fishing village nestled at its shore, under a twilight sky.

Norway’s Lofoten Islands are the stuff of perfect picture postcards. From the red-painted rorbuer (fisherman’s cabins) at the water’s edge to the craggy mountains rising majestically overhead, it doesn’t at all seem real, making it one of the most perfectly fairytale places in Europe.

Reine is the crown jewel of the islands, with strings of rorbuer dotting her picturesque coastline, the smallish but perfectly situated for an amazing view mountain of Reinebringen, and one of the best chances to see the Northern Lights dancing in the sky from September to April. 

Riquewihr, France

View through an arch of timbered colorful homes.

Located about an hour south of Strasbourg, the small town of Riquewihr is another lovely Alsatian escape. Known as a home to some amazing Riesling wine, this little fairytale village in Europe is a dream of tiny crooked streets lined with 16th-century architecture.

Get lost in Riquewihr’s many nooks and crannies–that alone is a delightful way to spend a day–and should you go in the spring, find yourself enchanted by the tumbling creeper vines and colorful flowers adorning the many iron balconies and stone walls. It does not get much more fairytale than that!

Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt, Austria, during autumn, with historic buildings reflected in the lake's clear waters and vibrant foliage on the Dachstein mountains.

You’ve almost certainly seen the picturesque lakeside view of Hallstatt on many a postcard, in jigsaw picture puzzles, and on Pinterest mood boards. And for good reason!

In winter, the surrounding mountains are white-topped and reflect silvery moonlight over the blue hues of a wintry European evening, making it one of the most breathtaking fairytale towns in Europe.

In spring and summer, the now-green mountains will absolutely have you singing songs from a movie musical–and you know the one I mean.

Hallstatt is a lovely but tiny little town, best visited in an off-peak season when you can better enjoy the true fairytale nature of it with a bit more in the way of peace and quiet.

But whenever you go, be sure to take the funicular up to Salzwelten for views that will make your dreams sweet and charming for weeks after your visit.

Éze, France

The medieval village of Èze perched on a rocky hilltop on the French Riviera, with its ochre buildings and church against a backdrop of blue sky.

Between Monaco and Nice, perched atop a hillside overlooking the stunning blue depths of the Mediterranean Sea, rests the charming medieval village of Éze.

To arrive here is to step back in time, from the ivy clinging to ancient stone walls to the glossy painted arched window shutters and the wrought-iron gates and lamps… the fairytale here practically writes itself.

There are many lovely little cafés in Éze to refresh yourself in, greenery-festooned courtyards for sitting and dreaming, and views straight out of a centuries-old painting. Come here for a perfect fairytale escape in Europe!

Alberobello, Italy

Traditional trulli houses in Alberobello with their distinctive conical roofs, white walls, and paved streets under clear blue skies.

Unique among these fairytale cities of Europe is Alberobello–the ancient signature architecture here is no less striking than in Éze, Bled, and Cinque Terre, but it’s completely unique!

Alberobello is home to hundreds of trulli, single-story conical houses built out of dry stone, and it’s truly one of the best fairytale towns in Europe.

The pointed roofs of these peculiarly attractive structures are made of stone slabs laid so intricately it looks like straw thatching from a distance! Many of the roofs include paler stone laid in pictograms, adding to the picture-perfect interest. 

Besides the Trulli, Alberobello is home to delicious Puglian cuisine and beautiful postcard views. The fairytale here is an unusual and charming one that you’ll carry with you for a very long time.

Final Thoughts: Fairytale cities in Europe

The fairytale towns of Europe will truly enchant you, from seasides to mountaintops, from canals to conical houses.

The hardest part will be choosing which one to visit first! But wherever you go, it will be a destination straight from your most magical dreams.

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