Have you ever dreamed of visiting a fairytale town? A place where the houses are made of gingerbread, the streets are paved with gold, and the people are kind and welcoming?
It seems more than a dream, but did you know that there are real-life towns in the world that look like they were plucked straight out of a fairytale?
In this article, we'll jot down a list of 11 fairytale towns sure to make your dreams come true! They don't appear natural; they're too gorgeous, fabulous, and charming.
1. Hamnoy, Norway
Let's begin our journey in Hamnoy, a charming village that could make the most stoic of hearts skip a beat. Nestled on the Lofoten Islands, Hamnoy boasts a palette of colorful wooden houses that dance harmoniously with the picturesque harbor and breathtaking mountain and sea views.
About 50 houses, wearing vibrant hues that rival a rainbow's brilliance, are suspended on stilts over the water, seemingly daring gravity itself. Each house is an artist's stroke, adorned with gardens as colorful as a peacock's feathers. And the harbor—oh, the harbor—it's a theater where fishermen and whales engage in their aquatic ballet.
And when summer takes the stage, the sun performs its 24-hour dance, turning the village into a bustling hive of fishing, hiking, and kayaking enthusiasts.
2. Perast, Montenegro
Perast in Montenegro is like a Venetian love song sung by the sea. The town's architecture whispers of its past, a past intertwined with Venetian influences and tales of seafaring adventures.The historic churches stand like guardians of time, their bells chiming harmoniously with the waves.
As you look out onto the Bay of Kotor, it's easy to feel like you're in a painting—a painting that captures both the elegance of the past and the beauty of the present.
3. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany is like a living pop-up storybook. Its medieval walls and half-timbered houses are characters in a play that unfolds as you meander through its narrow streets.
It's when time decided to slow down and take a stroll. If you listen closely, you might hear the echoes of knights' footsteps and merchants' haggles in the air.
4. Manarola, Italy
As one of Cinque Terre's colorful siblings, Manarola stands out like a gem on a necklace. Perched on cliffs that overlook the Ligurian Sea, it's as if the houses decided to compete to be the most vibrant.
Each building competes to outshine the sun, and the sea plays along, reflecting the kaleidoscope of colors. It's like watching a brilliant sunset on repeat but in architectural form.
In the summer, the village is abuzz with activity. People come from all over the world to hike between the towns, swim in the sea, and enjoy the stunning scenery. In the winter, the village is a quieter place, but it's still beautiful. The snow-capped mountains and the clear blue sea are a sight to behold.
5. Monemvasia, Greece
Monemvasia is the embodiment of history with a touch of drama. Perched on a rocky island, the village clings to the mainland like a secret waiting to be discovered.
It's as if the architects of the old decided to challenge gravity itself. As you walk through its stone streets, it's hard not to imagine merchants and knights walking the same path centuries ago. The sea's whispers only add to the sense of mystery that lingers.
6. Hobbiton, New Zealand
Hobbiton, born from the pages of Tolkien's imagination, welcomes you to the land of hobbits and magic.
The movie set of Hobbiton is located in Matamata, New Zealand. The set was built in the early 2000s for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and has been open to the public since 2012. The set comprises hobbit holes, a village green, and a mill. It's the perfect place to walk, explore the hobbit holes, and pretend you're in the Shire.
The hobbit holes are like a community of cozy secrets, and the lush landscapes give you a glimpse of nature's artistry. It's as if New Zealand decided to gift the world its very own fantasy realm.
7. Giethoorn, The Netherlands
Giethoorn, often called the “Venice of the North,” is a village that knows how to make an entrance. With its charming canals and thatched-roof houses, it's like a postcard that came to life.
The village of Giethoorn is located in the province of Overijssel, in the Netherlands. The village is made up of about 800 houses, and a network of canals connects it. There are no roads in the village, so the only way to get around is by boat or by foot.
The houses seem to have conversations with the water as if sharing secrets only they understand.
8. Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt in Austria is like a symphony composed by nature itself. Set against the majestic Dachstein Alps, the village is a crescendo of beauty.
The town of Hallstatt is located in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. It is built on a lake, and mountains surround it. It's also known for its salt mines, which have operated for over 7,000 years.
The Hallstätter See reflects the village's charm, as if saying, “Look, even the water wants to capture this moment.”
The alpine air adds a touch of magic, and as you stroll through the village, you'll find yourself in the midst of an enchanting melody, each note crafted by centuries of history.
9. Strasbourg, France.
Strasbourg is a beautiful city in France that is known for its fairytale-like architecture and its Christmas markets. The city is located on the border between France and Germany and has a long history of being a crossroads of cultures.
The city center of Strasbourg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's home to many stunning buildings, including the Strasbourg Cathedral, the Petite France district, and the Rohan Palace.
The Christmas markets in Strasbourg are some of the best in Europe, attracting millions of visitors annually.
10. Dinan, France
Dinan in France invites you to take a leisurely stroll through history. The town's ramparts, cobblestone streets, and half-timbered houses are like a time machine that transports you to a different era.
It's a place where the past and present coexist, where the stories of knights and kings share space with modern-day explorers.
As you explore the town, you'll find yourself walking through layers of time, each step a connection to the tapestry of life.
11. Castle Combe, England: A Time Capsule of Charm
Castle Combe, often hailed as one of England's prettiest villages, is like a forgotten fairytale page come to life. Cobblestone streets lead the way through a land where time dared not tread too harshly.
The village of Castle Combe is located in the Cotswolds, about 100 kilometers west of London. The village has been inhabited since the 11th century, and it has a rich history. The village was once home to a castle, but the castle was destroyed in the 17th century.
The medieval architecture and cozy cottages add to its charm, as if the village is whispering tales of knights and troubadours into the breeze. You half-expect a minstrel to come around the corner, strumming a lute and singing about long-lost loves.
FairyTale Towns To Visit
These villages are more than just places; they are gateways to wonder and imagination.
So, whether you find yourself wandering through the vibrant hues of Hamnoy or sailing along the canals of Giethoorn, remember that these villages are more than meets the eye.
They are reminders that magic exists, and sometimes, all it takes is a step into the unknown to experience it firsthand.
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I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.