Paris, Rome, Barcelona, and other European cities are on many people’s bucket list, and with good reason. However, the continent’s tiny towns are also a dream, boasting all of the gorgeous architecture and much of the culture found in the continent’s large cities, but with far fewer people to enjoy them with than the big cities.
- Giethoorn is a town in the Netherlands.
Here are some of Europe’s most picturesque tiny towns, ranging from sleepy fishing villages to fortified hilltop fortresses from the Middle Ages.
Giethoorn is often referred to as the Dutch equivalent to Venice, but it lacks one important characteristic that the Italian city possesses in abundance: overtourism. Similarly to Venice, life is centred on the water in this town — there are no automobiles allowed in the centre, thus the only way to move around is on foot or by watercraft.
Take a boat excursion of the islands, which are dotted with thatched homes and peat bogs. Hungry? Make a pit stop at the Michelin-starred Hollands-Venetia restaurant.
- Guimares is a city in Portugal.
Guimares has played an important role in Portuguese history since it was designated as the country’s first capital in the 12th century. Its mediaeval core has remained largely intact, and it is full of convents, grand old palaces, and a crumbling castle perched on top of a bluff overlooking the city below.
Local bakers create excellent pastel de nata, as they do across Portugal, but you should try the torta di Guimares, which is a pastry filled with squash and crushed almonds that is unique to this region.
- Roscoff, France is a port city.
Port cities can be shabby and run-down. However, not the charming town of Roscoff in France’s Brittany area, which made its riches from marine commerce, especially the sale of its famed pink onions to the United Kingdom.
In today’s world, it’s known as a thalassotherapy facility, which uses seawater to cure medical issues, as well as a picturesque Breton village. Tiny fishing boats bob in the little harbour, which is connected to a bigger harbour where ferries depart for Plymouth in the United Kingdom, which is further out.
- Anghiari is a city in Italy.
Anghiari, perched on a mountainside near the Tuscan-Umbrian border, is a joy — a little walled town that wraps itself about itself as it clings to the surrounding scenery.
As a pedestrian-only zone, it is a maze of passageways and roller-coaster streets, densely packed with majestic palazzi that were erected by the enigmatic, mercenary “men of arms” who resided here during the Renaissance period.
Visit the Museum della Battaglia di Anghiari, which tells the narrative of a pivotal mediaeval battle that took place on the plains outside the town, to learn more about these warriors.
- Nafplio is a city in Greece.
With its Venetian-built castle protruding into the lake (in fact, there are three castles to see here) and a charming Old Town spooling out behind the old walls, Nafplio is one of the most beautiful cities in the Peloponnese.
Because it was the first capital of modern Greece, there is a plethora of things to see and do. If you want to take a safe plunge in the water, there’s a lido, and if you’re more interested in history, the archaeological museum has relics going back to the Mycenean period.
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