The richness of European culture and landscape is unique. From north to south, climates and architecture evolve, promising a change of scenery in just a few hours by plane. It is, indeed, rather simple to envisage a tour of Europe thanks to the reasonable size of its territory and the different means of transport that serve the major cities. Many of you have no doubt already visited several European capitals: Rome, Paris, London or Berlin are well known to travellers, but what about the small villages that often contain the soul of a country? It is the latter, off the beaten track, that we highlight here. These are the 20 most beautiful villages in Europe
Scilla, fall down!
About twenty kilometres from Reggio Calabria, in the south of Italy, the village of Scilla is a real postcard. You surely know the proverb "fall from Charybdis into Scylla", referring to the monsters that terrorized the sailors on either side of the Strait of Messina. The fishermen's houses in the Chianalea district leading to the port are very picturesque. One thing's for sure, Italy hasn't finished charming us! In fact, we had already revealed our 10 favourite villages on the peninsula.
Klima, treasure of the Cyclades
Charming village in the Greek archipelago of the Cyclades, Klima combines natural and historical richness. Indeed, its past was particularly prosperous during the archaic and classical periods, when the village made its own silver coins and created its own alphabet! Even today you can still admire the amphitheatre that bears witness to the golden age of Klima, next to a quiet fishing port and many multicoloured houses
Southwold, in the heart of Suffolk
Among the most beautiful villages in England, Southwold holds a special place. This seaside resort where George Orwell owned a family home is perched on top of high cliffs. Its town centre is a small nugget where Georgian architecture and small craft shops are lined up. Its fine sandy beaches bordered by colourful cabins form an exceptional setting of natural elegance.
Monsaraz, a fortified village
In the Alentejo region of Portugal, Monsaraz dominates the Guadiana valley. A fortified village, reputed to be impregnable, it is now known for two annual events: the classical music festival in July and the Nossa Senhora dos Passos festivities at the beginning of September. Outside these periods when the village is very busy, the atmosphere is calm and soothing and one enjoys strolling through its charming maze of white alleys
Triberg im Schwarzwald, in the land of cuckoos
This village in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, is known for its cuckoo crafts. If you love these clocks, the many shops on the main street will excite you. On the nature side, Triberg im Schwarzwald is home to the highest waterfalls in Germany. The water falls more than 183 m high and lulls the village with a soothing sound all year round. Hiking trails allow you to enjoy the show
Eguisheim, cradle of the Alsatian vineyard
In the Great East of France, Eguisheim is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Alsatian villages. With its half-timbered houses, its central castle and the flowers that cover it in spring, it is a real postcard of Eastern France. Eguisheim is known for its grands crus, notably Eichberg and Pfersigberg, which often earned it its reputation as the cradle of the Alsatian vineyard. Eguisheim attracts many visitors every year
Hallstatt, the call of the mountain
In Austria, in the Salzkammergut region, Hallstatt is worth a visit. This mountain village, bordered by the Hallstattsee, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to its magnificent mountain landscape, Hallstatt is home to a natural curiosity that attracts many visitors: the Dachstein Caves. If the Dachstein massif is already known to skiers, these caves shaped by nature are worth discovering
Hellesylt, in the land of the fjords
Its proximity to Geiranger Fjord means that it is visited by many tourists every year. Hellesylt deserves more than just a stopover to see the fjords, it is a real gem set in the mountains. A typically Norwegian village, under threat from the overhanging Åkerneset mountain, Hellesylt was a popular destination for the European aristocracy. Ibsen himself stayed there in 1862
Valldemossa, an artistic town
Situated at 400 m above sea level on the Spanish island of Mallorca, Valldemossa is a quiet village where George Sand and Frederic Chopin, among others, came to spend the winter of 1839 on holiday. We still visit the Carthusian monastery of Valldemossa, a former monastery inhabited by the Carthusian monks until 1835, and the cells in which the writer and composer lived. A stop away from the beaches and summer crowds in the Balearic Islands
Piana, close to the calanche
In South Corsica, you will find one of the most beautiful villages in France: Piana. How not to be charmed by this wild beauty where the famous calanche are cut out? These natural sculptures with their strange, almost surrealist forms give the village all its splendour, especially when the sun sets and the stone glows red. We had already revealed our 10 favourite villages in Corsica in a previous article
Giethoorn, nature destination
In the Netherlands too, it is nice to get off the beaten track and not limit yourself to the usual stays in Amsterdam or Rotterdam. The village of Giethoorn, in the province of Overijseel, for example, is worth a visit. Only 1h30 north of the Dutch capital, this village is a small "Venice of the North" totally pedestrian. Here you can walk, cycle or take a boat trip. Along the canals and thatched houses, Giethoorn is ideal for a romantic getaway.
Smögen, a great escape in Sweden
Smögen is a pretty fishing village in Gothenburg, Sweden. It's accessed by a bridge from Kungshamn. The décor on arrival is sumptuous: grey rocks polished by the sea contrast with the blue sky and the houses with red roofs. In the summer, the village becomes the destination for partygoers who come to enjoy the terraces in front of the sea. Prefer the off-season if you want to enjoy its tranquility
Gruyères, stopover in French-speaking Switzerland
Here is a village whose name you probably already know: Gruyères owes its fame to the cheese born in its mountains, of course, but not only! You will also have to rely on its geraniums and accordions which are part of the local folklore. Entirely pedestrian, Gruyères is an old medieval town with a certain charm. On its heights, the castle of the Counts of Gruyères, which dates back to the 13th century, watches over the town
Mošćenička Draga, between sea and pine forest
Even though tourism has developed rapidly, Croatia still has some beautiful villages to discover, Mošćenička Draga is proof of this. Located in the Gulf of Kvaner, this small medieval port clinging to the sides of a hill that flows into the blue waters of the sea seduces us. The architecture has adapted perfectly to the natural constraints, forming a beautiful setting. During the summer period, its pebble beaches are very popular with tourists
Mdina, Maltese jewel
Mdina was used as the setting for King's Landing in Games of Thrones, and it is understandable why since this small town, whose architecture has remained unchanged since its reconstruction in 1693, is of unparalleled beauty. The white stone of the buildings dazzles visitors on summer days, and all around the town vineyards produce good wine. Former capital of Malta, Mdina enjoys a rich past that can be discovered in its alleys, especially thanks to the many tourist attractions such as "Medieval Times" or "The knights of Malta"
Civita di Bagnoregio, a hilltop city
North of Rome, in the province of Viterbo, Civita di Bagnoregio is worth a visit. Founded by the Etruscans more than 2,500 years ago, the village is constantly threatened by erosion, especially the hamlet in its upper part called Civita, so much so that it is often called il paese che muore (the village that dies). Although it has very few year-round inhabitants, Civita is nevertheless very popular with tourists. It is reached by a long footbridge from Bagnoreggio.
Hollókő, a museum village
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hollókő, in the north-east of Hungary, is a village museum where you can discover 55 small traditional houses (some can be visited) grouped around a church. The inhabitants of the village stand out as the guardians of a precious Palóc folklore and during the most touristy seasons you can discover their colourful and flowery costumes. Much visited, Hollókő nevertheless keeps an undeniable cachet.
Cong, between two waters
In Ireland, the village of Cong rises between two lakes: Lough Mask and Lough Corrib, which mark the separation between County Galway and County Mayo. Among the monuments of interest is a labyrinthine Augustinian abbey from the 12th century, whose imposing ruins can be visited. Note that the precious Croix de Cong, which arrived in Ireland from Rome in the 12th century, is not in the village but in Dublin, in the prestigious National Museum
Svaneke, on the Baltic Sea coast
This Danish fishing village is often regarded as the most beautiful on the island of Bornholm, if not in the whole of Denmark. Bordered by the Baltic Sea, Svaneke is home to beautiful, colourful half-timbered houses and many green spaces. It is very pleasant to get lost in its winding streets to discover a fish smoker or the various artists' studios. The atmosphere is soothing, very hygienic as the Danes like to say
Inari, in the land of happiness
Finland has been voted the country of happiness in both 2018 and 2019! So let's take inspiration from his landscapes on our way to Inari in Lapland. Lake Inarijärvi, 100 km long, is one of Finland's largest lakes and is dotted with more than 3,000 islands. From Inari, cruises on the lake are organized. But this is not the only reason to stay in the village, its Sami museum and nature centre which offers a complete panorama of Sami culture is also very interesting.