When it comes to city breaks, most people tend to visit the largest cities. However, they are often too crowded and that can ruin your perfectly planned trip. That’s why it’s a good idea to visit a smaller city that gives you a more intimate, relaxed, and unique experience and time to explore a place in peace. There are a lot of cities like this worth mentioning if you’re into exploring Europe, but this time we bring you the 10 most beautiful small cities in Europe that you will love for sure.
Before we start, be sure to check out our Cultural Places platform and discover the amazing tours that will help you explore your destinations at your own pace.
But now, let’s get started to explore hidden little gems of Europe.
1. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges is a smaller Belgian city but a very popular tourist destination. It’s so gorgeous it’ll take your breath away — with its medieval architecture, small houses, canals, gorgeous palaces, and chapels, this small city is such a romantic destination. You will love its graceful and picturesque architecture and canals — very instagrammable for sure.
Check out its amazing 13th-century belfry — you have to climb 336 steps to enjoy the view, but it’s worth it! You should visit Bruges in springtime if you’d love to experience beautiful Bruges being less crowded or in the summer because of the warmer weather. But be careful, it will definitely be more crowded then.
Colorful Houses of Bruges
2. Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
Český Krumlov is one of the very best small cities in the Czech Republic. It’s a fairy-tale city, filled with medieval churches and castles, that will make you forget that you are in the 21st century. Its castle complex is the second largest one in the country, right after Prague Castle, and it is just as amazing and impressive. You will get lost in the perfect cobblestoned streets and tall imposing buildings that this charming little town has to offer.
The Vltava River that snakes between these streets makes the city even more special and adds more to its fairy-tale feel. Visit this amazing city during your own favorite season — you can’t make a wrong choice here.
3. Bled, Slovenia
Bled is a small, over 1000 years old city in Slovenia set in the foothills of the Julian Alps and along the glacial Lake Bled. The amazingly looking Bled Castle with its Romanesque tower, drawbridge, and moat sits on a huge rock above the lake. Be sure to climb up to it and enjoy the view over the lake. There is a tiny island with a church in the middle of the lake — kind of an idyllical place to get married, right? The legend says that if a groom could carry his bride up the church’s 99 steps and ring the bell, the marriage would be a happy one.
Lake Bled looks magical in all seasons, so you can go whenever you want. But if you want to avoid crowds it’s best not to visit in the high season which starts in mid-June.
Magical Lake Bled
4. Folegandros, Greece
Folegandros is a rocky Greek island with architecture similar to the one you’ve seen on its popular neighbor Santorini — whitewashed buildings decorated with nice flowers, streets paved in slates, and Orthodox churches with blue domes. The surrounding blue skies and the view over the sea make this places truly magnificent and picturesque. The island’s largest settlement is the medieval town of Chora, set on a high cliff above the sea. The cute city center invites you to go on extensive strolls and to get lost in the narrow streets and small shops.
There are also a lot of amazing beaches that you can explore. All of them are easily accessible by bus, boat, or foot. The island is perfect for a summer vacation and you’ll dodge crowds since it’s not one of the most popular Greek islands.
The medieval town Chora in Folegandros, Greece
5. Vicenza, Italy
Vicenza is a smaller Italian ancient city with architecture that might seem familiar to you if you have been to Northern Italy already. It’s set between Verona and Venice, so there’s a lot to explore while you’re staying in this region. In Vicenza itself, there are some amazing landmarks that you’ll enjoy for sure. Some of those are Basilica Palladiana and Museo Palladiano set in the very city center. Make sure to also check out Teatro Olimpico that is a theatre like no other, and of course The Corso Andrea Palladio.
As you may notice the whole city has been designed by Andrea Palladio and that’s why Vincenza is also known as “the city of Palladio”. There is a lot to do in and around Vicenza, so you’ll enjoy it whenever you visit it.
6. Hallstatt, Austria
On the Hallstätter Lake, surrounded by the gorgeous Salzkammergut mountains, lies one of the most charming Austrian towns — Hallstatt. Once only accessible by boat or mountain trail, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Austria today and — of course — a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s such a small town with so much to offer — amazing cobblestoned streets and squares, 16th-century buildings built in stone and wood, and an adorable shoreline. You must explore its old marketplace and all of those gorgeous buildings that are surrounding it, as well as its stunning churches. The whole city is just so picturesque — especially in spring and summer when everything around it gets green.
7. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a small town in the Franconia region of Bavaria, set on the steep banks of the Tauber River. It is well known for its well-preserved medieval Old Town — one of the most beautiful Old Towns in Germany, and it’s one of the most popular stops on the country’s Romantic Road tourist route. Walking through its cobbled streets feels like stepping into a fairy-tale land — its medieval buildings almost look unreal.
One of the things that you definitely must see in this gorgeous town is its imposing Town Hall (Rathaus) which is one of the finest in southern Germany. Also, you should check out Plönlein (“Little Square”) — the most picturesque spot in town, which is nothing more than an intersection. It’s just a half-timbered building dividing two streets, one of them is going up through one tower, while the other slopes down through another tower.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Plönlein
8. Sighisoara, Romania
A small town in Romania — Sighisoara is known to be one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. This small town, perched on a rocky hill, surrounded by the mountains of Transylvania, is the place where Dracula came from — you can even visit his house! However, there are also so many other things to see inside the walls of this little historic town.
Some of the best landmarks are surely the Clock Tower (Turnul cu Ceas), the majestic Guild Towers, and the fortified Church on the Hill (Biserica din Deal). Be sure to explore the main plaza, called Fortress Square (Piata Cetatii), and the streets of this gorgeous town — you’ll see so many beautiful colorful historic buildings that you will love.
Even though Sighisoara is pretty popular among tourists, it is almost never overcrowded, so you can enjoy it in peace whenever you decide to visit, but the best time is sure when it’s warm outside so you can fully enjoy wandering through its streets.
Beautiful Buildings in Sighisoara, Romania
9. Delft, Netherlands
If you love Amsterdam and all the cool things to do there, but it feels a little bit too crowded for you, we recommend visiting smaller, but just as beautiful Delft. It’s a very charming city, with recognizable canals that you can cruise through, Renaissance architecture, and, of course, some nice cafés where you can enjoy a break after a long walk.
One of the best things to see in Delft is definitely its cathedral, Nieuwe Kerk, where the father of The Netherlands “William of Orange” is buried, as well as all royals succeeding him. You must climb its magnificent tower and enjoy the view — on a clear day you can even see Rotterdam and The Hague. Visit the Market Square and check out the amazing City Hall (Stadhuis van Delft), but be sure to also visit the square on a market day and enjoy the delicious things you’ll find there. We love Delft in the summertime, but it has one pretty amazing Christmas market, so don’t hesitate to visit it in December as well.
Streets and Canals of Delft
10. Colmar, France
Colmar is a charming little city, nestled on the Ill and La Lauch river, in the Alsace region of France. With its small, half-timbered houses and flowerpots everywhere, it looks like a fairy-tale village. Colmar is known for its great food, a blend of French and German cuisine, and great wines — it’s the capital of Alsatian wine.
Colmar’s Old Towns is fabulous and one of the cutest and most picturesque old towns we’ve ever visited. One of the most amazing things to see there is definitely the Colmar Cathedral — St. Martin’s Church (or Collegiale Saint-Martin) with its impressive spire that can be seen from all around town. Also, be sure to check out the Pfister House — an old merchant house with an amazing wooden gallery, the House of Heads with 111 sculptures of heads, and the Customs House (or Koifhus) that was once the center of business and politics.
Colmar is fabulous in spring, when the streets are lined with flower pots, but also in winter when you can enjoy its amazing Christmas market — it’s a perfect destination for every time of the year.
If you’re looking for sweet small cities in Europe, we’re sure you’ll find one among the cities on our list. All of these have their special vibe that you’ll love — you simply can’t make a wrong choice here.