Almost every person we know dreams of visiting famous big cities, which 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 places 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.
Let’s explore hidden little gems of Europe.
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 makes such a romantic destination. You will love its graceful and picturesque architecture and canals — very Instagrammable.
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 it in the springtime if you’d love to experience beautiful Bruges being less crowded or in the summer because of warmer weather but it will be more crowded.
Canals of Bruges
Colorful Houses of Bruges
Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
Český Krumlov is one of the best small cities in Europe and the best one 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 the 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 make the city even more special and ads more to its fairy-tale feel. Visit this amazing city in your own favorite season — you can’t make a wrong choice.
Rooftops of Český Krumlov
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 a Romanesque tower, drawbridge, and moat sit 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 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
Lake Bled at Night
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, all that surrounded with blue skies and sea looks perfect. The island’s largest settlement is the medieval town of Chora, set on a high cliff above the sea and it’s a perfect place to wander around.
There are a lot of amazing beaches that you go can exploring. All of them are easily accessible by a 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.
© Kostas Limitsios
Vicenza is a smaller Italian ancient city with a familiar architecture — you’ve seen it if you’ve been in North Italy. It’s set between Verona and Venice, so there’s a lot to enjoy 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, Teatro Olimpico that is a theatre like no other, and of course The Corso Andrea Palladio.
As you may notice the whole city is 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.
On the Hallstatter Lake, surrounded by the gorgeous Salzkammergut Mountains lies one of the most charming Austrian towns — Hallstatt. Once only accessible by a boat or mountain trail, today it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Austria 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 gorgeous churches. Everything is just so picturesque — especially in spring and summer when everything around it gets green.
Hallstatt Market Square
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 best 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 the fairy-tale land — its medieval buildings look almost 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 must see Plönlein (“Little Square”) — the most picturesque spot in the town, but it’s 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 is known for its extraordinary Christmas market, so the best time for visiting this gorgeous German city is definitely December.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Plönlein
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
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! There are so many things to see inside the walls of this little historic town, besides the Dracula’s home.
Some of the best landmarks are surely its Clock Tower (Turnul cu Ceas), 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 it’s 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
If you loved Amsterdam and all of the cool things that you read about it in one of our blog posts, but it felt a little bit too crowded, we recommend visiting a smaller but just as beautiful Delft. It’s one very charming city, with recognizable canals that you can cruise through, Renaissance architecture, and, of course, some nice cafes 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 after him. You must climb its magnificent tower and enjoy the view — on a clear day you can even see Rotterdam and Hague. Visit the Market Square and check out the amazing City Hall (Stadhuis van Delft), but be sure to also visit the square on the market day and enjoy the delicious things you’ll find there. We loved 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
Delft City Hall
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 that is the mixture of French and German cuisine, and for 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 the 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 the spring, when the streets are lined with flower pots, but also in the winter when you can enjoy its amazing Christmas market — it’s a perfect destination for every time of the year.
Christmas in Colmar
If you’re looking for a great, smaller European destination, we’re sure you’ll find it among the cities on our list. All of these have their special vibe that you’ll love — you just cannot make the wrong choice.