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Most Charming Small Towns in Europe

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Take a trip around the Europe, where you’ll discover some of the most picturesque countryside, serene waters and beautiful towns in the world. Find out the most charming small towns in Europe.

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Saint-Paul de Vence, Provence

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Panoramic view of Saint-Paul de Vence

Make the most of your time in port in Monaco with an excursion along the famous Côte d’Azur. From Monaco to Cannes, the trip will show you the glamorous towns of the French Riviera and stunning views of the Mediterranean coast. Let your journey take you in the colorful flower market in Nice, the splendid countryside of Saint-Paul de Vence and the designer shops of Cannes.

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Another Panoramic view of Saint-Paul de Vence

Medieval walls encircle narrow streets and capture the heritage of more than a thousand years. Picking out the marks of history, either alone or with a guide, is to enter into the soul of Saint-Paul de Vence.

Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Small Towns Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Saint Paul de Vence 2Place de la Grande Fontaine

Saint-Paul de Vence is the second-most visited village in France. With its cobblestone lanes and trendy art galleries, it’s easy to see why the town is so popular. Take time to explore this former haunt of the Impressionist painters.

Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Small Towns Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Saint Paul de Vence 3L’Envol by Fondacaro

Tuscany, Italy

Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Small Towns Most Charming Small Towns in Europe tuscanyTuscany Hills

One of Italy’s most romanticised regions, Tuscany’s rolling hills, varied coastline and postcard-ready towns have long attracted chic Florentines and wealthy Romans, day-trippers and summer residents. The lure of spending time under the Tuscan sun makes it one of the most visited regions in Italy, with nearly 50 million tourists a year. And there is probably not one among them who did not take a moment to dream of living la dolce vita here.

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Charming Town in Tuscany
 

Tuscany is a world unto itself, and exploring its many villages, beaches, forests and vineyards takes time. Florence is the main hub with rail and bus connections to many cities and towns, such as Pisa and Siena, and local trains connect Tuscany’s smaller towns via some of the most scenic routes in the country. Driving from village to village is a fun (albeit very windy) way to cover ground and is often the most alluring way to see hilltop towns like San Gimignano in all their glory. There are also frequent trains to Rome and intercity trains to the rest of Italy and Europe.

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Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France

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Between Biarritz and the Spanish border, the Atlantic fishing village of Saint-Jean-de-Luz combines Basque charm with pleasant, family-friendly beaches on the bay. July and August are the high season here, so if you’d rather avoid the tourist crunch, either book outside of those months or plan to arrive at the beach first thing in the morning.

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Saint-Jean-de-Luz is a fishing port on the Basque coast and now a famous resort, known for its architecture, sandy bay, the quality of the light and the cuisine. The town is located south of Biarritz, on the right bank of the river Nivelle (French for Urdazuri) opposite to Ciboure. The port lies on the estuary just before the river joins the ocean. The summit of Larrun is situated approximately 8 km (5.0 mi) to the south-east of the town. The summit can be reached by the Petit train de la Rhune, which commences from the Col de Saint-Ignace, 10.6 km (6.6 mi) to the east of the town on the D4 road to Sare. It is in the traditional province of Lapurdi of the Basque Country.

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Southern Peloponnese, Greece

Ignore the islands, turn left at Athens and make the journey that defeated Nero across the dramatic Corinth canal, for it is in the Peloponnese that you will find staggering landscapes, soaring mountains and the mythical heart of Greece.

"Southern Peloponnese" Small Towns Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Southern PeloponneseSeaside town of Pylos, southern Greece, showing also the gulf of Navarino

The southern Peloponnese is Greece at its unspoilt best, with a rugged, cove-pocked coast and tumbledown ancient ruins, its stone houses rendered a starched white against brilliant blue skies. Old men shoot the breeze over baklava in their local kafeneon, while widows decked in black lug home armfuls of fresh fruit and vegetables from the market for supper.

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Ethan Hauke and Julie Delpy at Before Midnight filmed in the Southern Peloponnese

The area is largely ignored by tourists, who flock to the islands, though that could all be about to change. Last month saw the release of Before Midnight, the third film in Richard Linklater’s romantic trilogy, which is putting this little-known corner of the Mediterranean firmly on the map.

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Monemvasia

Fill your lungs with the scent of olives, oranges, cypresses and history. The cast of ancient characters is a classicist’s dream – Clytemnestra’s murderous welcome of Agamemnon returning home to Mycenae from the Trojan War; Nestor’s Palace at Pylos, from which Odysseus’s son set out in search of his father; the inspiration for the river Styx and the entrance to Hades. And you don’t have to own a well-thumbed Thucydides to feel a thrill driving through the once-mighty city states of Corinth and Sparta.

Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Small Towns Most Charming Small Towns in Europe MonemvasiaMonemvasia

But it’s not all about the ancients: the Peloponnese today is an unspoilt patchwork of dizzying mountains, deep gorges, green valleys and wild flower meadows. The further south you get, the fresher the air, the more splendid the isolation. Go before the blistering August temperatures nudge 40C.

Cinque Terre, Italy

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Strung along 18km of serrated cliffs between Levanto and La Spezia, the Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s treasures. These five higgledy-piggledy villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore – are cut off by mountains choked with olive groves and dry-stone-walled vineyards, where farmers have eked out a living over the centuries.

Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Small Towns Most Charming Small Towns in Europe cinque terreCinque Terre

The Cinque Terre became a Unesco World Heritage site in 1997, which includes a protected marine area, and became a national park (Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre) in 1999. Wine growers still use monorail mechanisms to ferry themselves up and the grapes down these unique lands, and in some cases have to harvest by boat. If the terraced hillsides are not worked, they will quite literally slide into the sea.

Fornells, Menorca

Fornells is like a pearl nested into the virginal north coast of Menorca. A truly beautiful harbour that surprises all those who visit it.

Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Small Towns Most Charming Small Towns in Europe fornellsPort at Es Fornells

This traditional town of fishermen has become a major reference thanks to its outstanding fish restaurants and an unparalleled variety of nautical sports that can be practiced in the shelter of its bay. In their white-washed houses, the inhabitants of Fornells have always kept a calm life of respect with nature. This spirit persists nowadays. Here we live far from the large from large hotel complexes and those who visit us soon will soon recognise the affection that is felt for this authentic place.

Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Small Towns Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Fornells 2Bay of Fornells

The second colour of Fornells after white is blue – you will find it in the calm and crystalline waters of its harbour. It is not in vain that the area extending from the port to Cap Gros and until Punta des Morter has been officially declared as ‘Marine Reservation Area’.

Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Small Towns Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Fornells 3Fornells Tower

The bay of Fornells contains four pretty virgin coves and three small islands in which the ‘S’argantana Balear’ – an endemic species of lizard – can be found. The coves and islands can only be reached by boat. The salt mines that can be found in the shallow waters at the end of the bay come to complete this top-notch ecological and landscape setting.

Bamberg, Germany

A centre of imperial and episcopal power for almost 1,000 years, Bamberg stands on seven hills, surrounded by the beautiful landscapes of Franconia.

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Bamberg

The town was founded by Emperor Heinrich II (died 1024), who made Bamberg the centre of the Holy Roman Empire and the capital of his reign. It boasts many outstanding buildings, such as the cathedral, the old town hall, the new palace and St. Michael’s Abbey. Adding to the romantic atmosphere evident at every turn is the river Regnitz with its many pretty bridges.

Most Charming Small Towns in Europe Small Towns Most Charming Small Towns in Europe bamberg germany 2Baroque Town of Bamberg

Bamberg is now essentially a baroque town, but has retained its medieval structures. Virtually unscathed by wars, Bamberg is today the largest old town ensemble in Germany. It is also avibrant cultural centre, appealing to visitors on many levels. The mixture of authentic architectural heritage, the surviving medieval town structure and the way that town, river and surrounding country side blend into a harmoniouswhole make Bamberg a worthy World Heritage site.

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See Also: Top 10 European Travel Destinations for 2013

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