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The most charming small towns in Europe

It doesn't always have to be a metropolis: These paradisiacal small towns guarantee wonderful holiday memories.

30 November 2021

Major metropolises tend to be overcrowded and packed with attractions. If you want to take it down a notch and explore something new, put one of the following small European towns on your bucket list.

Visby, Sweden

On the west coast of Gotland lies Visby, probably the best preserved Hanseatic city. With its fifty watchtowers, gates, drawbridges and ramparts, the medieval city gives the impression that it still has to protect its wealth from looters. Within the walls, a labyrinth of alleys and staircases stretches between half-timbered houses, monasteries, churches and merchants' villas. Once a year the inhabitants adapt to their scenery. Then, during the Middle Ages Week, the town fills with monks, craftsmen, knights and merchants. The ideal walking tour connects the worth seeing ruins of twelve Gothic churches, among them the vaulted ribs of Saint Katarina, in whose nave the annual chamber music festival takes place. Accommodation at all price points and a free ferry to the island make Visby an affordable destination.

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Since 2008, NOVI Resort Visby has been located directly north of the city on the coast and is therefore the ideal starting point for all holidaymakers who want to combine exploring the small town with a dose of luxury.

NOVI Resort Visby
NOVI Resort Visby
S:t Göransgatan 31
621 55 Visby
Tel: +46 (0) 498 - 21 91 00

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Vernazza, Italy

Vernazza, on the Ligurian coast in the Cinque Terre, is home to less than 1,000 inhabitants. The old fishing village huddles on a rocky outcrop that lies just above sea level and thus forms a scenic exception to the otherwise steep, rugged coastline. Like a lighthouse, the Belforte, the prominent watchtower of Fort Doria, towers at the top of the promontory. It is open to visitors, who can enjoy a wonderful view of the coast from here. Vernazza itself has two beaches: one facing the sea, the other on the inner harbour lagoon. Various footpaths lead directly along the coast. We recommend the route between Vernazza and Monterosso, where the coastal forest often clears to reveal breathtaking views.

The best option is to stay outside the small town, so that you have the possibility of a little road trip along the coast to Vernazza. The Belmond Splendido Mare Hotel, about 80 kilometres away, offers the ambience of the former retreat for sailors and still lends the guesthouse its nautical charm.

Belmond Splendido Mare
Luxury Hotel in Portofino | Accommodation on the Italian Riviera (
Via Roma 2
16034 Portofino, Genoa, Italy
Tel: +39 0185 2678 02

On a rocky outcrop, Vernazza juts out between the cliffs. © Kirsten Velghe | Unsplash

Colmar, France

In the Alsatian town of Colmar, you know what idyllic looks like: colourful half-timbered houses line the flower-decked canals, and one quarter is even called "Little Venice". A long walk is worthwhile here, which should lead culture lovers to the Unterlinden Museum in the old convent. The huge collection ranges from medieval to contemporary art. The city also has a great cultural heritage: the sculptor Bartholdi, who created the Statue of Liberty in New York, was born here. A twelve-metre high statue can be seen in Colmar. Furthermore, the town lies on the Alsace Wine Route and likes to adorn itself as the wine capital of the region.

The James Boutique Hôtel Colmar centre offers accommodation in the centre of Colmar and is located on the Alsace Wine Route. This boutique hotel offers a contemporary and modern decor style.

 James Boutique Hôtel Colmar centre
15 rue Saint-Eloi
68000 Colmar, France
Tel: +33 3 89 21 93 70

A feast for the eyes by day and by night: Colmar. © Vered Caspi | Unsplash, Evgeni Tcherkasski | Unsplash

Hallstatt, Austria

If you want to explore small towns, you don't have to travel far! Because in the middle of Upper Austria on the western shore of Lake Hallstatt is the charming little town of Hallstatt. It is at its most beautiful in winter, when the snow-covered roofs of the historic buildings are reflected in Lake Hallstatt. Then the numerous winter sports in the region, such as ski hiking and sled dog rides, also attract visitors. If you don't just want to relax in front of a mountain panorama and open fire, you can get active all year round, from diving in the lake to extensive biking and hiking tours through the surrounding countryside to paragliding. Even cultural holidays are possible: the Salzkammergut Hallstatt and Dachstein is a World Heritage Site and can be explored on your own or on guided tours.

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The adults-only Hallstatt Hideaway awaits guests with panoramic views of Lake Hallstatt and the surrounding mountains. Holidaymakers stay in the centre of the market town of Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Only a few steps separate the hotel from the lake shore.

Hallstatt Hideaway - Adults only
Home - Hallstatt HideawayHallstatt Hideaway | Private Suites (
4830 Hallstatt
Tel: +43 699 10483024

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