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Top-19 Fairytale Places in Europe

Top-19 Fairytale Places in Europe

Europe is a treasure trove of fairytale destinations that seem to have come straight from the pages of a storybook. Each place boasts unique charm, breathtaking landscapes, and a rich cultural heritage that captivates the hearts of travelers from all over the world.

If you are looking for some travel inspiration for the most picturesque, fairytale-like places in Europe, you will find plenty of ideas in this article.

From world-famous cities and charming little towns to breathtaking landscapes and lesser-known gems, here are – in random order – some of the most enchanting fairytale destinations in Europe:

1. Sintra, Portugal

Sintra is a picturesque little town built in the lush hills of the Serra de Sintra, just a stone’s throw from Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon. This fairytale town is renowned for its marvelous palaces, mysterious castles, and ornate gardens.

Because of its slightly cooler climate, over the centuries, Sintra has attracted rich Portuguese who built their summer residences here. It is home to more palaces, castles, and mansions than any other place we have ever visited anywhere in the world. And some of them are absolutely breathtaking!

Must-do: Walk on the walls of the medieval Moorish Castle, explore the enchanting gardens of Quinta da Regaleira, and don’t miss the colorful Pena Palace which looks like a real-life Disney castle.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Sintra

Fairytale castle in Sintra Portugal
Pena Place in Sintra.

2. Alsace, France

Alsace in northeast France, with its charming villages and rolling vineyards, is reminiscent of a fairy tale.

The entire region is dotted with towns that are adorned with half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and blooming flowers, providing a picture-perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway.

Must-do: Drive along the famous Alsace Wine Route and visit at least a few of the best towns and villages along the way. Don’t miss Colmar, Strasbourg, Eguisheim, and the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle.

LEARN MORE: Most Beautiful Towns on the Alsace Wine Route

Colmar - fairytale towns in Europe

3. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

The Neuschwanstein Castle high in the Bavarian Alps near Munich, is the epitome of a fairytale castle. When thinking of fairytale destinations in Europe, the image of this hilltop castle is often the first one that comes to mind.

With its towers, turrets, and spires, Neuschwanstein is said to have inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Add to that the breathtaking mountain backdrop and you’ll quickly understand why this castle is such an iconic symbol of fantasy and romance.

Must-do: Spend some time exploring the area admiring the castle from different angles.

Neuschwanstein Castle - fairytale places Europe
Neuschwanstein Castle.

4. Venice, Italy

The “City of Canals”, Venice, needs no introduction. Built on 118 little islands interconnected by over four hundred bridges, the city looks like a place from a fairytale book. No wonder it’s one of the most famous romantic destinations on the planet!

The enchanting canals lined with medieval palazzos and romantic gondolas create a magical atmosphere that feels like a step back in time.

Venice has a super unique, dreamlike feel, but it’s often so busy that it’s difficult to appreciate it. For the best experience, stay in the city for at least one night and explore it without the crowds of daytime tourists!

Must-do: The Grand Canal, St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica and Campanile, Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace, and a gondola ride on the canals.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Venice

Venice Italy - fairytale cities in Europe

5. San Marino

San Marino, one of the world’s smallest and oldest republics, is a hidden gem entirely surrounded by Italy.

Perched on top of Mount Titano, the capital city boasts medieval architecture, narrow winding streets, and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

The charming old town, three iconic towers, and breathtaking panoramas create an otherworldly and magical feel making San Marino a must-visit for anyone looking for the most magical European fairytale destinations.

Must-do: Stroll the medieval streets of Città di San Marino and visit the three towers – Guaita, Cesta, and Montale (aka San Marino Castle). Don’t miss Passo delle Streghe and the views from the cable car!

LEARN MORE: Complete Guide to Visiting San Marino

San Marino fairytale castle
San Marino.

6. Tulip Fields & Gardens in the Netherlands

No list of fairytale-like places in Europe would be complete without mentioning the iconic flower fields in the Netherlands. Come spring, and the country is covered in a colorful carpet of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils.

There are several regions in the Netherlands that are known for their bulb production and tulip fields, but none of them is as famous as the area around Lisse southwest of Amsterdam. In addition to seeing the flower fields, here, you can also visit the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens.

Must-do: Visit Keukenhof Park and explore the surrounding flower fields by bike, car, or even helicopter.

LEARN MORE: How to Visit Lisse Tulip Fields

Fairy tale places in Europe - tulip gardens in the Netherlands
Keukenhof Gardens near Amsterdam.

7. Bruges, Belgium

Often referred to as the “Venice of the North,” Bruges captivates with its medieval architecture, winding cobbled streets, and picturesque canals. Bruges has a truly enchanting atmosphere, making it one of the most charming fairytale towns in Europe.

Back in medieval times, Bruges was the commercial and cultural heart of Europe. The historic center is incredibly well preserved and is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage site.

Must-do: Visit the Market Square, climb the Belfry of Bruges, explore the historic old town on foot, and take a boat trip on the canals.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Bruges

Brugge Belgium - fairytale cities in Europe

8. Lofoten Islands, Norway

The Lofoten Islands are a magical archipelago above the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway. They are best known for their dramatic landscapes and picturesque fishing villages that look like they come straight from fairy tale books.

The rugged beauty of tranquil fjords dotted with traditional rorbuer cabins make this remote archipelago one of the most magical destinations in Europe.

Must-do: Visit the villages of Reine, Hamnøy, Å, and Nusfjord. If you are fit enough, climb the peak of Reinebringen for the most dazzling views you can imagine.

LEARN MORE: Best Places to Visit in Lofoten Islands

Fairytale destinations - Lofoten Islands
Lofoten Islands.

9. Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi Coast is a dreamy stretch of coastline in southern Italy. With its cliffside villages, azure waters, and stunning coastal views, this is another fairytale-like destination that will leave you speechless.

Towns like Positano and Ravello with colorful houses perched between the mountains and the Mediterranean are among the most picturesque destinations in Europe. Whether you are looking for stunning scenery, good food, or a romantic getaway, Amalfi Coast will not disappoint!

Must-do: Visit Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello. Enjoy the spectacular vistas from the Path of the Gods trail. Be sure to take a boat trip along the coast for a different perspective!

LEARN MORE: Tips for Visiting the Amalfi Coast

Positano - a beautiful fairytale town on Amalfi Coast in Italy

10. Gaudí Architecture in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona in Spain is synonymous with the vibrant architecture of Antoni Gaudí.

Some of the most remarkable Gaudí landmarks in Barcelona include the iconic Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Casa Batlló, Casa Milà (La Pedrera), Casa Vicens, and Palau Güell. Outside the city, you can also see the incredible Gaudí Crypt in Colònia Güell.

With elaborate facades and unworldly interiors, his masterpieces transport you into a fairytale world of creativity and imagination.

Must-do: La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló are not to be missed.

LEARN MORE: Best Gaudi Tour in Barcelona

Fairytale-like Park Guell in Barcelona Spark
Park Güell.

11. Giethoorn, the Netherlands

Located in the countryside 1.5 hours drive from Amsterdam, Giethoorn is a quaint little village with canals and footpaths instead of streets. The main mode of transportation here is by boat.

Its thatched-roof houses, charming canals, and peaceful atmosphere create a fairytale-like setting that feels worlds away from modern life. Giethoorn looks so picturesque that some people think it’s not a real town but an open-air museum…

Must-do: Rent a boat and admire this unique village from the water.

READ ALSO: Best Day Trips from Amsterdam

Giethoorn - fairytale village in the Netherlands

12. Mont Saint Michel, France

Mont Saint-Michel is a medieval abbey perched on a rocky island just off the coast of the Normandy region in France. Surrounded by tidal waters and connected to the mainland with a bridge, from a distance it looks like a fairytale castle.

There is something mystical about Mont Saint-Michel that is difficult to put into words. It has a very unique feel, especially if you are lucky to visit here when there are not too many tourists around.

Must-do: Admire the stunning views from a distance and also from the upper terraces of the abbey.

LEARN MORE: How to Visit Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel at sunset - fairytale destinations in Europe
Mont Saint-Michel.

13. Dolomites, Italy

The Italian Dolomites are among the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. With their dramatic peaks, lush valleys, and alpine meadows, Dolomites create a stunning landscape that seems straight out of a fantasy novel.

The region’s scenic beauty, countless hiking possibilities, and a wide variety of outdoor activities make it a haven for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

Must do: Admire the scenery at Val di Funes, Val Gardena, and Lago di Braies. Hike around Tre Cime di Lavaredo and to Lake Sorapis.

LEARN MORE: Top Places to Visit in the Dolomites

Italian Dolomites fairytale scenery
Italian Dolomites.

14. Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, is a city of baroque architecture and rich musical heritage. Landmarks like Hohensalzburg Fortress, Mirabell Palace and Gardens, and Hellbrunn Palace add to the city’s charm making it one of the most fairytale-like cities in Europe.

To many, Salzburg and the surrounding mountains are synonymous with the famous movie ‘The Sound of Music’. A visit to some of the filming locations will transport you inside the beautiful world where ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music’.

Must-do: Visit Hohensalzburg Fortress, Mozart’s Birthplace, and Mirabell Palace Gardens, and admire the views from many elevated viewpoints across the city, and take ‘The Sound of Music’ tour.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Salzburg

Fairytale cities in Europe - Salzburg

15. Hallerbos, Belgium

Hallerbos, also known as the Blue Forest, is a magical woodland located near Brussels in Belgium. Every spring, the forest transforms into a breathtaking carpet of bluebells, creating an ethereal, fairytale-like landscape.

This vibrant display attracts nature lovers and photographers from all over the world.

Must-do: Simply walk around the forest following one of the many trails. Just please make sure to stay on designated paths!

LEARN MORE: How to Visit Hallerbos

Hallerbos fairytale forest in Belgium

16. Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, a picturesque region along Italy’s Ligurian Coast is known for its five hillside villages perched on the dramatic coastline. With its stunning landscapes, terraced vineyards, and colorful houses, Cinque Terre offers postcard-perfect views that seem too beautiful to be real.

You can explore the region by boat, by train, or via a series of scenic hiking trails that connect the villages.

Must-do: Visit Vernazza, Manarola, and Riomaggiore and hike at least one section of the trails between Vernazza and one of the neighboring villages. Also Corniglia and Monterosso al Mare are not to be missed.

LEARN MORE: How to See the Best of Cinque Terre in One Day

Manarola - a fairytale town in Cinque Terre Italy

17. Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands is a small archipelago in the North Atlantic between Iceland and Norway. Characterized by dramatic landscapes and quaint, turf-roofed houses, the islands have a somewhat mystical allure that makes them a quintessential fairytale destination.

With picturesque fords, rugged cliffs that plunge into the ocean, and vast landscapes, the Faroe Islands have a unique, almost otherworldly feel.

Must-do: Visit the main islands around the capital city of Torshavn, take a boat trip to Mykines, and do at least a few of the five best hikes.

LEARN MORE: How to Plan a Trip to the Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands - fairy tale destinations in Europe
Faroe Islands.

18. Loire Valley, France

The Loire Valley, aka the “Garden of France,” is a fairytale destination renowned for its opulent castles, lush vineyards, and picturesque landscapes.

Nestled along the banks of the Loire River, this UNESCO World Heritage site features over 300 (!) castles, some more grand than others. With its rich history, romantic scenery, and countless cultural treasures, the Loire Valley region radiates timeless beauty that seems straight out of a storybook.

Must-do: Visit Château de Chambord, Chateau de Chenonceau, and Château de Villandry. In addition, check out at least a few other castles, such as Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau or Chateau d’Usse, to mention just a few.

Chambord Castle, Loire Valley, France - fairytale castles in Europe
Chambord Castle.

19. Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como, located in Northern Italy at the foot of the Alps, is another breathtakingly beautiful destination with a fairytale charm.

Surrounded by dramatic mountains, its shores are dotted with charming villages, luxurious villas, and exquisite gardens which seem to emerge from the pages of a romantic novel.

Must-do: Explore the towns of Bellagio, Varenna, and Como, take a boat trip on the lake, and visit at least a couple of the most famous villas of Lake Como.

LEARN MORE: Best Places to See in Lake Como

Lake Como - romantic destinations in Europe
Lake Como.

So, this is our guide to some of the most enchanting fairytale destinations we have visited in Europe.

As you can imagine, there are many other dreamlike places than we could ever mention in one article. But no matter which of these places you choose to visit, you are sure to find a magical escape into the worlds of beauty, history, and wonder.

If you are looking for more travel inspiration, take a look at the selection of some of the world’s most beautiful destinations via the link below. These are our personal favorites from several decades of traveling all over the world. Check it out!

READ ALSO: Our Favorite Destinations Worldwide

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Fairytale places to visit in Europe
Europe's best fairytale destinations for your bucket list

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Monday 10th of June 2024

Shucks. Have only made it to five of them. Got work to do.


Tuesday 11th of June 2024

And people keep on telling me I should have added even more places to this article ;)


Sunday 9th of June 2024

Hello Jurga, what about Eastern Europe?

Jill Watt Torrance

Monday 10th of June 2024

@Jean, I agree Jean. Jurga is maybe coming up with a very worthy Part 2...SO much to enjoy in Eastern Europe!! Keep going Jurga!!

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