Untouched by unnecessary modernization, and enjoying a pace of its own: such a town or village would be a slice of heaven on Earth. Check out our list of top ten European small towns that time has forgotten.
How lovely it would be to escape time for a while and just saunter into a place that is everything old world, everything simple, everything delightfully classic. Apparently, Europe is replete with such hidden delights, waiting for you to visit. Living in tandem with the tourist side of mainstream Europe is a Europe waiting to be discovered. A Europe that has been serenely hidden from plain view and kept safe in an old world charm of its own. A Europe that still has those cobbled streets and small towns where the children play happily in the street as old men sit around reading the newspaper and watching the world go by. A Europe that can make poets out of mere passerby. So let's explore the top ten European towns that time has forgotten.
A Europe that still has those cobbled streets and small towns where the children play happily in the street as old men sit around reading the newspaper and watching the world go by.
If you thought Italy was only good for its food, then you have to put down your copy of 'Eat, Pray, Love' and come out of Milan to take in the real Italy. The little towns that make up the beautiful culture and sheer beauty of the region are replete with nuances that will make your heart skip with joy as you explore them. Reschensee in Bolzano is one such small town that has been all but forgotten. The Reschen Lake is close to the Reschen Pass and a part of the Italian Austrian border. This one is an artificial lake that houses a well-known 14th century church, submerged under a steeple. It can be reached on foot once the snow settles and freezes during the wintry months of the year.
While we are still hovering over the map of Italy, how can we forget the once quaint Craco, which was abandoned in the 1960s due to a profusion of landslides which left it in an unlivable state? This town is now used by several Hollywood insiders to roll the cameras and shoot picturesque scenes that depict beautiful Italy! The small hamlet is a visual delight, and completely untouched by crowded commercialization.
Famed for its lovely countryside, an untamed spirit, unbounded hospitality, music in the streets, raging bull fights and afternoon siestas, old world Spain is a must see if you are planning to visit Europe. Ronda is the name of one such town that has not lost its perineal charm to the modern world and touristy demands. Now here's a classic little town that hides myriad delights! It is nestled in the peaks of the Andulasian Mountains and sits pretty with a view of a steep gorge. Cross the Puente Nuejo which literally means "new bridge" to take a walk from New Ronda into the old part of the town. The food and the views are said to be nothing short of stellar!
Old world Spain is a must see if you are planning to visit Europe.
While still in Spain, it would be worthwhile to take a ride into Albarracin - a small town surrounded by the Andulasian Mountains. It is filled with town squares and squires, and the town takes on beautiful golden hues at sunset. A two hour long journey from pretty Valencia to Teruel and a train ride that lasts just about half an hour will transport you to this town – and lead back in time to a place where people still enjoy the small joys and wonders of life, untouched by a pace that overtakes most people on a typical urban day!
Besides the wine and the canal ride on the famed Bruges, also known as the Venice of Belgium, there is lots to do in this part of Europe. If you are one for folklore and have an appetite for some truly heavenly chocolate, then this sleepy little town is Belgium is the place for you. Explore the Chateau de Noisy, a castle that remained occupied until the Second World War. The castle itself was used as an orphanage well into the 1970s. The town of Dinant itself is a joy to explore with its winding streets and beautiful views of the mountains. Ghent is also a small town near Burges that is worth exploring for its beautiful bridges and lovely architecture with many towers standing tall and proud in the town square.
If the Sound of Music tour of Salzburg seems a bit too touristy for your taste, then you may want to wander into this little fishing town that has also been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. You will not be able to take your eyes off of the surrounding prettiness. This finishing town is filled with pretty charms and the focal point has to be the lake. The lakeside view is one that will meet your eye from the most remote streets of the town. And if that's not enough, then the sunrises and sunsets are to die for! Visit this lakeside village just for the sheer joy of long walks in a historically preserved area. Austria is a true historian's delight - but the towns that dot its peaceful and seemingly sedate landscape will leave you in a poetic mood!
If you thought that France was all about vineyards and beaches in the south of France, then you really are in for a surprise. France has a pretty yet historical side to it, just waiting to be explored. Annecy in France is one such example. Now this hamlet really evolved in an interesting way. It was built around a 14th Century Chateau, and dots its side of the French Alps, trickling down close to the cliff side for spectacular sea side views. For a truly wholesome European experience, take in this side of France for a tale that has never been told before and write your happy ending here!
This one is a charming and quaint town, steeped in history and rich with views of cobble stone pathways and pretty bridges. It has been spared the rigours of modernisation and it carries on with a pace inherited from the days of yore. Cesky Krumlov has a fairy tale like look with the roof tops of its homes sitting titled like hats, almost as if they were readying themselves for a flight of whimsy at the drop of the said hat. The Czech Republic itself is a site that houses various historically relevant towns, and monuments. The many delights of this country lie in the off the beaten track destinations that have remained untouched by the world wars as well as the civil wars that have ravaged it in the past.
Cesky Krumlov has a fairy tale like look with the roof tops of its homes sitting titled like hats, almost as if they were readying themselves for a flight of whimsy at the drop of the said hat.
If you thought that a trip to Great Britain meant visiting King's Street in London for a spot of shopping - you may have to think again! Towns like Bibury are replete with the quaint goodness of the times gone by. If you want to walk into an era where people would still doff their hat at you, then this is probably where your next holiday needs to take place. Enter its narrow lanes and walk around all day for a rich, old English feel! Watch the sun set and change the hue of its squires and enjoy a drink at an old fashioned pub as you walk around and explore the old English charm.
If you want to walk into an era where people would still doff their hat at you, then this is probably where your next holiday needs to take place.
Germany may seem like a cold and straight jacketed place to many, but it has a calm and slightly whimsical side tucked away in the hills and its rolling orchards. The endless meadows of lush greenery in Rothenberg will carry you far away from the industrial delights of Germany and its other tourist ridden lanes. Chalets dot the hill side and shepherds still whistle to their dogs in this small town. And just in case you were wondering why the name Rothenberg sounds familiar - it is where Disney set the movie Pinnochio!
While these are just a few towns, you would do well to remember that Europe is made up of several small countries that house small towns rich with an untouched charm of their own. The beautiful towns of Switzerland, and those dotting the coast line of the 'newly opened to tourism' Croatia will take your breath away. Slovenia, Norway and Turkey also beckon travellers to take in orchards, towns and docks that have been forgotten by the world and left alone by hordes of tourist crowds who are otherwise summoned to all the usual European cities on that first trip to Europe. Explore Europe with the zeal of a historian and the laid back step of a time traveller to see its real beauty that will shine through and capture your attention. Take hikes up and down the hills, explore its many eateries and cafes along the seaside villages and get yourself memories that will make your heart soar every time you think of your European sojourn. And while you embark on this lovely journey, don't forget to buy your foreign exchange in advance.
Be sure to get the best exchange rates before embarking on your European adventure, since a little planning ahead can help you save on those precious Euros.