Saranda, Albania, Europe

Europe offers these wonderful small towns

Capitals of Europe are often the first to come to mind when planning a trip across the continent. Who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of weeks marveling at Paris, Amsterdam, and Madrid? And while they are lovely places, you should take advantage of the smaller towns. Here are 20 wonderful suggestions!

Saranda, Albania

The unofficial capital of the “Albanian Riviera” is located five hours from the capital city, Tirana but feels a world away. Electric blue waters, budget-friendly accommodation, world-class seafood, and some of the friendliest people in the Balkans await you! Next to it is Ksamil, or as it is called the “Maldives of Europe”.

Colmar, France

Strasbourg may be known as the Christmas capital, but Colmar is 30 minutes away by train. This little Alsacien village looks straight out of a Disney film. During the holiday season, it feels like a Christmas special with the markets sprinkled throughout! Grab some vin chaud and wander gingerbread-like streets full of color!

Blessington, Ireland

In the heart of the Wicklow mountains, just outside of Dublin, is the charming town of Blessington. This Irish village is full of charm on the shores of lakes with the same name. From adorable cafes serving tasty treats to lively Irish pubs and the Russborough Castle (complete with grounds perfect for wandering), you won’t run out of things to do!

Annecy, France

This small city is located in the middle of the Alps, on the shores of Lake Annecy, making for spectacular scenery. As it’s in most famous mountains of Europe, there’s never a shortage of activities. Ski in the winter, hike and swim in the summer. There’s something for everyone in Annecy.

Ghent, Belgium

Bruges receives all the love as a day trip from Brussels, but I’m here to tell you not to skip out on Ghent. This Gothic student village is full of friendly Belgians, who will be delighted you’re visiting their city. Cruise the canal, take a walking tour, or just indulge in beer, chocolate, and fries!

Cotswold, England

Technically, this part of England is a collection of small towns, but I couldn’t pick just one. The Cotswold is some of the best scenery in the UK, with the iconic Cotswold Way and other walking paths linking the villages amongst rolling green hills and farmland.

Domburg, Netherlands

Last spring, I had the pleasure of spending a week in Domburg, in the south of the Netherlands. One of three towns (the other two being Westkapelle and Zoutelande) comprises the “Zeeland Riviera” — the province that makes up the stretch of beach. Domburg is by far the cutest, with the best restaurants, and just steps from the beach.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Like a fairytale in central Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber makes a great addition to any trip to Munich or Frankfurt. Less touristy than the large cities or even other smaller German towns, you’ll feel like you’re getting an authentic taste of German life. Great Christmas Markets in December, amazing views from the city walls, and visit the museums and clock tower!

Graz, Austria

Vienna and Salzburg may receive the most visitors, but Graz is worth a trip! The mix of Art Deco, Medieval, and Baroque influence on the architecture makes for beautiful sites as you wander the city. Its storied history is also worth exploring, having changed hands multiple times over the centuries. If you want to see the famous Lipizzaner horses, the Piber Federal Stud is just a short train ride away.

Verona, Italy

Romeo and Juliet’s hometown is an absolute dream. Smaller and less crowded than nearby Venice, you’ll be able to sample local cuisine among ancient Roman ruins and sample local wine. If you have time, take a trip to nearby Lake Garda — a nice alternative to Lake Como.

Basel, Switzerland

In the north of most neutral country of Europe, bordering France and Germany is delightful Basel. The city’s buildings are an assortment of styles, making for an interesting facade. It’s also the museum capital of Switzerland, making it a great stop for some culture before continuing to the Alps. Additionally, the Christmas markets are some of the area’s best!

Brno, Czechia

Brno has become much more popular thanks to hosting numerous conferences and travel bloggers. However, it’s still under the radar compared to Prague, and some might say even more enjoyable. The Old Town can’t be missed, and the beautiful countryside outside of the city is perfect for long walks. And if you’re up for something spooky, check out the skeletons under the St. James Church.

Novi Sad, Serbia

This little-known destination is still an honest hidden gem on the continent. Novi Sad is very liberal and quite different from the rest of the country, with an amazing art scene and imaginative repurposing of old industrial buildings. It’s also home to some of the best cuisines in the country and great for outdoor lovers with river beaches and a nearby forest!

Timisoara, Romania

In the far west of Romania lies this adorable student town. Timisoara has a fascinating history, having been passed between Christian kingdoms and the Ottoman Empire. Today, it’s home to a young population, a large university, and numerous cafes and restaurants perfect for relaxing.

Nafplio, Greece

Greece’s best-kept secret isn’t an island but an adorable former Venetian village on the mainland! Nafplio is located on the Peloponnese Peninsula, an area southwest of Athens and popular with European tourists. Relax on one of the many beaches, hike up to the ancient castle for amazing views, or enjoy a lively night in the town square. A perfect destination in Europe.

Malmo, Sweden

Stockholm might receive all the love, but Malmo is just as if not more worthy of adoration. In the very south of Sweden, just across the Danish border, this small city has everything a larger one has to offer — amazing restaurants, top-rate museums, bike lanes everywhere, and plenty of events. However, Malmo doesn’t have the big-city traffic or sky-high prices, making it a pleasure of a trip.

Arcachon, France

Forget the Cote d’Azur, the French and others in the know are aware that the southwest Atlantic coast is where the best-secluded beaches are located. Arcachon is an hour and a half train ride from Bordeaux but feels a world away. Gingerbread-like homes dot the town and give way to white sandy beaches you won’t find in the rocky Mediterranean.

Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Dubrovnik may have been made famous by Game Of Thrones, but the true inspiration may have very well been the real inspiration. The ancient walled city is full of history and inspiring views along the Neretva River. Don’t miss the Old Bridge, shopping bazaar, breathtaking mosques and buildings, and local beer!

Malaga, Spain

Popular with tourists, there’s no shortage of reasons to visit Malaga. There are stunning beaches as far as the eye can see, a wonderful Picasso Museum (this is, after all, his hometown), and some of the best coffee in Europe.

Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk is straight out of a storybook, with beautiful buildings along the river and nearby the Baltic Sea. The town may lack a main marketplace, but the “long market” or large pedestrian street does not disappoint. Once you’ve finished shopping, climb to the top of the church for amazing views and then end the day with a chill river cruise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *