Do you feel like you’ve already visited every interesting city in Europe, and you’d like to try something completely different? Why not discover the unexpected beauty of these small European towns, that have preserved their magical medieval feel, architecture, and past traditions?
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
This picturesque Czech town deservedly became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, and it is unique within the whole of Europe.
The town centre has preserved its historical look from the 15th century. The dominant feature of Cesky Krumlov is a gothic castle from the 13th century, which stands out above the Vltava river which flows through the middle of the town.
Local narrow streets with colourful timbered houses from medieval times complete the truly unique atmosphere of this town. Evening walks under the lit-up castle, while listening to the river and the music of local street musicians, will charm anyone who sometimes wonders what life was in the past.
If you’ve had enough of modern city life, and would like to step back into the past, at least for few days, than Cesky Krumlov is the right choice.
The full name of this little Bavarian town is Rothenburg ob der Tauber. For all lovers of cozy towns which have kept their centre almost exactly as it was in Middle Ages, with numerous zigzag streets, Rothenburg is another exciting destination.
As soon as you arrive you will be amazed, and will be taken back in time to an age of kings, jugglers, and traditional street markets. For film lovers, the proof of its exceptional glory is the fact that part of Harry Potter was filmed here.
Another unique feature of this town is the famous Christmas markets which take place all year round!
As always in such a medieval town, you can enter one of many half-timbered houses and admire the traditionally decorated shops or traditional crafts. The main local treat is called “Schneeball” in German – meaning snowball – which is pasta noodles rolled into a ball, baked, and sprinkled on the surface with cinnamon sugar or coconut.
The north-eastern French town of Colmar is a place for all lovers of wine and gothic architecture. Colmar feels like it was cut out of a postcard, and has the air of a fairy tale where people light torches and believe in supernatural powers.
Among the most charming places of Colmar are the Fishmonger’s District and Little Venice, where you can rent a rowing boat and float along one of the many local canals.
In Colmar, there is always time for a glass of great wine. Colmar has been nicknamed by the locals as the region’s king of wine – high praise in a country so famous for wine production. Of course, this is the way it should be, because wine undoubtedly fits our romantic view of the Middle Ages.
Local winemakers specialize mainly in varieties of white wine, such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer. Life surely does not get any better than a trip in a wooden boat, followed by an evening walk alongside original medieval houses, then finishing the day by enjoying the delightful local wine in an area so rich in history.
The smallest middle-ages town on our list is the Austrian town of Hallstatt, that is a home to no more than a thousand permanent residents. However, this does not change its glamour.
Even from a picture of Hallstatt it is clear to see why this town is loved by the thousands of travellers who visit this town every year, and why it has been included on the list of Unesco World Heritage sites.
Hallstatt has a breathtaking location, situated 1,670 feet above sea level, and lying beside Hallstatt lake and under Hallstatt Mountains. When looking out of the window, or when resting on a bench, you can be watching the calm lake surface or gazing at the top of the sharp mountain peaks. There is a waterfall on the mill stream right in the centre of the town.
Hallstatt has also become famous for its salt mining on one of the local hills, where one of the oldest salt mines in Europe has been preserved and is open to the public.
No matter which of these towns you visit, autumn colours will further enhance the charm that each of them has to offer.
There is only one downside to visiting one of those lovely medieval towns: you will never want to leave!