The world’s most charming villages
Far from the bustling crowds of modern cities, these picture-postcard villages are steeped in an old-world charm that’ll transport you to another era. These small provincial towns and secluded hamlets are guaranteed to infuse a breath of fresh air into your travels.
Known for its honey-coloured stone cottages with steep roofs, and for being the filming location for movies like Bridget Jones’ Diary—Bibury has been described by 19th century poet William Morris as ‘’the most beautiful village in England’’. Situated in the valley of River Coln, it is one of the most famous spots in the Cotswolds.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Graceful and historic, Hoi An is Vietnam’s most atmospheric and delightful town—a place where there are more lanterns than people. Pair their slow, easygoing atmosphere with intricate Chinese assembly houses, a rich culture and endless strings of colourful lanterns and you’ve got an unforgettable Southeast Asian town.
As you ascend uphill towards the village of Monsanto, what stops you dead in your tracks are the houses tucked between, on and underneath giant boulders. Monsanto hangs off a mountaintop overlooking the Portuguese countryside and the boulders form part of the walls, floors and in some cases, the roofs of the medieval stone cottages.
Tucked between Takayama and Kanazawa in the remote mountainous Ono district, the Shirakawa village is best known for its uniquely-shaped farmhouses. These are built in the thatched gasshō-zukuri style, where the roofs resemble hands folded in prayer. They’re rustic and lovely in all seasons—whether seen standing against the vibrant colours of spring or peeking through a carpet of snow.
Èze, French Riviera
Perched high up on a cliff, the rocky little medieval village of Èze will charm you with its small stone houses, winding lanes and mesmerising views of the coast. You’ll get the most panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea from Jardin d’Èze, a cactus garden at the top of the village.
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Alberobello resembles an urban village—for gnomes. The town is a dense mass of 1500 beehive-shaped houses, white-tipped as if dusted by snow. The dwellings known as trulli are essentially dry-stone buildings made from local limestone.
Completely car-free and laced with over four miles of canals, Giethoorn is a charming village located in the Dutch province of Overijssel, Netherlands. Its quiet stillness and natural beauty make the journey through this ‘Dutch Venice’ simply unforgettable.
Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1992, Český Krumlov is crowned by a spectacular castle and an elegant old town square. The undeniable beauty of the town is evident in its baroque buildings, riverside cafés, palaces, gardens and the street performers that punctuate every corner.
Alsace’s wine capital Colmar looks as though it has been plucked out of the pages of a medieval folk tale. Tiny boats adrift in flower-filled canals, half-timbered houses in chalk-box colours and charming cobblestone lanes complete the fairy-tale illusion.
Perched on the northern tip of Santorini Island, the village of Oia is known throughout the world for its quiet life and fantastic sunsets. Sage green slopes filled with wildflowers, sun-bathed verandas and busy streets packed with shops, taverns and cafés—you will struggle to find a more stunning Cycladic village.
A fishing village of tiny canals, psychedelically-coloured houses, contrasting doors and hand-tatted lace—the island of Burano is located in the same lagoon as Venice. Back in the 16th century, the village fishermen decided to paint the homes in bright colours, making them easily identifiable amidst the thick fog.