8 Most Beautiful Towns in the World You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of
Famous fairytale towns like Positano, Italy and Hallstadt, Austria are worth a spot on the bucket list for sure, but we bet you haven’t planned a pilgrimage to these 8 under-the-radar gems, whose cobbled streets, colorful villages, and storybook landscapes are just as magical—if a bit off the beaten path.
While the pastel-colored houses built on a hillside spilling towards the sea might convince you otherwise, this is not the Amalfi Coast. Cudillero, on the Bay of Biscay, is one of Spain’s most beautiful fishing villages, centered around a tiny harbor bursting with seafood-centric restaurants and ship captains hoisting in their daily catch. Take in the scene from one of the hilltop viewpoints, then make your way down the sloping narrow streets, making sure to pass by the 13th-century Humilladero Chapel—the oldest building in town.
Few travelers justify the 100 miles it takes to get from Budapest to Eger, but the historic town in northern Hungary is worth the journey. Its maze of narrow streets are abuzz with charming sidewalk cafés, wine shops selling the town’s signature red blend (Egri Bikavér, also known as "Bull's Blood"), and squares dominated by beautiful landmark buildings including the Baroque-era Minorite Church and the neoclassical Basilica. After hours spent climbing the many bastion terraces of 13th-century Eger Castle (which afford sweeping city views), soak your achey muscles in the city’s famous Turkish pools.
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The amount of snow that often blankets this historic mountain village (35 feet a year on average) has long kept Japan’s remote Shogawa river valley relatively unknown to Americans. Those who do visit will find unique gassho-zukuri buildings (steep, thatched-roof huts built to survive the weight of heavy snowfall) dating back hundreds of years that have been repurposed as museums and charming guest houses. It’s a peek into the rural farm life of a bygone era, found nowhere else in Japan.
You can’t say you’ve visited Burgundy without indulging in at least one tasting—the region provides many year-round tours along with an endless array of atmospheric wine caves. But there’s so much more to explore beyond its bucolic vineyards, especially in Beaune. A stroll through this walled town is a great way to take in the city’s historic architecture, which spans multiple periods from medieval to pre-Roman. Don't miss the Beffroi (clock tower), the church of Notre Dame, and the old market, Les Halles, every Saturday morning (this side of Burgundy is famous for its cheeses, escargot, and mustard from nearby Dijon).
Despite being Slovenia’s second-biggest city, Maribor possesses a true small-town feel. Spring and summer are beautiful seasons for strolling the pedestrian-only streets, especially around the Lent quarter (a favorite spot for street performers) and medieval Old Town. Take a tour of the 15th-century Baroque-style Maribor Castle, which contains a frescoed Knight’s Hall and a collection of local artifacts at the Regional Museum. During fall, the changing foliage matches the city’s signature orange rooftops, and the yearly harvest gets underway at surrounding wineries—be sure to get a peek at what’s been confirmed as the oldest vine in the world. Come wintertime, you can find excellent skiing at nearby Mariborsko Pohorje ski resort.
Gásadalur, Faroe Islands
You may not know it by name, but any Instagrammer who follows a travel-themed hashtag will instantly recognize Gásadalur, in the Faroe Islands. Visiting this isolated, cliffside village (population: 18) on the island of Vágar (and its nearby waterfall, which plunges into the sea) has become a rite of passage for landscape photographers. A tunnel was carved through a nearby mountainside to connect Gásadalur to the island’s main road, but getting here is still a challenge for all but the most dedicated adventurers.
Bayreuth’s creative beginnings date back to the mid 1700s, when Wilhelmine, King Frederick the Great's sister, invited Europe’s best talents in art, music, architecture, and poetry to court. Many of the city's breathtaking buildings featuring so-called “Bayreuth rococo” were erected during this Golden Age, including the UNESCO-listed Margravial Opera House (reopening this April following a five-year restoration) and the New Palace and Court Garden. Today, the Bavarian town remains a cultural powerhouse, now most famously home to an annual festival centered around the operas of German composer Richard Wagner. Don't miss a tour of Wagner’s villa, Wahnfried, where the composer and his wife are buried.
English artist and novelist William Morris once referred to Bibury, a hilly town in the heart of the Cotswolds, as “the most beautiful village in England.” Not much has changed since then: the 17th-century houses retain their distinctive pitched roofs and honey-hued stone façades, and the row of preserved cottages that line Arlington Row are famously featured in U.K. passports and in movies like Bridget Jones’s Diary. You’ll find an equally perfect photo op on or near any of the footpath bridges that span the River Coln, a Thames tributary that divides Bibury in half.
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