I had absolutely no problem coming up with my five small MUST-SEE towns in Europe. Want to know why? Well, in every single one of these towns I could imagine settling down and living forever. Although the countries themselves could not be more different, I adore each and every one of these European small towns.
Maybe it is because I am a Small town girl, I definitely have a soft space in my heart for these personal gems that provide an oasis from the big city hustle and bustle.
I feel like in this technology age everyone wants more restaurants, more meet-ups, more entertainment, and instant everything. What I long for are quiet nights that glimmer with street lamps as I walk the alleys and the only echo I hear is laughter from a pub.
After five years in Europe, I am sharing my little gems with you because if you are in nearby say… Venice, you might choose to stay in Bassano del Grappa instead and make Venice be a day trip for you. Saving money and headaches away from the crowds and crazy. Plus, Bassano is a little college town and filled with young voices, ancient architecture, unforgettable bridges, and a lively economy.
Italian tour guides will typically make this a “stop” on an itinerary but certainly not a destination. Without a doubt, if you are planning a #yolo(you only live once) trip of a lifetime, you will want to make Venice a stop. However, I have a different approach to creating an itinerary. My tours are not boring, and it’s always an adventure.
Here are my five European Must-See SMALL Towns!
Bassano del Grappa, Italy
Bassano del Grappa sits in the north of Veneto. This unbelievable state in Italy has several highlights. Tourist favorites of Venice and Verona not that far away. However, you will be happy to know it has other treasures, like nearby Padua, known for its cathedral and markets.
I was first introduced to Bassano del Grappa because of its location to Nove. Nove or nine (in English) is known throughout the world for its ceramics. Some of my absolute favorite pottery comes from Nove. On several TWW tours, I have visited this little town and stay here at the Agriturismo Crocerone with my friends, Arianna, Piero and Xeno. You can read more about that here.
This past year while visiting Bassano we met Maria. A local who decided we would be her next tour of the city. In my broken Italian and her broken English, we managed to see most of the sites and historic buildings of Bassano del Grappa.
I was super glad she happened upon our little group, however, the natives were getting restless and more importantly quite hungry, so we stopped for some Salumi (Charcuterie) sliced meats and cheeses at a local bar because it is mid-day and restaurants are closed until 7:00 p.m. in Italy from about 1:00 p.m. onward. We were always lucky to find a bar with chips and olives and Salumi trays but no full meals.
Pitlochry, (Pit-lock-ree) Scotland is a little town in Perthshire. It is unassuming with its main street that has tourists in almost every season. This doesn’t sound like it would be a small-town favorite I know but it is, I’ll tell you why. It is almost half-way between Edinburgh and the Highlands. After visiting this past spring and again in the fall, I have decided this town is a must-see.
Main Street is dotted with tourist shops and whisky tasty bars. My absolute favorite restaurant is The Mill tucked behind an alley with a working water wheel mill and patio. Their food, service, and atmosphere are totally Scottish! Order a smaller dish or something for lunch because the portions are massive.
Our incredible room set in a Scottish manor within walking distance to one of the best restaurants in Scotland was definitely a highlight. Plus, we were only a short hop from the highway to make our way back to the main road to head to the Highlands.
Dalshian House ~ Pitlochry
However, hiking is all around and on my next Pitlochry visit, I will be spending more time with Martin and Heather and hike around the region too. The countryside was filled with rolling streams, moors, and hills covered in purple thistle. The official flower of Scotland. Pitlochry was the epitome of Scotland and I look forward to my return visit for sure.
So you are heading to Wales, England. Maybe, you are even going to concentrate on North Wales. There are many, many towns to choose from however, my favorite was Llandundo. We found this enchanting town so easy to get to everything else in North Wales and was not covered up with tourists. At least when I visited in March.
Being a summer destination town, I am sure beach-going visitors are massive since they have been visiting since the early 1850s. The beach and promenade are within walking distance of most of the town.
It was very easy to get to from London and I recently found out there is a direct train from London to North Wales. Easy-peasy.
Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
Hands-down my favorite city in the Czech Republic. I know this will probably not sit right with some people, that is because they haven’t visited KV only Prague. If you want to read more check out my blog on Prague.
Karlovy Vary first got its fame from the movies and still does. To me it is the more elegant, quieter, service-driven BEST CR city in the country. It’s clean, a spa town, has a funicular to the top of the city with majestic overlooks. It was a favorite for several kings and queens and its healing waters have drawn visitors from around the globe.
We now stay at the EMBASSY HOTEL when we visit because the service and accommodations are first class. The location could not be better and tends to make me feel like I am royalty when I am visiting. Excellent breakfast and service from your first welcome.
The history of Karlsbad dates back to the turn of the century and brought glass creators like Moser to the city because of the special waters.
In Karlovy Vary, I always make reservations at Le Marche. This tantalizing restaurant changes its menu weekly and adds fresh seasonal specialties that are fantastic.
Obernai, France! This Alsatian town is so special to me, I have never written a blog about it. I have on-purpose kept this a private share. This blog is only available to you, my members because I don’t want to share this gem publicly.
Right across the French border is the sweetest town, not far from Strasbourg or Colmar but filled with immense charm. Obernai has a weekly market on Thursdays and changes during the Christmas Season to a Noël Market.
My friend, French Fred, is a cheesemaker and I look forward to seeing him on Thursdays when I visit. Just on the border of Obernai is a teeny town, Ottrott. There is the best BBQ restaurant, Rouge d’Ottrott in all of Europe here.
If you travel just a bit further, you can visit the Abbaye Du Mont Sainte Odile. A visit here is free. The hiking trails around the abbey are breathtaking of the Alsace.
In the summer, Obernai also has a merry-go-round in the center of town, a beautiful church (that rings the bells on the hour,) more half-timbered houses that you can count in excellent condition, pastry and bakery shops, plus lots of shopping!
If you are feeling like you want to experience the best of France and the French countryside then the Alsace should be on your must-see list!
So there it is my favorite small towns in Europe! I hope you have enjoyed the article and if you are planning a European adventure and want to know more about these treasures, drop me an email, I would love to hear from you!