Discover Europe’s hidden villages

These surprising hamlets are steeped in history—and blissfully off the beaten path.

Written by Raphael Kadushin

Eguisheim, France

Eguisheim is an essential stop on Alsace’s wine route. Its 30-odd local producers include Domaine Emile Beyer, in business since the 16th century, which hosts wine tastings in its ancient cellars.

Photograph by Mason Vranish, Alamy

Blokzijl, Netherlands

Built around a horseshoe harbor and surrounded by lakes, ponds, and canals, this 17th-century town is fittingly known for its water sports. Rent a boat to tour the boggy waterworld, then hike nearby Weerribben-Wieden National Park.

Photograph by Wilbert Bijzitter, Hollandse Hoog/Redux

Monsaraz, Portugal

This walled, white-washed Portuguese village overlooks the Alentejo plains. Browse the wares at the Alentejana Mizette Factory, an artisanal workshop that has helped revive the regional craft of hand-loomed, brightly striped blankets and rugs.

Photograph by Mauricio Abreu, Getty

Warth, Austria

Claiming to be the snowiest resort in the Alps, this collection of pitch-roofed chalets attracts a growing insider crowd of snowboarders and skiers.

Photograph by Phillip Minnis, iStock/Getty

Telc, Czech Republic

This UNESCO-recognized, bucolic South Moravian town is a work of art. Gabled, candy-colored baroque houses frame its cobbled central square, and the ceilings of its Renaissance chateau are painted with a pantheon of classical gods.


Monemvasia, Greece

A narrow causeway connects the Peloponnese Peninsula to this walled hamlet jutting from its own rocky spur. Explore the jumble of Byzantine, Ottoman, and Venetian architecture—or brave the climb to the ruined fortress that tops the island like a jagged tiara.

Photograph by Reinhard Schmid, Huber Images/EStock Photo

Mariefred, Sweden

With its sherbet-colored cottages, this lakeside hamlet could pass for Pippi Longstocking’s hometown. Tour the Renaissance Gripsholm Castle, which houses Sweden’s national portrait collection.

Photograph by Roland Magnusson, Alamy

Fornalutx, Spain

On the Balearic island of Majorca, the stony village of Fornalutx is perfumed by lemon and orange groves. Wander the long, rocky beach nearby, or strike out on the island’s renowned biking route, which snakes through the Serra de Tramuntana mountains.

Photograph by imageBROKER, Alamy

Guarda, Switzerland

Flush with chalets, this Alpine village offers 16 clearly marked hiking paths through the surrounding Engadine Valley, for everyone from beginners to serious trekkers. Hikers can also arrange tours with the local tourism office.

Photograph by Chris Rinckes, iStock/Getty

Erice, Italy

Take a cable car to this mountaintop medieval town known locally as the kiss of Venus—once a pagan place of worship. Look for Sicilian artisans’ hand-painted ceramics and handwoven rugs.

Photograph by Visions From Earth, Alamy

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