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7 Small-Town Gems in Europe You Should Add to Your Bucket List

While London, Paris and Rome are exciting cities to explore, there’s something magical about a small, picture-perfect European town that lures in even the most seasoned traveller. When the world opens up again, skip the big city tourist crowds and instead take a detour down the cobbled streets of one of these small-town gems in Europe.

Ljubljana cityscape seen from above at sunset, Slovenia, EU

Photo| Ljubljana, Slovenia| GETTYIMAGES – ALEXANDER SPATARI

With over 400 million annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve compiled a list of the best small-town gems in Europe we think you should add to your bucket list. From picture-perfect coasts to historic hamlets, these fairytale towns are brimming with beauty. Our comprehensive guide highlights the best things to do in each destination and where to stay.

Assos, Greece

Assos village in Kefalonia

Photo| Assos village, Kefalonia, Greece| GETTYIMAGES – IGOR TICHONOW – EYEEM

Myrtos beach

Photo| Myrtos beach, Assos| GETTYIMAGES – DAVID C TOMLINSON

While most travellers flock to Santorini and Mykonos, those looking for a more tranquil Greek Island experience can add Assos to their itinerary. Located on a small, horseshoe-shaped peninsula in Northwestern Kefalonia, this remote Greek village is one of our top picks for the best small-town gems in Europe. Its picture-perfect quay is moored with fishing boats, while a pebble beach lures you in with its calm, turqouise waters.

Top Experiences in Assos, Greece

  • Climb up to the 16th-century Venetian Castle of Assos overlooking the bay.
  • Meander the streets to browse small shops and visit tavernas serving traditional Greek dishes.
  • Kick back on a beach chair at Assos Beach and enjoy the picturesque scenery across the harbour.

Best Hotels in Assos, Greece

Vassilis Retreat

Vassilis Retreat, hotel in a small-town gems in europe

Photo| Vassilis Retreat| Provided by BOOKING.COM

A quaint, family-run hotel, Vassilis Retreat is in the centre of Assos. Each room offers 25 square metres of living space and includes a fridge, air conditioning and a private balcony with sea views. In addition to an inviting swimming pool, guests have access to a beautiful terrace with sunbeds and bay views. It offers a prime location, less than a five-minute walk from Assos Beach and 20 minutes from the castle.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 84 – USD 115
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: Assos, Asos 280 84, Greece

Emelisse Nature Resort Fiskardo Kefalonia

Just a short drive outside of Assos, Emelisse Nature Resort Fiskardo Kefalonia sits above Emblisi bay. Focused on complete relaxation, the hotel boasts a private beach, swimming pools and luxe spa. Outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking and boat tours are available, while restaurants offer sea views and local specialties. Suites offer balconies with sea views and two-bedroom Family Apartments add extra living space. Alternatively, opt for a lavish Maisonette for a terrace, full kitchen and living room.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 227 – USD 421
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: Emplisis Bay, Fiskardo 280 84, Greece

Hotel Location

Reine, Norway

Lofoten, Norway

Photo| Lofoten, Norway| GETTYIMAGES – YANNIK WAEBER – EYEEM

 yellow wooden traditional houses on the sea near mountain range in background, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo| Yellow wooden traditional houses on the sea, Lofoten Islands| GETTYIMAGES – TATSIANA VOLSKAYA

Easily one of the most beautiful small-town gems in Europe, Reine is an incredibly picturesque village in the Lofoten Islands. The quiet village is known for its natural scenery, boasting a shoreline dotted with red and white fishermen’s huts and a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Only 100 kilometres from the Arctic Circle, its also prime spot for Aurora Borealis viewing.

Top Experiences in Reine, Norway

  • For stunning birds-eye views, hike to the Reinebringen viewpoint 450 metres high.
  • Go kayaking in the Reinefjorden, or take a day trip to the scenic village of Å.
  • Visit in winter for a chance to see the Northern Lights, as Norway is one of the world’s best destinations for experiencing this unique phenomenon.

Best Hotels in Reine, Norway

Reine Rorbuer – By Classic Norway Hotels

Undoubtedly, Reine Rorbuer – By Classic Norway Hotels is beloved for its views overlooking the Reine Fjord. Each of the cabins and one and two-bedroom apartments combines modern comfort with the atmosphere of historic fishermen’s dwellings, offering fully equipped kitchens and Wi-Fi. The on-site restaurant Gammelbua was once the town’s old general store, dating back 200 years, and boasts outdoor seating and indoor fireplace. Guided kayak, sea rafting and photography tours are available.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 200 – USD 392
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: Reine, 8390 Reine, Nordland, Norway

Lofoten Bed & Breakfast Reine – Rooms & Apartments

Lofoten Bed & Breakfast Reine - Rooms & Apartments, small-town gems in europe

Photo| Lofoten Bed & Breakfast Reine – Rooms & Apartments| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Just two minutes walk from the Reinefjord, Lofoten Bed & Breakfast Reine – Rooms & Apartments offers cosy accommodation options. Choose private rooms with kitchen access, or upgrade to a multi-bedroom apartment that can accommodate up to six guests with kitchens and living areas. Alternatively, opt for a fishermen’s cabin in the Sorvagen fishing village. Some rooms have fjord views, while all options include a daily breakfast.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 119 – USD 264
Guest Rating: 8.3
Address: Reineveien 55, 8390 Reine, Nordland, Norway

Hotel Location

Cobh, Ireland

St. Colman's Cathedral at Sunset Horizontal

Photo| St. Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh| GETTYIMAGES – MATT ANDERSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Ireland is known for its rich history and castle hotels; however, Cobh adds one more alluring element – bright, candy-coloured homes. An easy journey from Cork, this charming village is best known for being Titanic’s last port of call in 1912. Aside from being beloved by history enthusiasts, the colourful small town offers a long list of family-friendly attractions and a gorgeous waterfront harbour.

Top Experiences in Cobh, Ireland

  • Visit Titanic Experience Cobh to see a virtual tour of what it was like on the Titanic.
  • Browse exhibits related to maritime history at Cobh Museum or step inside the historic St. Colman’s Cathedral.
  • Take a ferry to nearby Spike Island (Ireland’s version of Alcatraz) to explore the star-shaped fortress.

Best Hotels in Cobh, Ireland

Robin Hill House

Set in a 19th-century former rectory, Robin Hill House offers quaint bed and breakfast accommodation. In addition to a cosy lounge area with a crackling fire, the hotel is a holistic sanctuary with acupuncture and homoeopathy treatments as well as yoga classes. The traditional afternoon tea with homemade treats is a highlight, while elegant rooms offer gorgeous city views, flat-screen TVs and tea and coffee.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 93 – USD 149
Guest Rating: 8.8
Address: Lake Road, Cobh, Ireland

Fota Island Hotel and Spa

Fota Island Hotel and Spa, hotel in a small-town gems in Europe

Photo| Fota Island Hotel and Spa| Provided by FOTA ISLAND HOTEL AND SPA

Fota Island Hotel and Spa, hotel in a small-town gems in europe

Photo| Fota Island Hotel and Spa| Provided by FOTA ISLAND HOTEL AND SPA

Treat yourself to a luxurious 5-star getaway at Fota Island Hotel and Spa, which offers deluxe rooms with private balconies and self-catering, multi-room lodges for families. In addition to upscale dining at Fota Restaurant and an outdoor terrace at Amber Lounge, the hotel’s luxury spa offers a body treatment menu of holistic pampering. Golf enthusiasts can practice at the three golf courses, while animal lovers can explore Fota Wildlife Park just five kilometres away.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 182 – USD 296
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: Fota Island, Cork County, Cork, Ireland

Hotel Location

Delft, Netherlands

Canal with Leaning Church Tower in Delft Netherlands

Photo| Leaning Church Tower in Delft Netherlands| GETTYIMAGES – © ALLARD SCHAGER

Arch Bridge Over River Amidst Buildings In City

Photo| Arch bridge over a river in Delft, Netherlands| GETTYIMAGES – ALEXEY SIZOV – EYEEM

Only an hour from Amsterdam, Delft is one of our picks for the best small-town gems in Europe. The charming university town is just as picturesque, offering a less crowded Old Town bordered by the country’s famed canals. It’s also home to a lively market square, picture-perfect churches and an array of well-preserved medieval-era houses. It’s long been associated with Delftware, a world-famous form of pottery, and is full of interesting museums.

Top Experiences in Delft, Netherlands

  • Take a guided tour of Royal Delft, a 17th-century earthenware factory highlighting a centuries-old tradition.
  • Visit the architectural gem Delft City Hall or snap a photo of the Old Church, Holland’s “Tower of Pisa”.
  • Admire the artwork in the Lambert van Meereen Museum or cruise along the Old Canal by bike.

Best Hotels in Delft, Netherlands

Hampshire Hotel – Delft Centre

Hampshire Hotel - Delft Centre, hotel ina a small-town gems in Europe

Photo| Hampshire Hotel – Delf Centre| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Hampshire Hotel – Delft Centre is a 10-storey red-brick building just a stone’s throw from the city centre. Music-themed rooms boast flat-screen TVs and sitting areas, while Comfort Top Floor rooms add stunning city views from the 7th and 8th floors. Dine on Dutch/French dishes at Swing Restuarant, or enjoy live music and bubbles with breakfast on the weekends. Within a short walk is Vermeer Centrum Delft, which houses art by Johannes Vermeer.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 110 – USD 157
Guest Rating: 8.5
Address: Koepoortplaats 3, 2612 RR Delft, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Westcord Hotel Delft

Westcord Hotel Delft, hotel in a small-town gems in europe

Photo| Westcord Hotel Delft| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Styled by the designers of IKEA, Westcord Hotel Delft offers a selection of contemporary designed rooms. There are multiple places to relax, from the panoramic sauna and heated terrace to a laid-back bar. In-room perks include flat-screen TVs, espresso machines, and in upgraded rooms, Jacuzzi tubs. Spacious Studios with living rooms and kitchenettes are perfect for longer stays. Also, there’s a fee parking lot for guests, bike rentals and a brunch buffet available.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 92 – USD 210
Guest Rating: 8.7
Address: Olof Palmestraat 2, 2616 LM Delft, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Hotel Location

Freiburg, Germany

Freiburg im Breisgau

Photo| Freiburg im Breisgau with Freiburg minster | GETTYIMAGES – ELISABETH SCHMITT

Germany, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Freiburg, New City Hall

Photo| Freiburg, New City Hall| GETTYIMAGES – WESTEND61

An eco-friendly gem, Freiburg sits on the southern edge of Germany’s beautiful Black Forest. Known for being one of the most sustainable cities on the planet, it boasts lush parks sitting next to cobblestone squares lined with late Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic buildings. Spend your time exploring the Old Town, browsing local markets and sipping pints in a historic brewery.

Top Experiences in Freiburg, Germany

  • Climb to the top of the Gothic bell tower at Freiburg Munster for panoramic city views.
  • Snap photos of colourful facades in the cobblestone square of Munsterplatz, many reconstructed after World War II.
  • Browse the local food stalls at the open-air Munstermarkt Freiburg or try local brews at Hausbrauerei Feierling brewery.

Best Hotels in Freiburg, Germany

Novotel Freiburg am Konzerthaus

Novotel Freiburg am Konzerthaus, hotel in a small-town gems n europe

Photo| Novotel Freiburg am Konzerthaus| Provided by ICE PORTAL

A perfect choice for families, Novotel Freiburg am Konzerthaus is a 4-star hotel just a five-minute walk from the Old Town’s attractions. In addition to spacious rooms, guests can take advantage of the heated indoor pool, sauna and restaurant with a terrace. A themed music room with a piano is available, as well as a Black Forest room with eclectic decor. Also, two children can stay in family rooms for free.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 199 – USD 216
Guest Rating: 8
Address: Konrad Adenauer Platz 2, 79098 Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany

Central Hotel

Offering a prime location in Freiburg’s city centre, Central Hotel is a 10-minute walk from the Augustiner Museum. Single rooms are ideal for solo travellers with flat-screen TVs and minibars, while double rooms add extra living space. Alternatively, you can upgrade to a Suite for a living area and balcony with city and cathedral views. Breakfast consists of fresh fruit, bread and hot dishes, and a laid-back bar offers the perfect post-sightseeing spot to relax.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 134 – USD  173
Guest Rating: 8.7
Address: Wasserstr. 6, 79098 Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany

Hotel Location

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia, East Europe.

Photo| Franciscan Church of Annunciation and the Triple Bridge, Ljubljana| GETTYIMAGES – © MARCO BOTTIGELLI

the skyline of Ljubljana

Photo| Ljubljana, Slovenia| GETTYIMAGES – STANLEY CHEN XI

It’s hard to imagine a capital city on a list of small-town gems in Europe, but Ljubljana’s tiny cobbled streets feel more laid-back than others. With its pedestrian-only centre, cultural museums and outdoor cafes, you’ll never feel rushed while exploring this photogenic city. In fact, you’ll see more dragons than people, as its the symbol of the city and can be seen on bridges, building and even the castle.

Top Experiences in Ljubljana, Slovenia

  • Explore Old Town’s colourful buildings, pedestrian-friendly paths, open-air cafes and quaint shops.
  • Take a boat cruise on the Ljubljanica River (from April through September), or admire the waterways from Dragon or Triple Bridge.
  • Soak up city vistas from the historic Ljubljana Castle, which offers tours of its historic spaces.

Best Hotels in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Hotel Cubo

Hotel Cubo

Photo| Hotel Cubo| Provided by HOTEL CUBO

Hotel Cubo, hotel in a small town gems in Europe

Photo| Hotel Cubo| Provided by HOTEL CUBO

Hotel Cubo

Photo| Hotel Cubo| Provided by HOTEL CUBO

Hotel Cubo is a short walk from Prešeren Square, offering cosy rooms with HD TVs, minibars and free Wi-Fi. Stay in a Double room for beautiful views of Ljubljana Castle or go all out in a Junior Suite with a large round bed and Castle Hill views. In addition to an on-site restaurant, the hotel offers a complimentary smartphone for use during your stay with virtual guides, free bike rentals and gourmet picnic baskets for purchase.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 188 – USD 236
Guest Rating: 9.5
Address: Slovenska Cesta 15, Ljubljana 1000, Slovenia

Intercontinental – Ljubljana

Intercontinental - Ljubljana

Photo| InterContinental – Ljubljana| Provided by INTERCONTINENTAL-LJUBLJANA, PHOTOGRAPHER – WILL PRICE

With a soaring glass facade, Intercontinental – Ljubljana boasts lavish rooms and suites with stunning city views. Treat yourself to a drink in the chic Bloom Lounge before getting pampered at the luxe on-site spa or dining in style at the rooftop restaurant. For the ultimate luxury holiday, stay in a Presidential Suite for a fireplace and 19th-floor views. The 18th-floor boasts a zero-edge infinity pool with floor-to-ceiling windows, Jacuzzi and sauna.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 198 – USD 491
Guest Rating: 9
Address: Slovenska Cesta 59, Ljubljana 1000, Slovenia

Hotel Location

Stari Grad, Croatia

Hvar Town On Hvar Island In Croatia

Photo| The Bell Tower, Hvar Town On Hvar Island In Croatia| GETTYIMAGES – TRAVELER1116

Montenegro, old town of Budva

Photo| Montenegro, Adriatic coast, old city of Budva, Stari Grad| GETTYIMAGES – TUUL & BRUNO MORANDI

Croatia is full of coastal gems, and while picture-perfect Dubrovnik typically gets the most attention, Stari Grad on Hvar Island is a fairytale-like retreat. Quieter than party-centric Hvar Town nearby, Stari Grad is one of the best small-town gems in Europe. Offering the perfect mix of cobbled streets, small boutiques and charming eateries, it boasts a palm-fringed promenade and lovely views of boats bobbing in the waters.

Top Experiences in Stari Grad, Croatia

  • Explore the small-pebbled beaches then enjoy a scoop of the island’s famous lavender ice cream.
  • Walk along the seafront promenade to see centuries-old Venetian Renaissance buildings, fishing boats and colourful souvenir stalls.
  • Sample locally produced wines and olive oils at Hora Winery or cycle the UNESCO-listed Stari Grad plains.

Best Hotels in Stari Grad, Croatia

Hotel Antica

Hotel Antica, hotel in s a small town gems in Europe

Photo| Hotel Antica| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Hotel Antica is an intimate waterfront hotel just a short walk from the Stari Grad port, offering a collection of stylish rooms. Enjoy sea views from your private balcony in a Deluxe room, which also comes with a Smart TV, air conditioning and free breakfast. Sample traditional meat and seafood dishes at Restaurant Argola, then wash it down with a glass of local wine. When the sun is shining, enjoy a drink on the sea-view terrace.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 82 – USD 618
Guest Rating: 9
Address: Trajektno Pristanište br.3, Stari Grad 21460, Croatia

B&B Heritage Villa Apolon

B&B Heritage Villa Apolon, hotel in a small-town gems in europe

Photo| B&B Heritage Villa Apolon| Provided by BOOKING.COM

Overlooking the Adriatic Sea, B&B Heritage Villa Apolon offers a sophisticated setting just five minutes from Tvrdalj Castle. Sample Mediterranean dishes at the on-site restaurant before visiting the cosy wine bar, which boasts exposed brick and rock. The elegant villa boasts a small collection of rooms with Wi-Fi, minibars and flat-screen TVs. For a mini kitchen and living room, stay in the opulent Deluxe Suite.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 66 – USD 298
Guest Rating: 9.2
Address: Šetalište don Šime Ljubića 7, Stari Grad 21246, Croatia

Hotel Location

Small-Town Gems in Europe That Will Steal Your Heart

Blue gate, yellow wall

Photo| Blue gate, yellow wall, Assos, Kefalonia| GETTYIMAGES – PHOTOGRAPHY BY TIM BOW

With seaside settings, cobbled streets and sidewalk cafes, it’s easy to be lured in by the charms of these small-town gems in Europe. The perfect blend of rich history and scenic beauty, these travel spots offer the perfect European getaway for those looking to escape the big city crowds. Use this guide as inspiration for your next Euro-trip and take respite in one of the luxe hotels that offer rooms with city or sea views, on-site restaurants and excellent facilities such as swimming pools and spas.

Which small-town gems in Europe are you adding to your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below.

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