11 European Small Towns Every Traveler Should Visit

A story created with passion and love by BEYOND LIMITS

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When planning your grand European adventure, it’s all too easy to obsess over the essential, big-ticket experiences: taking selfies with the Eiffel Tower, munching pizza near Trevi Fountain, trying to steal the hats off of those Buckingham Palace soldiers. But better to give the beaten path the finger, and head off to explore lesser-known gems in hidden valleys and un-cruise-shipped coves. As you’re no doubt aware, Europe is absolutely stacked with postcard-worthy villages and historical small towns.

by Savas Kazantzides
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1.  Lofoten Islands, Norway (pop. 24500)

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WHERE CULTURE AND HISTORY MEETS NATURE

Fjords, mountains, white sandy beaches, and surprisingly warm water, that’s Lofoten. A landscape of skerries, red fisherman cabins, lapping waves and the cries of gulls that will ease your tensions away. Not only the endless days but also the midnight sun gives you extra energy and you might find yourself playing golf at midnight, or forgetting to go to bed!

Take a stroll in old, charming fishing villages, where the creative ones settle to find inspiration, active people to find challenges, wanderers to find peace, where we all find endless beauty. Choose to stay in an authentic fisherman cabin, or a panorama suite with both mountain, city and sea view at the same time. Join us by speed boats to explore the beautiful nature and watch sea eagles, catch fish up close, take a hike with rewarding world-class views and enjoy a pier-front meal of self-caught seafood. Lofoten will take your breath away!

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Fishermen Village

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Sandy Beach

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2.  Semur-en-Auxois, France (pop. 4240)

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A FAIRY TALE MEDIEVAL TOWN

Just 250 km from Paris in beautiful Burgundy you will come across one of the best medieval cities of France, Semur–en-Auxois, Discover its high city and its suburbs by the river Armançon, its municipal museum, its history and its exceptional architecture. Drive down the hill into Semur-en-Auxois on a fine day and often you will see artists sketching the citadel. For this, it is a very picturesque town with attractive houses, antique ironmongery on the walls and doors and narrow streets. By day, the magnificent fortress looks onto the pretty valley of the River Armançon with its weeping willows and weirs. By night, the gigantic towers and ramparts are softly illuminated to create a spectacle all their own.

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The Entrance to the Town

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Cobblestone Streets

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3.  Cadaqués, Spain (pop. 2837)

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SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

It is said that on one of his trips to Barcelona, Einstein escaped to Cadaqués after his interest was piqued by a recommendation from one of his hosts. Upon arriving, he was so overwhelmed by the beauty and so affected by emotion that he began to play the violin.

Throughout the twentieth century, this small fishing village was a centre of attraction for great artistic figures, such as Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, García Lorca, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The latter had childhood attachments to this area, as it was a summer holiday destination for his family.

Cadaqués remains a special place. The Pyrenees come to an abrupt end as they meet the Mediterranean Sea, and the isolation this provides from the surrounding world explains how Cadaqués has been able to preserve its purity. Yesterday, like today, the two thousand and a few inhabitants who live here view it with a very special sense and sensibility. Fortunately, Cadaqués is a dream that nobody has yet awakened from.

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Sunset in Cadaqués

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The View from the Sea

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4.  Bled, Slovenia (pop. 6322)

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A SIGHT IN YOUR MEMORY FOR EVER

Bled is a small town located in Gorenjska region, Slovenia’s most popular resort due to its breath – taking scenery. Lonely Planet chose Bled as one of the top 10 regions to visit in 2018! In the center of everything is Lake Bled (Blejsko jezero). Lake Bled is a picture-perfect mountain lake with emerald green water and a tear shaped isle in the middle. A fairy tale like church stands on the Isle and an imposing medieval Bled Castle stands tall on a rocky cliff overlooking the lake and the town.

Culinary scene of Bled is based on locally produced food. Bled also serves as an access point for Triglav National Park, where eco livestock free range breeding is extremely important and is also a big part of the local tradition. The most famous dish is a desert called Kremšnita, a cake made of vanilla custard and crème.

Bled is known as an access point for many outdoor activities – hiking, biking, swimming, rafting, and various other water sport activities. Rowing boats or more traditional Pletna boats are a great way to explore the lake. For something different, Hot air balloon flights are a great way to experience the amazing and breathtaking views of Lake Bled and nearby Julian Alps.

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Blejski Grad

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The Lake

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5.     Budva, Montenegro (pop. 13300)

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PEARL OF THE ADRIATIC

Budva is welcoming its guests all year around. Either you look for crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean, backed by gorgeous mountains or a vibrant nightlife or even explore the alleyways of the fortified medieval old town, Budva has a lot to offer to its visitors. The city is home to a variety of lodging options ranging from luxurious resorts to small cozy apartments in stone building restored for the comfort of those who seek privacy. As well as the old town, Budva area is home to many fine restaurants offering delicious seafood from the Adriatic Sea.

Budva is also ideally located within the reach of the most untouched parts of the country where nature lovers enjoy lots of adrenaline raising activities in its mountains, lakes and rivers.

An incentive trip combining all these in the beautiful environement of Budva is quite a unique experience to remember.

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Panoramic View

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The Port

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6.  Zhovkva, Ukraine (pop.13594)

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A HIDDEN TREASURE OF UKRAINE

Old Slavic Vinnyky. Medieval Zolkiew. Soviet Nesteriv. With each change in history this town changed its name and appearance. However, the centre is the same as in medieval times and is again called Zhovkva.

Zhovkva is a small Renaissance town 25 km north to Lviv, the former residence of the King of Poland Jan Sobieski III.

Zhovkva was founded in 1594 as a private town, by Polish military commander Stanislaw Zolkiewski who had decided to build a “perfect city”. From those times, the city kept the most glorious monuments: an impressive Zhovkva Castle, marvelous St. Lawrence Catholic Church, which is a real Renaissance work of art, a sophisticated house of the Town Hall, and a spacious Vicheva Square.The history of the city keeps memory of the numerous historical events that influenced the development of not only Ukraine, but also the entire Europe. In different periods, such famous people as Napoleon Bonaparte, B. Khmelnitsky and Peter I visited Zhovkva. The entire central part of the town has the status of historical and cultural reserve of national importance. The Church of Holy Trinity was listed as the UNESCO World Heritage, amongst 16 wooden churches of the Carpathian Region.

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A Panoramic View

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The Square

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7.  Alaçatı, Turkey (pop. 9745)

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ROMANTIC WEEKENDS

Alaçatı as an extension of Cesme resort in Izmir, a small town  for calmness, relaxation and recovery. You can find small, cozy and romantic hotels in this town. It offers you a lot of possibilities; a beautiful nature, excellent restaurants & cozy cafes, romantic bars, a lot of shops and antique stores, one of the most famous open bazaars of the region, the beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters and some of the best wind and kite surfing paradise in the country. It is a unique place to fall in love. With its mild climate, it is considered a beautiful holiday destination throughout the year.

Stay in a boutique hotel, walk along the narrow streets surrounded by typical stone houses of the town, visit the small antiquity shops in the hidden corners that will offer you memorable souvenirs to pamper yourself, taste the delicious Aegean vegetable cuisine in the small restaurants, walk to the hill of the hundred years old windmills for photoshoot , sit on the beach and watch the windsurfers dancing on the sea. Enjoy every breath you take in this small Aegean Town…That is all about Alacati.

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Alacati Sokaklari

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Sokak

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8.  Asolo, Italy (pop. 9085)

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THE CITY OF A HUNDRED HORIZONS

Just 80 km from Venice, defined by Giosuè Carducci the City of a Hundred Horizons, Asolo is one of the most picturesque old town centres in Italy. Contained within the ancient walls that branch off from the 12th century fortress, in every corner it preserves testimonies of its thousand-year old history. A fascinating place on the rolling Asolan hills, Asolo was a destination for poets and writers, artists and travellers that found inspiration and harmony here. Among them the English poet Robert Browning, the Divine theatre actress Eleonora Duse, the composer Gian Francesco Malipiero, the English writer and traveller Freya Stark. A visit to Asolo allows you to combine the pleasure for history and culture with that of dining. In taverns, restaurants, cafes and wine bars that overlook the characteristic arcades and squares you can enjoy delicious dishes prepared with the finest local produce and linked to the Venetian culinary tradition, such as the delicious “Cicchetti” (venetians tapas). All accompanied by a glass of sparkling Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG, the excellence of this land.

 

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Canal Bridge in Asolo

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Τhe Castle

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9.  Kazimierz Dolny, Poland (pop. 3572)

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ROYAL AND CHARMING

Kazimierz Dolny is not only one of the oldest, but also one of the most charming towns in Poland. Located 140 km from Warsaw, it proudly stretches on the Vistula bank. Being a royal city and one of the main shipping ports during the Golden Age, it is now a place full of picturesque wooden villas and beautiful verandas, which are an outstanding architectural jewel.

The unique natural landscape of the Vistula valley strengthens the charm of this town, which is surrounded by a dense loess network of woody green hills and magnificent lush gardens. The atmosphere of not only artistic bohemia, but also traces of the Jewish “shtetl Kuzmir” together with the culture, spirit of the Renaissance and idyllic landscape attract thousands of visitors each year.

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Photos by courtesy of Town Hall in Kazimierz Dolny

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A Great View of the Town (Photos by courtesy of Town Hall in Kazimierz Dolny)

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10.   Milos, Greece (pop.900)

 

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A GREEK ISLAND LIKE NO OTHER

Milos, like Santorini, is an island that is not only rich in spectacular sunset views and minerals but also in the things that travelers come to Greece looking for: beautiful beaches, inspiring views, a rich history, white-washed Cycladic villages, excellent food and good-hearted people. Combined with Sifnos, one hour away, Milos makes a perfect holiday destination for those who want to experience the real Greece in all its beauty, without the crowds that are found in the more popular Greek Islands and at a fraction of the price.

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A Fishing Village

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Famous Beach

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11.   Rovinj, Croatia (pop. 14294)

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ROMANTIC SPIRIT

Rovinj is a town in Croatia situated on the western coast of Istrian peninsula. First built on a small island and later connected with the mainland, Rovinj is a typical Istrian town. Steep and narrow cobbled streets are full of local shops and art galleries. A majestic Cathedral of Saint Euphemia stands tall on a hill overlooking the town. Despite being a major tourist destination, Rovinj remains one of the last true Mediterranean fishing ports. Tradition and romantic spirit of the town are best experienced during warm summer nights, when a visit to one of numerous music concerts under the stars is mandatory. There you can combine traditional Istrian music with seafood delicacies drizzled in homemade olive oil, and delicious local wine. And if you wish to indulge in dining of the highest class, it is worth noting that since 2017 Rovinj is the only place in Croatia that has a Michelin star restaurant.

Rovinj and its surroundings have a lot to offer. Just off the coast lies so called Rovinj archipelago, consisting of 14 small islands which make for pleasant afternoon trips. Various water sport activities offer great fun in a crystal-clear sea such as sailing, scuba diving, canoe rides, and fishing. Or hop on a boat and head into the Lim valley canal and visit mystic pirate caves.

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Lovely Rovinj

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Mirroring of the Town

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