Garmisch-Partenkirchen is an enchanting town in the heights of the Zugspitze mountain, the tallest in Germany at a height of nearly 3,000 meters. The town was originally two separate settlements, one Roman and the other Teutonic. In anticipation of the 1936 Winter Olympics, the two towns were forced to combine.
2. Village in the Himalayas, Tibet
This one of many towns built to support monasteries hidden in the Himalaya mountains that are only accessible by foot or horse.
3. Gasadalur Village, Faroe Islands
The Faroes are an easily missed but mystifying chain of islands north of Scotland. For many years, the islands were difficult to access, with sheer cliffs rising from the beaches and a single staircase built during the British occupation of the islands in World War II. The undeniably lucky 18 people that live in the village are nestled between two 2,300 foot tall mountains.
4. Colmar, France
Colmar is considered the capital of wine from the Alsatian district, known for its exquisite aromas. The town was first founded in the 1200s, during the height of the Holy Roman Empire, which ruled much of Europe. Since then, the town has earned the nickname “Little Venice” because of the waterways that twist through the Medieval streets.
5. Bled, Slovenia
Sheltered by picturesque mountains, Bled was founded in 1004 and considered so beautiful by the Holy Roman Emperor that it was gifted to the Bishop of Brixen. The castle at Bled sits in the center of the enchanting Lake Bled which borders the town. The town of 5,000 is now notable for having some of the most beautiful health spas in the area.
6. Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt, one of Austria’s oldest settlements, was originally founded in 5000 BC to exploit the vast salt reserves in the breathtaking mountains that surround the town. So much salt was produced by the town that in the 1300s, miners made the first industrial pipeline from 13,000 hollowed out trees. To this day, the day still mines salt, but is also considered a treasure trove of human history and one of the most beautiful towns in Austria.
7. Manarola, Italy
Manarola is a charming rainbow of brightly colored houses carved into an impenetrable wall of stone. The church dates back to 1338, making this town one of the oldest in the region, most likely being built for its strong natural defenses. Now, the town is more famous for its delightful wine and the paintings of Antonio Discovolos, who adored the town.
8. Bibury, England
Bibury is often referred to as the most beautiful town in England, and for good reason. The town was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and has thankfully been trapped in the past ever since. Most of the town is still as it was hundreds of years ago and the River Coin still dominates the main street.
9. Shirakawa-go Village, Japan
Shirakawa-go is a small, traditional village known for its incredibly steep roofs that were made to withstand some of the heaviest snowfall in the world. The dense, mystifying forests and looming hills that surround and hide the village make the area incredibly hard to occupy, other than the small piece of flatland the village was founded on.
10. Morro de São Paulo, Brazil
Morro de São Paulo is so tranquil that the only way to get to the village is by boat or charter flight because no cars are allowed on the island. The village sits upon three beautiful jungle-topped hills at a point where the Canal de Taperoá meets a crystal blue Atlantic. In the past, the island acted as both a cove for pirates and a stronghold for the Portuguese.
11. Pucisca, Croatia
The island of Brac is home to some of the highest quality stone in Europe and that’s exactly why Pucisca was built. Both the altar to the Roman God Jupiter and more modern architecture are exquisite works of art – as is the natural landscape that surrounds the town. When you consider that the small town has been home to some of the finest stonemasons in history, this should come as no surprise.
12. Eze, France
Eze is a collection of villages, with a population of less than 3,000, situated along the exotic French Riviera and on top of a hill which offers breathtaking views. These settlements have been populated since around 2,000 BC and have been occupied by the Roman Empire, Moors, Provenance and Savoy.
13. Tenby, Wales
In Welsh, Tenby translates roughly to “little fortress of the fish.” The town, a naturally defended and bountiful harbor with access to the Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean was settled as far back as 900 AD. After the Norman Conquest of England, the town was fortified with a massive wall to hold Welsh rebellions at bay. From the 1800s onwards, the town became more renowned for its beauty than defenses.