(Last Updated On: July 14, 2021)

One of my absolute favourite things to do is to get lost exploring the narrow laneways and cobble stoned streets of the beautiful old towns in Europe.

There’s nothing quite like strolling amongst the historic neighbourhoods or sitting in a quaint café and people watching.

And as Europe starts to come back to life again, what better way to inspire some European wanderlust than with this collection of the most beautiful old towns in Europe that should be on your bucket list to visit?

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Amsterdam

The Netherlands

Visit Amsterdam and fall in love with its 200-year-old canals lined with 17th to 18th century architecture. The tall, thin, large-windowed, gable canal buildings are unlike anything else you will find, making this city one of the best old towns in Europe.

Explore the picturesque 9 Streets in the quaint Jordaan neighbourhood. This area is literally made up of a grid pattern of 3 streets by 3 streets. They sit right in the middle of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the canal belt and are brimming with charming shops, delicious eateries and boutique hotels.

Next, head to Albert Cuypmarkt. The city’s largest market offers endless stalls of flowers, produce and cheese. Sample some of the local specialties like frites (fries), poffertjes (tiny Dutch pancakes dusted with icing sugar) and caramel syrup-filled stroopwafels.

Amsterdam is also home to some world-class museums. Visit the Rijksmuseum offering a rotating display of artwork and artifacts that tell the Dutch 800-year story. Or, perhaps the Vincent Van Gogh Museum which holds the world’s largest collection of his work.

Or, learn about the haunting story of the Frank family by visiting the Anne Frank House. This museum provides a moving memorial to all the lives lost during the Holocaust.

Contributed by Renee of Dream Plan Experience

Avignon

France

Once home to Rome’s Popes, and countless distinguished artists throughout the years, Avignon is bursting at the seams with historical monuments, cultural curiosities, and well-preserved vestiges of times past. In fact, the entire historical centre of Avignon has been granted UNESCO status for its importance in France’s historical landscape.

One of the best things to do in Avignon is to simply stroll through the cobbled lanes, taking in every detail, and stumbling upon hidden gardens and secret passageways as you go. You’ll be lured in by the enchanting looking boutiques, and the bustling central market, Les Halles.

Of course, with its artistic past, there are a number of galleries and museums to peruse as well, and leafy courtyards if you just want a place to sit and observe.

Head along to Hotel d’Europe for one such courtyard where you can enjoy a five-star dining experience in a sublime setting. Nearby, you’ll find Les Jardins de Baracane which is an exceptional place to stay within the old town walls.

Contributed by Nadine from Le Long Weekend

Bath

United Kingdom

Bath is one of the most beautiful old towns in Europe. The UNESCO World Heritage listed city in the Somerset region of the United Kingdom is famous for its geothermal hot springs and its historic Ancient Roman Baths that are the city’s most visited attraction.

Like most European old towns, Bath is quaint and historic featuring cobblestoned streets and architecture that hearkens back to another time. The famous Royal Crescent of Bath is the perfect example of the buildings of the time and is utterly photogenic in any weather.

Famed writer Jane Austen spent time growing up here and Bath features regularly in her novels. Her influence is felt throughout the city, with the must-visit Jane Austen Centre offering visitors the chance to explore Bath through her eyes.

The Bath Abbey is also a famous sight in the city, with this sacred site recognised in local history since 675 AD and the famous cathedral that now stands there has been worshipped in since 1611.

For a luxe stay, the Gainsborough Bath Spa or the Royal Crescent Hotel will give you a taste of the Bath high life in one of the most beautiful historic old towns in Europe.

Contributed by me, Emma Jane Explores

Bern

Switzerland

With its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Old Town of the Swiss city of Bern is one of the best old towns in Europe.  The city was severely damaged by fire in 1405 and the sandstone buildings that line the cobbled streets today have done so since the early 15th century.

As well as pretty squares, Bern Old Town is home to the Zytglogge astronomical clock, the tallest Cathedral in Switzerland and six kilometres of medieval covered arcades, all of which are worth a visit.

There are also more than one hundred fountains throughout the Old Town including eleven 16th century Renaissance fountains. Each portrays a real or fictional character from Bern’s history.

Another of the top things to do in Bern Old Town is a visit to Einstein House, where the world famous physicist developed his theory of relativity.

For fabulous views over the Old Town, Bern skyline and River Aare, head to The Rose Garden, a public park that is home to not only roses but cherry trees and iris, too.

After a day exploring the historic centre of the city, head to The Bristol, a 4-star hotel in the heart of the medieval Old Town and close to the main train station. 

Contributed by Carolyn of Holidays to Switzerland

Bologna

Italy

Bologna, Italy, is a laid-back Italian city with the most appropriate nickname of “La Dotta, La Grassa e La Rossa” (“The Educated, the Fat, and the Red”). One of the best-preserved old towns in Europe, the city dates back to the Etruscans. Medieval buildings are scattered throughout the city among restaurants, shops, and residences.

Bologna has much to see and do. While it is widely known as a foodie city, there are also over 27 miles of covered porticoes, a feature that’s unique to Bologna. It is also the home of the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world founded in 1088.

Visit the incredible library and the anatomical theatre where DaVinci himself taught medical students.

The Piazza Maggiore is the largest and most popular piazza in the city and a great place to spend a little time. It borders the Quadrilatero, the oldest market in Bologna, and today you can eat your way through to your heart’s content.

If visiting the city for a few days consider the Hotel Metropolitan, a great choice with just a short walk to the Piazza Maggiore.

Contributed by Lori from Italy Foodies

Brasov

Romania

Brasov Old Town has a fascinating history, beautiful architecture and is surrounded by medieval Saxon walls making it one of the most interesting old towns in Europe.

It is home to the Gothic-style Black Church, various towers, bastions and gates. Brasov has many influences in terms of architecture, the most prominent being the German Saxons.

The main square Piaţa Sfatului is lined with baroque buildings. The square is a hive of activity, with lots of restaurants, bars and events. Pickles is a fantastic place to dine out for traditional Transylvanian food or something a bit more modern.

Brasov’s old town is great to explore on foot, especially following the medieval walls. However, the best views of the old town area and distinctive red roof are from the top of Mount Tampa, the mountain in the city.

As Brasov is a city in the mountains, there is beauty everywhere. They also have museums to visit to learn about the more turbulent times in the city’s history.

Contributed by Rich from RJ On Tour

Bratislava

Slovakia

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia contains one of the best old towns in Europe. It is an easy hop from Vienna and a fun place to spend a weekend. Bratislava’s old town is very walkable. Stay at the Art Hotel Williams for a very central location. 

The old town of Bratislava has many cool sites to keep you busy for a day or two. The main attraction is Bratislava Castle, built in the 800s. It contains a museum inside. Make sure to also check out Michael’s Gate, the only city gate left from the medieval times. Old Town Hall is also nearby, which is the oldest city hall in the country. You can climb the tower for views of the city or visit the museum inside. 

History lovers will find the Primatial Palace interesting as this is where the fourth Peace of Pressburg was signed. Also within the old town is the infamous Man at Work statue as well as a few other statues scattered about. 

When you are hungry, grab a bite to eat at the Slovak Pub, Mondieu, or Konditorei Kormuth. The Slovak Pub offers an extensive menu of local fare. Make sure to try a Kofola, a Coca-Cola substitute drank during the communist era when Coke was outlawed.

Contributed by Francesca from Homeroom Travel

Bruges

Belgium

Bruges is about as close to a fairytale village as you can get and is undoubtedly one of the most magical old towns in Europe. This medieval city centres around the Markt Square and features a picturesque canal ring that really is the stuff of storybooks. In fact, the entire area of the Bruges old town is UNESCO World Heritage listed.

The Belfort tower looms over the market square as it has since 1240, chiming out the hour. From the top of the tower, the best views of Bruges can be taken in, though be warned that you will need to huff and puff your way up 366 steps to make it to the top.

The old town of Bruges offers many treats such as a delightful shop that only sells Christmas items year round, a brilliant beer museum and brewery and a quirky interactive journey through Bruges history at the Historium. But the greatest experience of a visit to one of Europe’s best old towns is always to wander through the narrow streets circling the canal ring to take in just how beautiful this village is.

Bruges accommodation is plentiful as it is well on tourist radars now. The Duke’s Palace is perfect for a great upmarket stay, but if you’re looking for backpacker style dorm accommodation, Hostel Lybeer is perfect.

Contributed by me, Emma Jane Explores 

Český Krumlov

Czech Republic

One of the most enchanting old towns in Europe is Český Krumlov in the South Bohemia region of the Czech Republic. A rare Baroque theater, an incredible castle, a beautiful Cathedral and narrow cobbled streets earned Český Krumlov the designation of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

Much of this medieval town has been preserved including the magnificent State Castle. Take the tour of the castle chambers and museum located in the oldest part of the complex. Interestingly, bears have been kept next to the castle moat since the 13th century.

The narrow cobblestone streets of Český Krumlov are lined with examples of Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture. There are wonderful restaurants serving local specialties, and interesting shops throughout town, and you can walk to them all.

Visit in the Fall to experience the St. Wenceslaus Celebration. The town square is filled with vendors serving South Bohemian food specialties and local wines and beer.

The luxurious Hotel Bellevue is a very good value and has a great location. For dinner, the inviting Mastal Restaurant is the place for local cuisine especially for meat lovers. A visit to this quaint fairytale-like town should absolutely be on everyone’s bucket list.

Contributed by Lori from Travelinmad

Dubrovnik

Croatia

The gorgeous Croatian coast is well-known for the breathtaking landscapes, historic architecture, the turquoise Adriatic Sea, more than a thousand stunning islands, fabulous sailing, thrilling island hopping, and tasty sun-kissed organic food.

But one place stands out from the rest on the magical Croatian coast – sensational Dubrovnik Old Town. Amazing Dubrovnik, nicknamed ‘the Pearl of the Adriatic’, is one of the most beautiful old towns in Europe and beyond. The incredible Old City of Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its impressive medieval architecture and magnificent Dubrovnik Walls.

Medieval Dubrovnik was an important Mediterranean trading port and a powerful rival to the medieval Venice Republic. Today Dubrovnik Old City walls, Baroque and Renaissance architecture along with marble, and cobbled streets showcase the glorious history of the town.

Dubrovnik Baroque churches, monasteries, and palaces, and Renaissance fountains and facades are some of the prettiest in the world. Dubrovnik in summer is a popular holiday destination, and Dubrovnik in winter is one of the sunniest European winter destinations too.

So, if you would like to see one of the most beautiful old towns in Europe and beyond, head to marvelous Dubrovnik!  Exceptional destinations like Dubrovnik don’t lack exceptional accommodations. Incredible holiday villas in Dubrovnik, luxury Pucić Palace in the heart of Dubrovnik Old City, and amazing Hotel Excelsior with panoramic views of the Dubrovnik Bay and the Old City are a fit for a king.

Treat yourself to a luxury stay in Dubrovnik and find out why celebrities are in love with magical Croatia and breathtaking Dubrovnik!

Contributed by Milijana Gabrić of World Travel Connector 

Florence

Italy

The capital of Tuscany and the centre of the Renaissance, Florence is one of the highlights of any visit to Italy and one of the loveliest old towns in Europe. The old town is compact and easily walkable, with narrow, cobblestoned streets and Renaissance architecture.

The impressive, domed Duomo is visible throughout the city, and there are many other lovely churches to visit. The medieval bridge, the Ponte Vecchio, arches over the Arno River, with beautiful palaces and the impressive Boboli Gardens on the other side.

If you enjoy art, spend some time browsing through some of the remarkable collections in the city, from the Uffizi Gallery and Michelangelo’s David to the Florence Archaeological Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art.

Also take the opportunity to enjoy some of the local foods – if you’re hungry, Florentine Steak is a must and you can’t go wrong with a good bottle of Chianti.

There’s a range of accommodation in the old town, but try and stay in an old palazzo if you can. These old places are dotted through many neighbourhoods in Florence and have often been converted into apartments.

Contributed by Roxanne from Faraway Worlds

Gamla Stan, Stockholm

Sweden

Gamla Stan is the gorgeous, colourful heart of Stockholm’s historic area. This incredible collection of winding laneways, quaint cafes and pastel painted buildings is enough to get lost in for a full day.

In three days in Stockholm, I found myself constantly drawn to returning to Gamla Stan to wander the area. The Nobel Museum is located here at Stortorget (Main Square) and features a great display of information about Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Prize.

The beautiful Lutheran cathedral, Storkyrkan, is also located in the area and if you’re lucky you may be able to here a church choir practicising as you explore.

The Royal Palace is a feature of Gamla Stan and definitely should be explored. Time your visit well and make sure that you are there to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

Gamla Stan is without a doubt one of the most remarkable old towns in Europe.

Contributed by me, Emma Jane Explores

Three Days In Stockholm

Granada

Spain

Granada is one of Europe’s best old towns, nestled into the Andalusian region of Spain. Set back against the Sierra Nevada mountain range and at the confluence of four rivers, Granada is a sight to behold.

Populated from 5500 BC, the most notable occupation of the city of Granada started in 711 AD with the Moors. For many centuries, the Moors held power here, creating the Kingdom of Granada, and established one of the most well-known Spanish landmarks, the Alhambra Palace in the 1200s. 

The Alhambra will be a highlight of your trip to Granada, as one of the most elaborate Moorish palaces in the world is located here. Imagine colourful ceramic tiles, filigreed windows, stucco stalactite ceilings, plasterwork and even calligraphy. Make sure to buy your ticket online beforehand.

Stay at the Casa de la Catedral, a bright airy apartment located at the main Cathedral and walkable to all of the city’s top attractions. You can’t visit Granada without a stop at one of the best tapas bars in town, Bar Avila. 

Recommended by Haley of Haley Blackall Travel

Kotor

Montenegro

Kotor Old Town in Montenegro is a beautiful medieval city built between the 12th and 14th centuries. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, surrounded by fortified walls, and is filled with meandering cobblestone paths, remarkable architecture and historic monuments. Hotels, restaurants and stores are found throughout, including the Hotel Vardar, which is a beautiful boutique hotel in the middle of the pedestrian-only zone. 

One of the best things to do is to explore the cobblestone paths, find a restaurant tucked away in the many plazas, sit on the patio with a cocktail in hand, and people watch. 

Kotor Old Town is located on the Bay of Kotor which is completely surrounded by majestic mountains that simply dive at sheer angles into the Sea. Where it doesn’t, beautiful little towns like Perast, are perched below it. It is a lot of fun to rent a small speedboat with a captain, explore the Bay and stop in at some of the small towns. 

Kotor Old Town is a favourite destination of cruise ships. So, if possible, try and stay a couple of days. During the day, it is busy with tourists. However, at night, the town empties out and is left for locals and visitors to enjoy.

Contributed by Nicole from Go Far Grow Close

Lisbon

Portugal

Lisbon should be on any European itinerary as it’s an incredible city that should not be missed. It’s the second-oldest capital in Europe and home to some of the world’s greatest explorers. Lisbon is known for its spectacular beaches, incredible seafood and local wine, stunning architecture, and Portuguese blue and white azulejos tiles.

Lisbon was actually nearly destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1755. The resulting fires and overflowing of the Tagus River nearly finished the job except for the Alfama district, one of the oldest areas in the city.

It’s a winding maze of small streets making their way up a steep hill to the Castle of St. Jorge. Enjoy the incredible city views from this neighborhood perched high on the tallest hill in the city.

Stay right in the Alfama neighborhood to enjoy the most quaint and charming area of the city.

There are a lot of apartments and small hotels tucked away in this area that will make you feel like a local. And don’t miss Taberna Sal Grosso, an incredible and very small restaurant in the neighborhood. See the highlights of Lisbon in three days—it’s a city you won’t soon forget.

Contributed by Sam from My Flying Leap

Ljubljana

Slovenia

The old town of Ljubljana is special for many reasons and is one of the most historic old towns in Europe.

The first is that it centres around a castle on a hill!  Ljubljana castle was first built in the middle ages, though many of the buildings were rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries. You can reach the castle via a fun and steep funicular and from the castle walls, there are stunning panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

The second reason is that it is very, very clean.  Ljubljana was awarded the Green Capital of Europe in 2016, and its efforts to create a clean city have paid off. Many of the cobbled streets of the old town are pedestrian and cyclist-only, helping to make them very pleasant to walk around.

The third reason is that, unlike some other old towns in Europe, Lljubljana is not spoiled by theme bars and rowdy stag trips. It is relatively inexpensive, compared to other European capitals, but doesn’t have that ‘cheap booze destination’ reputation of other affordable cities.

And other than the old town itself, there many more reasons to visit Ljubliana so do consider it for a citybreak.

Contributed by Martha from May Cause Wanderlust

Lucerne

Switzerland

Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s prettiest cities and its old town will make you feel you’ve been transported to a fairy-tale! Flanked by the beautiful Lake Lucerne and the river Reuss, and with snow-capped mountains in the distance, this is one old town that is oozing with natural beauty as well as history & culture.

One of the best things to do in Lucerne is to take a stroll along the river, into the old town and then loop around to the lake. Most of Lucerne’s prettiest sights can be explored on foot along this route.

During your stroll through the old town, make sure to stop at Läderach to sample some of the best Swiss chocolates and at Bachmann for some fantastic ice cream!

The iconic Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) on the river Reuss and the water tower next to it date back to the 14th century. The Chapel Bridge leads into the cobblestoned old town of Lucerne with winding streets inviting you to get lost in them! Lucerne’s old city wall, Museggmauer and the Town Hall are some of the iconic spots to visit in the old town. Other notable sights include the Lion Monument built in the 1800s and the church of St. Leodegar dating back to the 15th century.

During your trip to Lucerne, stay at Ameron Luzern Hotel Flora or Hotel Des Alpes – both are located close to the old town and to the train station.

Contributed by Smita from My Faulty Compass

Nice

France

Nice is the beating heart of the French Riveria. The Old Town in Nice centres around the Cours Saleya marketplace, just across the road from the beach and the famous Promenade des Anglais.

There are so many things to see, do and eat in Nice, but the best activities and restaurants lie in the Vieille Ville historic neighbourhood, where one of the best old towns in Europe awaits.

There are beautiful buildings in the old quarter, including the magnificent Nice Opera House and the lovely Eglise du Jésu. The buildings in Old Nice are pastel-painted with coloured shutters over the windows and in between the alleyways, strings of lights illuminate the cobblestone streets.

To get the best view of the Old Town of Nice, climb up the many steps to the Colline du Château where a picture-postcard view of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea and the Vieille Ville can be taken in for free. 

For the best accommodation in the old town, I love the Mercure Marché Aux Fleurs. 

Contributed by me, Emma Jane Explores

15 Things To Do in Nice - Emma Jane Explores

Piran

Slovenia

Beautiful Piran is the jewel of the tiny, 47-kilometre Slovenian coastline, blending fantastic Adriatic views with a charming little Old Town. Filled with atmospheric plazas and outstanding seafood restaurants, simply wandering the narrow, cobblestoned lanes is one of the most enjoyable activities for visitors.

However, there are still several exceptional Piran highlights to focus on, as well. Tartini Square is a photogenic space overlooking the fishing vessels packed into the harbour. The Church of St. George and its impressive Bell Tower combine fascinating historical context with even more excellent views.

Meanwhile, the famed Walls of Piran are phenomenal to explore, offer an unparalleled look over the red-roofed Old Town and are an amazing value with just a €2 entrance fee.

Within the classic alleys of the Old Town you’ll find many places to enjoy a drink, shop for traditional Slovenian art or rent an apartment for a longer stay. Piran has some of the most incredible sunsets in the country, best appreciated from one of the waterfront lounges lining the pleasant malecon.

Contributed by Dean and Laynni at Routinely Nomadic

Poznań

Poland

Although smaller compared to many of Europe’s grand Old Town, Poznań Poland’s charming square has captured the hearts of many travelers.

The Stary Rynek in Poznań has many attractions like the colorful Merchants’ Houses with bright and beautiful designs. At noon, catch the performance of the “fighting goats” at the Town Hall’s clock tower. Poznań’s love for goats and the romanticized legend can be seen all throughout the city in signposts, murals, and other small details.

At the four corners of the Old Town, find eye-catching fountains, many of them paying homage to the mythological Greek Gods. In the heart of Stary Rynek, find multiple museums to explore.

Just a few steps away from the heart of the plaza, appreciate the Royal Castle. There’s also the nearby Fara Poznańska, the bright pink Basilica that offers weekly organ concerts.

Poznań’s Old Town is laced with cafes and restaurants boasting plenty of outdoor seating. The region has its own cuisine and is known for their love of cooking with potatoes. Sample these traditional dishes at Wiejskie Jadło.

For something special, try Brovaria, a microbrewery and hotel located right in the heart of Old Town.

Contributed by Megan from Packing up the Pieces

Riga

Latvia

Riga is the capital of Latvia, a country in the Baltic region of Europe where one third of the country’s population live. The county had been under Swedish, Polish, Russian Empire, Soviet and Nazi rule until final independence in 1990.

The old town historic centre of Vecrīga is UNESCO World Heritage listed and is one of the most beautiful old towns in Europe.

Riga’s Old Town was established in 1201 and soon became an important part of the Hanseatic League until the end of the medieval period. So, in the centre there are still many buildings from that period.

You should not miss Town Hall and House of the Blackheads which was rebuilt after independence. Riga had a golden age in the 19th century and from that time there are many Jugendstil aka Art Nouveau buildings. The best examples of this style of architecture can be found at 10a and 10b on Elizabetes Street, by Mikhail Eisenstein.

If you would like to see some green areas, the best option would be to walk around Pilsētas Kanāls where you’ll find Bastejkalns Parks and Freedom Monument.

Contributed by Džangir from Dr Jam Travels

Salzburg

Austria

Looking for a well-preserved Old Town reminiscent of years past? Check out Salzburg – Austria’s crown jewel on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Walk down the cobblestoned streets. Take a cruise on the Salzach River. Explore the birthplace of Mozart right in the center of Salzburg’s most famous shopping street, the Getreidegasse.

Salzburg is an easily walkable town. However, a carriage ride throughout the city center is a wonderful way to experience the rich history and scenery of this Baroque masterpiece.

Don’t leave without exploring the Hohensalzburg Fortress, the largest preserved castle in Central Europe. Catch a glimpse of Old Town Salzburg from high above the city where it was once guarded from any hostile attacks.

Then, stop in at one of the many beer gardens dotting the city as you meander the winding streets. There are so many things to do in Salzburg! Three days in this magical city gives you a glimpse into its past and makes you treasure your time here now.

Christine at Treasured Family Travels

San Marino

San Marino

San Marino, one of the oldest cities in Europe, is also the capital city of the micro-country San Marino. This hidden gem is surrounded by Italy and is the oldest country in the world. The city (and country) are home to breathtaking views of the Italian countryside, while an impressive castle stands tall on top of the mountain.

The best thing to do in San Marino is to go to the top of Monte Titano and explore the towering castle. There are three towers looming over the city- dating back to the 11th century! Guaita is the first and oldest tower. Cesta, the second tower is on the highest peak and has a museum inside with over 1500 weapons dating back to the Medieval Era. Montale, the third tower, is on the smallest summit and not open to the public.

Once you’ve finished exploring the castle, you can visit some of the unique museums. The National Museum of San Marino and the Basilica de San Marino allow you to learn about the history of this country! Grab hand-tossed pizza at Ristorante II Beccaficco nearby. If you have a car, be sure to park at the top of the mountain so you can walk around and enjoy yourself.

No matter what you decide to see in San Marino, you’ll be glad you visited! 

Contributed by Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Tallinn

Estonia

The Old Town of Tallinn is one of the few wholly preserved medieval city centers in Europe and still has the original 13th century layout. This UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997, consists of a Lower and Upper part which boast a mix of medieval and Hanseatic architecture.

Stepping through the gates of the old city wall feels like stepping back in time. Winding narrow cobblestone streets lead you through row after row of colorful houses, shopfronts, and restaurants. For a beautiful view of the Old Town, head up to one of the lookout points in the upper part of the town. To learn more about the history of Tallinn, visit the Kiek in de Kök museum and join the Tallinn in a Nutshell Walking Tour.

The central square with the impressive Town Hall is especially magical in December when it houses a beautiful Christmas market. In the town hall you will also find Ill Draakon, a medieval tavern where you can enjoy some old-fashioned food and drinks. Feel like royalty in one of the Rataskaevu Boutique luxury apartments.

Once you have explored the Old Town, be sure to see the rest of Tallinn as well!

Contributed by Sophie from Just Heading Out

Tbilisi

Georgia

One of the most underrated Old Towns in Europe can be found in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, a country whose tourism industry is quickly gaining acclaim around the world. “Old Tbilisi,” or the Tbilisi Historic District, sports a dramatic location set on the side of a hill overlooking the Kura River.

With buildings dating to the 5th century, including several historic sulphur bathhouses still in use to this day, wandering the old town is one of the most popular activities in Georgia. You’ll soon appreciate why Tbilisi’s eclectic style prompted National Geographic to title it “The World’s Most Bohemian City.”

When visiting Old Tbilisi, be sure to stop by the Art Cafe for a drink and stunning views over the city. You also should definitely take the cable car to the top of the hill, where you can join the famous Mother of Georgia statue in looking out over the city.

If staying overnight, the Amante Narikala hotel offers a taste of modern luxury while still maintaining a traditional Georgian style. Whatever you do, just get here fast: because word about the incredible Old Tbilisi is quickly spreading around the world!

Contributed by Nate from Travel Lemming

Toledo

Spain

Even though there are many old towns in Spain, Toledo stands out as one of the most magical. Known as the city of three cultures – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – a day in Toledo is a day well spent.

Located just south of Madrid (45 miles/73 km), Toledo makes a wonderful day trip. To get there, sign up for an organized tour, or simply hop the train. Upon arrival in the historical center, you’ll find there are many impressive monuments like the Alcázar, El Transito Synagogue, and the Church of Santo Tomé. However, the entire town is essentially a museum to enjoy!

To get the most out of your trip, visit the Toledo Cathedral, a magnificent display of Gothic architecture. Then, take a trip back in time to the medieval Jewish Quarter. If you love art, a stop at the El Greco Museum is well worth it.

When hungry, grab a ham sandwich (made with Spain’s legendary Jamón ibérico) from any of the charcuteries near the Plaza de Zocodover. Lastly, pick up a few treasures: a Toledan sword, marzipan treats, or damascene, Toledo’s traditional jewelry. 

Contributed by Tristina from Love at First Adventure

Vilnius

Lithuania

The capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, is blessed with one of the largest and loveliest old towns in Europe. The architecture is a mix of slightly rustic medieval and beautiful baroque, giving the old town a fairytale atmosphere.

The top sights in Vilnius’s old town include the magnificent 18th century cathedral with 16th century bell tower. Nearby, don’t miss Gediminas Tower; the picturesque brick keep on top of a steep hill is all that remains of Vilnius’s castle.

Vilnius has some quirkier attractions too; Literature Street commemorates writers with a Lithuanian connection, while the bohemian Užupis neighbourhood has declared itself an independent republic with its own flag, president and constitution.

Vilnius is also one of the very few places in Europe where you can take a hot air balloon ride over the old town. Even if you don’t take to the skies, the sight of balloons gliding over Vilnius’s beautiful pastel-coloured buildings is magical.

The main thoroughfare in Vilnus is Pilies Street, which runs from the Town Hall Square to the Cathedral and Gediminas Tower. The street is full of cafes and restaurants, and is also home to one of Vilnius’ best and most exciting hotels, the Artagonist Art Hotel.

Contributed by Helen on her Holidays

York

United Kingdom

York is a city in England that has one of the most colourful histories, making it one of the most interesting old towns in Europe. York’s history includes Vikings, Romans and warring Kings and Queens.

It is a city that despite its extremely dark past shines today with its mix of old and new, embracing its past and looking to protect it for the future.
There are so many things to do in York that will have you amazed at what the city has to offer.

York is a walled city and the walls that surround it are easily walked. Walking the York City Walls allow you to get a perspective of the city that you can’t get on the ground. York Minster rises over the city and on a beautiful day shines brightly in the sun. There are also Town Gates that are still intact and they house some great exhibits of past Kings.

But don’t think you can’t get epic views wandering the streets of York too.

One of the most famous streets in York is The Shambles. The old-time themed shops and 13th century styled buildings that seem to be defying gravity by still standing. It has to be one of the most photographed streets in England as well.

If you are looking for a cheap and easy place to eat the local Wetherspoons has great meals and a great atmosphere with plenty of locals in the pub.
York is a wonderful city in England to visit and one that has so much to offer families, singles and solo travellers.

Contributed by Bec from Wyld Family Travel

Zadar

Croatia

Old Town Zadar, on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, is a must-visit European Old Town. There are so many fun things to do in Zadar that you will wish you had allowed more time in your itinerary for this fun destination.

Old Town Zadar is known for its extraordinarily beautiful architecture. Its cathedral will remind you of Italy, and the views from the top of the tower are magnificent. There are other churches scattered about the town, as well as some ancient Roman ruins and some old wells.

And Zadar’s famous Sea Organ and Salutation to the Sun are located just a short walk from the Roman ruins, so do not miss these unique attractions.

Strolling the streets of Old Town Zadar is fun. The streets are narrow, and lively all through the day and well into the evening. The market makes for a fun visit as well: you can pick up fresh fruit, nuts, and other treats.

While you may want to look for an apartment, to feel like a local, Art Hotel Kalelarga makes for a wonderful stay in the heart of all the action.

Contributed by Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

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The Most Beautiful Old Towns In Europe - Emma Jane Explores
The Most Beautiful Old Towns In Europe - Emma Jane Explores

10 Comments

  1. Linda jane

    Such a great list of beautiful towns. I been to a few but there’s lots more to see. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
    • Emma Jane Explores

      Thank you for stopping by & glad you enjoyed them! So many to choose from. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Sharyn

    What a great list of beautiful old towns in Europe. I think Gamla Stan is one of my favourites.

    Reply
  3. Elena Pappalardo

    These towns are simply gorgeous! What a great list you’ve compiled. Stockholm is so colorful – it definitely caught my eye!

    Reply
    • Emma Jane Explores

      I loved Stockholm. It completely blew my mind – especially when travelling in Summer as the sun doesn’t set until 10.30pm. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Krista

    This is an amazing list of old towns! I’ve been to a couple on your list but not most of them. I love walking around old towns and looking at historic sites – you’re making me want to book a trip to a new country now!

    Reply
    • Emma Jane Explores

      I’m so eager to get back over to Europe – we’re back in lockdown in Sydney and it just feels sooooo far away. Fingers crossed you’re able to book a trip so I can live vicariously 🙂

      Reply
  5. Erin

    I’d love to visit any of these, but I think I’m particularly drawn to Bern and Bruges. So many incredible options! Bucket list 🙂

    Reply

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