Interacting with the locals and experiencing the authentic atmosphere of village life is definitely the most special way to enjoy your getaway.
We’ve gathered the top ten most picturesque, small towns in coastal areas of Europe to add to your itinerary.
Portofino: a picturesque village in Liguria, located east of Genoa, Italy that stretches in a crescent shape along the edge of the Italian Riviera. Situated on its own peninsula, Portofino has an exclusive Mediterranean personality that is complemented by its ancient marine culture and its characteristic brightly-coloured houses that line the bay. Portofino is a village especially loved by artists and famous faces for its gorgeous scenery and landscape.
The piazetta by the harbour is lined with cafes and tables, making it a lovely place to relax and enjoy unparalleled views of the Mediterranean. Designer boutiques, jewellers and yachting shops make this town a must for enthusiasts of any kind.
A beautiful French city that sits on the border with Italy, filled with adorable pastel buildings and an amazing beach. It is the last stop on the French Riviera, which is why it is often overlooked by regular travellers, but fortunately retaining its wonderful, historic atmosphere. Old-fashioned and incredible during summer, since the city’s microclimate gives it that little extra warmth during sunny days.
There is an abundance of sightseeing and relaxing to do. Menton features a museum dedicated to artist-poet Jean Cocteau, as well as a museum of Beaux Arts, which was built as a summer palace for the princes of Monaco and now displays myriad artworks.
Monemvasia is Europe’s only castle that has never ceased being inhabited, and is an amazing sight. Found on the coastline of the Myrtoan Sea, the fortress is complete with cobbled streets and beautiful, Medieval architecture.
When you visit, getting to the top of the castle will treat you with an incredible view of the sea. In the inhabited part of the area, treat yourself to shopping and lunch in an exquisitely Medieval Greek setting.
Mellieħa is a small town in North-West Malta, about 150 meters above sea level, offering a spectacular view of the Mellieħa Bay, Malta’s largest sandy beach. A quiet area that exudes typical Maltese village life, it is the perfect place for a holiday filled with sun and sea in Southern Europe. As well as a beautiful coastline, Mellieħa is dotted with historical buildings, such as the Church of Our Lady of Victory, giving this ancient Maltese city an extraordinary charm.
The beautiful town is not far from the original set of 1980s Disney film Popeye, the area known as Sweethaven Village, which has become a colourful tourist attraction with rustic, pastel-coloured houses and actors dressed as characters, so be sure to visit for photo opportunities.
Sveti Stefan is a town filled with narrow streets, quaint shops and small churches. It’s a town built in a unique location: a rocky island connected to the land by a sand strip, so it’s an extraordinary place for a getaway.
There’s an abundance of beaches and parks to spend sunny days at, and family-owned restaurants for candle-lit dinners.
A worthy mention: San Sebastián, a city situated in the Northern Basque country of Spain, a few miles away from the French border. Due to its coastal spot on the Bay of Biscay, it experiences very warm summers, which are ideal for perfecting that summer glow.
The area is renowned for its delicious Basque cuisine, so no wonder the small city is home to several Michelin star restaurants. The Constitution square plaza and the cathedral are exquisite city monuments that warrant a visit. Plus, the San Sebastián International Film Festival is recognised worldwide as an important cinematic event, so it’s a must if you’re there during the season.
Bruges, located in northwest Belgium, is noted for its beautiful canals, cobbled streets and charming houses. The magnificent Church of Our Lady in Bruges, for which construction began in 1220, took around 200 years to build is home to a stunning “Madonna and Child” sculpture by Michelangelo.
Enjoy a visit to the fourteenth century City Hall, indulge during a tour of the chocolate museum and ladies be sure to visit the diamond museum with your man! Diamonds really are a girl’s best friend.
A city on the Adriatic Coast of Croatia, it is the oldest native Croatian town on the Mediterranean shore. There are a number of things to do in this scenic town, and it definitely requires a few days to appreciate all it can offer. There are four stunning fortresses in the city, all of which provide spectacular panorama views of the town, the Mediterranean Sea and the nearby islands. To enjoy the golden sunset on summer days, the best spot to visit is the harbour.
Piran, situated on the Adriatic Coast of Slovenia, is a beautifully preserved, picturesque town with rich history and architecture. Claimed as one of the most picturesque cities in the Mediterranean, it will feel like you’re stepping into a postcard picture.
Sailing in the Gulf of Piran, swimming and biking are extraordinarily popular recreational activities. Be sure to visit the Church of St. George for a breathtaking view.
Weymouth is a special town located in Dorset, Southern England. It is so distinctive since it is situated halfway along the Jurassic Coast and is home to many fossils from that period, although it is most noted for its colourful beach huts lining the shore and the Georgian townhouses that envelop it.
Rich in history and Georgian architecture, a visit to Weymouth harbour, St Catherine’s chapel and the beach shore is a must while you’re here.