Around The World

My 12 Favorite Old Towns in Europe

November 1, 2015
Venice, Italy

I am no city girl. I am definitely not impressed by modern skyscrapers, shiny new buildings and fast cars. It gives me anxiety and sometimes, even panic attacks whenever I find myself in the middle of busy cities. I prefer the laidback, peaceful and charming old towns more than the cities. Yes, I am an old soul.

During my travels, I am mostly fascinated by cobblestone streets with centuries-old buildings and classical architecture around me. I can’t help but imagine how life was like when it was at its peak of its grandeur. Most of the time, such places boasts of wonderful stories which I think makes it a lot more interesting. It always leaves me wondering of how people from the old times were able to build such impressive places without the presence of the modern technology that we now have. These places validate man’s artistic achievement and architectural prowess, don’t you agree?

I have visited quite a few old towns in Europe and in the US but I have to admit that I do prefer the European old towns more than the American counterparts. I have listed some of my favorites which are arranged in alphabetical order as it’s impossible for me to rate these places. I think they’re all incredibly beautiful.

My 12 favorite old towns in Europe

Alonissos, Greece

Old Chora, Alonissos, Greece

The Old Chora of Alonissos used to be the capital of the island until a terrible earthquake forced its residents to leave it. As of now, this charming village set atop a mountain is dotted by little guesthouses, cafes, tavernas, restaurants and shops – mostly for tourists. Its residents are composed of 60% English and Germans and 40% Greeks.

Read more about Old Chora of Alonissos here. 

Bibury, England

Bibury, England

When I went to London, I did a full day tour to the Cotswolds specifically Gloucestershire. As you see, I tried to escape even the city of London and preferred to be in the countryside. Every single village that we’ve visited during this tour was enigmatic but I have developed a special liking to Bibury, probably because it’s the first one that we’ve visited. It’s impossible not to fall in love with its charming and laidback atmosphere.

Read more about Bibury here.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium

The medieval town of Bruges is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site which clearly indicates how impossible it is to not like. You can’t go wrong with a place which is listed as a heritage site I believe. Cobblestone path with canals surrounding the whole town with historic churches and almshouses, walking around it and getting lost is definitely a must. It was raining heavily when I went there but that didn’t stop me from exploring the place as much as my limited time can (I went there as a daytrip from Paris).

Read more about Bruges here.

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

I have been to Florence twice and both times I was convinced that I must live there for at least a year. Known to be the cradle of Italian language and culture, it sure does give you a distinct appeal which will make you fall in love with the place that you can’t possibly ignore. I learned how to appreciate art in this place as it’s just so full of it.

Read more about Florence here.

Lyon, France

Lyon, France

Lyon was the last destination of my solo-backpacking trip across France a couple of years ago. I was dead tired when I arrived in Lyon that I took a cab from the train station to my hotel which I rarely ever do when traveling (I prefer taking the metro or bus). Lyon is a sight to behold though that I didn’t let my aching feet and tired legs stop me from exploring this beautiful place. I stayed here for 5 days without doing much but walking around.

Read more about Lyon here.

Monemvasia, Greece

Monemvasia, Greece

This entire town is carved out of the back side of a sea rock, how can you not be impressed with that? We’re not talking about cave houses here which is normal for mountain towns, it has proper houses with numerous churches dotted all around the town. The magnificent view of the sea is an added bonus.

Read more about Monemvasia here.

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo, Monaco

The whole tiny country of Monaco is Medieval all around. I love the very fairy-talesque feel of the whole place. While there, I wished I was Grace Kelly. I wonder how it feels like to be the Princess of this very beautiful place.

Read more about Monte Carlo here.

Obidos, Portugal

Obidos, Portugal

The fortified city of Obidos is my favorite old town in Portugal that I’ve been. Its historic center is a labyrinth of cobblestone alleys and whitewashed houses with bougainvilleas streaming down the windows. It’s definitely a walk back to history.

Read more about Obidos here.

Santorini, Greece

Oia Santorini

Oia in Santorini is definitely the most different amongst all the old towns I’ve been to. The whitewashed walls and pastel-colored rooftops and the clear, blue sea as your view – it definitely is one of the most scenic villages I’ve ever been to.

Read more about Santorini here.

St Paul De Vence, France

St Paul de Vence, France

St Paul de Vence is the oldest Medieval town in the French Riviera. We took a day tour around the old towns in this region when we were in Nice, absolutely worth it! There were a lot of art galleries and museums all around the place as it is a favorite place to hangout of artists old and new.

Read more about St Paul de Vence here.

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg

One of the things that I don’t like about traveling solo is you don’t have anyone to celebrate with when you see something really beautiful. Such is the case when I first saw La Petite France in Strasbourg. I was mumbling quite loudly about how pretty and charming it is that some of the people who I passed by looked at me like I’m some kind of a crazy person. I didn’t care though, this place is incredible!

Read more about Strasbourg here.

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

How can one make a favorite old town list and not include Venice, right? To say that it is romantic is an understatement but of course it’s probably how it’s been portrayed which immediately makes you feel the romance in the air while there. I loved walking in narrow alleys and small bridges all around it. I’ve been here twice – during the peak and off seasons, both times – it was packed by tourists. You can’t deny it’s beauty though even if it’s always busy.

Read more about Venice here.

Those are just some of my favorite Old Towns around Europe. Trust me, sorting through it and only choosing 12 is such a hard decision for me.

What’s your favorite old town?

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My Favorite Old Towns in Europe

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43 Comments

  • Reply Em November 1, 2017 at 07:38

    Hello! It will be my first time to tour Europe this coming Christmas. I have booked Paris – Amsterdam – Belgium. Any suggestion how to travel easily and comfortably? 🙂 I have a 6 yrs old and my mom with me.

  • Reply Melody October 25, 2017 at 04:56

    Oh my! Your travel list is really impressive, it’s definitely goals. I really enjoy reading you.
    Much love from a fellow blogger
    Xo Mel

  • Reply Tanja (the Red phone box travels) September 17, 2016 at 15:37

    interesting list! I agree with some, but I have to say to see Monaco on the list was very surprising:) To me it’s very modern:)
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels) recently posted…Discover Croatia: RABMy Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High September 19, 2016 at 18:41

      You are absolutely right! There was a small area that we went to with a touch of Old Town scene in Monaco. I can still remember how the building looks like which seems to me like it came out of a fairytale book. But yeah, most of Monaco is very modern. 🙂

  • Reply Karin August 2, 2016 at 13:20

    This is such a beautiful list! You put in words what I always felt without realizing it – modern architecture and its shiny aspects give me anxiety! I also totally prefer narrow old town streets full of history – then again, who doesn´t? 😉 I have been to Lyon years ago and loved it very much, it is a gorgeous city. If I ever get back to France, I hope to go to Lyon 🙂

    • Reply Pinay Flying High August 2, 2016 at 19:07

      Some people are easily impressed by modern architecture and buildings that we have nowadays and I’m always like “meh!” when it comes to those kinds of things. Lol. What’s more impressive? Modern buildings built with modern technology or charming old towns with intricate details built thousands of years ago without modern technology? The latter wins my heart that’s for sure. :p

      I want to go back to Lyon too! :p

  • Reply Corey with fifi + hop November 18, 2015 at 06:32

    Great idea for a post – I’m like you and prefer towns to big cities. Santorini is one of my all time favorites :).
    Corey with fifi + hop recently posted…SeaGlass Carousel + Battery ParkMy Profile

  • Reply Monday Escapes #22 November 16, 2015 at 10:00

    […] My 12 Favourite Old Towns in Europe – Pinay Flying High […]

  • Reply Old towns to include on your next EuroTrip November 10, 2015 at 18:40

    […] by Pinay Flying High’s post about her favourite European towns, I came up with eight of mine. This could easily be a Top […]

  • Reply Priya November 9, 2015 at 23:34

    Beautiful towns, love them all. I agree I prefer charming town to cities any day! We have been to Florence, Venice and Monaco, almost made to St.Paul de Vence 🙁 but we didn’t have time!! Would love to make it to the others soon!
    Would love for you to come linkup with us at http://www.outsidesuburbia.com/os-inspirations/outsidesuburbia/outside-suburbia1/
    Priya recently posted…Saint Tropez – a Provencal escape!My Profile

  • Reply Mary {The World Is A Book} November 7, 2015 at 10:56

    I would have a hard time picking 12 towns too. You compiled a great list with such beautiful photos. I’m not a city person either. I’d rather get lost in charming towns like these. venice is one of my favorite cities. My other favorite towns are Prague and Segovia in Spain. I’d love to visit these other towns especially the ones n Greece.
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted…Strolling through Boston Common and the Public GardenMy Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 7, 2015 at 14:22

      Oh you’ve been to two places I’d love to visit – Prague and Segovia. Soon, hopefully. 🙂

  • Reply Ting at My Travel Monkey November 6, 2015 at 17:34

    great post! I love a lot of the one’s you’ve featured including Florence and Bibury. I would have to add San Sebastián in there too now! Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes
    Ting at My Travel Monkey recently posted…Reviewed: Lumie Zest Portable Alarm ClockMy Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 7, 2015 at 14:24

      I haven’t been to San Sebastian yet, soon! Hopefully. 🙂

  • Reply Gabor Paller November 4, 2015 at 14:13

    May I propose Split, Croatia as an old town? It’s quite rare to have the old city built into an actual palace of a Roman emperor.
    http://www.frankaboutcroatia.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/top-things-to-do-in-split-old-town.jpg

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 4, 2015 at 15:33

      I haven’t visited Croatia yet but I’m pretty sure that it will be in my list of favorites once I’ve seen it. 🙂

  • Reply Mitzie Mee November 4, 2015 at 00:20

    European old towns are also my favorites, mostly because they’re so old:) The white villages in Spain just north of Costa del Sol are probably among my favorites, but the Old Town part of Stockholm is gorgeous too. I’ve never been a big fan of Bruges, even though I love the chocolate and the beer down there:)
    Mitzie Mee recently posted…Copenhagen: Bite-sized smørrebrød at Royal Smushi CafeMy Profile

  • Reply Eunice C November 3, 2015 at 16:22

    Interesting list! Many places I have never heard before so, maybe that’s a good sign! 😀

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 3, 2015 at 17:37

      I would take it as such too! More places to discover for you. 🙂

  • Reply Elizabeth November 3, 2015 at 13:27

    Some beautiful places! 🙂

  • Reply Natalie November 3, 2015 at 08:52

    Yes loved Florence too, even though I was there when I was a young backpacker and not so much into art and culture as I am now. Would love to go back and experience the place as a “grown up” lol As for other favourite old towns…Delft in the Netherlands is absolutely gorgeous. The “old town” part of Zadar and Split are also favourites. Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland and Slazburg in Austria. I’ve also been to many smaller towns and villages around Europe, many whose names I have forgotten!
    Natalie recently posted…When You Think You’re In Italy (But You’re Not!)My Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 3, 2015 at 10:03

      Oh I’m so happy you mentioned Delft, we are headed there next year! I’m getting so excited now. 🙂

  • Reply Ruth - Tanama Tales November 3, 2015 at 05:56

    Like you, I would prefer a small, charming town (or city) over a big city. There is something that just attracts me about them. Your list is great. I would like to visit a lot of the places you mention here.
    Ruth – Tanama Tales recently posted…Mercado San Miguel in MadridMy Profile

  • Reply Photo Cache November 2, 2015 at 20:43

    A very nice collection. It must be tough to choose your faves after all the traveling you’ve done.
    Photo Cache recently posted…People WatchingMy Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 3, 2015 at 10:05

      It definitely is tough to choose only a few, I think I’ll do a second batch of it though. Haha.

  • Reply bevchen November 2, 2015 at 15:14

    I keep seeing Bruges everywhere and it looks so colourful and quaint. I need to go!
    The purple flowers on that first photo are so vibrant. Gorgeous! #MondayEscapes
    bevchen recently posted…Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival 2015My Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 2, 2015 at 15:21

      I guess that is a sign that you should visit Bruges next time. 🙂

  • Reply Phoebe @ Lou Messugo November 2, 2015 at 13:59

    I’d have such difficulties just choosing 12 places in Europe. Even 12 places in France would be hard but i like your list, I’ve been to 7 of them (mainly the French towns!) I need to explore Greece and Portugal more. Please feel free to link one or 2 of your French posts to my monthly linky #AllAboutFrance which opens this Thursday. (Details can be found on the sidebar of my blog).
    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo recently posted…5 reasons to visit French PolynesiaMy Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 2, 2015 at 14:08

      I definitely will link to it and yes, it was a difficult task for me too. Haha!
      I’m still jealous that you live in the South of France. :-/

  • Reply Tanja (the Red phone box travels) November 2, 2015 at 13:45

    Interesting choices! I love Brugge and Venice but although I’ve visited Monaco and Florence many times I wouldn’t put them on my list:) Did you read my post on St.Paul? I’d like to see Bibury! # monday escapes
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels) recently posted…Exploring Belém-Lisbon (Sep 2014)My Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 2, 2015 at 14:02

      Haha! I’m very curious as to what would be your favorite old towns in Europe. I’m pretty sure I’d get ideas from your travels too.
      I loved Monaco because it’s too tiny and Florence because I don’t know, there’s something about this place which makes me want to be an Italian even for a day. :p

  • Reply Cathy (MummyTravels) November 2, 2015 at 13:38

    Bruges is definitely one of my favourites too – and I’m just back from Ljubljana which is just gorgeous, old streets and wonderful buildings, and still quite small to wander around. #mondayescapes
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…13 reasons to visit Ljubljana, SloveniaMy Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 2, 2015 at 14:11

      It’s hard not to like Bruges, it’s just so pretty isn’t it? 🙂

  • Reply The Weeend Traveller November 2, 2015 at 12:46

    Somebody is biased to Greece :-p. I’ve only been to Bruges and Venice. There’s too many charming towns in Europe but I think Italy hides most of it.

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 2, 2015 at 13:41

      Hahahaha! Is it too obvious??? Lol. I know, I should be exploring Italy more.

  • Reply Urska @ Slovenian Girl Abroad November 2, 2015 at 12:22

    I belive it was though decision to choose just 12 cities. There are so many gorgeous European old towns. From listed cities, I’ve only been to Venice, but I would love to visit the rest of the towns on the list. 🙂
    #MondayEscapes

    • Reply Pinay Flying High November 2, 2015 at 13:42

      Oh yes it was tough to choose only 12 as I have to so many old towns in Europe and the beauty of all of it is absolutely mesmerizing. 🙂

  • Reply Marissa Tejada November 1, 2015 at 15:32

    Nice list! Great choice from Greece 😉 I’d love to go to Venice. Like you, I love old towns in Europe.
    Marissa Tejada recently posted…in bergamo upper town: old world europeMy Profile

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