Be still our beating hearts! It’s time to put together our list of the most beautiful villages in Europe. While all of our adventures are breathtakingly scenic, many of our European hiking adventures journey through timeless villages that offer the perfect blend of historic wonder and dazzling beauty. From France’s medieval hill-top hamlets to the coastal villages of the Italian Riviera, Portugal’s cobblestone lanes to England’s pretty Cotswolds, here are our top 10 most beautiful villages—and how to see them.
1. Alberobello, Italy
The beautiful village of Alberobello, located in Italy’s Puglia region, is known for its UNESCO-listed stone dwellings with conical roofs (trulli). It is among the most famous of the region’s attractions, but it still feels a world away from Italy’s biggest draws. We recommend hiking to Alberobello through the Itria Valley, where trails take you through fields of almond trees and wildflowers. You can also enjoy picnics and olive-oil tastings at farms along the way.
How to visit Alberobello? –> Join 8-day Italy Coastal Puglia Hiking
2. Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt is a storybook mountain town at the base of the mighty Matterhorn in Switzerland. Its iconic timber-framed Swiss chalets, meandering lanes, and panoramic vistas keep us coming back year after year. After exploring Zermatt, you can also hike to the hamlet of Zmutt hamlet (6,352′) and to Furi mountain station. From here you can take a cable car up to Schwarzsee (8,373′)—a picturesque lake, just below the Matterhorn.
3. Manarola, Italy
Experience the wonders of Italy’s Ligurian coast as you follow cliff-side trails that connect Cinque Terre’s picturesque seaside villages. From north to south, the five beautiful villages are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but Manarola—the second-smallest of the famous towns—would be our pick for its postcard-worthy multicolored houses perched on hills overlooking the sea.
How to visit Manarola? –> Join 8-day Italy Tuscany & Cinque Terre Walking
4. Gordes, France
Explore the Luberon’s classic Provençal landscape, with its lofty medieval villages, age-old abbeys, lavender fields, and olive groves. Along the way, enjoy a stop in Gordes where golden-stone homes rise in steep circles above the Calavon Valley. Wander its labyrinth of cobblestoned streets before heading out along thyme-laden hills toward Senanque Abbey, a collection of 850-year-old Romanesque structures hidden among lavender fields.
How to visit Gordes? –> Join 7-day Provence Village to Village Hiking
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5. Bibury, England
England’s Cotswolds make for a delightful walking vacation. Set out on foot to explore a dreamy landscape of rolling hills, hedgerow-lined fields, and postcard-pretty hamlets, including Bibury—known as the “most beautiful village in England!” Take a walk by the River Coln, which flows through the village, and see the charming stone cottages of Arlington Row (pictured).
How to visit Bibury? –> Join 8-day England Cotswolds Village to Village Walking
6. Orta San Giulio, Italy
Experience the magic of pretty Orto San Giulio, located on Lake Orta in Italy’s Piedmont region. We love its narrow cobblestone streets, pastel-washed houses, and lakeside locale overlooking picturesque San Giulio Island, with its monumental Romanesque Basilica. For a bird’s-eye view of the beautiful village of Orto San Giulio, the lake, and surrounding mountains head up to Sacro Monte, where 20 chapels beautifully depict the life of Saint Francis of Assisi.
How to visit Orta San Giulio? –> Join 8-day Italy & Switzerland Lake District Hiking
7. Corte, France
Corte is a spectacular village in the heart of Corsica, France’s “Isle of Beauty.” Its ancient fortified citadel fits perfectly within the natural mountain setting, and we recommend getting a panoramic view by taking the steep path that leads from the main square to the viewpoint. There are plenty of great hikes around Corte, including majestic sections of the GR20 with a backdrop of serrated summits.
How to visit Corte? –> Join 8-day France Island of Corsica Hiking
8. Motovun, Croatia
Croatia’s captivating walled town of Motovun sits atop a hill overlooking a verdant valley that’s literally filled with truffles! After waking up in this medieval hilltop town, we like to take a hike along the truffle route and learn the art of ‘hunting’ (and wine pairing) this precious subterranean mushroom. Walk off the truffles and wine by exploring Motovun’s pretty Romanesque and Gothic buildings in the old town.
How to visit Motovun? –> Join 9-day Croatia Istria to Veneto Hiking
9. Monsanto, Portugal
Get off the beaten track in Portugal’s rugged central massif, where you’ll find the spectacular village of Monsanto. Walk through the tangle of centuries-old cobblestone streets and marvel at the houses wedged between giant boulders. The boulders form part of the structure of the medieval stone cottages—floors, doors, walls! For stunning panoramas, you can hike up to castle above Monsanto. Also a great spot for a picnic.
How to visit Monsanto? –> Join 8-day Portugal Historic Village Hiking
10. Murren, Switzerland
Our last beautiful village is Murren, nestled high in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland at 5,374 feet. This alpine hamlet is completely car-free, which means you can only get there by foot, train by cable car! We recommend hiking the 12-mile route from Kiental to Murren, showcasing majestic views of the Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger mountains. The cable car down through the Lauterbrunnin Valley is equally spectacular!
How to visit Murren? –> Join Alps Eiger to Matterhorn Trek