If you want to see some of the world’s most diverse and distinctive cities, Europe is the place to go. More specifically, you need to visit some of Europe’s most beautiful Old Towns.
Incredibly well-preserved architecture, fairy tale-like stone streets, fortified walls and even castles dominate these beautiful towns of Europe.
Honestly, you’d need to dedicate your entire life to see all the historic centres of this beautiful continent. If you can’t quite commit to a lifetime of exploration, make sure these charming towns are at the top of your bucket list!
Krakow is a visual and historical gem. The Old Town (Stare Miasto) of Poland’s former capital is a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to one of the largest medieval market squares in Europe. Museums, historic houses and palaces line the winding streets of Krakow’s Old Town.
If you want to learn about the history of this place, head to the Underground Museum. Top tip – admission is free on Tuesdays! If you’d rather marvel at the architecture before feasting on a cheese dish in a local café, you can take a walk around the park that surrounds the Old Town district.
Affectionately known as “The Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik’s Old Town is a scramble of terracotta structures that have given this city a unique old-world charm for centuries. Better still, it’s right next to the ocean. Once you see this place, you’ll understand why so many of its sites were featured in Game of Thrones. Ride a cable car to the top of the mountain to witness sweeping views of Dubrovnik.
Prague, Czech Republic
Head to the 12th-century Old Town Square in Prague, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The district is full of Gothic, Baroque and Romanesque buildings. These structures, along with historical landmarks like the Gothic Doorway and Astronomical Clock, secured Prague’s Old Town status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. Climb to the top of the Old Town Tower Hall to see the city from above.
Marbella has a reputation for being a seaside playground for the rich and famous. However, it’s also one of the most postcard-perfect destinations in Spain for history lovers. The Old Town, or Casco Antiguo, is defined by its white-washed structures, flower-laden balconies and winding cobbled streets. You’ll find an eclectic mix of local eateries, boutique shops and squares in Marbella, one of which is over 500 years old. Don’t forget to check out the ruins of the Moorish walls that defended the city against rebellions during the Muslim occupation of Spain.
Vienna’s historical centre, Innere Stadt, is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site on our list. St Stephen’s Cathedral is definitely the oldest and probably the most photographed building in Vienna's Old Town. After you’ve visited other well-preserved treasures like Hofburg Palace and Albertina Museum, head to Karntnerstrasse – Vienna’s main shopping street – to eat freshly baked pastry while taking in all of the area’s tradition and history.
No list of breathtakingly beautiful European Old Towns can be complete without a mention of Bruges. Thanks to its cobbled streets, romantic bridges and winding canals, many people refer to Bruges as the “Venice of the North.” The medieval town centre has been preserved to perfection and yes, you guessed it, it’s another one of Europe’s historical UNESCO World Heritage sites. Don’t forget to sample the chocolate treats and locally brewed beers while you’re here – they're delicious and a great reflection of the local culture.