12 of the most beautiful small towns around the world
All over the world, cities like Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Bogota overshadow smaller places that have just as much charm.
While Karuizawa, Japan, and Barichara, Colombia, might not be at the top of everyone’s travel bucket lists, they have quaint streets, breathtaking landscapes, and fascinating histories.
Here are 12 small towns and villages that are among the most beautiful in the world.
Barichara is widely considered one of Colombia’s most beautiful small towns.
Built in 1705, Barichara has made a name for itself as a picturesque hilltop town with cobblestone streets and white buildings. In fact, Lonely Planet writes, “It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful small colonial towns in Colombia.”
With a population of 7,000, this town is known as an upscale, quiet, and friendly place for residents and travelers.
Although Karuizawa, Japan, is located near an active volcano, the small town is known as a romantic retreat.
In the 19th century, the wealthy residents of Tokyo looked for a place to vacation and founded Karuizawa just an hour outside of the city at the base of Mount Asama. Today, the small town, which has a population of 20,000, is still popular with visitors, offering boutique stores, restaurants, and cafes. The town is also known for being a romantic destination because Emperor Akihito met his wife here.
The town of Ancud on Chiloé Island in Chile has colorful homes that line the water’s edge.
The Spanish took ownership of the island in the 1500s, and fishing became the predominant industry. These days, Ancud is known for the colorful homes that stand on stilts on the waterfront. The town is also known for its hilly and intertwining streets that are great to get lost in.
Chiloé Island is filled with other small towns, which are known for their simple yet intricate wooden churches. The residents are famous for their witchcraft and folklore, which date back centuries. Additionally, the island and its towns are surrounded by national parks and forests, making it a popular destination for tourists as well.
Banff in Alberta is a resort town nestled in Canada’s snowy Rocky Mountains.
In 1883, three railroad workers found a natural hot spring in the Rocky Mountains, creating Canada’s first national park, Banff National Park. To help protect the park and the springs, a town was created, and today, that town is still considered one the of most beautiful in the world. It has a population of about 8,000 people who enjoy the quaint downtown that sits in the shadow of a massive mountain. With immediate access to the national park, Banff has also become a popular tourist destination for people looking to hike.
Positano, Italy, hugs the Amalfi Coast, offering residents sweeping views of the sea.
Positano got its start when the ancient Romans picked the cliffside site to build their villas. Today, those villas still stand as ruins, but Positano is also home to a lively small town of colorful buildings that date back to the 9th century. About 4,000 people live there, but it has become a popular tourist destination because of its beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea.
In Russia, Sviyazhsk is a small island town with dozens of historic sites.
Sviyazhsk dates back to the 1500s and was originally founded as a fortress by Ivan the Terrible. It took only four weeks to build, but it has lasted centuries. Now, Sviyazhsk is home to over 30 historical sites, including Trinity Church, which is made of wood. Although only 200 people live in the town, it is a popular attraction for tourists.
Old Town in Chefchaouen, Morocco, is completely painted in a soothing blue.
Located in the northern tip of Morocco, Chefchaouen got its start in the 1400s, but the buildings weren’t blue in the beginning. In 1492, Spain kicked the Jews out of the country and they fled to the Middle East. Those who ended up in Morocco brought their tradition of painting buildings blue with them. The blue buildings are meant to complement the sky and remind the residents of god.
Today, the Old Town of Chefchaouen is still painted blue and has become a tourist destination.
Hallstatt, Austria, is located in the picturesque Salzkammergut region, which is known for its mountain views.
Located just outside of Vienna, Hallstatt is a small Alpine village that is home to only 800 people. Overlooking a sparkling lake, Hallstatt has become a popular tourist destination — a million people visited back in 2018 and there’s even a replica town in China.
Insider reporter Rachel Hosie wrote, “It was immediately clear to me that yes, Hallstatt is unbelievably beautiful. Breathtakingly so, in fact.”
Bardstown, Kentucky, has been named America’s most beautiful small town.
With a population of 13,164, Bardstown dates back to the 18th century and is known for its bourbon. In fact, it’s considered the bourbon capital of the world: There are six distilleries in the area, some of which are historical. USA Today called it the “Most Beautiful Small Town in America,” and Travel + Leisure says you’ll find “America’s Most Beautiful Town Square” in Bardstown.
Bibury has been described as the most beautiful village in England.
Bibury is now known for its charm and beauty. It got its start in the wool industry. Along Arlington Row, houses that date back to the 14th century once acted as a wool store and homes for the weavers. Today, some residents call the original cottages home.
Author and poet William Morris described Bibury as the most beautiful village in all of England, but its real star attraction is still Arlington Row.
Penglipuran, Indonesia, is famous for its gardens and for being one of the cleanest places in the world.
Located near Bali, Indonesia, Penglipuran was founded to pay homage to the residents’ ancestors. Today, it is famous for its grounds, gardens, and historical structures. There are homes, temples, and even a Bamboo forest that date back to the 18th century.
An Indonesian travel site writes, “Penglipuran is one of the most placid, clean, and serene villages throughout the whole nation, and one of the three cleanest in the whole world.”
St. Michaels, Maryland, has been named one of the best coastal small towns in the US because of its charm.
St. Michaels dates back to the 1600s and is famous for its Maritime history, being located right on the coast. In fact, USA Today named it one of the top 10 small coastal towns in America. Today, there are just over 1,000 residents who enjoy the boutique shops, seafood, and water sports.
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