15 Picturesque Villages For A Step Back In Time

people walking beside assorted-color buildings during daytime

When it comes to seeking a serene retreat and a glimpse into the past, picturesque villages offer the perfect escape. From cobblestone streets to charming cottages, these villages transport you to a bygone era, allowing you to immerse yourself in history and culture.

1. Bibury, England

Bibury, England

Tucked away in the Cotswolds, Bibury is known for its quaint honey-colored stone buildings and the picturesque Arlington Row. Strolling through this village feels like stepping into a postcard. The River Coln flows gently through the village, adding to its charm. Visitors can explore the Bibury Trout Farm or enjoy a traditional English tea at one of the local cafes.

2. Hallstatt, Austria

town beside body of water and mountains

Nestled on the shores of Lake Hallstatt, this Austrian village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its alpine views and historic charm, Hallstatt is a must-visit for those seeking a peaceful retreat. The Hallstatt Salt Mine, one of the world’s oldest salt mines, offers an intriguing look into the village’s mining history. Visitors can also take a leisurely boat ride on the picturesque lake or hike up to the Hallstatt Skywalk for breathtaking panoramic views.

3. Shirakawa-Go, Japan

empty pathway

Famous for its traditional Gassho-zukuri farmhouses, Shirakawa-Go offers a glimpse into rural Japan’s past. The village is especially enchanting during the winter when it’s covered in snow. Visitors can explore the open-air museum to learn about the unique thatched-roof architecture or participate in traditional craft workshops. The Shirakawa-go Illumination event during winter transforms the village into a magical winter wonderland.

4. Manarola, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy

Part of the stunning Cinque Terre region, Manarola is a fishing village perched on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Its colorful buildings and vineyards make it a photographer’s paradise. Visitors can hike the famous Via dell’Amore trail that connects Manarola to Riomaggiore for stunning coastal views. The local vineyards produce delicious Sciacchetrà wine, perfect for sipping while watching the sunset over the sea.

5. Rye, England

a street with buildings on both sides

This medieval town in East Sussex boasts cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, and a rich history dating back to the Norman Conquest. Rye’s charm has inspired many writers and artists over the years. Visitors can explore St. Mary’s Parish Church, visit the Rye Castle Museum, or take a leisurely stroll along the town’s ancient town walls for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The annual Rye Arts Festival showcases a mix of performances, exhibitions, and literary events, highlighting the town’s cultural heritage.

6. Chefchaouen, Morocco

blue and white painted houses on the cliff

Nestled in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen is known for its blue-washed buildings and tranquil atmosphere. Exploring the narrow streets of this village is like stepping into a magical blue fairy tale. Visitors can browse the vibrant handicraft markets, hike to the nearby Akchour Waterfalls for a refreshing dip, or simply relax in a traditional hammam for a true Moroccan spa experience. The annual Chefchaouen Arts and Culture Festival celebrates local art, music, and dance, providing a deeper insight into the village’s creative spirit.

7. Oia, Greece

santorini, Greece

Perched on the cliffs of Santorini, Oia offers breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and the iconic white-washed buildings typical of the Cyclades islands. Watching the sunset in Oia is a truly unforgettable experience. Visitors can explore the Maritime Museum, enjoy a leisurely meal at a cliffside restaurant, or venture down the 300 steps to Amoudi Bay for a swim in the crystal-clear waters. The Oia Festival in September showcases traditional Greek music and dance, creating a lively atmosphere in this serene village.

8. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

a cobblestone street lined with old buildings

This UNESCO-listed village is a picturesque blend of medieval architecture and baroque buildings. With its castle overlooking the Vltava River, Cesky Krumlov is a gem in the heart of Europe. Visitors can tour the Cesky Krumlov Castle, wander through the charming Old Town with its narrow cobblestone streets, or attend the annual International Music Festival celebrating classical and contemporary music. The village’s Egon Schiele Art Centrum pays tribute to the famous Austrian painter who spent time in Cesky Krumlov.

9. Colmar, France

red flowers in front of white and brown concrete building

Known as the ‘Little Venice’ of France, Colmar is a fairytale village with colorful half-timbered houses and flower-lined canals. The town’s well-preserved medieval old town is a delight to explore. Visitors can take a boat ride along the canals, visit the Unterlinden Museum to see the Isenheim Altarpiece, or sample Alsatian wines at one of the local wineries. The annual Colmar International Festival highlights a diverse range of music, dance, and theater performances, showcasing the village’s cultural heritage.

10. Reine, Norway

Reine, Norway

Situated in the Lofoten Islands, Reine is surrounded by dramatic mountains and crystal-clear waters. This fishing village is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat in nature. Visitors can hike the Reinebringen mountain for panoramic views of the village and surrounding fjords, go fishing for Arctic cod in the pristine waters, or simply relax on the sandy beaches. The annual Reine Jazz Festival brings together local and international musicians, creating a lively atmosphere in this tranquil village.

11. Alberobello, Italy

white and brown concrete house

Famous for its trulli houses with conical roofs, Alberobello is a unique village in Puglia, southern Italy. The UNESCO-listed site is a testament to the region’s traditional architecture and craftsmanship. Visitors can explore the Trullo Sovrano, a two-story trullo house museum, stroll through the Rione Monti district to see the iconic trulli clusters, or sample local olive oils and wines at the weekly market. The Alberobello Light Festival in summer transforms the village into a magical spectacle of light and music.

Erica Delaney

An experienced nurse, Erica focuses on subjects related to pregnancy and infant health. She enjoys dancing and playing the piano in her free time.