If you need a break from the stress of modern life, it’s worth taking a holiday to a European village. Whether you choose to visit one as part of a daytrip while staying at a nearby large town or city or plan to stay in one for the duration of your getaway, you could hardly find somewhere more enjoyable and relaxing.
With that in mind, here are a few of the most stunning villages the continent has to offer.
Keen foodies know that Gruyere cheese is named after the Swiss village of Gruyeres, but it’d be a mistake to think delicious fare is all that this captivating destination has to offer.
Situated in the upper valley of the Saane River, this picturesque destination is overrun with fantastic things to see and do. Your first port of call, however, should be the historic Gruyeres Castle which dates back to the 13th century. While it was once the official residence of the local count, the attraction now contains fascinating museum exhibitions and manicured gardens all housed in a stunning medieval complex.
Elsewhere, the HR Giger Museum – dedicated to showcasing the works of Oscar-winning Swiss artist HR Giger – and the Le Calvaire gallery are two ideal places to get a fix of art and culture during your holiday. This enchanting village is also a great destination to base yourself in if you’re into hiking. Numerous trails lead from and through Gruyeres and you’ll get to see expansive green fields, quaint Swiss chalets and splendid mountain views as you walk.
If you’ve worked up an appetite from your trek, make sure you sample local delicacies such as soupe de chalet – a delicious soup made from milk, potatoes, herbs and Gruyere cheese – and Benichon mustard, a sweet and sour preserve that contains cinnamon and aniseed.
Fancy visiting a quintessential English village? Corfe Castle, situated in Dorset on the UK’s south coast, is a great place to spend a holiday. Located 30 minutes from the bustling town of Bournemouth, the village is dominated by (and named after) the imposing medieval castle that looms on the hills above it. Although the vast majority of the castle now lays in ruins – it was named the third most romantic ruin in the UK by readers of Countryfile magazine – you can still wander through it and imagine what life in England must have been like 800 years ago.
You should also head to the Corfe Castle Model Village and Gardens. Here, you can check out an intricate model of the village and castle replicating what the area would have looked like in 1646. Once you’ve finished there, take a walk through the beautiful landscaped garden before enjoying a traditional cream tea at the onsite cafe.
There’s plenty of village pubs to check out too – including The Castle Inn – where you can sup delicious ales and tuck into hearty traditional English cuisine.
Last on our list, but certainly not least, is Albarracin. Situated in the Aragon region of Spain, this beautiful fortified village contains a wealth of historic buildings including those that date back to medieval times, as well as ones from the era when the area was under Islamic occupation.
Among the numerous attractions you can explore are the 10th century Andador Tower and the stunning 16th century El Salvador Cathedral. The latter is adjoined to the Episcopal Palace and, upon stepping inside, you should make a beeline for the Diocese Museum. Here, you’ll find a fascinating array of flamenco tapestries.
Elsewhere in Albarracin, you ought to visit the town hall – which offers picturesque views over the Guadalaviar River – the Alcazar Fortress and the Albarracin Cultural Park, where you can see numerous examples of Roman architecture and post-Palaeolithic art.
With so many beautiful villages to see in Europe, you can be sure of having a fantastic, yet peaceful, village getaway on the continent.