38 magical villages that seem too good to be true

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde

Some of these small towns have a strong case for being among the most beautiful in the world.

They may look identical to storybook illustrations, but these beautiful, quaint and unusual little towns are actually some of the best secrets the planet has to reveal. Perched on a hill, nestled between mountains, isolated from everything, colorful, authentic… all these villages have something unique that makes them beautiful places. There’s only one question that remains when you see them: which one to visit first?

Here are some of the world’s most beautiful villages:

Xingping, China

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde This village on the banks of the Li Jiang River has preserved its traditional Ming architecture. But you don’t come to Xingping for its architecture; the village boasts the most beautiful scenery in the entire region. This fishing village lies between the cities of Yangshuo and Guilin.

Jiufen, Taiwan

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Situated 1h30 from Taipei, the small town of Jiufen is set on a mountainside and is famous for its winding streets, which rise and fall between small shops lined with lanterns.

Riomaggiore, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Cinque Terre is a rugged coastal region on the Italian Riviera, with its five villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore), the area is a National Park and World Heritage Site. Terraces have been built to overcome the rugged terrain that this region offers.

Gásadalur, Faroe Islands

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde The Faroe Islands are a little-visited archipelago of islands north of Scotland. For many years, the islands have been difficult to access, with sheer cliffs rising above the beaches and a single staircase built during the British occupation of the islands in World War II. The 18 lucky people who live in the village are nestled between two 700-meter-high mountains and on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea.

Levanzo, Cala Dogana bay, Sicily, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Levanzo is the smallest of the Aegadian islands, with just 220 inhabitants. The island has no roads apart from a small stretch of asphalt road leading to the Plage del Faraglione. This is a real advantage for the island, contributing to the integrity and beauty of its landscape and earning it the nickname « car-free pocket island ».

Manarola, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Manarola is a charming village of brightly-colored houses, carved into an impenetrable stone wall. The church dates back to 1338, making this one of the oldest towns in the region. Today, the town is most famous for its delicious wine and the paintings of Antonio Discovolos, who adored the town. It is one of the towns that make up the Cinque Terre.

Cochem, Germany

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde The town is set in a remarkable site, with a castle crowning a hillock planted with vines on the banks of the Moselle. It is a popular stopover in the Moselle valley and an important wine-growing center in the Moselle-Sarre-Ruwer region.

Hallstatt, Austria

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Hallstat is a medieval village with a population of less than 1,000. In the high mountains of Hallstat, you can explore prehistoric mines that were among the first in the world.

Positano, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde The local church of Santa Maria Assunta boasts a Byzantine icon of the Black Madonna. It is thought that the icon was stolen from Byzantium by pirates who, during a storm, heard a strange voice on board saying « Posa, posa! » (« Leave it! Leave it! »). The pirates left the icon in the fishing village, and the storm subsided.

Vang Vieng, Laos

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Vang Vieng was founded in 1353 as a stopover between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Uninteresting until a few years ago, the town has experienced significant growth thanks to the influx of backpackers attracted by the possibilities of adventure tourism in the karst landscape. It’s also a popular destination for young Western tourists, but not for cultural reasons. It’s because alcohol and opium are available everywhere. It’s a place of excess.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Zermatt lies at the upper end of the picturesque Zermatt Valley, at an altitude of over 1600 m and in the shadow of Switzerland’s highest peaks. It is one of Switzerland’s most famous ski resorts.

Methymne (Molyvos), Greece

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde This village, also known as Mólivos, is a lively town with authentic charm. Overlooking the sea, a 14th-century Genoese citadel stands on a steep hill, offering a breathtaking panorama.

Bled, Slovenia

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Sheltered by picturesque mountains, Bled was founded in 1004 and was considered so beautiful by the German Emperor Henry II that he made a gift of it to Bishop Albuin of Brixen. Bled Castle lies at the center of the magnificent Lake Bled, which borders the town. The town of 5000 souls is now famous for having some of the finest health spas in the region.

The villages of Lake Garda, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and is surrounded by mountains, monumental valleys and beautiful villages.

Queen, Norway

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Reine is a picturesque fishing village on the beautiful Arctic island of Moskenesøya. The port has a population of just 329, but has rightly been chosen as the most beautiful village in the whole of Norway.

Shirakawa-gō, Japan

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Shirakawa-gō is a small traditional village known for its very steep roofs, which were made this way to withstand some of the heaviest snowfalls in the world.

Burano, near Venice, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Some 6 kilometers off the coast of Venice lies an equally beautiful little town. Burano is famous for its brightly-colored houses, which follow a pattern established hundreds of years ago. If you want to repaint your house, you’ll need the mayor’s permission, and there are only a few colors to choose from, depending on your location. The town is also famous for its lace-making.

Scilla, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Scilla, at the tip of Italy’s boot, was home to Scylla in Greek mythology. This monster guarded the narrow channel between mainland Italy and Sicily before Heracles killed it. The fishermen’s quarter, La Chianalèa, is a tangle of houses and passageways that only ends when it opens out onto the sea.

Portofino, Liguria, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Founded by the Romans, the town was called Portus Delphini, or Dolphin Port, because of the large number of dolphins in the Gulf of Tigullio. The elegant village, with its colorful fishermen’s cottages and imposing villas with trompe l’oeil facades, is a veritable stage set.

San Quirico d’Orcia, Tuscany, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde San Quirico was a prosperous town in the Middle Ages, thanks to its location on the Via Francigena, which linked Rome to northern Europe. Its ramparts and the Barbarossa festival (3rd Sunday in June) are well worth seeing and doing.

Qaqortoq, Greenland

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Qaqortoq was founded in 1775 by Norwegians under the name of Julianehåb. Not far from Qaqortoq are the ruins of Hvalsey, one of the most important remains of the Viking settlements in Greenland.

Livno, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde The Livno plains were inhabited 2000 years BC. The beautifully verdant lands were home to an Iron Age tribe known as the Delmatae (Dalmatians).

Cappadocia region, Turkey

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Cappadocia is best known for its unique lunar landscapes, underground cities and rock villages. All this can be appreciated from the air, with a trip in a hot-air balloon.

Dazhai, China

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Agricultural techniques in Xiyang county have created a landscape that is truly incredible from the air. Dazhai is a small community of several hundred farmers nestled in the middle of this strange environment.

Verona, Veneto, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Founded in the 1st century BC, the historic city of Verona lies on the banks of the Adige River, close to Lake Garda. Following Shakespeare’s 1597 tragedy Romeo and Juliet, set in the city, it became the world’s most famous Romantic city, dubbed the « City of Verona’s Lovers ».

Cemoro Lawang, Indonesia

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Cemoro Lawang lies more than 2,200 m above sea level. Both Mount Batok and Mount Bromo are visible from the town, making it a paradise for mountaineers.

A village in Guizhou province, China

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde

Damüls, Austria

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde The village of Damüls is famous for its ski resort, which is renowned for its abundant snowfall.

San Marino, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde San Marino is a micro-republic of just 61.19 km² in the beautiful landscape of northern Italy. Founded in the year 301, it is one of the oldest sovereign states and the oldest constitutional republic in the world.

Xitang, China

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Xitang is an ancient city with nine rivers running through it. The city itself is divided into 8 parts, with 104 bridges linking them.

The villages of Tuscany, Italy

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde The Tuscany region is one of Italy’s most beautiful, with some magnificent towns and villages. Read our article on what to visit in Tuscany.

Village in the Himalayas, Tibet

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde This is one of the many towns built to support monasteries hidden in the Himalayan mountains that are only accessible on foot or horseback.

Colmar, France

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde The town was first founded in the 1200s, at the height of the Germanic Roman Empire, which ruled much of Europe. Since then, the town has earned the nickname « Little Venice » for the waterways that wind through its medieval streets.

Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Göreme was built in Roman times, amid the magnificent rock formations that dominate the region. The natural hard rock served as foundations and fortifications for those who built the town, and to this day, much of the ancient architecture still stands.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Not exactly a small town, Queenstown is built around a cove on Lake Wakatipu and is an ideal destination for thrill-seekers (bungee jumping, rafting, speedboating, paragliding, parachuting, etc.).

Assembly village in the Jiuzhaigou valley, China

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Little is known about these reclusive villages scattered across China other than that they once served as army strongholds. Now accessible only by horse and foot, they offer a unique insight into the culture of classical China.

Morro de São Paulo, Brazil

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Morro de São Paulo is so tranquil that the only way to reach the village is by boat or charter flight, as cars are forbidden on the island. In the past, the island was both a cove for pirates and a stronghold for the Portuguese.

Tenby, Wales

Villages trop beaux pour être réels, les plus beaux villages du monde Located in south-east Pembrokeshire, Tenby is one of Wales’ finest seaside resorts. Built on a rocky promontory, the town with its colorful Georgian houses overlooks superb beaches.

Does that make you want to visit these villages?

Source photos : Distractify