A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

26 Enchanting Places That Look Straight out of a Fairy Tale

Step right into your favorite storybook with these stunning and completely real places throughout the world.

General view of the medina
Luis Dafos/Getty Images

You grew up reading fairy tales, but how often do you see these magical places in real life? It’s time to step out of your reality and into a storybook. Check out these beautiful places from around the world that look as if they came from a fairy tale. For more inspiration, here are 15 of the most colorful cities in the world.

Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock

Colmar, France

It’s easy to see why this small town in the Alsace region of France is known as “Little Venice.” Lining its canal—which is just begging for a lazy boat ride—are colorful buildings and cobblestone streets. Break out into “Little town, it’s a quiet village,” as you stroll. If you’re looking for cute towns in the United States, check out the most charming small town in every state. Au revoir!


Bibury, England

Artist William Morris deemed Bibury “the most beautiful village in England” when he visited in the 1800s, and nothing much has changed. The enchanting town still has the quaint homes and rustic charm that any fairy tale should start in. When you live in a town like this, it’s hard to be unhappy. These abandoned castles are worth visiting.

Yury Dmitrienko/Shutterstock

Hohenschwangau Castle, Germany

This gorgeous German castle is basically the real-life version of a Polly Pocket palace. Crown Prince Maximilian—who would later become King Max II—built it to replace its decaying 12th-century predecessor. King Ludwig II grew up spending time in this beautiful castle but still wanted to outdo it when he got older. These are the most popular fairytales of all time. Imagine them transpiring in this setting!

Frank Fischbach/Shutterstock

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

That vanity project King Ludwig II used to outshine his childhood home? This is it. The results were so good, in fact, that Neuschwanstein Castle was actually the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle. On the top of the snow-covered mountains in the winter, we can imagine it as the perfect home for Queen Elsa from the Disney hit film, Frozen.

Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock

Manarola, Italy

Italy’s Cinque Terre is made up of five picturesque villages, but Manarola is among the most dramatic. The brightly hued homes seem to be hanging precariously onto the cliffs, but it’s managed to keep from crashing into the sea for almost 700 years. Could it be magic?

Mike Mareen/Shutterstock

Rakotz Bridge, Germany

Passing under Rakotz Bridge in Kromlau, Germany, you just might feel like you’re on your way to selling your soul. So it’s fitting that it—along with other ancient bridges—are known as “devil’s bridges.” When reflected in the water, the structure makes a perfect circle. Love a good spook? Your bucket list needs to include these 14 of the world’s most haunted bodies of water.

Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock

Tbilisi, Georgia

In the middle of this old town sits a surprisingly new clock tower. Puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze gathered pieces from abandoned and ruined buildings from Tbilisi, Georgia, to build the higgledy-piggledy landmark. Quirky as it is, it still tells time. The United States has its own oddities—check out these 50 American small towns known for the weirdest things.

Michal 11/Shutterstock

Bojnice Castle, Slovakia

If we had to pick a castle for our princess dreams, this would be it. The medieval castle has everything we’ve always wanted, from tall spires to a moat. We’ll stay here for our happily ever after, please. Here are 14 abandoned castles around the world that still retain their splendor.

Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Multnomah Falls, Oregon, United States

Can’t you just picture a theatrical fairy tale fight between knights on this bridge stretching dramatically over this waterfall? Best of all, it’s right here in the United States. Take a road trip to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon for your own fairy tale moment. Learn where to find the best free tourist attractions in every state.


Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Sprinkled with charming red brick roofs, this medieval city would make the perfect backdrop for a fairy tale. But the biggest draw is the castle perched on a rock by the river. On this side of the pond, here are 15 of the most underrated American cities you should know about.


Château de Chenonceau, France

If you thought Versailles is the extent of France’s palaces, you were totally off. This gorgeous manor stretches over the River Cher and has stunning gardens open to the public.

Lewis Liu/Shutterstock

Chefchaouen, Morocco

You might assume these bright colors are just a tiny snapshot of this town, but you’ll find the same magical views throughout the twists and turns of the “blue city.” Beyond its walls, you’ll find en epic mountains towering overhead and below, with goats grazing on its green pastures. The capital of Morocco is just one of these 13 capital cities people always get wrong.

Thiago Leite/Shutterstock

Pelourinho, Brazil

This historic neighborhood in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, doesn’t just have stunning architecture—the bright colors of the buildings accent its beautiful stucco work. It was the country’s capital between 1549 and 1763, when native cultures blended with European and African ones.

Vlad Lyandres/Shutterstock

Ghent, Belgium

In this port city, houses are nestled right next to the canal. It sits pretty much smack dab between Brussels and Bruges, but this slice of medieval times doesn’t come with the same droves of tourists. Can’t make it overseas? Plan your trip visit around these small American towns you’d swear were from Europe.

Craigievar Castle, Scotland
Gannet77/Getty Images

Craigievar Castle, Scotland

Located south of Aberdeenshire in Scotland, Craigievar Castle goes to show pink castles can exist in reality, too. Construction for Craigievar Castle started around 1576 in the Scottish Baronial style and was then completed in 1626 by William Forbes. To add a bit of fairy-tale charm, there’s no artificial light on the upper floors. How’s that for some magic by candlelight? Here are 17 additional jaw-dropping photos of Scotland.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, Japan
FilippoBacci/Getty Images

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Japan

Located in a short journey outside of Kyoto, Japan’s previous capital city, the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a sight to behold. Surrounded by towering stalks of bamboo and nearby temples, it feels like a fairy tale immersed in stunning nature.

Above of Jokulsarlon
FEBRUARY/Getty Images

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Iceland

A short drive along the Ring Road from Iceland’s capital Reykjavik will bring you to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Iceland’s deepest lake with free-flowing icebergs. Winter wonderlands can be fairy tales, too.

Angel falls, Canaima National Park, Venezuela
apomares/Getty Images

Angel Falls, Venezuela

Angel Falls in Southeastern Venezuela is the highest waterfall in the world, with water falling an astonishing 3,212 feet. The most spectacular views of the waterfall are from the air due to the jungle at the bottom of the falls.

Giethoorn Village Scene
Ivan/Getty Images

Giethoorn, Holland

Welcome to the magical town of Giethoorn, where the streets are made of water. As if plucked straight from a fairy tale story, Giethoorn is located in the Weeribben-Wieden National Park and has a small-town feel about 75 miles north of Amsterdam.

Storm clouds over Lake Louise
Jeff R Clow/Getty Images

Banff, Canada

If you’re looking for a new place to add to your bucket list, the town of Banff and especially the hamlet of Lake Louise are places of note. The idyllic Lake Louise feels different from the photos of emerald green water and mountainous peaks and glaciers. Walking along the water’s edge can certainly feel like walking in a fairy tale. These are the most popular travel destinations in Canada.

Sunrise view of famous Hallstatt mountain village with Hallstatter lake, Austria
Anton Petrus/Getty Images

Hallstatt, Austria

You might feel like you’re living in a fairy tale when you see photos of the adorable lakeside village of Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for more than 20 years. With a population of about 800 people, the tiny village more than makes up for its small population with its stunning landscapes.

Fairy Pools
Sergio Del Rosso Photography/Getty Images

Fairy Pools, Scotland

If you’re interested in a real-life fairy tale, then an adventure in the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in the Highlands would allow you to see just that. Clear blue pools along the River Brittle entice travelers from around the world to visit this Scottish wonderland.

Reflection Of Buildings In City
Nora Sahinun / EyeEm/Getty Images

Bergen, Norway

It’s not often that large cities feel like small towns, but according to Visit Norway, that’s what you’ll find at Bergen. Nicknamed “the heart of the fjords,” Bergen has a lot of character that would appease the wanderlust of any traveler looking for a sense of other-worldly beauty.

Tramway in Lisbon
PEC Photo/Getty Images

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, the charming capital of Portugal, offers you breathtaking views of the ocean and colorful streets and buildings to inspire you to learn more about the world around you. With castles, cafes, museums, and parks, Lisbon offers a balance of fairy tale meets the real world.

Famous intersection with stunning medieval buildings in Rothenburg Germany
Michael Godek/Getty Images

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

With legends, culture, cuisine, and shopping, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a town in Bavaria that is adorable and would help turn your fairy tale dreams into reality.

Le Thiou Canal Old town of Annecy
Manfred Gottschalk/Getty Images

Annecy, France

With mountains, lakes, beaches, and raclette, this is a French fairy tale come to life. You can see for yourself in photos how the little pleasures of old town life come alive in southeastern France. Next, here are 13 of the most beautiful snow-covered mountain towns around the world.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.