23 of The Most Beautiful Small Cities in The World - From Hot Spots to Hidden Gems

The world is big and beautiful. The pretty towns aren't particularly hard to find (although many are hard to get to). 

Of all the beautiful places in every corner of the world, there are some that are so picturesque and personable that they are truly not to be missed. 

It's about a unique fusion of landscapes, stunning architecture and cultural visual infusions.

Many small destinations are fascinating, but little gems that will take your breath away are uncommon. 

Popular spots like Portofino and Gordes attract tourists from all over the world, while others like Shirakawa-go and Ilulissat belong to the unsung heroes. 

Regardless of their reputation, these small towns are worth visiting, even if traveling thousands of miles, to see them for themselves.

1. Gordes, France

Gordes is frequently crowded with visitors during the summer. But is it realistic to blame tourists for wanting to immerse themselves in the magic of this stunning village in France or perhaps the world? Situated on a cliff above the valley, it's a must-visit destination that features cobbled pathways, churches, and a monastery, as well as fields of lavender that resemble the pages of a storybook. 

2. Shirakawa-go, Japan

The dreamlike village of Shirakawa-go, located in Japan's Ōno District, is among the snowiest places on Earth, with an average of 400 inches of snow falling annually. All of this glazing grants thatched-roof gasshō-zukuri structures on the UNESCO-listed the structure an additional shine. After the wintery vibe dissipates and the weather becomes warmer, this traditional and serene hamlet will transition to a woodland charm, the hills will take on a deep, rich green and colorful, fragrant wildflowers will bloom.

3. Giethoorn, Netherlands

Giethoorn (also known as the "Dutch Venice") is home to around 2,800 people. This idyllic village in the Northeast Netherlands' HautiJssel province is known for its hand-dug canals, 176 bridges connecting the island to the mainland, footpaths and bike paths, and 18th-century thatched cottages. Because this infrastructure doesn't support cars, residents (and the nearly million tourists who come here each year) get around by sailing, walking and biking.

4. Stepantsminda, Georgia

Stepantsminda (commonly known as Kazbegi) is well worth a visit on the Georgian Military Highway, a quiet town in the Caucasus mountains of northeastern Georgia. It is best known for its 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, which stands 7,119 feet above sea level and on the snow-capped peak of the mighty Mount Kazbek. This valley village is also full of ancient myths, which only adds to its mystique.

5. Oia, Greece

Tourists flock to Oia on the northwestern tip of Santorini every summer for a reason — well, a lot of reasons, turning this dormant little fishing village into a real hotspot. Yes, the sheer number of holidaymakers has drawn criticism from locals and long-term visitors alike, but it's hard to blame anyone for noticing the whitewashed Cycladic houses on the cliffs, the shimmering Aegean Sea, the famous caldera, And want to see a sun-soaked sunset IRL.

6. Cherrapunji, India

Cherrapunji, also known as Sohra, is a world apart from the never-ending chaos of big cities like Mumbai and Kolkata, showing a more sedate side of India. This high-altitude town in the East Kasi hills of Meghalaya state in northeastern India is known for its vibrant root bridges, magnificent waterfalls and lush forests. How did Cherrapunji stay green? It's one of the wettest places on earth, with an average annual rainfall of about 450 inches.

7. Guatapé, Colombia

Just a two-hour drive east of Medellin, you'll stumble upon a vibrant Andean resort town filled with both natural and man-made beauty. Camera-ready Guatapé is a masterpiece of colorful façades adorned with cheerful hand-painted murals. It also has a huge artificial lake that is a beautiful and popular place for water sports. Piedra del Peñol appears in the southwest. Travelers can climb hundreds of steps to the top for panoramic views.

8. Stowe, Vermont

Among the many beautiful small towns in the Green Mountain State, Stowe in northern Vermont continues to impress with its covered bridges, quintessential New England architecture and stunning views that change with the seasons. It's a winter wonderland with powder snow, frozen Bingham Falls, alpine skiing, trained cross-country skiing, and ice skating. During the warmer months, attention turns to the hiking trails and verdant mountain scenery of Smugglers Notch State Park.

9. Ban Rak Thai, Thailand

With a population of under 1,000, Ban Rak Thai is considered a sleepy small community. Its remote location in northern Thailand makes this spectacular village virtually unknown to tourists, this keeps it from being overrun with a large number of people. This implies that you do not have to maneuver through the crowd to admiring the lush mountains, tea plantations, and homes adorned with traditional Chinese lanterns. To appreciate the serene beauty of Ban Rak Thai, it's best to rise early to witness the mist emerging from the lake. 

10. Portofino, Italy

Tourists flock to the glamorous coastal community of Portofino during the summer to admire the pastel-colored houses, marvel at the large yachts in the harbor, and sip Negronis at the glitzy Piazzetta's bars. The trail that leads to Castello Brown is adorned with stunning views of the locale and the ocean. With a little luck, you may be able to secure a table at La Terrazza at Splendido, a Belmond Hotel that features a terrace that overlooks the sparkling bay. They twirl spaghetti on the wisteria-clad terrace.

11. Grindelwald, Switzerland

Located in the Bernese Oberland, the village of Grindelwald mirrors the idealized version of the Swiss ski resort you'd see on a travel brochure or postcard featuring snow-capped peaks, groomed slopes for all skill levels, and glowing glaciers. When the winter season ends, the alpine beauty of its snowy terrain takes precedence over other activities, such as hiking and trails in nature. Adventurers seek out the treacherous peaks, specifically the north face of Eiger, they attempt to scale it.  

12. Lake Placid, New York

Lake Placid is a peaceful and scenic community in the Adirondacks that is primarily known for its lake. Beyond the splendor of the water, it has rolling hills, dense forests, meadows, and a pleasant Main Street. Every year, around 103 inches of powder is converted into this beautiful upstate region into a snow globe that is ideal for outdoor activities like skiing. When all of the icing is melted, it’s time to hike along scenic trails or admire the magnificent views. Don't forsake leaf peeping in the winter.

13. Bacalar, Mexico

Those interested in seeing the scenery from a different perspective will adore Bacalar, a Pueblo Mágico (or Magic Town) located near the Mexico-Belize border. The idyllic community is situated on the spectacular Lake Bacalar, which is known as the "Lagoon of Seven Colors" because of its endless variety of blue hues. Beyond the second largest freshwater lake in Mexico, there are interesting historic structures such as the 18th century fort and San Joaquin Parish Church, as well as environmental-oriented activities.

14. Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, Morocco

Chefchaouen is renowned for its stunning blue hues that are Instagrammable. However, the more secretive, maze-like city of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun in the Fès-Meknès region of northern Morocco is definitely worthy of note. Located on two hills below Mount Zerhoun, this holy site houses one of the country’s most significant sites: the tomb of Idris I. Additionally, it has numerous stairs, passages, and terraces that provide a general view of everything. 

15. Ilulissat, Greenland

Ilulissat resembles a movie set with the Ilulissat Icefjord, floating icebergs in Disko Bay, and colorful houses. Even more than its visual beauty intrigues visitors, the question arises as to whether or not it's the result of a special effects movie. We assure you that this coastal town in western Greenland is authentic. Visitors will also be able to witness the northern lights dancing during winter and the midnight sun coming to the surface in the summer. 

16. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber's whimsy and splendor is barely perceptible. This fairy-tale community is located along the Romantic Road in the Franconia region of Bavaria, it features cobblestone streets, intact defenses, and medieval architecture including half-timbered houses and a storybook castle, as well as lush scenery from every angle. Day-trippers are associated with the magical territory, but even large crowds don't diminish its brilliance.

17. Marsaxlokk, Malta

If you were asked to recreate the most picturesque fishing port, it would probably resemble Marsaxlokk the most. Located in the southeastern part of Malta, this sparsely populated village virtually undisturbed by humans offers visitors a significant amount of historical knowledge and coastal charm. Traditional Maltese boats are propelled by the traditional method of luzzu, they inhabit the harbor, the coastal promenade is populated by restaurants that serve the freshest seafood of the day, the pace of life is incredibly leisurely. 

18. Frigiliana, Spain

Some areas are simply breathtaking from the first time you look them in the eyes, Frigiliana falls into this category. Despite the odds being against it, this beautiful gem concealed in the hills of southern Spain still eludes tourists. This is beneficial to travelers who want to explore the maze of beautiful, narrow streets in the old town, hike to the castle, sample tapas and sip local wine while observing the sunset. 

19. San Sebastian Bernal, Mexico

Located in the high desert of the central plateau, San Sebastián Bernal is a quaint pueblo that is designated as a Pueblo Mágico, it is situated on a rock monolith that is towering above the desert and is located in the central highlands of the state of Querétaro in Mexico. The cobblestone streets and colorful buildings function as a seductive counterpoint to the sacred boulder background and the vastness of the arid landscape that surrounds it in all directions. It's a place that combines natural beauty, culture, and tradition in a most seductive manner.

20. Banff, Canada

The seductive alpine town of Banff is a popular ski destination and is just one of the most attractive places in general regardless of the season. Other than skiing (or hiking) the slopes, visitors can admire the Rocky Mountain peaks from Banff Avenue while shopping for souvenirs, observing wildlife in Banff National Park, and taking a bath in the hot springs. Also in the Banff Springs area is Fairmont, which is affectionately referred to as "Canada's Castles in the Rockies". This area is the setting for a hotel's romantic history. 

21. Whitefish, Montana

Yes, Whitefish is a sanctuary for recreational activities outdoors. However, the scenery that is in the background of all of the adventure activities that are involved makes it so amazing. This rural community is located in the Rocky Mountains of northwest Montana and has terrain that is covered in snow for skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. When summer arrives, the photogenic hiking and biking trails, gushing rivers, and Whitefish Lake take center stage. It's also the portal to the glacier-carved peaks and valleys of Glacier National Park. 

22. Byron Bay, Australia

Far from being unnoticed—though, again, this doesn't mean it's less spectacular—B Byron Bay is a coastal enclave on the northeastern coast of New South Whales that is known for its surf culture, idyllic beaches, and growing tourism industry. It's famously home to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse, and humpback whales visit the waters between June and November. 

23. Stone Town in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Stone Town in Zanzibar, which is listed by UNESCO as a cultural site, is an exceptionally preserved example of a Swahili coastal trading port that has remained unchanged for over two centuries. This facilitates visitors to appreciate the perennial charm of its maze-like streets, beautiful historic houses, vibrant bazaars, the palace that was turned into a museum, mosque, cathedral, and the Omani fortress.

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