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Europe has an allure that no other continent can claim to possess. And with 51 independent countries, each with their own set of landmarks, natural wonders, and traditions, perhaps the great draw is the multitude of cultures and sheer diversity.
Of course, Europe is home to major destinations that dominate world tourism. The likes of London, Paris and Italy are frequented by mass tourism, and they have been written about so many times we could fill a library with their descriptions.
However away from the grandiose of commercialism and mass media slavery, Europe has many hidden gems, and authentic small villages where you can truly feel as though you’ve stumbled upon something undiscovered.
If you’re looking to take a detour from the beaten path of tourist-y Europe, the following are some of the most underrated small villages you’ll find.
4 Underrated Small Villages in Europe
Assos Village, Greece
A small village in Kefalonia, Greece, Assos Village boasts what most Greek cities have – blue waters by the beach with a wonderful warm and sunny weather all year round.
What stands out however is the feeling of being lost in time; the village has a very mystical atmosphere, with traditional Ionian architecture, and pretty colored houses on a craggy hillside.
You can watch fishing boats come in and out of the small harbour, and there’s even the remnants of a 15th century castle originally built by the Venetian army.
Built as a fortification against pirate attacks, more recently the castle was home to political prisoners who were tasked to cultivate the vineyards which local tourists now enjoy.
Photo by Spiros Rokkos from Wikimedia Commons
One of the prettiest towns in Northern France, Riquewihr is a fortified village with 15th century half-timbered homes that look as though they belong on a postcard.
Set in a valley flanked by the Vosges Mountains and the Plain of Alsace, this fairy tale village combines old world architecture and charm with the quality of its world-famous wines (the village is surrounded by vineyards).
While appreciating the spectacular landscapes, and enjoying the spoils of the vines, there are plenty of museums that provide insight into the historic and cultural heritage of the region, including the Thieves tower, which was the former prison of Riquewihr.
Photo credit: Arnaud 25 from Wikimedia Commons
Not one but five villages in Italy, the Cinque Terre is truly a Holy Grail for any traveler. Five cliff-side fishing villages with multi colored pastel houses overlooking the Mediterranean sea, this is an iconic highlight of Italy.
The villages may not be the isolated hamlets they once were, as tourism quite quickly picked up on the beauty of the region, but they still retain a feeling of remote authenticity, despite being big on the tourism scene.
It doesn’t really matter which village you decide to set yourself up in since short trains rides link all five and you can quite easily hike between them. Hiking between the five villages can be done by way of the scenic Sentiero Azzurro, or Blue Trail.
The trail connects all five villages, and allows you to break up your hike into sections. Plan on around 6 hours to walk the entire route.
A resort in Mallorca mostly renowned as a fishing village, Cala Figuera has escaped the wave of commercialism that has captured the city.
It has retained most of what makes the village unique, and the fishing industry is still one of the main attractions. If you wake up early you can watch fisherman hard at work as they pull up early in the morning with fresh catch for the seafood scene.
There’s no beach here, though if you are a diving enthusiast this is the place to be. Its waters are crystal clear offering perfect visibility for a range of diverse sea life.
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