medieval towns in europe

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Medieval towns in Europe that need to be on your bucket list.

In the middle ages, Europe was a rapidly growing continent. Cities and towns were formed that are now known as ‘’medieval towns’’ in Europe.

These towns are filled with charming cobblestone streets, amazing architecture, fairytale-like buildings, and more!

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Medieval towns in Europe

Below you’ll find the 18 best underrated medieval towns of Europe. I’ve decided not to include the bigger cities like Prague and Edinburgh because they’re simply not hidden and underrated anymore.

I want you to know about towns you haven’t even heard of, that are not crowded and touristy.

So here it goes…

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

medieval towns in europe

Let’s start with one of my favorites: Cesky Krumlov. Located in south Bohemia, you’ll find this majestic medieval town.

Lined with cobblestone streets, surrounded by the beautiful river Vltava, and a magical castle overlooking the city, this town makes for a wonderful stop on your trip to the Czech Republic!

This picturesque town is getting more popular by the day. But don’t worry, most people think it’s not worth the 2-hour drive from Prague, so you’re in luck. It won’t get as touristy as Prague, but this UNESCO World Heritage site is so worth the visit.

Things to do in Cesky Krumlov:

  • Simply explore the old town on foot
  • Have some lunch at Namesti Svornosti (Main Square)
  • Feel like a royal in Cesky Krumlov Castle
  • And of course, climb the castle tower!
  • Cross the Cloak Bridge
  • Be amazed by the castle garden

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

old cities in Germany

Now traveling to Czechia’s neighbor, Germany! You will find many medieval towns in Germany, like Freiburg im Breisgau!

Freiburg is known as a vibrant university city in southwest Germany’s black forest. Filled with magnificent medieval buildings and the black forest right around the corner, this town is definitely worth adding to your trip!

And overlooked by the bigger cities, like Munich, Stuttgart, and Frankfurt, the town of Freiburg doesn’t get that crowded, which is great!

Things to do in Freiburg:

  • Explore Munsterplatz and the daily market
  • Take the Schlossbergbahn for hiking and the best views
  • Visit the Freiburger Münster Cathedral
  • Admire the Schabentor and Martinstor
  • Explore the university library
  • Feel the amazing vibes of Rathausplatz

Avila, Spain

medieval towns in europe

On only an hour from Madrid, you’ll find the medieval town of Avila. This fortified town is quite unique, seeing it’s one of only a few medieval cities in the world that is totally enclosed in a nearly intact city wall.

Avila is a UNESCO World Heritage City and one of the most magnificent cities in Spain. This ‘’town of stones and saints’’, as it’s called, is an authentic, fairytale-like medieval town that will take you back in time.

One thing that’s for sure is that Avila will blow your mind!

Things to do in Avila:

  • Walk the city walls
  • Admire the Avila Cathedral
  • Enter the city through Puerta Del Alcazar
  • Explore Avila’s old town
  • Learn the history of Basilica San Vicente
  • Take a stroll through the Sephardic Garden Of Moshe De Leon

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

medieval towns in europe

And back to Germany, let’s visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber!

Rothenburg may look a bit like Freiburg but it’s very different in a unique way. One thing that’s for sure is that Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a lot more popular.

And no wonder why! Rothenburg is known for its medieval architecture. Half-timbered houses line the cobblestone lanes of its old town. This is a town with serious charm!

Rothenburg is one of the most popular towns of the Romantic road through southern Germany.

Things to do in Rothenburg:

  • Stroll through the old town
  • Explore the Marktplatz
  • Walk the old town walls
  • Take some pictures of Plönlein
  • Visit the St. James’s Church
  • Admire the castle garden: Burggarten

Extra tip: Read this post to find the best practical tips and things to do in visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber!

Carcassonne, France

medieval towns in europe

Carcassonne, a hilltop town in southern France is famous for its medieval citadel, La Cité, with numerous watchtowers and double-walled fortifications.

This medieval town often gets described as ‘’Disney-like’’, that’s how magical it looks. Carcassonne is a dreamland of old architecture, secret passageways, and winding alleys. And this glorious place is so underrated, it almost hurts.

The hilltop town of Carcassonne in France is one you should definitely add to your bucket list!

Things to do in Carcassonne:

  • Stroll through La Cité de Carcassonne; the Citadel
  • Visit Château Comtal and Ramparts
  • Wine and Dine in the old town
  • Discover the secrets of Châteaux de Lastours
  • Be amazed by Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus
  • Admire the Carcassonne Cathedral

Siena, Italy

historical cities in italy

In the Tuscany region of Italy, you’ll find the medieval town of Siena. This picture-perfect town has an indescribable unique charm. This characteristic town is filled with charming old red-brown brick houses and the most romantic sights.

You’ll be able to spend hours in this maze of hidden alleyways and charming paths, and not get bored at all! It’s more likely that your camera will be glued to your face all the time.

For many people, the magical historic center of Siena is the most beautiful in Italy! I mean, man, it’s got to be good, isn’t it?

Things to do in Siena:

  • Take some photos of Piazza del Campo
  • Get lost in the old town
  • Climb the Torre del Mangia Tower for an amazing view over the city
  • Admire the Cathedral of Siena
  • Be blown away by Palazzo Pubblico
  • Visit the Basilica di San Domenico

Ghent, Belgium

medieval towns in europe

The town I have been amazed by only under 2 weeks ago (January 2023). Ghent is such an amazing medieval town filled with structures you can’t imagine and many, many wondrous churches. With the most picturesque sights, Ghent made it to this list of the best medieval towns in Europe!

And of course, Ghent has the best beers and chocolates in all of Belgium! It used to be an incredibly important city in Europe, but now Ghent is rather overlooked. Which makes for fewer crowds!

Ghent should definitely be added to your trip to Europe!

Things to do in Ghent:

  • Take some photos at the St. Michael’s Bridge
  • Be amazed by Graslei and Korenlei
  • Climb the Belfry Tower
  • Admire Saint Bavo’s Cathedral
  • Discover life at medieval Ghent at castle Gravensteen
  • Have a drink at Vrijdagmarkt

Related: A Thorough Guide for Where to Stay in Ghent in 2023!

Sibiu, Romania

medieval towns in europe

Now, going to the other side of Europe, we have the medieval town of Sibiu, Romania!

This charming, cobble-stoned town was voted Cultural European Capital in 2007 and is Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live, according to Forbes.

That’s not nothing, eh?

This unique and interesting town is based on the foothills of the Cindrel Mountains in Transylvania. Sibiu is well-known as ‘’the city with eyes’’. Why is this, you may ask? Just look in the photo below, and you’ll have your answer

medieval towns in europe
You’ll find these roofs with eyes all over town.

But other than this creepy feature, Sibiu is a medieval town well worth a visit!

Things to do in Sibiu:

  • Admire Piata Mare; the big square
  • Take photos of The Evangelical Cathedral and climb the tower
  • Admire the Holy Trinity Cathedral
  • Cross the Liar’s Bridge
  • Explore the upper and lower town
  • Stare back at the houses with eyes

Bruges, Belgium

old cities in belgium

Nope, one town in Belgium wasn’t enough. We’re taking you to another medieval town: Bruges!

With beautiful squares surrounded by gingerbread houses and cobbled alleys running alongside pretty canals, Bruges is a city adored by many people. That’s why it’s heavily crowded from March til October. A good reason to visit this town in the winter months!

And what makes this city so unique is the fact that there are pipelines underneath the city, where Bruges beer flows through non-stop.

The glorious medieval town of Bruges should – no doubt – be on your bucket list!

Things to do in Bruges:

  • Be amazed by the Basilica of the Holy Blood
  • Discover dark secrets in the Torture Museum
  • Climb the Belfry tower
  • Get on a canal cruise
  • Explore the old town by foot
  • Visit the Bruges Markt

Torun, Poland

medieval towns in europe

In the middle of Poland, You’ll find the charming city of Torun. With its medieval architecture, baroque-style churches, and its deep history, this town is one that simply has to be on your bucket list.

This well-preserved medieval town is filled with the most incredible sights, from the most picturesque squares to wonderful churches. Torun has it all!

Things to do in Torun:

  • Visit the massive Old Town Hall and climb its tower
  • Wander around the old town
  • Admire Torun Cathedral
  • Be blown away by the Live Gingerbread Museum
  • Discover the Teutonic Castle Ruins
  • Be amazed by the House Under the Stars

Bamberg, Germany

historical cities in germany

Okay, it’s starting to look like half of this post is made up of German towns. But that’s just because Germany has so many of them, like the medieval town of Bamberg!

The town’s wonderfully preserved historic downtown area, along with its abundance of medieval architecture, is now even a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

You could get lost for a day or two in the absolute beauty of Bamberg. With its interesting museums, tremendous views, and unique medieval architecture, Bamberg will steal your heart.

Things to do in Bamberg:

  • Visit the Bamberg Cathedral
  • Explore the old town
  • Discover the Old Court
  • Take photos of Altes Rathaus
  • Enjoy the Views from Michelsberg Monastery
  • Be amazed by Altenburg Castle

Sighișoara, Romania

medieval towns in europe

Sibiu isn’t the only hidden medieval town in Romania. Sighișoara is a city on the Târnava Mare River in Mureș County, in the historic area of Transylvania.

Surrounded by rolling green hills and filled with joy. And with streets of colorfully painted houses watched by nine towers, the UNESCO World Heritage city of Sighisoara is more than worth a visit!

Things to do in Sighisoara:

  • Explore the old Citadel
  • Take some photos of the Clocktower
  • Climb the Covered Staircase to the upper town
  • Visit the Monastery Church
  • Wander through both the old and the new town
  • Be blown away by the Holy Trinity Church’s beauty

Pitigliano, Italy

medieval towns in europe

Also called ‘’the town carved into the stone’’, is Pitigliano. This town looks like it has come from the mind of a fairytale writer. Situated on a high tuff rock, this town towers majestically over the green valleys of Maremma.

The remarkable sights of this medieval town are ones you’ll only find here. Nowhere else in the world will you find something as unique as Pitigliano.

Pitigliano might be one of the best towns in Tuscany, but quite underrated. Or at least not yet discovered by most tourists. So now’s your chance to visit before the crowds get there!

Things to do in Pitigliano:

  • Admire the old town walls
  • Fall in love with the historic town
  • Enjoy the view from Fontana Delle Sette Cannelle
  • Explore ancient walkways and Etruscan tombs
  • Visit Museo di Palazzo Orsini
  • Take a stroll through the Old Town Alleys

Rocamadour, France

old cities in france

Near the eastern border of the Dordogne, you will find the most charming town: Rocamadour. It’s a town perched high on a rocky plateau overlooking the Alzou Valley.

This town dates back to prehistoric towns, but due to the first church being built here in the 12th century, it’s a medieval town.

And wow, what a town it is! It’s like walking right into a Game of Thrones scene!

Things to do in Rocamadour:

  • Wander through the old town
  • Climb the Grand Staircase
  • Admire the Sanctuaire
  • Take some photos of Basilique St-Sauveur
  • Walk around the Ramparts
  • Visit the Notre-Dame Chapel

Cochem, Germany

historic cities in germany

Yep, there’s Germany again.

Hidden in the Mosel Valley, lined by the Mosel River, you’ll find the loveliest town of Cochem. Cochem is a dreamy old town with the most magical castle on the hill. Surrounded by rolling green hills and vineyards, Cochem will take your breath away!

There are enough activities in Cochem, to fill up an entire weekend! And seeing that Cochem lies between the Eifel and Hunsrück ranges, you may get a refreshing taste of nature as well!

Things to do in Cochem:

  • Feel like a king in Reichsburg Cochem
  • Stroll through the magical old town
  • Take a Mosel River cruise
  • Sip some local Riesling at market square
  • Take a ride on the Cochemer Sesselbahn
  • Walk along the flower-lined houses of the Mosel Promenade

Tallinn, Estonia

medieval towns in europe

Now we’re traveling to a whole other side of Europe, one that’ll steal your heart.

Tallinn is a town with a certain charm that’s entirely different from the ones you’ve already seen. With surprises around every corner, Tallinn bursts with charm like no other European city.

This medieval town is filled with historic architecture, sky-scraping church bell towers, and winding cobblestone streets. This medieval town will cause you to drop your mouth in awe!

Things to do in Tallinn:

  • Check out the view from Kohtuotsa Viewing Platform
  • Visit Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
  • Wander through the historic town
  • Stroll through Kadriorg Park
  • Admire St. Olaf’s Church
  • Visit Toompea Castle 

Motovun, Croatia

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Behold the prettiest hilltop in all of Croatia! Motovun is a charming fairytale-like town you simply have to see!

This captivating walled town is a most interesting hidden gem in Istria. Motovun is filled with medieval structures, interesting history, wonderful culture, and more!

And as if that’s not enough, this province of Croatia is known for its wine, truffles, and other exceptional food. Motovun is the perfect medieval town for everyone!

Things to do in Motovun:

  • Visit The Church of St. Stephen
  • Admire the Motovun Belltower
  • Take a look at the city walls
  • Walk through the interesting old town
  • Go on a truffle hunting tour or wine tour
  • Cross the Motovun Parenzana tunnel

Besalu, Spain

medieval towns in europe

For the last medieval town on this list, we’re traveling back to Spain. Besalú is one of the most beautifully preserved medieval villages in the Catalonia region of Spain.

Besalu is a real maze build up of narrow, cobbled alleys and amazing buildings. With a stunning old bridge leading to the city and an old town that’ll leave you in awe, this town will get a special place in your heart.

However, Besalu is a popular day trip destination from Girona and Barcelona, so there can be crowds.

Things to do in Besalu:

  • Reach the old town by walking across the wondrous medieval Besalu Bridge
  • Admire The Sant Pere Monastery
  • Visit The church of Sant Vicente de Besalu
  • Take a stroll along The Casa Llaudes
  • Hike toward Sagrat Cor Chapel
  • Visit the quirky Museum of Miniatures and Microminiatures

Final thoughts on medieval towns in Europe

Are you ready for your historical trip to Europe? You now know about the best towns to visit, so what are you waiting for? Book your trip now!

Which town would you like to visit most? Let me know in the comments below!

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