The Jostedal, one of Europe's largest glaciers, is only six miles from tiny Mundal. But that doesn't worry this small farming village in the Fjærland Valley. Indeed, the inhabitants have celebrated their proximity to the mountainous ice mass with the stunning concrete-and-glass Norwegian Glacier Museum, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn. Mundal also has dozens of multilingual bookshops set up in old barns and boathouses throughout town.
POPULATION 300 HOW TO GET THERE Mundal is four hours northeast of Bergen and seven hours northwest of Oslo. WHERE TO STAY The Hotel Mundal (Fjærland; 47-5/769-3101; doubles from $177), a turreted Victorian, has been run by the same family for more than a century. WHERE TO EAT The hotel's restaurant (dinner for two $114) features Norwegian cuisine; try not to think of Santa as you order the reindeer.
22 Kazimierz Dolny
When Warsaw's café society heads for the hills in summer, they go to Kazimierz Dolny, a sleepy farm town that became a river port under the 14th-century Polish king Kazimierz the Great. Visiting artists often stop to sketch the sumptuous early Baroque houses lining the Rynek, the main market square, while thrill-seeking types climb the rocky ruins of the king's stone fortress, which was destroyed by an army of marauding Swedes in the 1650's.
POPULATION 4,500 HOW TO GET THERE Kazimierz Dolny is a 2 1/2-hour drive east of Warsaw (75 miles). WHERE TO STAY The 37 rooms at Dom Pracy Tworczej Architekta (20 Rynek; 48-81/883-5544; doubles from $66) are furnished with dark woods and bright artwork. where to eat Domu Michalakow (24 Ul. Nadrzeczna; 48-81/881-0579; dinner from $18) serves salads, grilled fish, and traditional Polish soups in a flower-filled garden.
Although folklore says Tarifa's infamous blustery winds can drive a person mad, the powerful gusts have instead drawn Europe's adventurers here, among them wind surfers who skim the Mediterranean and kite surfers, who catch a breeze in their parachutes to soar high above the sea. The small Old Town is surrounded by a Moorish fortress wall, while Tarifa's newer district, on the other side, has a distinctly Californian vibe, with surf shops and bohemian cafés that spill out onto the aptly named Coast of Light—the undeveloped beaches that stretch all the way to Cádiz.
POPULATION 17,000 HOW TO GET THERE Tarifa is located on Spain's southern tip; on a clear day, you can see across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco. Seville is 140 miles to the north. WHERE TO STAY Vines hang over the balconies of the oceanside Hurricane Hotel (National Rd. 340, Km 78; 34-95/668-4919; doubles from $125), which has 33 airy rooms. WHERE TO EAT Café Central (Sancho IV Bravo; 34-95/668-0560; lunch for two $26) has been the meeting place—for breakfast, drinks, or just tapas—since 1894.
Sigtuna is Sweden's oldest town (dating back to 980), and it might have become the nation's capital if it hadn't been for the Black Death in 1350. Thankfully, the lakeside village is feeling fine. Filled with wooden houses painted red and mustard, Sigtuna also has dozens of 11th-century standing stones, an early Gothic church dating from 1230, and the photogenic ruins of three more churches.
POPULATION 7,000 HOW TO GET THERE Sigtuna is 28 miles north of Stockholm; Arlanda, Sweden's main airport, is only 11 miles away. WHERE TO STAY The Sigtuna Stads Hotell (3 Stora Nygatan; 46-85/925-0100; doubles from $253) juxtaposes old and new Scandinavian styles: traditional wooden furniture paired with Arne Jacobsen chairs and Bang & Olufsen televisions. WHERE TO EAT The spartan Amandas Krog (7 Langgrand; 46-85/925-0024; dinner for two $71) serves hearty Swedish cuisine.
Accessible only by the longest aerial tramway in the Alps (it's the first stop), Gimmelwald is a dairy-farming town that has more breeds of cattle than family names. Generations ago, this car-free village was declared an avalanche zone, which restricted development and helped preserve its original 18th- and 19th-century buildings. (Don't worry: while nearby glaciers are prone to icefalls—which sound like distant thunder—no major slides have been recorded.) Come summer, after the snow melts and the grass is long enough, farmers lead their herds up the mountain amid a chorus of cowbells.
POPULATION 130 HOW TO GET THERE Trains run hourly from Interlaken (10 miles to the south) to the Stechelberg bus depot; take a bus from there to Gimmelwald's tram station. WHERE TO STAY The eight-room Hotel Mittaghorn (41-33/855-1658; doubles from $52) is affectionately known as Walter's, after the kindly owner who serves guests a shot of schnapps with his signature coffee. WHERE TO EAT Take the gondola farther up the mountain to get a little movie history with your dinner at Piz Gloria (Mürren; 41-33/856-2156; dinner for two $24), a solar-powered revolving restaurant featured in the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
CONTRIBUTORS Leslie Brenner, Mark Faas, Sunshine Flint, Eleni N. Gage, Hillary Geronemus, Peter S. Green, Marion Hume, Eve Kahn, Nicole Levine, Christopher Petkanas, Todd Savage, Catherine Thompson, Hannah Wallace, Valerie Waterhouse, Susan Welsh, Stephen Whitlock, Gisela Williams, and Kristine Ziwica.