Bruno Morandi/Corbis

From the Alps to the Mediterranean, these frozen-in-time European villages will make you appreciate the beauty of taking it slow.

Folegandros, Greece

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Santorini’s streets sag with admirers, but on Folegandros, a nearby island in the Cyclades, you’ll find similar architecture—streets paved in slate, whitewashed buildings decorated with colorful flowers, the occasional Greek Orthodox church with a bright blue dome—without the crowds. For a secluded swim, trek to Katergo, a sheltered stretch of beach where gentle, emerald-blue waves lap the pebbly shore.

22 Postcard-Perfect European Villages Straight Out of a Fairytale

Folegandros, Greece

Santorini’s streets sag with admirers, but on Folegandros, a nearby island in the Cyclades, you’ll find similar architecture—streets paved in slate, whitewashed buildings decorated with colorful flowers, the occasional Greek Orthodox church with a bright blue dome—without the crowds. For a secluded swim, trek to Katergo, a sheltered stretch of beach where gentle, emerald-blue waves lap the pebbly shore.

Bruno Morandi/Corbis

22 Postcard-Perfect European Villages Straight Out of a Fairytale

The notion of postcard-perfect villages steeped in old-world charm has inspired centuries of travelers to fan out across Europe, seeking its secluded hamlets.

As a result, the continent’s scenic spots rarely remain hidden for long. It doesn’t take much to make a charming village feel uncomfortably popular. Consider the five fishing villages that make up Italy’s Cinque Terre, where an evening summertime stroll often feels like shuffling through a packed amusement park, complete with overpriced restaurants and souvenir shops.

But just a few miles down the coast from those crowds is Tellaro, another beautiful seaside village that is less accessible and thus blissfully unspoiled. A similar sense of discovery is the major draw in overlooked regions that house pint-size gems like the Alsatian village of Colmar, France, where bakeries sell both croissants and kugelhopf.

The first requirement of a beautiful village is a scenic location, whether among the Norwegian fjords or the sun-splashed Greek isles. But the finest also have distinctive features like the plaza ringed with high-gabled pastel façades in Telč, Czech Republic, or the unforgettable Victorian castle rising above the thatched roofs of Cong, Ireland.

Reaching some of these European beauties requires extra effort, yet the rewards are dazzling. Your eyes will thank you.

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