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Best Small European Towns for Solo Travelers
We’ve all heard of London, Paris, Rome, Munich, and Prague. All energetic cities that offer a wide variety of great sites, activities, restaurants, and accommodation. It’s no surprise that these destinations appear again and again on many solo travelers’ itineraries. Read r/travel or the Lonely Planet forums, and you’ll see what I mean.
What about small towns, though? We’ve all seen pictures of Europe’s beautiful fairytale towns and can’t forget about them. What can they offer solo travelers to Europe? I promise I’m not knocking anyone, but only visiting large cities on any trip, to any continent, will limit your perspective on the place. You need to branch out. Europe has so many unique hidden places that you’ll have a blast planning your trip.
Don’t get me wrong. I love cities. For example, I live in a small city here in New Jersey and purposely relocated closer to New York so I could enjoy easy access to all its culture. However, many of my greatest memories as a solo traveler happened in rural areas or small towns.
Here are a couple terrific small towns that I’d recommend specifically for solo travelers. I’m only speaking from my personal experience so I’m aware that this list isn’t all inclusive. I need to visit more small towns myself! I’d love to read more of your suggestions in the comments section.
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Bled is a gem of a town located in Slovenia. Surrounded by the Julian Alps, Bled offers visitors a ton of outdoor activities and it’s especially popular in the summer. Lake Bled itself is stunning, with its famous Church of the Island a boat ride away. My beginners guide covers what you can see and do on your stay. And don’t forget to enjoy a slice of Bled cake. It’s delicious! You can diet when you go home.
Bruges is located roughly an hour outside of Brussels. This town, filled with red and brown lego-style buildings, is one of my all time favorites. It’s not off the beaten path, though, and is very popular with other travelers, but of course, this makes it easier for you to meet people. A few of my favorite attractions including climbing the Belfrey, seeing the windmills, visiting De Halve Maan Bewrey, and visiting the Basilica of the Holy Blood. For more information on Bruges, check out this 24 hour guide.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Honestly, I can’t think of a more “fairy tale” like town than Cesky Krumlov. To enjoy the full “CK” experience, you need to spend the night and wander around after the day trippers leave. This town is so quaint. Cobblestone streets, colorful medieval buildings, bridges. I would return in three seconds. Cesky Krumlov also boasts many hiking trails for nature lovers. And you definitely want to raft on Vltavy River, too! Check out my beginners guide for more details.
Book your stay in Cesky Krumlov.
Grünau im Almtal, Austria
Grünau im Almtal is located in the Austrian countryside. A perfect place to commune with nature and catch your breath – especially if you’re traveling for a long time. Seriously, you relax here. Time stands still so don’t bother keeping to a schedule. My personal favorite activity is renting a bike and visiting Lake Almsee. Crystal mountain waters everywhere. Perfect for a sunny afternoon. Check out what I did on my stay here.
Obidos is a simple day trip from Lisbon. This town attracts a lot of day trippers, but it’s so easy to see why. Obidos is a walled medieval town that’s beautifully preserved against the Portuguese countryside. Simply get lost in the village or walk along the castle walls. And enjoy the tiles. Seriously, there are so many things to do in Obidos. So. Many. Things.
I wish I had spent more time in Zakopane! I visited in the summer, but I think this would be a fabulous winter destination for skiing. Anyway. Zakopane is a resort town in southern Poland that perfectly situated in the Tatra Mountains. The main streets are packed with shops and restaurants, giving a solo traveler plenty to do. You can also take the cable car and enjoy some majestic views.
Are you a solo traveler who can’t wait to go abroad? These posts have more information for all your travel needs!
Backpacking Europe – Everything You Need to Know
When Is the Best Time to Visit Europe?
10 Important Things to Know Before You Travel Solo
Why All Women Need to Travel Alone
Why Your First Solo Trip Should Be Portugal
Scared to Travel? Book A Tour!
7 Tips for Anxious Solo Travelers
What are your favorite small European towns? What small towns are currently on your bucket list? Are you excited to discover Europe? Share in the comments.
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29 thoughts on “Terrific Small European Towns for Solo Travelers”
There are so many places to visit in Europe! It’s always great to get off the beaten tracks and discover new places. We’re currently in Europe and you truly inspired us to visit some of these destinations!
Nat Deduck —
I totally agree with you! Have fun on your trip!
What a great post. The small towns in Europe are a cultural treasure. Life is slower and the old ways survive. It’s hard to say multicultural without city. Out in the country, you see life that way it was. Your tips for renting a bike are spot on. One of my favorite memories from Europe was renting a bike and just cruising through Bad Bokelo in eastern Holland. I guarantee you that nothing I saw that day was in any guidebook but the visions of old stone mills and miniature horses still dance through my head.
Jenn and Ed —
Riding a bike through rural Holland sounds divine! I haven’t visited yet, but really want to! Thanks for your comment.
Great post useful for us couples too. We really want to visit Bruges this year as it looks so beautiful. Also exploring Portugal around Lisbon is also on our list.
Marcus and Mel —
Bruges is so so so so beautiful! One of my favorites!
This is great. Most of my travel is solo and I’ve yet to visit any of these towns. I just need to figure out which one to visit first, Grünau im Almtal or Bled.
Ohhh, tricky! Both towns are fabulous!
These are great options, with many towns I’ve never heard of. Portugal is on my list to visit and Obidos sounds like a really cool destination to check out. I’m intrigued about Zakopane based on your description. I will definitively check it out for the winter next season. Thanks for putting a spotlight on these smaller and unique European towns.
I LOVE lists like this: Charming photos and a concretely actionable list of fabulous new places to check out! I’d never heard of Cesky Krumlov before and it really does look like a fairy tale.
Definitely check out Cesky Krumlov! I felt like I was literally in the pages of a fairy tale!
Nice collection of small town recommendations. Bruges is one of our favorite cities in Europe! You’re certainly right about the crowding, particularly in summer. We’ve found that just by turning corners away from the main squares, the city reveals itself in a quieter and wonderful way.
Moving away from the main squares is always a good idea. It’s quieter and more real. Thanks for visiting!
You’ve picked such wonderful, exciting destinations. I’m so happy to see Slovenia on the list- Lake Bled is brilliant and a great place to visit as a solo traveller!!
Slovenia is so underrated. It’s such a gem.
Great list. I have only been to Bruges and it is an amazing city. I really like the small feel these towns have. Lake Bled is on my list too.
I hope you get to Bled soon! It’s magical!
Love exploring smaller European towns off the beaten path! Lake Bled is simply stunning! Heading back over there this summer…
I’m SO jealous!! I wanna go back to Bled soon!
These are so cute! I mostly travel solo, and spend some time in Europe almost every summer, so I’ve added a few to my go-to list. Thanks for sharing!
Europe is great for solo travel! Hope you’re able to enjoy a few of these towns this summer!
Great post! For lovers of Bruges, the next stop on the train is Ghent, another wonderful city with a lively pub culture.
I’m so sad I missed Ghent! Must return.
Yes! Zakopane is absolutely incredible! I can never say now to a Polish mountain adventure.
Zakopane was perfect!!
I agree with your choices! I’ve seen some of those already (Bled, Bruges, Obidos), and plan to see others in the future (Zakopane, Cesky Krumlov). I had never heard of Grünau im Almtal though. 🙂
You will LOVE LOVE LOVE both Zakopane and Cesky Krumlov!
Great selection. I have been to a few of them such as Bled and Bruges. Cesky Krumlov is high up on my list too.
These are some great places to visit that I have never heard before. I think I would love them all but really would like to go to Zakopane Poland. Thank you so much for the great ideas.