The Best Old Towns in Europe

In many locations around the world, one of the top tourist spots to visit is “the old town.” Many cities and towns all around the world have their very own, old town. There are many different ways to define what constitutes as an old town, but it’s generally defined as a small, old town, within or just outside a modern town or city. An area that might have been modernised somewhat, and may house trendy shops and restaurants, but still maintains its traditional look, architecture, and values.

In modern cities, the old town areas are often where the locals shop and spend their time. They are the places we visit when we’re tired of shopping and sitting by the pool. When we want to learn more about the history and culture of the place we’re staying. When we want to get away from chain stores and large department shops. When we’re ready for more unique and quirky stalls. When we want to visit traditional markets and try more old fashioned cuisine.  

Old towns are a great place to visit if you are after a bit of a digital detox. Leave your phone in the hotel and enjoy a more basic way of life. Get back to the beauty of what some of your favourite cities used to be. Spend time away from the modern world and enjoy a more peaceful time. Whether you want to stay in an old town for the duration of your trip, or just visit for a day of something different, here are some of the best old towns from around Europe.

Bergen

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Bergen in Norway is a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year. Bergen itself is a city on the southwestern coast of the country. It’s surrounded by gorgeous mountains, peaceful fjords, and picturesque scenery. The old wharf is filled with small fishing boats, and the town is made up of colourful old-fashioned houses and other buildings.

Bergen is Norway’s second biggest city and is home to modern and more traditional areas but it all looks postcard perfect, and you’ll almost feel yourself let your stresses go as soon as you look at it. It’s a modern city, with small-town charm and you’ll enjoy taking in the Viking influence as you explore.

Kraków

Kraków is a city of rich history and the old town, which is encased in a large green park, is the best way to do it. The park gives it a feeling of safety, away from the more metropolitan areas. It makes the old town feel special and locked away. Like modern life is being held out.

The buildings are beautiful, there’s a thriving art scene, and food and drink are cheap and easy to find.

Tallinn

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Tallinn, in Estonia, is a walled city, again, closed off from outside life. The buildings are pastel shades, the streets are cobbled, and there are old church steeples littering the skyline. Tallinn is exceptionally cheap to visit but delightfully charming. It’s basically everything that you want from an old European town.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is another walled old town and the perfect place to visit if you are heading to the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. As you drive up the coast, following the curve of the ocean, Dubrovnik suddenly pops up in front of you, and it takes your breath away. The terracotta walls, against the deep blue of the ocean, look incredible and welcome you in.

Old brick buildings, outdoor lanterns, and wide cobbled streets are popular in Dubrovnik and look gorgeous after sunset. If you want to see the city with the sea as a backdrop, use the cable car to get to the top of the mountains to take in the views. If you are after a different old town experience, take the Game of Thrones sets tour to see some of the locations used in the TV show.

Prague

Prague is perhaps one of the most famous and popular old towns in Europe. It can be a cheap holiday, with loads to do and is very popular with younger tourists and students. However, being overrun by tourists hasn’t ruined the cities appeal. If anything, it’s bought in a new culture, exposed the history of the city and added to the beauty. Prague is a magical mix of tradition and modern. Filled with imposing monuments and museums to commemorate and show off their history, you’ll never be bored in Prague.

Marbella

If you want bright and colourful Marbella old town is the place to be. Many of the buildings are white and covered with colour. Flowers, colourful wooden blinds, and bright awnings are everywhere. The streets are lined with flowers, old churches are filled with colour, and there’s greenery everywhere. You can’t possibly visit Marbella old town without smiling and feeling at ease.

Vienna

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Vienna is a city known for its style, sophistication, and grace. Another city that is proud of its history and culture and keen to show it off. This style and sophistication mean that even the more modern areas of Vienna, look traditional and old, in the best possible way. If you want to see some graceful, yet big, buildings, head to the regal State Opera House, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Albertina Museum, Hofburg Palace, and the Austrian National Library.

Bruges

There are more modern areas of Bruges, but the main historical centre is the most beautiful, tiny town. Filled with quirky little stores and bars. Lined with cobbled streets and surrounded by canals. If you’re heading the Bruges, be sure to try the beer, the chocolate and as much of the rest of the cuisine as you can.

For the best Bruges has to offer, visit during the Christmas season for the most magical Christmas market in the world, as well as some amazing gifts.

Ibiza

Ibiza is known to the younger crowd as one of the worlds ultimate spots for nightclubs and parties. But, it’s old town is something different entirely. It’s almost like going back in time. It’s a small medieval town up on a little mountain, with great views of the ocean and plenty of traditional stores and hotspots.

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