With the pressures of every day life, we at times yearn to break away and explore charming small towns outside of the big cities and far away from the place we call home. Country and hillside villages can be one of the most memorable places to get away and they’re usually the places you’ll find charming small towns. Take a look at our favourites from around the globe:
- Stellenbosch | South Africa
When entering Stellenbosch you feel the olde-world charm all around you. It is a valley surrounded by beautiful landscapes, vineyards, nature, gorgeous mountains and friendly people. Stellenbosch is popular because of its history, the world-reknown Stellenbosch University, and the many beautiful wine routes. Stellenbosch produces some of the best wines in the world and the beautiful town is lined with oak trees making it a romantic, charming little town to relax and rejuvenate. There are also quaint cafés along the way that you could stop and have tea and cake or a light lunch. You also have the opportunity to visit eclectic, authentically African and Dutch-inspired art galleries, boutiques or museums. Many of the buildings such as the homes, museums and churches show off the Cape Dutch architecture due to the colonial history. There are many gorgeous guesthouses in Stellenbosch, so there’s no reason not to stay a few days!
- Bourton on the water | United Kingdom
Bourton-on-the-Water is one of those ‘have to see’ places if you are in the UK. It’s found in a small valley between the rolling hills of the Cotswolds. This village is not only popular with the locals but also with tourists, and is fondly known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ with its lovely little bridges that cross over the soft flowing river that flows through the centre of the village, named the River Windrush. Visit the Birdland Park and Gardens, which is the most popular attraction of Bourton-on-the-Water. The park is filled with beautiful exotic birds in all sizes and gorgeous colours which includes; macaws, emus, flamingos, penguins and a few birds of prey. There are also plenty of restaurants, chocolate boutiques, tea shops and galleries to explore, most of which you’ll find on the buzzing high street.
- Eze | French Riviera
The French Riviera is a beautiful, but Eze, an extraordinary medieval village is certainly the French Riviera’s stand-out location. Eze is made up of disorderly old stone houses and winding cobbled lanes – it’s another level of charm! The views from Eze are breathtaking, with Mediterranean sea at its foot and impressive architecture and perfectly manicured gardens surrounding it. Many of the buildings are hundreds of years old, the oldest building is Chapelle de la Sainte Croix dating back to the 1300’s and really worth visiting the beautiful chapel. This is one village where you can just spend hours and hours exploring and still leave feeling you want more. It is best to go rather early in the morning as by mid-morning it becomes very crowded and the roads are very narrow and steep. The walk up takes about an hour.
- Napa Valley | USA
Napa Valley in the USA is wine country with gorgeous landscapes of grapevines and wildflowers across the rolling hills. This beautiful valley has often been used as the backdrop for movies and adverts. There is plenty to do in this town other than wine tours, which are of course most popular, but we’d recommend picnicing on the lush green lawns, shopping for souvenirs and dining outdoors surrounded by nature. If you visit between September and October you can experience the annual grape harvest in action which just happens to be one of the hottest and busiest times of the year.
- Cinque Terre | Italy
Cinque Terre in Italy are five delightful fishing villages that embrace the cliffs in an array of colours above the Ligurian Sea. This is a very unique and pretty area and has become a rather popular tourist attraction in recent years. Hiking along the cliffside one village at a time or taking a ferry between these colourful villages are unique experiences worth every moment. The roads are more like lanes and vehicles are not allowed in the towns so everyone walks in the villages, this is to preserve the area. This town has much to offer in experiences such as hiking up the hillside to watch a beautiful sunset, paddle in a kayak or standup paddleboard or relax in a rowboat in the beautiful ocean, enjoy seafoods or traditional Italian cuisine or visit a beautiful church or old historical landmarks. Cinque Terre is a beautiful and romantic setting that will etch itself into your heart.