21 Most Beautiful Cities & Villages in Provence to Visit

Provence Villages - abbaye de senanque

There is something magical about the South of France.

From Nice and the French Riviera to the lavender fields and hillside villages in the Luberon Valley of Provence, there’s nowhere quite like it.

Somehow, the best villages in Provence manage to feel untouched and undiscovered – despite Provence being a major tourist hotspot.

Maybe it’s how the buildings don’t change; how the businesses don’t cater to the whims of tourists.

Or maybe it’s how the Provencal attitude towards fresh, accessible food means that despite being in the most beautiful place in the world, you can still eat a wheel of fresh cheese for under two euros and a baguette for 75 centimes.

Ahh, Southern France. You just get me.

View of a narrow street in the center of Avignon, France

I traveled around the villages of Provence for a week, basing myself in the Luberon Valley.

Provence is a surprisingly large region of France, and distances between villages can exceed two hours.

All these first 6 towns in Provence are within a short drive of each other, so it’s ideal for a short trip, whether it is a few days, a week, or longer.

Provence is a place where time just melts, and the days stick together and drag out in the most delightful way.

So no matter how long you think you need to discover the best towns in Provence, I recommend you double it.

I’ll start with my favorite 6 places to visit in Provence, then I’ll share some of my fellow travel writers’ favorite places, spanning from the Lower Rhone to the Mediterranean Sea.

My Favorite 6 Villages to Stay in Provence

Below is a list of 6 of my favorite villages in Provence — and the last is my absolute #1.

I’ve listed what the best villages to stay in Provence are for each type of traveler and their priorities.

I’m also listing a few hotels I recommend in the area, though I haven’t stayed at any personally (we had three people so we opted for an Airbnb).

You could also visit these cities as day trips from Nice if you have less time to spend in Provence.

Roussillon

roussillon-night-photo
Editor’s Choice

One of the most beautiful villages in Provence, this town is set aside gorgeous ochre cliffs, and when the sun sets, it sets the cliffs gloriously ablaze.

The architecture matches this intense hue with buildings to match. The orange facades of the buildings look as if the paint was taken straight from the cliffs themselves — because it was!

Roussillon is definitely one of the livelier of the villages in Provence in terms of nightlife.

When we went, there was a massive assembly of people assembled watching a soccer game, with pop and dance music blaring loudly. There were plenty of restaurants and shopping opportunities.

Overall, though, this town seemed to lack some of the charms of the other Provence villages, despite the gorgeous setting and the lovely red brick.

roussillon-ochre-cliff

Where to Stay in Roussillon

For a mid-range hotel, check out Les Passiflores, which get rave reviews for its delicious dining and French wines, and has affordable yet tastefully decorated rooms.

If you are looking for luxury, I can think of no more luxurious place to stay in Roussillon than Le Clos de La Glycine with their duplex suites, stunning valley views, and beautiful flower-covered terrace.

Gordes

Editor’s Choice

This hilltop Provence village is worth visiting for the stunning vista alone, which looks out over the amazing Luberon Valley.

On your way up the mountain up to Gordes, you get the most beautiful view of the entire town built on the hillside.

It’s like something out of a fairy tale (except that most fairy tales don’t include selfie-stick wielding tourists).

Still, everyone flocks there for a reason, and despite being filled with tourists, this Provencal village is chock full of charm.

Gordes also has one of the more charming centers, with alleyways that are easy to get lost in, and a beautiful 12th-century church.

It also has the added benefit of being close to the iconic Abbaye de Senanque, with its gorgeous lavender fields that are on everyone’s European bucket list.

Provence Villages - abbaye de senanque

Where to Stay in Gordes

As one of the more touristic villages in Provence, there are plentiful accommodation options, but the prices are a little higher than other towns in Provence.

True budget seekers should always check Airbnb for the best options.

But if you prefer a hotel or B&B, I have a few recommendations. Domaine de L’Enclos is the highest-rated B&B in town — guests love the stunning garden, the private terraces in many rooms, private parking, and ability to rent bikes.

The price is on the affordable side for pricy Gordes. Another good mid-range option is B&B La Burliere, loved for its traditional Provencal stone house architecture, family-owned feel, and freebies like bike rental, breakfast, and parking.

For those seeking a more luxurious experience, see if there’s availability at the exquisite Hotel Le Jas, with a pool in a beautiful garden to keep you cool during those hot Provencal summers, and the most postcard-perfect view of Gordes.

Bonnieux

Villages in Provence- Bonnieux
Editor’s Choice

Like Gordes, Bonnieux is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Provence, though this time the view you get is best upon leaving the city headed towards Buoux.

In fact, if you drive towards Buoux, you’ll encounter one of the most beautiful open lavender fields that all of Provence has to offer…

… At least, it was the prettiest we found in our week of road-tripping around the French countryside.

There’s also a 12th-century church up at the top of Bonnieux, which you usually can’t enter – but it’s worth a walk up to the top to get these views of the Luberon Valley spread out below you.

Just look at how much wide open space there is, and those red-tiled roofs! Swoon.

However, Bonnieux is definitely a little more upscale than some of the other quaint villages in Provence, with expensive shopping and pricier restaurants to boot.

Lavender fields in villages of Provence

Where to Stay in Bonnieux

While Bonnieux is pricier than some of the other villages in Provence, there are some mid-range options that offer better value than most (and, as always, Airbnb is an option).

The stunning yet affordably mid-range Les Clos Les Eydins is one of the highest-rated hotels in all of Bonnieux, a beautifully renovated farmhouse with a pool for hot summer days.

Another option is Le Mas Del Sol, which also has a pool, a garden, and a terrace with lovely Provence views.

Meanwhile, if you’re seeking luxury, you’ll find it in spades at Le Domaine de Capelongue, which is a 4-star hotel with fully equipped apartments, air conditioning (perfect for those hot summer days).

They’ll also offer assistance with booking all sorts of memorable activities like hot air ballooning. The rooms are impeccably furnished, making it ideal for a special occasion or vacation.

Fontaine de Vaucluse

Fountaine de Vaucluse - Villages in Provence
Editor’s Choice

Of all the villages in Provence, this one has perhaps the most natural beauty. This cute little town is set on the beautiful Sorgue River, which must be seen to be believed.

It almost looks as if a jungle has been permanently flooded with the clearest water you’ve ever seen.

So much plant life grows at the bottom of the river that it is a vibrant shade of green, both alien and wholly natural.

Where the river gets deep, there are spots of brilliant blue turquoise.

There is an amazing kayaking trip starting from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and ending in L’Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue that I highly recommend doing while in the Luberon area of Provence.

Fountaine de Vaucluse - Villages in Provence

Where to Stay in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

This is one of the smaller villages in Provence, so accommodation options are more limited.

I recommend the Appartement Paisable for mid-range budgets or Hotel du Poete for more luxurious budgets. You could also check Airbnb.

Lacoste

Villages in Provence - Lacoste
Editor’s Choice

This small town is best known its most famous resident: the Marquis de Sade, the man who gave his name to sadism by garnering a reputation for his… strange habits.

His history lives on in the remnants of his burned down castle at the top of this quaint little hilltop village in Provence.

Unsavory history aside, this is a beautiful little town, with a few cafés and not much else.

It is also home to an art school, so there are quite a few American and other foreign exchange students.

Because of this, it has a younger vibe than the rest of the towns, which skew older.

The Café de Sade is a great place to lunch, with gorgeous views looking over the Luberon Valley.

Provence Villages - Lacoste
Editor’s Choice

Where to Stay in Lacoste

For those who prefer quaint B&Bs at affordable prices, Lacoste is perfect, as there are no large hotels in town that I’m aware of.

I recommend the highly-rated B&B La Bastide Desmagnans for their adorable rooms with mountain views, or Le Clos Des Lavandes for their lavender garden and friendly staff.

Goult

Villages of Provence - Goult
Editor’s Choice

I’m going to say something kind of controversial: this may well be one of the most beautiful villages in France.

This small Provencal village lacks the big draws of the other – and therein lies its appeal.

It doesn’t have the gorgeous mountainside views of Gordes or Bonnieux, nor the stunning ochre cliffs of Roussillon. 

So why, then, is this my favorite of all the Provence towns?

It has a sense of peace and quiet that other hill towns don’t have, which is why I think it’s one of the best villages to stay in Provence.

Like all of Provence, there are plenty of tourists; you’re just as likely to hear English or German as French.

Still, the day-trippers with their selfie sticks seem to have not descended on Goult – at least yet.

It has both everything you need – a boucherie, a boulangerie/patisserie, a fruitier, a café, and plenty of restaurants.

It has an amazing épicerie, which is basically a New York bodega, except you can buy duck a l’orange terrine for 4 euros there (so I guess not like a bodega at all).

The architecture is also some of the most beautiful, in its understated way.

The facades of the buildings are either limestone brick or pale hues of salmon.

The potential monotony of this palette is dispersed with doors and shutters in vibrant pastels, so photogenic that I couldn’t stop snapping away every few minutes.

It’s definitely one of the prettiest villages in France.

Goult’s Thursday market is unreal, a hedonistic celebration of the senses: lavender sachets and spices, crisp soft linens, the ripest strawberries, the softest cheeses….

produce in Goult Provence
With produce this amazing, eating at home is a luxury, not a chore – so stay at a rental with a kitchen, for sure!

Had I not been limited by my backpack, half the town would have been coming home with me.

There are so many quiet places to take in the sunset, without anyone else around. It’s really a magical place, and one I’ll be back to time and time again.

Goult is just one of the most special places I’ve been.

Villages of Provence - Goult

Where to Stay in Goult

Goult isn’t that popular with tourists yet, so there aren’t as many accommodation options as in some of the larger Provence villages.

I’d recommend the stuning Hotellerie Notre Dames Des Lumieres, a former 17th-century convent that’s been transformed into a modern hotel with a pool to cool off in.

Another fantastic choice is Villa Lumieres, also with a pool for those hot summer days. As you might have been able to tell — a pool is pretty much a must if you stay in Provence in the summer!

Travel Writers’ 15 Favorite Places to Visit in Provence

However, the above villages in Provence only cover one small section of Provence, the Luberon Valley.

Provence is a far larger region, which stretches to the beautiful coastline and French Riviera as well as further inward to where you’ll find delicious Rhône Valley wines.

Since I’m only one person and covered only a small section of Provence, I asked other travel writers where they thought the best places to stay in Provence were — here are their answers!

Aix-en-Provence

Contributed by Ayngelina at Bacon is Magic

Often used as a base in Provence to visit smaller villages, Aix-en-Provence is considered the Paris of the South with well-dressed locals to boot.

In fact, it’s often called a suburb of Paris or even “Little Paris!” It even has its own grand shopping street, but instead of Champs-Elysées, it is called Cours Mirabeau.

However, this city is much smaller and more manageable than the large city of Paris. For this reason, it feels less overwhelming and more quaint while having an urban feel with fantastic shopping. 

While Marseille is really focused on traditional Provencal food, like bouillabaisse, you won’t find the same approach here.

Some of the best restaurants in Aix en Provence serve typical Provencal food and classic pastries but you’ll also find international food and modern options. There’s really something for everyone here.

As a cultural hub for the region, there is plenty to see simply by walking around.

The artist Paul Cézanne was from here, so if you can, visit museums featuring his work.

For a more quirky adventure, seek out the many fountains in town as its known as the “City of 1000 Fountains.”

While some mark the center of major squares, others are tucked away in alleys throughout Aix en Provence.

Where to Stay in Aix en Provence

Aix en Provence is an extremely walkable city. You want to stay in the city center so you can just explore by foot.

Hôtel de France is a great option as most sights that you’d want to see are only 10-15 minutes away by foot.

Like most of France, rooms are not as spacious as what we could expect in North America.

However, the rooms are modern and clean and the staff are extremely helpful to English speaking guests. Don’t miss the breakfast as it’s fantastic.

Sault

Contributed by Priya Vin from Outside Suburbia.

When we were on our Southern France road trip, we visited the markets in Aix-en-Provence and were not ready to leave town without seeing some lavender.

The problem was that it was past lavender season and most were already harvested.

One of the vendors mentioned that there might be some fields near Sault that still had lavender.

We decided to extend our stay in Aix-en-Provence and drove to Sault the next day looking for lavender fields.

Sault located in Vaucluse is an old fortified village perched on the top of a high ridge overlooking a wide valley, with large lavender fields spread out below to the south and west.

During peak season you can see immense blue fields along with fields of wheat for as far as you can see! 

All the houses have pretty Provencal blue shutters that are so photogenic. The town was not crowded like most other European cities during summer.

The village of Sault is open and relaxed, with wide squares and a good selection of cafés where you can get some yummy crepes, macarons, and coffee. 

We saw many sunflower fields and a few lavender fields a bit beyond their time on the drive back to Aix-en-Provence, where we spent the night.

Where to Stay in Sault

There are a number of places to stay in Sault, although most people visit on a day trip from Aix en Provence or other small villages in Provence nearby.

For a luxurious stay in Sault, the best option is La Bastide des Bourguets, a beautiful guesthouse with a pool (great as Provence summers are hot), hot tub, and stunning countryside setting.

Though set in a traditional Provence house, the interior is extremely modern and bright, making ample use of natural light, natural textures, and pops of color.

Those on a budget should look to the quaint yet affordable Hotel D’Albion, which offers economical rooms, a property with a terrace and lovely views of the city, and clean, comfortable rooms in the heart of Sault.

Moustiers Sainte Marie

Contributed by Hanna Thomas of Solar Powered Blonde

Moustiers Sainte Marie is one of the most unique villages in Provence. It is situated up high on the side of a mountain.

There is a small river that flows down from the mountain to create a little waterfall in the village, and a stream that splits the town in two.

There is a lovely bridge that crosses over this stream and houses built overhanging the river.

It is a very small village, but has some beautiful buildings and colourful shop fronts.

The best things to do here is wander around this pretty village and take photos.

There are also lots of great cafes to stop for a French pastry and enjoy the views.

There isn’t a sunrise here, as the sun rises from behind the mountain. However, I would recommend coming here early to see the village at it’s most peaceful and this is the best time for photos.

For those who like hiking, there is a small chapel right at the top of the mountain behind Moustiers Sainte Marie village.

This is an incredible viewpoint and a lovely little chapel called Notre Dame de Beauvoir.

The best time to visit this village is on Friday morning, as this is the market day! Head here for great organic produce, cheese, and homemade soap!

Where to Stay in Moustiers Sainte Maire

With a lush countryside setting, hot tub, tennis court, and pool, the three-star Hôtel Le Colombier is a fantastic choice for where to stay in Provence.

It’s a kilometer outside of the town, so you get the feeling of escaping from it all (though do note that the walk is up and down a hill!), and just five kilometers from Sainte-Croix Lake. The interior features traditional Provencal furniture.

Another fantastic choice is La Ferme Rose-Hôtel de Charme, with its large collection of paintings by the artist Maurice Vagh-Weinmann and objects from the 1950s which give it an air of retro glamor.

It features A/C, soundproofing, a plunge pool, and views over the valley or garden, and some of the rooms have a balcony to relax on.

Saint Tropez

Contributed by Eloise of MyFavouriteEscapes.com

Saint Tropez is a famous resort seaside town for jet setters. But there’s more to the place than parties and luxurious yachts.

You just need to walk a few meters away from the port and its lively bars to find a different atmosphere.

The old village has lovely narrow streets and fine food stores for visitors to enjoy. The village even has its own pastry, the “tarte tropezienne.”

As in all villages in Provence, you’ll find pétanque (boules) players on the central square, Place des Lices.

But if you’re there on a market day (every Tuesday and Saturday mornings), it will be packed with stalls, tourists, and locals. An excellent opportunity to taste local food and buy souvenirs.

In the 17th century, a fortress was built at the top of the nearby hill to defend the town.

There’s no other building like it on the coast of Provence. It’s worth going even if you don’t intend to visit the museum.

From the ramparts, the view of Saint Tropez village, the port, the bay and the mountains in the faraway background are stunning. 

If you have time, don’t miss the beautiful villages near St Tropez, up in the hills. It’s where the inhabitants would flee to escape from the pirates.

The Provencal villages of Gassin and Ramatuelle, for example, offer splendid views of the St Tropez Bay.

Where to Stay in Saint Tropez

To stay like the stars, check out the marvelous Hôtel La Tartane Saint Amour. This 5-star hotel is nestled between the beach area and the city center.

It has both rooms and suites with private terraces, a lovely outdoor swimming pool complete with sunbeds and loungers, a spa with steam room and beauty treatments, and two different restaurants serving Mediterranean and Asian cuisines.

For a more affordable option (though still a tad on the pricy end of the spectrum – this is Saint Tropez after all – La Bastide Saint Anne is a fantastic choice just 3 kilometers from the town center.

Complete with a pool, A/C, traditional rooms in the Provencal style, it’s a fantastic choice to stay in Saint Tropez.

Arles

Contributed by Chris from Explore Now or Never

Sometimes considered Avignon’s more “rough and tumble” cousin, beautiful little Arles is a gem of a city in Provence at the edge of the coastal Carmague region.

Arles is perhaps best known as home to Vincent van Gogh and one of his most productive artistic periods.

In fact, he produced more than 300 paintings during a single year here near the end of the 19th century!

It was also here that he famously cut off his ear and was admitted to the hospital. 

After several more psychotic episodes, van Gogh voluntarily committed himself to a psychiatric institution in nearby Saint Rémy.

You can re-trace van Gogh’s route through Arles yourself with stops at the yellow house that appeared in one of his paintings.

You can also visit Restaurant-Hotel Carrel where he lived and ate, and a walk across the Langlois Bridge, which has also appeared in several of his paintings. Don’t miss the Museé Réattu and Montmajour Abbey here!

But Arles was famous well before van Gogh’s arrival. In 800 BC, the Ligurians lived here. It was also a critical trading port before the Romans built it into a major city.

Visiting Roman ruins and monuments is a wonderful way to feel a part of this history.

Worthy UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit include the Arles Amphitheater, a Roman theater, and Roman forum, and the Church of St. Trophime, among others.

Parking is easy here in the center of Arles making it a convenient stop for road trippers traveling through.

Where to Stay in Arles

Those looking for a chic yet affordable luxury stay should look to Maison Volver, a chic boutique guesthouse with an eye for design, attention to detail, marvelous breakfasts, and a central location in Arles.

Those traveling on more of a budget, but who still want to stay in the heart of Arles should look to Logis de la Muette.

It offers economical double rooms in a house which dates back to the 12th century that has been modernized yet true to the Provencal style. It’s located only 100 meters from the arenas.

Menerbes

Contributed by Carolyn of Holidays to Europe

Perched on a hilltop overlooking the beautiful Luberon valley, Menerbes is one of the prettiest villages in Provence. 

As a member of the esteemed ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’ (Most Beautiful Villages of France) association, Menerbes has high standards to uphold and it does so with ease.

Honey-colored stone buildings line the narrow, cobblestone streets that wind their way up through the village. 

In the summertime, flower boxes overflowing with a riot of color add to the town’s beauty.

Aside from the few shops and restaurants that are dotted throughout, Menerbes is also home to a citadel, a chateau, and a church dating back to the 12th century.

You’ll easily discover these as you wander through the village with the fortified walls by your side.

A small open square, about halfway through the village, is home to the Town Hall, an interesting clock tower and a stone archway which opens to reveal one of the best views of the valley below.

With most of the buildings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, you can be forgiven when you visit Menerbes for believing you have stepped back in time. 

This car-free village has been beautifully preserved and just oozes tranquility and charm.

Where to Stay in Menerbes

For an affordably luxurious B&B stay, check out Nulle Parte Ailleurs just outside of the village, about 600 meters walk from the town center.

Offering a countryside setting, outdoor pool, terrace, shared kitchen, and spacious rooms, it’s a fantastic choice for those who want a splash of luxury without breaking the bank.

An even more luxurious choice is La Bastide de Marie, with quaintly chic Provencal interiors with stone walls straight out of a French fairytale.

There is also a stunning pool, vineyards on the property which you can look out onto while enjoying a drink or meal, as well as an on-site spa for a little TLC.

Cassis

Contributed by Sarah Vanheel of CosmopoliClan

Cassis is a seaside gem located east of Marseille, mostly known for its picturesque port aligned with pastel-colored houses.

This lovely French Riviera retreat offers tranquility and conviviality.

Get lost in the charming alleys, enjoy the postcard views from one of the terraces, look up at the Carolingian Château de Cassis or soak up the atmosphere at the enchanting Provencal market on the Place Baragnon.

Since the town is a gateway to the Calanques National Park, you’ll find plenty of active things to do in Cassis as well.

Several hiking and mountain biking trails lead to the cliffs’ rocky inlets with their aquamarine waters while kayak tours allow coastal access to the most scenic pebble beaches.

East of Cassis, you can explore the Cap Canaille mountain with its ochre cliffs and sweeping views over the French Riviera coastline.

Cassis offers the perfect blend of a classic Provencal vacation with an adventurous touch.

Where to Stay in Cassis

If it’s luxury you’re after, it doesn’t get any better than Hotel Les Roches Blanches.

With a stunning Mediterranean sea view, an infinity pool that disappears into the sea, gorgeously decorated interiors with impeccable views from the windows, and chic rooms with balconies, this is as good as it gets in Cassis.

If you’re more concerned with budget, check out the marvelous Le Clos des Aromes, which offers an economical place to stay in Cassis that is cheap, cheerful, and conveniently located.

St. Remy

Contributed by Kate of Our Escape Clause

With its colorful streets, artistic feel, and prime location in the heart of the Alpilles, it’s no surprise that St. Remy (technically named St-Remy-de-Provence) is among the most popular places to visit in the south of France.

While you’re there, be sure to enjoy a few leisurely Provencal meals, tour Roman ruins at Glanum, walk in the footsteps of Van Gogh and tour the Saint Paul Monastery where he received care during his life, and take plenty of day trips to the nearby villages and countryside.

Nearby Les-Baux-de-Provence is among the most popular day trips from St. Remy, and outdoor lovers will be thrilled with the number of biking and walking trails available in Alpilles.

As St. Remy is a Provencal town, of course no visit there could be complete without exploring its gorgeous weekly market.

Each Wednesday, the streets of central St. Remy and the ring road surrounding it fill with vendors selling everything from vegetables to lavender to crafts, and there’s no better place to pick up some Provencal souvenirs… and lunch!

Where to Stay in St. Remy

For a 5-star stay, check out Le Saint Remy, a beautifully designed and artsy, airy hotel in the heart of town.

Offering a stunning spa with indoor pool and relaxation chairs, an outdoor pool, spacious and airy rooms with white walls and wooden accents, garden, and air conditioning in every room, it’s the best choice for where to stay in St Remy if the budget permits.

For a more wallet-friendly stay, look to Hotel du Soleil et Spa – yes, a spa hotel is actually a rather budget-friendly option!

This quaint hotel in a traditional stone Provencal house features a garden, a small indoor spa, an outdoor pool and. sun loungers, and small but chic rooms.

Les Baux de Provence

Contributed by Cláudia Bastos of Travel Drafts

Les Baux de Provence is one of the most beautiful and most visited villages in France.

This medieval village is a fortified city on atop of a rocky outcrop in the Alpilles in Provence.

The city is only 22 km from Avignon and 15 km from Arles so it can easily be done as a day trip from one of those cities.

Due to its strategic location, this village had an important political role in the middle ages.

Hidden in the mountains it had a good defense system against the invaders. The village is surrounded by a fort and has a ruined castle, le Chateaux of Baux de Provence.

The village’s streets are filled with old medieval houses and small chapels from the 12-13th century.

There are plenty of cute traditional shops and restaurants to grab a bite.

Cars aren’t allowed inside the city, so you can explore the city without restrictions and have an idea of how people lived in the medieval ages.

One of the highlights of the village is to visit the ruined castle. The entrance ticket to the castle is 10 €, which includes an audioguide.

Although the castle is in ruins you will learn about life in the castle, the defense system and the history of the region.

The visit is very interactive, there are displays of medieval weapons like the catapult, the battering ram, which they do recreations of attacks and you can participate.

From the castle, you will also catch a fantastic view of Provence and its vineries.

Where to Stay in Les Baux de Provence

Luxury options abound in Les Baux de Provence. One fantastic choice is Domaine de Manville, with its stunning glass gazebo for enjoying drinks, outdoor pool and terrace, luxurious spa, and chicly decorated rooms with stunning views.

Another one, equally good but a matter of taste and preference, is Baumanière, with an exquisite in-house restaurant, large outdoor pool, sleek and modern spa, and cozy Provencal rooms.

For people looking for a budget option, Le Fabian des Baux offers comfort without the hefty price tag. It has a pool, sun loungers, and spacious rooms with countryside views.

Avignon

Contributed by Carol Perehudoff of WanderingCarol.com

A few days in Avignon makes a great base for exploring the villages of Provence. It’s one of the main centers in the region and is easily accessible by train.

You can visit places such as St. Remy by car or bus and the village of Rognonas is only a short drive away.

You can also visit other places of interest such as Isle Sur la Sorgue and nearby Villeneuve-les-Avignon. 

Before you set out on a day trip, however, take some time to get to know historic Avignon.

To explore Avignon, start with a walk through the Old Town and don’t miss the Palace of the Popes, the Palais des Papes, an awe-inspiring palace of magnificent proportions, built to reflect the might and power of the early French popes.

Other top sights include Notre-Dame des Doms, Avignon’s cathedral, which dates back to the early 12th century.

Also not to be missed is the famous Pont d’Avignon, which inspired the well-known nursery song Sur la Pont d’Avignon. 

The bridge, which was built between 1177 and 1185, is only a fragment of its former self, but its appeal, like Avignon’s, lives on.

Where to Stay in Avignon

If you’re looking for a place to stay, La Mirande is one of Avignon’s most deluxe options. Dating back to 1309, it’s a historic hotel with a central location.

Another popular luxury option is Hotel d’Europe, while the 4-star Hôtel de l’Horloge Avignon is a more affordable choice and has a central location near the Place de L’Horloge.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Contributed by Summer Rylander of Eat Something Go Somewhere

Located less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Avignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is best-known for its remarkable wines.

Made from a blend of up to 13 approved grapes, just 7% of local production is white wine, with reds accounting for 93% of the output of this protected appellation.

As one might expect, wine tourism is a major component of the region.

Many wineries have tasting rooms open to the public, and the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is filled with wine cellars where visitors can step in, sample a producer’s offerings, and purchase bottles to take home.

As the village itself is quite small, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is highly walkable and there’s truly no such thing as a “bad” location for an overnight stay.

There are a handful of boutique hotels to choose from, but holiday homes are perhaps the best way to immerse oneself in local charms.

The streets are narrow, lined with honey-colored buildings adorned with flowerboxes and rustic wooden doors, and vineyards extend in every direction.

The best views are to be had from the chateau ruins that overlook the tiny town from atop a hill.

The two walls that stand today were once a part of the 14th-century papal residence that served as a summer getaway from the activity in Avignon, and from here one can gaze over the valley to the Rhone River flowing nearby.

With the promise of beautiful landscapes and excellent wine, Chateauneuf-du-Pape should certainly be on the must-see list of anyone looking to experience a quiet slice of Provence. 

Where to Stay in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

For a truly luxury experience, it doesn’t get much better than staying in a French chateau – and you can do just that Hostellerie du Château des Fines Roches for a surprising price.

The chateau was turned into a hotel in 1974 and features a fine dining restaurant, terrace, panoramic vineyard views, outdoor pool, and gorgeous Provencal decor.

For a more budget-friendly stay, look to the bright and airy La Pergola B&B. It has a charming terrace and garden area, light-filled rooms with high ceilings, and tasty breakfasts with homemade jam.

Ansouis

Contributed by Nadine Maffre of Le Long Weekend

Despite being named one of France’s most beautiful villages, Ansouis remains somewhat of an outsider on the Luberon valley route.

Its privileged position tucked away from the main tourist trail, yet tantalizingly close to the region’s top attractions, means it’s also a brilliant place to stay in Provence.

Ansouis is a typical Provençal hilltop village, and as you approach, you’ll be enchanted by the sight of the village houses cascading down from the castle at the top. The château is privately owned, but members of the public are permitted to visit from April – October, and it’d be remiss to pass up the opportunity!

The decadent interior has been lovingly restored and kitted out with only the most worthy furnishings and artworks.

The exterior is just as impressive and offers spectacular views over the surrounding countryside.

Nearby, you’ll find the Eglise Saint-Martin whose angular exterior belies the rustic interior within.

Pop into the Musee Extraordinaire to browse an eclectic mix of curiosities, or quench your thirst and sample the local Provence wine at Château Turcan nearby.

Where to Stay in Ansouis

The only B&B in the village is nonetheless a gorgeous one: Un Patio en Luberon.

This B&B was converted from a 16th-century inn, and has typical exposed stone walls, a terrace, rooms with private baths, and daily breakfasts with homemade cakes.

Provencal home cooking is available upon request should you want to dine in-house, either al fresco on the patio or in the gorgeous dining room with an antique table sourced from a monastery.

Antibes

Contributed by Andrew Tolentino of Dish Our Town

Antibes for the most part is considered part of the Cote d’Azur, and this is true. However, it’s also in Provence.

Which is the reason we found it to be our favorite destination in the region.

It’s got the markets and the squares one finds in quintessential cities such as Aix en Provence or Arles; but it’s the sea that sets it apart from the rest.

Unlike Cannes, the beach here is smaller in size and more about family than ritz.

The water is as blue here as anywhere in the Cote’ D’Azur and as opposed to fighting with those rocks under your feet, as it is in most beaches along the coast, the seaside here is powdery sand.

At one end of the beach, there’s a food truck run by a family for years, where one can get anything from a bagnat (typical provencal tuna sandwich which tastes like a salad nicoise between good bread) to wine to ice cream.

No need to pack a picnic!

At night, the main market, which during the day is filled with vendors selling anywhere from flowers to livestock and everything in between, turns into a large outdoor eatery.

It’s in the same vein as going to a food truck park in Los Angeles or a hawker market in Bangkok, but in this case, it’s restaurants that line the square that take your orders and you choose to eat and sit where you want.

It makes for a convivial night.

No visit to Antibes, however, is complete without a visit to the Picasso Museum, where one can view some of his great works and also take in the view of the coast line from one of the large terraces of the former Château Grimaldi.

Right outside this museum, are plenty of little bars and eateries where an afternoon can be ended with a glass of Pastis or Rose: de rigueur in these parts.

Where to Stay in Antibes

For a luxury stay, look to Royal Antibes. This gorgeous resort has a spa complete with steam bath, fitness center, and sauna, and a. strip of private use available to guests only at a surcharge.

It’s also home to two restaurants, both with a view of the stunning L’Ilette Bay, and it’s just a 3 minute walk to the old town of Antibes. City view and sea view rooms are available, and the resort has apartments, suites, and rooms.

For budget-friendly comfort, check out La Garoupe-Gardiole, set in a beautiful location 600 meters from Gardiole Beach.

It has a heated outdoor pool, fitness area, a shaded terrace, and daily breakfast served.

It’s a little outside of Antibes town, but it can be reached in 30 minutes by foot or 5 minutes by car.

L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue

Contributed by Maire of Temples and Treehouses

L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a cute market town in Provence, a 25-minute direct train ride from Avignon — perfect for a day trip if you’re in the area. It’s a charming town by the Sorgue river.

Its historic center is surrounded by a moat of canals, bridges and traditional wooden waterwheels, covered with bright green moss.

The old town is all cobbled streets, leafy squares, stone buildings, and antiques shops.

There’s also a food market here on Sunday, where you can pick up French cheeses, baked goods, and charcuterie. The riverside is lined with a handful of restaurants and bistros by the water. 

All of this is reason enough to visit, but in addition, L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue is famous for its weekly Sunday antiques market.

The market is huge, featuring a vast array of quirky retro finds. It also draws in the crowds and a festival atmosphere.

If you’re not a fan of hordes of people, you may actually prefer to visit on another day of the week! 

Where to Stay in L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue

For a luxury stay, La Maison Sur La Sorgue is a fantastic choice. Set in a 17th century home, it features a stunning garden, several terraces to relax on, and a swimming pool located right on the river!

There’s also a glass-roofed courtyard where you can relax and read a book, an on-site art gallery, and a lounge with a fireplace.

Another option is the budget-friendly 4-star Domaine de la Petite Isle. This hotel features an outdoor pool, gardens, a restaurant, large rooms with A/C, and a prime location right on the banks of the Sorgue River.

Marseille

Contributed by Elisa of World in Paris

Marseille, in Provence, is a very cool city to explore. Many people go through Marseille on their way to Corsica Island or other places in the French Riviera but Marseille is an interesting destination by itself with many things to see and do.

Also, direct trains Paris – Marseille make of this city an easy weekend trip from Paris by train.

There’s the colorful Old Port and the historic neighborhood of Le Panier but there’s also an interesting cultural life with museums like the MuCEM or the Beaux-Arts Museum.

Other places of interest include the Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde and Palais Longchamp but this is only a taste of what Marseille has to offer.

Additionally, Marseille is an excellent base camp for exploring the region of Provence.

Just in front of Marseille, there’s If Island. 

It’s in the famous Château d”If where the Count of Montecristo was kept prisoner during the first chapters of Dumas’ novel.

Marseille is also the starting point of beautiful hikes along the Calanques de Marseille – Cassis which can also be explored by boat.

Other beautiful places easy to visit from Marseille on a day trip are Aix-en-Provence or La Camargue. Why are you waiting to visit Marseille?

Where to Stay in Marseille

As a large city, Marseille has countless options. Many big-name branded 5-star hotels are here, such as the Sofitel and the Intercontinental, both in the Vieux Port with all the amenities you’d expect from a hotel of their stature.

For budget-seekers, check out the Staycity Aparthotel located near the Vieux Port in Marseille, which features modernly designed studio and one-bedroom apartments with kitchenettes in the heart of the city.

Further Reading: A Year in Provence for inspiration; Rick Steves Provence for a guidebook

How To Get From Stockholm to Abisko Without the Hassle

barren trees and frozen ice blue waterfalls in Abisko National Park

If you’re planning to go from Stockholm to Abisko, let this be your guide…

… as I completely and utterly failed doing it with information I patched together off the internet, and know what not to do.

My story of trying to get to Abisko from Stockholm is one of embarrassment and woe and wondering where it all went wrong.

The northern lights over Abisko with the sky station on a hill

It culminated in me dashing for the last train to Abisko, soaking wet in sub-freezing temperatures having just trudged my way through a giant snow drift, and just barely making the last train (and avoiding a $200 taxi.)

Read and learn from my mistakes below… or skip ahead to quickly learn how to actually get from Stockholm to Abisko without nearly losing your sanity and your toes to frostbite.

In a rush? Here’s the TL;DR

The overnight train from Stockholm to Abisko is the easiest way and likely the most affordable. It takes some time, but you’ll be sleeping during much of it anyway. Tip: The 6:10 PM sleeper is better since there is no transfer!

Tickets start around 105 Euros for a second-class seat and 130 Euros for a sleeper car.

Flying from Stockholm to Kiruna and then going on to Abisko is faster but likely won’t be cheaper or easier once you factor in the need to transfer from Kiruna to Abisko, which isn’t the most straightforward journey.

How Not to Get from Stockholm to Abisko

Stockholm's old town district of Gamla Stan in winter with white snow on the cobblestone ground with red and green and orange buildings from the medieval times

When planning my Sweden winter trip, the plan was simple.

We were supposed to land in Kiruna around 10 in the morning and take a taxi to the the train station to drop off our luggage (as my lovely friend may have overpacked just a bit).

Then, we planned to take a bus or a taxi 2 kilometers back to town to while away four or five hours before taking the 3:30 train to Abisko to see the Northern lights.

After all — Abisko is the best place in Sweden to see the Northern lights!

It was nicely written out with bullet points — bullet points!!! — times, and costs. What could possibly go wrong?

Spoiler: Only everything.

kiruna church in sweden with snowdrifts piling up atop a wooden church steeple

When we got to the Abisko train station, we arrived to a completely empty train station with not a single human to be found, which our taxi driver failed to warn us about before he drove off.

It was utterly eerie, like a scene from Steven King’s The Langoliers, where the survivors of a Twilight Zone-esque time rip wander a deserted airport.

While we didn’t manage to find a living soul, we did find the promised luggage lockers. The problem: they only took 10 kronor coins and there was no one around to help us combine smaller coins or make change.

Luckily, my friend managed to find one 10 kronor coin, and we were able to store her *cough* enormous *cough* suitcase, but there was no room for my heavy backpack or her other bags.

(She clearly hadn’t read my guide on how to pack for Sweden in winter!)

Abisko train station
How we packed — for perspective.

Still, we could at least traverse the town at this point, so we gave up and brought the rest of our belongings with us. Then, we had to decide how to get back to town.

There was no one to ask about the bus schedule, and online information was scarce.

There was also no taxi stand, nor anyone to ask to call a taxi, and neither of us wanted to rack up roaming charges.

So we decided to walk towards town on the icy highway and stick out our thumbs to any passing cars.

About five or ten minutes into our walk, an official looking vehicle pulled over for us.

My heart jumped to my throat for a second as I imagined the worst: hitchhiking is illegal and I just solicited a cop.

Lucky for us, our Good Samaritan ended up being a really really ridiculously good-looking fire ranger who drove us the 5 minutes to town and dropped us off at his favorite lunch place, Spis Mat & Dryck.

We warmed up and enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch for about 90 SEK, a little under $11 USD. Highly recommended!

SPiS

And we loved it. Kiruna is absolutely stunning in mid-February.

The fact that the sun never gets that high in the sky means that basically every hour of the day is golden hour, when the sun begins its descent towards the horizon and casts a beautiful glow on the world.

We walked to the church and marveled at its interiors, visited a cute little design shop, and decided to fika at Cafe Safari.

We asked them to call us a taxi to the train station, but they told us there was no need, that a free bus went from the town center to the train station every 20 minutes before the train.

We found the bus station, only to find a friendly bus driver who told us that the one bus that was scheduled to take us to the train had already left a few minutes ago.

OK, a taxi it is. We had 30 minutes to go 2 kilometers, which initially seemed like ample time.

Only when Good Samaritan #2 kindly called for us, every single taxi the town had was in use. Sh*t.

We began to panic. We decided to walk towards the road and hitchhike again – it had worked the first time…. right? Right?

Kiruna around 2 PM in the winter with sun dipping below the horizon on a wintry oasis

The bus driver called us over again, telling us he had an idea. He pointed to a bus on the street and told us to get on that bus, and ask them to let us off “near the train station.”

He said it wouldn’t bring us all the way there, but it would be close. We boarded and explained to the driver that we had missed our bus to the train station.

Good Samaritan #3 didn’t even ask us to pay, which would have been yet another kink in our terrible transit plan, as we lacked small bills and coins of all kinds.

With about 7 minutes to spare, my trusty blue dot on Google Maps indicated we were incredibly close to the train station, and I looked at the bus driver and asked if this was it.

By way of answering, he stopped the bus to let us off and pointed to the train station, about 500 feet in the distance.

We started trudging as fast we could through the knee-deep snow in what only could have been someone’s backyard (another thing to be grateful for: Swedes lack the American trespass-and-I’ll-shoot mentality).

Kiruna church
Kiruna church in winter. Worth the subsequent snow drift maneuvering.

It was all going well, until the knee-deep snow suddenly became waist-deep snow.

We had reached the end of the packed snow and entered a drift of completely loose powder.

Each step in any direction just got us mired deeper and deeper in snow. A sort of animal energy crept into my blood, adrenaline pumping from the cold.

Motivated by the horror of a $200 taxi ride, I threw myself forward on my belly, scrabbling with hands (ungloved, mind you, because if the last thousand words haven’t convinced you, I can be a bit of a fool) and knees towards the highway.

It was like the inverse of an oasis, seeking the one waterless spot in a sea of snow. My friend wasn’t far behind me, literal Ironman that she is.

Hands tingling with cold, we threw ourselves over the final snow bank, bags first, then slid down on our backsides like penguins onto the highway. I never felt happier to be on solid ground.

We skidded across the icy two-lane highway into the train station, quickly collected her giant suitcase, and boarded the train, laughing deliriously in our soaked clothing and blowing on our needling fingers to warm them up.

How to Get from Stockholm to Abisko by Train

Stockholm Central Train Station platform in winter Sweden with snow on the ground and a cloudy sky

If you’d like to visit Abisko with less hysterics and risk of hypothermia, the easiest idea and the one I am kicking myself for not doing is by train.

On paper, taking the train from Stockholm to Abisko seems rather expensive.

It’s around $100 USD for a compartment with a bed, depending on the exact exchange rate at the time and how far in advance you book).

It also seems time-consuming, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

For one, you are traveling overnight, which means that you save on a night’s accommodation, which is no small impact on your Sweden budget.

Another is that you don’t have to pay to get to the airport or to make the annoying connection between Kiruna Airport and Abisko, as the train will just drop you off straight in Abisko, making it the easiest option.

Plus, Swedish trains are quite comfortable, so it’s easy to do an overnight train and get a good night’s sleep and start your first day in Abisko off on the right foot.

As of 2023, there are two overnight trains that bring you to Abisko.

Abisko Ostra train station in Swedish Lapland, with brilliant blue hour lighting, one train, and a few houses visible in the area, mountains behind the train.
Arriving at Abisko Ostra station

Note that there are two stops in Abisko, Abisko Ostra (where most hotels and guesthouses are) and Abisko Turiststation (where the STF hostel and national park is).

The first overnight train from Stockholm to Abisko leaves around 6:10 PM, arriving in Abisko Ostra at 10:30 AM, taking approximately 16 hours and 30 minutes. This train is direct and there are no transfers.

The other Stockholm to Abisko train leaves around 9:55 PM, arriving in Abisko Ostra just before 4 PM, taking about 18 hours as one transfer is required in Boden.

The tickets start around 100-105 Euros, but upgrading to a bunk in a couchette car is another 23 Euros or so — a fantastic use of money, I’d say.

🚂 Best Way to Book Trains in Europe: Omio

The way I look for trains in Europe is via Omio, which centralizes all the different rail and bus companies.

Their interface makes it easy to find the best, cheapest fare and book it through their platform (rather than trying to work out every country’s train system platform, which can get frustrating and confusing).

Check train availability from Stockholm to Abisko here

How to Get from Stockholm to Abisko by Plane

The airport in Kiruna with people loading up the plane even though it is very snowy outside

On paper, flying may look like the cheapest way to get from Stockholm to Abisko. Depending when you fly, flights on Norwegian can be as low as $69 one way and on SAS, around $109.

However, keep in mind that it can be a huge pain in the butt to get between Kiruna Airport and Abisko… so you will likely not actually save any money by flying.

While you will save time, it may not be much “active” time, as you’d likely just be sleeping a lot of the time that you’d be on the train anyway (especially if you book a sleeper car ticket).

The downside of flying to Kiruna in winter is well, you’re trying to fly to the Arctic Circle in winter.

There’s a non-zero chance that your flight will be canceled or delayed, whereas trains are more likely to be able to run in all sorts of weather conditions.

✈️  Best Travel Insurance: SafetyWing

I use SafetyWing Nomad Insurance for all my trips as it is both travel insurance (coverage for trip delays, cancellations, interruptions) and travel medical insurance (coverage for things like accidents, illnesses including Covid, etc.)

Plus, coverage is really affordable — for me, it costs roughly $11 USD for a week of coverage outside of the U.S., with a policy max of $250,000 after a deductible of $250. Not bad!

Check SafetyWing for a quote here

So keep all those factors in mind when picking between the train and the plane for your Stockholm to Abisko journey.

I flew on each airline, one way on Norwegian and the other on SAS. Keep in mind baggage requirements, as this also may impact the cost of your journey and could be another point in favor of the train!

Were I to do it again, I definitely would have taken the train after enjoying a few days in Stockholm in winter.

train to Abisko passing by wintry landscapes in the middle of winter
Arctic circle views on the train from Kiruna to Abisko

Once you arrive at Kiruna airport, you have four main choices for then getting to Abisko in winter.

1) Book a private transfer from the airport straight to Abisko. This will cost you about $215 USD for up to 4 people. If you are a party of 4 or more, this actually isn’t a terrible option.


2) Book the Abisko bus for around $45 USD (449 SEK) per person. This is your best option if you are traveling solo and have no desire to see Kiruna. We took this on the way home from Abisko and it was super comfortable and convenient…. no snow drift navigation required

dogsledding in Abisko
At least the next day would begin with puppies.

3) Rent a car and drive from Kiruna to Abisko. This isn’t the cheapest option, but if you want to go Northern lights hunting independently vs. booking tours or to do independent day trips, this could be the most convenient. I use Discover Cars to find the best prices when searching for rental cars in Europe.

4) Travel via train from Kiruna to Abisko. Book tickets online for the train (about $8 USD per person, more expensive if you buy on board). You’ll need to take a bus ($13 USD per person) or take a taxi (about $35 USD for up to 4 people) to downtown Kiruna.

From there, you can stay in Kiruna overnight and catch a train in the morning, getting the chance to enjoy Kiruna and spend the night in the largest city in Swedish Lapland.

Or, you can just spend a few hours there if your timing allows, but be sure to give yourself lots of extra time to get back to the train station.

It’s only 2 km away, but it takes about 40 minutes to walk because it’s basically a sheet of ice on a highway, so not the best place for speed-walking.

You will want to figure out the bus to the train station or call a cab well in advance… unlike us.

Where to Stay in Abisko

barren trees and frozen ice blue waterfalls in Abisko National Park
A ten-minute snowshoe hike away from our room at STF Turiststation

Mid-Range: STF Turiststation

I personally stayed at STF Turiststation and can highly recommend it!

Their amenities are great: one but two incredible shared kitchens, a free sauna, and an incredible restaurant with excellent breakfast and lunch buffets (great value) and a high-end dining experience available for dinner.

Best of all, you’re actually in Abisko National Park, where you’re just a 10-minute walk from the frozen lake or ice-blue waterfalls frozen in time.

Talk about location, location, location!

Luxury: Abisko Mountain Lodge

While true luxury isn’t really what Abisko is all about, I’d pick Abisko Mountain Lodge for a low-key but luxe stay in Abisko.

While STF Turiststation is great, it is more a traditional hostel in that it’s mostly bunk bed rooms, with limited twin room options.

On the other hand, Abisko Mountain Lodge is more of a traditional hotel with a variety of rooms from singles to doubles and even full cottages that sleep four.

There’s a sauna, the delicious Brasserie Fjällköket restaurant, a cozy lounge area, and breakfast is included with most rooms! 

A photograph Allison took of the Northern lights as they danced overhead in 2016 in Sweden.
A snap I took of the Northern lights in Abisko National Park outside of STF

Budget: Abisko Hostel & Huskies

Want to stay on an actual husky farm? Abisko Hostel & Huskies is the clear choice here (as long as you don’t mind a hostel!)

This is actually where I had booked to stay in Abisko in 2016; unfortunately, the hostel ended up having an unforeseen issue and wasn’t able to host guests.

Luckily, they rebooked us at STF Turiststation, a more expensive place and with a better room, at no extra cost to me and gave us a transfer to STF from Abisko Ostra for free.

That sort of above and beyond mentality was really encouraging, and while I didn’t get to see their facilities firsthand, I loved the dog-sledding tour I did with them!

What to Do in Abisko

I have a full guide to the best things to do in Abisko in winter here, but I’ll list my five favorite ideas below!

Packing for Abisko

I have a full guide to what to pack for Sweden in winter here!

Here’s a quick summary of my top 5 essentials:

The Best Beach Towns in Sicily: 15 Coastal Vacation Spots You’ll Love!

A charming white-washed beach town in Sicily with view of sea and houses

Sicily is Italy’s largest island and one of its most picturesque regions.

It is a fantastic destination to discover archaeological sites, visit charming little towns, explore beautiful nature, and relax at the beach!

I lived in Italy for over 15 years and had the chance to visit Sicily twice — but honestly, this Mediterranean island is one of those places where I’d never tire of returning, and I suspect you’d feel the same.

The lively atmosphere in the cities, delicious food, gorgeous architecture, and spectacular coastline all make Sicily the perfect place for a summer holiday.

This article covers my picks for the most beautiful beachy vacation spots in Sicily — from important seaside cities to charming coastal villages and stunning nature preserves! 

You can explore some of these places on a short Sicily itinerary or spend two or three weeks driving around the island to check them off.

Here are the best beach towns in Sicily to help you plan a perfect summer holiday. Pack your bathing suit and beach towel, and let’s get going!

Getting to These Beach Towns in Sicily

Rental car at a beautiful sunrise in Sicily

The best way to travel around Sicily’s beautiful coastal towns is with your own rental car.

Not all of Sicily’s beach towns, especially the smaller villages, are accessible by public transit — plus, it can take a long time, and luggage can make those trips a hassle.

I wrote a full post on renting a car in Sicily here, but here’s the quick down-low.

First of all, who to rent with? I always pick Discover Cars to search for the best deal for multiple reasons.

🚗 Best Sicily Rental Car Prices: Discover Cars

This search engine not only looks at the typical rental car agencies (which can be $$$), it also looks at local, small Sicilian agencies that may offer better deals. Their pricing is straightforward (no bait-and-switches) and they offer free cancellation if you need it.

➜ Check rental prices in Sicily with Discover Cars here!

Note that while these Sicily rental car prices include the mandatory Collision Damage Waiver, they do not include full coverage.

Luckily, you can purchase full coverage on Discover Cars for as low as an additional $7 per day, depending on your rental, and have full peace of mind that no matter what happens, you’ll be covered.

The Best Coastal Areas & Beach Towns in Sicily

Mondello (Palermo)

The vibrant turquoise and cerulean colors of the water on the Sicilian coastline, with mountains in the background, and hundreds of beach chairs and umbrellas waiting for beach visitors to enjoy them.

Sicily’s capital Palermo isn’t just a gorgeous city filled with stunning historical landmarks and museums. It’s also a lovely beach destination in its own right! 

I recommend first spending 2-3 days exploring Palermo before heading to its nearby beaches.

Just outside the city center, the charming borough of Mondello is a lovely area for a beach trip in Sicily — and you won’t even have to leave Palermo to reach it!

Mondello Beach boasts silky white sand and turquoise waters, but that’s not all it offers.

Architecture geeks will admire the historical bathing establishment housed in an Art Nouveau building known as Charleston, which now houses the restaurant Alle Terrazze.

The only downside of Mondello is that it can get pretty crowded during the peak tourist months of July and August, being a beautiful beach so close to Palermo.

 Besides that, it’s the perfect destination if you are visiting Palermo and are short on time.

While visiting Mondello, you may also check out the nearby nature preserve, Riserva Naturale di Capo Gallo, for spectacular coastal views and gorgeous rocky beaches.

San Vito Lo Capo

The shimmering, clear teal-blue water in Sicily's San Vito Lo Capo, with rocks in the foreground, and a mountain view in the background, and a town visible in the distance, all on a sunny summer day.

Close to Trapani at Sicily’s northwestern tip, the stunning San Vito Lo Capo is a small Sicilian coastal town you shouldn’t miss.

Best known for its beaches, San Vito Lo Capo also boasts stunning Arab-Norman architecture and the Capo San Vito lighthouse

The town lies at the foot of Mount Monaco, a rocky peak you can climb for panoramic views of the coast!

The best thing about San Vito lo Capo is that it has a wide sandy beach right by the town center, so it’s a perfect location if you want to avoid renting a car or taking public transportation to get around. 

Plus, its beach is very scenic, with the turquoise waters and Mount Monaco towering over it at one end of the beach. 

It’s easy to get to, too: you can reach San Vito Lo Capo in approximately two hours by car or bus from Palermo.

Riserva dello Zingaro

While not technically a beach town, Riserva dello Zingaro is one of the most beautiful beach locations in Sicily and deserves a spot on this list! 

Located towards the northwestern tip of the island, close to San Vito Lo Capo, this nature preserve is a wild area of virtually untouched nature and crystalline turquoise waters.

Taking the coastal walk allows you to admire sweeping views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the area’s rugged coastline. 

Along the way, you can descend to a couple of small coves where you can spend some time sunbathing and swimming in crystal clear waters.

To get off the beaten path a bit, discover the small beaches at Cala Marinella, Cala Berretta, Cala del Varo, and Cala Capreria — you’ll find precious few tourists sharing the beaches with you here.

The coastal path from the south entrance near Scopello to the north entrance close to San Vito Lo Capo is about 4 miles (7 km) long. 

If you want to do the entire walk, bring water and food to be well-fed and hydrated, as there aren’t many amenities here. 

Alternatively, park your car and walk to the nearest beach.

There’s no accommodations in the nature reserve, so we suggest staying in either San Vito Lo Capo (above) or Scopello (below), which bookend this beautiful reserve.

Scopello

The rocky coastline of Scopello and the beach in the main town, on a clear summer day where the sea appears cerulean blue

Scopello is a magnetic little coastal village on Sicily’s northern coast, between San Vito lo Capo and Castellammare del Golfo

In winter, the tiny village has just over 100 inhabitants, but that number swells to several thousand during the summer!

This delightful Sicilian beach village is known for its captivating coves, clear waters, and eye-catching rock formations. 

Tonnara di Scopello is easily the most picturesque spot in a village full of scenic places!

It’s home to a historical tuna-fishing estate (now a museum), the ruins of an old tower overlooking the little beach, and the sea stacks Faraglioni di Scopello just off the coast.

Other lovely beaches in this area are Cala dell’Ovo, Cala Mosca, and Cala Mazzo di Sciacca

Best of all, Scopello is easy to get to; it’s just a 20-minute drive from Castellammare del Golfo and about one hour from Palermo.

Taormina

A small islet called Isola Bella (beautiful island) with a house atop the hill, a narrow strip of sand connecting it to the mainland, and people enjoying the sand from a view above on a hill overlooking the island and the cerulean blue sea.

Halfway between Messina and Catania, the hilltop coastal town of Taormina is among Sicily’s most popular tourist destinations… and that’s only set to rise with its spotlight in the most recent season of The White Lotus

The town is well-known for its ancient Greek theater overlooking the sea and the gorgeous panoramic views from its historic center.

It’s also a great jumping-off point for day trips to the fiery Mount Etna, where you can sample some of Sicily’s best wines!

But Taormina is also home to some beautiful beaches, so you can combine your cultural visit with a few days of relaxation! 

The beaches of Isola Bella and Mazzarò are the most popular ones; the latter is connected to the center of Taormina by a mountain cable car offering sweeping coastal views, and it’s a must-do while in Taormina!

The small island (also a nature preserve) of Isola Bella is just off the coast in front of the beach with the same name. When the tide is slow, a narrow strip of sand allows you to walk there!

Just south of Taormina’s center, Giardini Naxos is another beautiful area with lovely sandy beaches between Catania and Taormina. 

The town was once a Greek colony named Naxos, which you can learn about in the Museum and Archaeological Area of Naxos.

Capo d’Orlando

Sandy beach at Capo d'Orlando with turquoise sea crashing ashore, rocks, and a red lighthouse visible to the right of the frame.

Only one hour from Messina, the small-but-memorable Capo d’Orlando is a lovely beach town on Sicily’s northern coast. 

The town is a popular summer destination, beloved for its long sandy beach dotted with beach clubs, clear waters, and many restaurants offering gorgeous sea views.

Aside from its long beach stretching down through the town center, you can also check out San Gregorio beach on the eastern shore. 

If you want to try other activities besides swimming and sunbathing, try climbing to the Pineta del Monte della Madonna to enjoy panoramic views.

You can also visit the Sanctuary of Maria S.S. and check out the Capo d’Orlando lighthouse.

In short, Capo d’Orlando is the perfect Sicilian beach destination if you want to stay in a medium-sized town that offers many accommodation options, restaurants, and beaches within walking distance. 

Best of all, if you have extra time, you can hop on a ferry to the Aeolian islands, Sicily’s best-kept secret!

Cefalù

The old town of Cefalu, located right on the beach, with sand-colored buildings and beautiful turquoise sea, and a castle visible in the background on a hilltop.

Better known for its Arab-Norman cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015), the coastal town of Cefalù is only one hour east of Palermo

But there’s more to Cefalù than its UNESCO accolades: don’t miss the hilltop Cefalù Castle boasting spectacular coastal views and the pristine coastline that makes Cefalù a Sicily summer hot spot!

The long sandy beach of Cefalù quickly fills up with colorful umbrellas during the summer months when tourists flock to the town to enjoy the crystal-clear water and convivial atmosphere. 

Beyond the beaches, Cefalù’s historical center has many impressive landmarks, from beautiful churches to medieval buildings.

The lovely town and accessible beach make Cefalù a perfect destination, especially if you don’t want to rent a car in Sicily. 

The town is served by a train station, with regular train rides that take one hour to Palermo and 2.5 hours to Messina.

Trapani

The lovely beach town of Trapani, with a windmill in its famous salt pan area, with crashing waves

If you want to spend your summer holiday in a relatively big city with beautiful, accessible beaches, Trapani is one of the best beach cities in Sicily! 

The city is served by an international airport connecting several European cities with budget flights.

There is much to do in Trapani and its surroundings — it’s tough to get bored here! 

Visit beautiful landmarks like the San Lorenzo Cathedral, the Ligny Tower, and the city’s historic fish market, Piazza Mercato del Pesce, in the historical center.

Other must-see places in Trapani are the salt production site Saline di Trapani e Paceco and the nearby hilltop little town of Erice

As for beach destinations near Trapani, Spiaggia di San Giuliano is one of the most popular and accessible beaches in Trapani!

If you have extra time, plan to spend a day exploring the stunning nature preserve Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano

Walk along the coastal paths, admire the spectacular views, and relax on Torre Tono or Agliareddi beach.

Milazzo

An isolated beach on a cove, with one boat visible, and otherwise the beach is entirely clear, with vibrant blue but still very clear water.

Located a short drive from Messina, the Sicilian beach town of Milazzo is set on a small peninsula extending into the Tyrrhenian Sea. 

This lovely town’s history dates back to ancient Greek myths! Supposedly, it’s the legendary location of Ulysses’ shipwreck and subsequent meeting with Polyphemus.

At the tip of the peninsula, Capo Milazzo is a scenic spot for coastal views, especially at sunset. 

On both shores of the narrow cape, you’ll find stunning rocky beaches with crystalline waters. 

Some of the best beaches in Milazzo are Baia del TonoPonente BeachBaia delle Renelle, and Capo di Milazzo Beach

Perhaps most enticing of all, you’ll find the natural pool Piscina di Venere at the peninsula’s tip!

Close to the center of Milazzo, the medieval hilltop Castello di Milazzo offers panoramic views of the town. 

The town’s historical center is lively, full of historical buildings and people enjoying bustling restaurants and bars. 

If you want to get a bit off the beaten path, you can catch a ferry to the Aeolian islands from the port of Milazzo for even more Sicilian beach exploration!

Siracusa

Sandy beach near Siracusa Sicily with rocks and sandy shore leading into turquoise water on a sunny, cloudless sky day in summer.

Effortlessly combining exceptional archaeological sites, a spirited historic center, and pristine beaches, Siracusa is one of Sicily’s most beautiful beach cities. 

Siracusa’s historic center is located on a small island, Isola di Ortigia, connected to the mainland by two bridges. 

Here, you’ll find most of the area’s historical landmarks, like the ruins dating back to Ancient Greece!

Siracusa is also home to the Neapolis Archaeological Park, showcasing many Ancient Greek and Roman ruins. 

As for the beaches near Siracusa, you’ll find them both north and south of the city. 

Although a few beaches are accessible from the city center, you’ll need a car or public transportation for the most beautiful ones — but it’s well worth it, in our opinion!

North of Siracusa, you can find the lovely pebble beach Spiaggia La Tonnara, while to the south, you can go to Arenella BeachMinaret Beach, or Spiaggia Punta del Pero.

Lido di Noto

Extremely clear blue water in a bay close to Noto and Lido di Noto on the Sicilian coastline

South of Siracusa, the lovely Lido di Noto is exclusively a beach destination. 

This beach is Noto’s coastal area, the well-known city found further inland. 

The coast is one long string of sandy beaches with restaurants and hotels overlooking the sea.

You’ll find both beach clubs (lidos) renting out umbrellas and sunbeds and sections of the public beach where you can relax on your towel and BYO picnic.

While you’ll enjoy the endless beach and its restaurants, there is little more to Lido di Noto. 

An even more beautiful beach can be found at Calamosche Beach, about a 20-minute drive from Lido di Noto.

Consider combining a stay on the coast with a few days in the nearby city of Noto, famous for its stunning Noto Cathedral and other historical landmarks.

Porto Empedocle

The gorgeous white stone 'stairs' with beach and clear waters leading out into the sea.

Porto Empedocle is a small beach town in Sicily, located south of Agrigento

The town’s mouthful of a name comes from the Greek philosopher Empedocles, who lived in the Ancient Greek city of Akragas (now Agrigento). 

This delightful coastal town is a popular beach destination due to its location near one of the most renowned beaches in Sicily, Scala dei Turchi.

Located just 10 minutes from Porto Empedocle, Scala dei Turchi is a white marlstone cliff that eroded over millions of years, eventually forming a shape akin to a staircase. 

The name, meaning ‘Turkish Steps’ in English, comes from the many incursions of pirate ships that would dock here. 

For another option, the nearby Majata Beach is also a lovely place to spend an afternoon, and the beach enjoys a spectacular view of Scala dei Turchi.

The main beach of Porto Empedocle is also beautiful and more accessible from the town center, with several restaurants and beach clubs to enjoy.

Mazara del Vallo

Boat with water reflecting onto it, other boats in the harbor of Mazara del Vallo, a historic Sicilian waterfront town.

Just south of Marsala, the town of Mazara del Vallo is better known for its Arabic architecture. 

In fact, this town still maintains its historic Kasbah, the ancient Arab neighborhood dating back to the Arab occupation of the 9th century.

Mazara del Vallo is somewhat of a visual timeline of Sicily’s turbulent past, seen by its beautiful churches and ruins from its various occupations by the Greeks, Romans, and Normans, to mention just a few. 

Of those, the must-see sights are The Cathedral of the Holy Savior, the Norman Arch, and the Museum of the Dancing Satyr.

Outside Mazara del Vallo, you’ll find beautiful beaches where you can sunbathe and swim in crystalline waters. 

One option is Litorale di Tonnarella, a long sandy beach you’ll find if you head in the direction of Marsala. 

To the south, Approdo dei Saraceni, Caletta Nana, and Lido Costanza are a few spots worth checking out.

Sciacca

The colorful wall of buildings in all different colors as seen from the water approaching Sciacca harbor

The colorful Sicilian coastal town of Sciacca is halfway between Mazara del Vallo and Agrigento

The picturesque fishing town is atop a small hill that looks even more beautiful from the sea, where you can truly appreciate the visual of the old houses stacked one on top of the other!

Sciacca is known for its thermal baths, ceramics production, and Carnival celebrations. 

But the town also boasts quite a few lovely beaches, like Tonnara BeachSpiaggia del Lido, and Spiaggia di Contrada Foggia.

Sciacca also offers exciting museums, dozens of delicious restaurants, and a gorgeous old town with public artworks, ceramic decorations, and picturesque vistas with coastal views! 

Castellammare del Golfo

The view of  Castellammare del Golfo  as seen from above, looking at the Arab Norman castle and the marina and boats in the harbor

The most iconic spot in Castellammare del Golfo is the seaside Arab-Norman castle, which gives the name to this coastal town. 

However, the town itself is also a popular beach destination in Sicily! 

Within a short distance from the town center, you’ll find many little beaches and coves with crystal-clear waters.

Driving to the west towards Scopello, you can stop at Cala dei Sogni, Cala Bianca, Cala Ofelia, or the pebble Guidaloca beach

To the east, Spiaggia Plaja is the closest beach. 

If you don’t feel like driving or taking public transportation, there’s even a charming little beach right by the town center, Cala Petròlo.

Check out the scenic viewpoint at Belvedere Castellammare del Golfo for the best coastal and town views! 

Another option is the nearby Santuario della Madonna della Scala, which also offers gorgeous panoramic views. 

There is much more to discover around Sicily, both on the coast and inland, but this list should give you enough options to start narrowing down the best beach towns in Sicily!

21 Most Beautiful Towns in Dordogne, France

21 Most Beautiful Dordogne Towns and Villages to Visit

Magnificent castles, beautiful medieval villages, a dreamy bucolic landscape, bustling markets, a bountiful gastronomy – Dordogne in southwest France has long been a big draw for its beautiful small country towns

The third largest department of France, forming part of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, the Dordogne department is more commonly called the Périgord by the French. 

Why? This was the former name of the province prior to the 1789 Revolution! 

For all extents and purposes, the geography of ancient Périgord pretty much equates to the boundaries of Dordogne today! 

This article was written by Rebecca Legros, a travel writer originally from Britain who moved to France 13 years ago. Now based in Bordeaux, she spent 3 years living in Dordogne and is sharing her expertise on one of her favorite parts of France here. Take it away, Rebecca!
A river with a bridge and a boat, blue sky, forest around it with a large castle and an open grassy space in the Dordogne region of France

The department is divided into four distinct areas rooted in the region’s natural attributes: Noir (black), Blanc (white), Vert (green) and Pourpre (purple).   

Together, these areas shape a part of France famed for its unspoiled natural beauty, laid-back lifestyle, cultural heritage, culinary delights, and a wealth of wonderful towns and villages in Dordogne! 

So, let’s take a closer look at Dordogne’s most beautiful small towns, broken down by these four areas.

The Most Beautiful Towns in Dordogne’s Périgord Noir

The Périgord Noir in south-east Dordogne merits this name because it’s rich in oak and pine forests with dark, dense foliage. 

It’s also the seat of some of the most beautiful of all of Dordogne’s picture-postcard towns and villages, as well as a profusion of other popular sites — and some of the most beautiful villages of France, period. 

Sarlat-la-Canéda

People walking around the town of Sarlat in the afternoon, medieval buildings and canopy and people sitting in cafes outside on a summer day, a statue and streetlight also in the picture.

The perfectly-preserved ancient medieval town of Sarlat is perhaps the most sublime in all of Périgord! 

With well over 200 listed buildings dating from the 14th century onward, it’s also one of the most visited medieval towns in France. 

Sarlat’s historic center is the ultimate fairytale town, crammed with characteristic limestone architecture and cobbled streets that are a dream to get lost in.

A great way to take in this extensive example of medieval heritage is from above! 

Get a panoramic view of Sarlat from the top of the Sainte-Marie Church in the impressive glass elevator designed by famous French architect, Jean Nouvel.

It’s a uniquely modern way to get a stunning view of this picturesque village!

Domme

A narrow alleyway in Domme, France, with stacked chairs, medieval houses, and trees and ivy growing on one of the walls

Surrounding Sarlat are a cluster of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.

What does that mean? These are designated Most Beautiful Villages in France, and Domme is one such beautiful small village!

Suspended high on a hilltop with the Dordogne River meandering serenely below, the village offers splendid vistas of the Dordogne Valley.

Domme dates from the 13th century and is a great example of a bastide – or fortified townl

Its architecture is a blend of buildings: a mix of half-timbered houses and others built in the attractive local limestone. 

The original walls of the stronghold still surround the village, and a ride on the tourist train gives a great overview of both the ramparts and lovely cottage-lined streets. 

Want something unique?

Explore the network of caves that run deep through the rocky outcrop on which the village is perched! 

La Roque-Gageac

A castle and rampart built into a limestone cliff, with stairway, and other houses in the main town area

France’s Plus Beaux Villages Association has designated Dordogne with no less than ten of France’s Most Beautiful Villages.

Along with Aveyron, the Dordogne region has the highest density of plus beaux villages of any department in the country!

La Roque-Gageac, on the banks of the Dordogne River, is another of these eye-catching classified villages. 

Rows of chocolate-box, honey-colored houses built into the cliffside along pretty streets run along this striking stretch of the river. 

One of the highlights here is a taking a boat ride in a Gabarre – a traditional boat used in the Middle Ages to transport goods along the waterways of the region. 

Coast along past age-old castles and outstanding scenery, and savor a great view of one of France’s best-loved landscapes!

Beynac-et-Cazenac

A town with buildings stacked up on the hillside, with brown roofs and brief walls, and blue sky and green trees and a castle on top

A short drive from La Roque-Gageac is another plus beau village beauty and a classic example of a historic Dordogne village.

A crowd-pleaser with cute cobblestoned streets and even more photogenic façades, the crowning glory of Beynac-et-Cazenac is its stately clifftop castle with commanding views of the surrounding countryside. 

Admire the village high on its lofty perch from a river boat, or amble the narrow walkways with historical buildings where movies like Chocolat and The Last Duel were filmed.   

Don’t miss out on the nearby Jardins de Marqueyssac, France’s famous hanging gardens set between Beynac-et-Cazenac and La Roque-Gageac. 

Noted for its fine-looking topiaries and far-reaching valley views, these gardens are a Dordogne delight.  

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

A church on top of a large rocky outcrop, overlooking a historic and cute Dordogne village, on a partly cloudy day with birds in the sky

Directly across the Dordogne River from Beynac-et-Cazenac is the plus beau village of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Its stronghold sits strategically on a soaring outcrop overlooking the valley, and it’s the most visited château in southern France!

Dordogne is commonly called the Land of 1001 Castles, and in the Middle Ages many fine fortresses like the one here were constructed. 

These fortresses were built during the Hundred Years War between the French and the English, and were so well-built that many still stand to this day.

Of course, you’ll want to wander through the picturesque streets and narrow lanes of this tiny village on your walk up to the castle.

You should also include a visit to the Museum of Medieval Warfare in the château grounds for a taste of life in those turbulent war years a thousand years ago!

For more of a Renaissance château experience, visit Château Milandes a few miles down the road, the impressive former home of American dancer and singer Josephine Baker.  

Belvès

Another lively bastide town, Belvès is another official plus beau village on the Dordogne tourist trail and one of the prettiest villages in the Dordogne. 

The large main square has a remarkably well-preserved 15th century halle at its heart – a traditional covered local market.

Saturday mornings are a wonderfully animated affair when market day is in full swing, so time your visit here for a Saturday if it’s at all possible! 

Selling specialty Dordogne delicacies like truffles, foie gras, cheese, honey, walnuts and duck, enjoy the time-honored French tradition of market day in this lovely little town. 

With time to spare, you can even venture under the central square and discover the troglodyte caves, which functioned as dwellings for the local peasants until the 18th century.

Les Eyzies

Rocky cliff and cave outcroppings above a town with houses built underneath the rock, on a sunny day in Southwestern France in a village in Dordogne

Dordogne is not only a magnet for tourists wanting to see the charms of a quaint Southern French village.

In fact, early settlers stretching back to Prehistoric Man were drawn in by the perfect cave-dwelling conditions in the region’s Vezère Valley. 

So if it’s a taste of much earlier than medieval times that you’re after, the village of Les Eyzies is an ideal base!

The village lies in the center of the Vezère Valley, and is surrounded by an extraordinary landscape of limestone cliffs, rock shelters and caves.

It is here that Cro-Magnon people (prehistoric Homo sapiens) lived almost 30,000 years ago.  

Also known as the Valley of Mankind, the area around Les Eyzies has an exceptional number of prehistoric sites to visit, 15 of which are collectively classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Montignac

Historic town on a riverfront with a bridge and hills in the distance that house the famous cave system where ancient humans used to live. Partly cloudy sky and grass on both sides of the river bank.

This charming town on the River Vézère is the location of the celebrated Lascaux Cave Complex.

Discovered in 1940, these world-famous caves accommodate some of the best-preserved prehistoric paintings in the world. 

As the main cultural and heritage site in Dordogne, tourists descend on Lascaux in their droves to view the 17,000-year-old cave paintings of early Man. 

It’s worth knowing that if you take a guided tour, what you actually see is a replica in an authentic cave setting.

The original caves are closed to the public to prevent deterioration of the artwork. 

Don’t miss out on an amble around Montignac itself; the town is postcard pretty and has a popular Wednesday morning market worth checking out.

Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère

Town with church and stone houses in a bucolic rural setting

Also set on the laidback Vézère River, this lovely little village in Dordogne is another that carries the plus beau village badge.

Take a stroll along the scenic riverside, admiring the old castle and 12th century Romanesque church. 

Saunter through the village streets, stopping by the charming arts and crafts stores. 

Be sure to break for lunch in one of the bucolic restaurants – I highly recommend the river café Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, with its deliciously fresh local fare and free-roaming chickens! 

For a chilled out Vezère Valley experience, rent a kayak or canoe in the village and spend a relaxing morning or afternoon trailing the river past châteaux and prehistoric sites. 

There are a number of kayak rental services across the Dordogne — it’s a great place for a paddle with a beautiful view.

Saint-Amand-de-Coly

the 12th century stone abbey in the town of saint amand de coly

This small but perfectly formed plus beau village is fêted for its imposing 12th century abbey, a historical monument which all but dwarfs the village. 

With 100-foot-high bell towers and defensive walls almost 15-foot thick, this fortified church has stood the test of time since the days of the Hundred Years War.

To learn more about the fascinating history of Saint-Amand-de-Coly, the village is well-equipped with a tourist circuit of educational panels. 

The surrounding area is also perfect for walks and cycling in the wooded countryside. 

Terrasson-Lavilledieu

View of the Vezere river, with arched bridge making a pathway across, reflecting the bridge, and fog and town on the hill above

The old town of Terrasson, up on the hill beyond the banks of the River Vézère, is a charming collection of cream-colored and colombage buildings. 

The Place Bouquier is the pretty central square where, after a stroll along the town’s scenic ramparts, lunch or drinks on a café terrace is highly recommended.

When in town, be sure to take in the main attraction, the Jardins de l’Imaginaire

These splendid gardens are classified by the French Ministry of Culture as an enchanting landscape celebrating the art of horticulture!

Hautefort

Splendid large castle on a hill on a sunny day, with cows and livestock roaming free on the pasture below the castle

In the very north of the Périgord Noir lies the lovely village of Hautefort, home to the most magnificent Renaissance château, Château de Hautefort.

The castle started life as a medieval fortress — but as with many medieval castles, it lived several purposes later in its existence.

Over time, it grew into a grandiose palace for the privileged owners who wanted their leisurely lives to mirror the extravagances of the Loire Valley châteaux.

Château de Hautefort is today a listed historical building in France, and sits in superb landscaped grounds overlooking the village and the verdant valley beyond.

The Most Beautiful Villages in Dordogne in Périgord Vert

The Périgord Vert encompasses the northern reaches of Dordogne, and is a landscape of rolling hills and lush valleys. 

While the Périgord Noir has a claim on so many of the region’s hotspots, it’s also rather busy.

To get more off the tourist trail, particularly in the overcrowded summer months, it’s worth diverging from the hub of the action. 

Start by discovering some of the lesser known gems of Dordogne in the lesser-visited regions, like Périgord Vert, Blanc, and Pourpre.

Saint-Jean-de-Côle

Chateau de la Marthonie is located in the town of Saint-Jean-de-Cole, in the French department of the Dordogne

The beguiling little village of Saint-Jean-de-Côle is the only one in the Périgord Vert to hold official plus beau villagestatus. 

With a history going back to the 11th century, it boasts plenty of medieval village charm and is one of the most interesting old villages of Dordogne. 

It also has many listed historical monuments, such as its Byzantine church and Château de la Marthonie.

Saint-Jean-de-Côle is especially fun to visit during its annual Spring Flower Festival held in early May. 

Dressed up in dazzling floral displays, the village in bloom brings in hundreds of visitors during its festival.

If you visit during this May festival, enjoy a day out browsing craft stalls, feasting on fresh local produce and delighting in music and dance performances. 

Brantôme

A riverside building with a boat on the river and beautiful benedictine abbey

The small town of Brantôme is quite the treasure, one of the best towns in the Dordogne.

This charming town is dominated by its ancient buildings such as the illustrious Benedictine Abbey, built in the 8th century by Charlemagne, a one-time distinguished king of France.

This Dordogne town is pretty as a picture, as a wander along the riverbank, over the old stone bridge, past the watermill and weir, and across to the imposing abbey will soon prove.  

For an extra special time, treat yourself to a stay at Le Moulin de l’Abbaye

This sumptuous Relais & Châteaux hotel was fashioned from the former mill — and now it has a Michelin-starred restaurant and splendid views of the river and abbey.

The Most Beautiful Villages in Dordogne in Périgord Blanc

In the heart of the department of the Dordogne, set on the limestone plateau from which much of the region’s stonework is crafted, lies the Périgord Blanc.

This small sub-region of Dordogne is home to the pretty department capital of Périgueux.

Périgueux

Cathedral in Perigueux with gray and stone architecture with lots of arched windows and steeples on a gray day

The most-populated town of Périgord and the region’s prefecture, Périgueux is the perfect place to base yourself to venture around the North and Central Dordogne.

With an historical heritage spanning from Gallic to Roman, medieval to Renaissance, there is plenty to see. 

Of particular interest is the St Front Cathedral. 

It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella! 

You also shouldn’t miss its central square with a wonderful Wednesday and weekend market, one of the largest in the region. 

The Gallo-Roman museum of Vesunna is also quite the magnet in Périgueux.

It’s an outstanding example of an unearthed Roman villa, as well as other artifacts, all housed in a marvelous glass structure designed by Jean Nouvel. 

Tourtoirac

Rustic town with a tower and bucolic landscape

One of the best places to get a bit off the beaten path, Tourtoirac is an ideal place to unwind in Dordogne.

Far from the main towns of the Dordogne, Tourtoirac doesn’t have a worldwide reputation as a popular holiday destination, but that’s what makes it special.

The town was built around its Benedictine abbey, the Abbey of Saint Peter, dating back to the 12th century.

Nearby, there are also some interesting caves you can check out, the Grotte de Tourtoirac, which are spectacular to behold and can be visited on a 1-hour guided tour.

The Most Beautiful Dordogne Villages in Périgord Pourpre

The last of the Périgord regions, the Périgord Pourpre, is the south west stronghold of Dordogne.

It’s defined by Bergerac and its vineyards, and several more superb little villages.

Bergerac

Skyline of Bergerac as seen from across the river, with a church standing tall on the city skyline, around sunset time with streaky clouds

The medieval bastion of Bergerac is Dordogne’s second largest town, celebrated for Cyrano de Bergerac, its historic vieille ville (Old Town) and delicious local wine.

From the pretty Place Pelissière, the old-town streets lead down to the Dordogne River and up to the modern center. 

A statue of Cyrano de Bergerac, a famous historical French figure frequently immortalized in films, stands in the attractive town square.

Surrounding Bergerac are the largest vineyards of Dordogne, including the renowned sweet wines of Monbazillac, a magnificent château set on rolling hills to the south of the town.

Issigeac

Red flowers growing on a stone building in a narrow alleyway in a cute Dordogne village

Nestled in the very south of Dordogne is Issigeac, another age-old Périgord village where time has stood still for centuries.

It’s a sleepy settlement of wonderful narrow winding streets and superb half-timbered homes that really comes alive for the celebrated Sunday market. 

And like so many of these medieval Dordogne villages, it’s at its most vibrant in summer when the night market – a tradition in the whole region – is in full swing.

Monpazier

Medieval town center of Monpazier, with empty square and lots of archways in the central square where there was a marketplace

The Périgord Pourpre has two official plus beaux villages of France, and Monpazier is one of them. 

Straddling the southern border of Dordogne, this is a 13th century bastide town with a beautifully preserved medieval center.

With a handsome central square housing a halle (covered wooden marketplace) and edged all around with flawlessly formed enclosed archways, it is often cited as the favorite bastide town of the region.

Monpazier celebrates its longstanding heritage with the Medieval Day festival every July, an unmissable time to be in town.

Cadouin

Peeking through a stone archway to admire the abbey of Cadouin, a red limestone style building that is very old

The little village of Cadouin is a lovely surprise! 

Just a one-street settlement yet so worth a visit, Cadouin renowned for its remarkable 11th-century Cistercian Abbey and Gothic-era cloisters.

These also form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site along the Pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella.

The charming village square comprises some appealing boutique stores and places to eat.

It also has an impressive covered halle constructed with stone pillars instead of the usual wood design that dominates in many Dordogne towns and villages.

Close by Cadouin, the Dordogne River is an inviting place to stop for a swim and a picnic on a hot summer’s day.

Limeuil

River with a town built atop a rocky cliffside area, architecture of a cute Dordogne village climbing up the mountain

We end our circuit of the sightseeing highlights of Dordogne in Limeuil, the last of the plus beaux villages on the official department list.

Located at the confluence of the Dordogne and Vézère rivers, Limeuil is a medieval treasure atop a lofty promontory with gorgeous valley vistas.

Stroll the pretty winding streets upwards and upwards to the top of the village.

Overlooking the most sublime natural setting, there is the Jardins Panoramiques, scenic gardens set in the grounds of an old fortified castle with some of the most photogenic views in all of Dordogne.

Unwind after your uphill hike to the gardens at the riverside beaches; relax in the summer sun, swim in the rapids, or rent a canoe or kayak for a scenic river jaunt.

Where to Stay on the Amalfi Coast: 13 Towns So Picturesque You’ll Never Want to Leave!

the charming town of praiano on the amalfi coast, a great choice for where to stay on the amalfi coast

Few places represent the Italian idea of la dolce vita like the Amalfi Coast!

The expression, made famous by the eponymous film, refers to a life of pleasure, beauty, and self-indulgence — all things which are plentiful on the Amalfi Coast!

The beauty of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the dramatic coastline with colorful villages, gorgeous restaurants overlooking the sea, delicious seafood, indulgent gelato, and boat trips are just some of the things you can experience in this coastal area south of Naples!

view of the church in positano on the amalfi coast with mosaic roof

If you don’t know where to stay on the Amalfi Coast, this guide will explore each of the Amalfi Coast towns and their attractions — plus suggested accommodations in each.

So pack your favorite swimsuit and some walking shoes and prepare to experience these Amalfi Coast towns with all your senses!

You’ll smell the lemon trees, taste the crispy fried seafood, listen to the sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs, and feel the coarse sand underneath your feet.

Most of all, you’ll be amazed by the spectacular views that each of these 13 picturesque towns on the Amalfi Coast has to offer.

No matter where you stay on the Amalfi Coast, epic views are all but guaranteed!

Where To Stay on the AMalfi Coast: towns & best accommodations in each

Positano 

view of the town of positano at sunset on the amalfi coast with lots of boats in the water and colorful views

By far the most famous town on the Amalfi Coast, Positano stands out for its dramatic cliffs covered in colorful houses with lovely terraces reaching out towards the blue Tyrrhenian Sea.

From afar, it almost seems like the houses are built one on top of the other, in a vertical mass, interrupted here and there by patches of green spaces.

Narrow alleys and steep stairways will guide you through this charming Amalfi Coast village, while hidden terraces will reward you with glimpses of the coast below and the small beach below dotted with colorful umbrellas. 

Walk around the town, enjoy the spectacular views, or relax at the beach to make the most of your time in Positano.

Being such a popular spot, the small beach tends to get quite crowded during the summer months, so visiting off-season could be a good idea if this is your choice for where to stay on the Amalfi Coast.

Don’t forget to check out the Santa Maria Assunta Church in the heart of the town, explore the hiking area Le Tese di Positano, indulge in a delicious gelato or a lemon granita, and watch the sunset from one of the many terraces or viewpoints.  

Where to Stay:

BUDGET | Relais Il Sogno de Positano is a more affordable options in Positano, although being Positano, ‘budget’ is subjective! You can enjoy colorful, spacious rooms with views of the sea. However, it's a bit far from the main town area. But with such a scenic place to walk, this isn't such a bad trade-off -- especially considering the huge difference in price tag between this and other options in Positano.
Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

MID-RANGE | Hotel Conca d’Oro is a great choice for a special but not outrageously priced place to stay in Positano. Located in the heart of town, the minimalist rooms are given some warmth with a few elegant details. Most rooms have balconies with stunning sea views, and even if you don't have a balcony of your own, the terrace is a great place to watch the sunset!
Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

LUXURY | Hotel Villa Franca is one of the most luxe hotels along the Amalfi Coast — but it has an eye-watering price tag. That said, you do really get the best of the best: two fine dining restaurants, a rooftop pool with jaw-dropping views, the ultra-luxurious O’Spa Wellness Center with a hammam, and of course, beautifully designed rooms with incredible sea views!
Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Praiano

Halfway between Positano and Amalfi, Praiano is a small fishing village, much quainter than Positano and perfect for relaxing, enjoying the beach, and exploring nature.

The village is divided into two parts, the upper part of Praiano and the seaside part of Marina di Praia.

While Praiano offers beautiful panoramic views of the coast, Marina di Praia consists of a small pebble beach enclosed between high cliffs and surrounded by restaurants and hotels. 

As opposed to crowded and colorful Positano, Praiano has few white houses scattered across the cliffs between lemon and olive trees.

A must-see is the Church of San Gennaro with its ornate chapel, which is quite typical of churches in towns along the Amalfi Coast.

In front of the church, a wide square with colorful mosaics overlooks the sea, allowing you to admire the coast.

From here, you can easily spot Positano and the Sorrentine Peninsula!

Where to Stay in Praiano:

BUDGET | Hotel Alfonso a Mare is a beachfront hotel at rock-bottom prices (for the Amalfi Coast, at leasts), right on La Praia Beach. The rooms are quite charming, with majolica tile floors and vintage furnishings. If you can swing it, upgrade to a room with a sea view -- you won't regret it!
 Check rates, reviews, and availability here!

MID-RANGE | Villa Gianlica is a charming place to stay, close to town center and not far from the beach. It features an outdoor pool with stunning sea views and a tranquil private garden to escape the Amalfi crowds. A tasty breakfast served on the sea-facing terrace is included. Best of all - some rooms even have their own private spa bath!
 Check rates, reviews, and availability here!

LUXURY | Tramanto d’Oro has rooms and amenities that would be double the price in Positano or Amalfi, so if you want luxury accommodations at a portion of the price, this is a great choice. We're talking rooftop pool, a Turkish bath, a sauna, a spa center, rooms with stunning sea views, and a delicious on-site restaurant serving up local Campanian cuisine.
 Check rates, reviews, and availability here!

Furore

the 'fjord' of furore italy on the amalfi coast, a town without a center

Also known as “the town that doesn’t exist”, Furore counts just over 800 inhabitants who live in the few colorful houses emerging from the cliff here and there.

There isn’t an actual set of houses built close enough to form a village, hence the nickname, nor does this Amalfi Coast town have a town square or center, a rarity even among small towns in Italy!

Furore is famous for the narrow sea inlet making its way between high cliffs in a landscape that evokes the Northern European coastal region, like you’d see in Tromso or Iceland’s Westfjords.

The inlet is known as the Furore Fjord, and it’s a spot you shouldn’t miss on your Amalfi Coast trip (especially if you’re driving!)

A bridge connects the two cliffs forming the little fjord that ends on a small beach, the best spot to admire the view. 

Swim in the turquoise waters, then make your way to the upper part of the village and walk the beautiful trail Sentiero delle Agavi in Fiore.

The name translates to “the path of the blooming agave” in English, due to the presence of these beautiful succulent plants.

The first part of the walk is known as the Lover’s Walk (Passeggiata dell’amore), and it offers a lovely view of Praiano from above. 

Where to Stay in Furore:

BUDGET | Roccia Fiorita is located just a 10-minute walk away from the Fjord of Furore. This charming little guesthouse has a garden and terrace to relax in between busy days sightseeing. Rooms are a little basic, but they all feature A/C and en-suite bathrooms, and some have a balcony as well.
 Check rates, reviews, and availability here!

 MID-RANGE | San Giacomo Relais is a beautiful place to stay in Furore at a rather affordable price tag. It has an on-site restaurant and bar, as well as a garden and a small pool. The rooms are a little dated in terms of decor, but the views are stunning, and guests loved the breakfast and hosts!
 Check rates, reviews, and availability here!

Conca dei Marini

Lots of small boats in the marina of Conca dei Marini, a charming Amalfi coast town with beautiful coastal buildings and a small beach

With a small peninsula extending into the Tyrrhenian Sea and over three kilometers of coastline, Conca dei Marini is an old fishing village in the Amalfi Coast.

As one of the lesser-known towns on the Amalfi Coast, it’s a lot more peaceful than many of the other coastal towns, which is in itself a great reason to visit it! 

Conca dei Marini is a great choice if you’re looking to enjoy nature, try out some local food at one of the many restaurants, and relax at one of the nearby beaches, like the rocky one at Capo di Conca or the sandy ones near the Marina.

One of the most popular spots in Conca dei Marini is the Emerald Grotto (Grotta dello Smeraldo).

You can easily access the grotto via elevator from the main road, then take a short boat tour to admire the crystal-clear waters and the stalactites and stalagmites!

To complete your visit, go on a short hike to Torre Capo di Conca. In the past, the tower served as a lookout for Arabic pirate invasions.

Nowadays more tranquil, this is a lovely spot to admire the coast and the deep blue Tyrrhenian Sea!  

Where to Stay in Conca dei Marini: 



BUDGET | La Camera del Pescatore is a charming apartment rental located just a short walk from the beach. The room is large and spacious with Mediterranean colors and a sea view balcony. There is a mini fridge and electric kettle but that’s the extent of the apartment’s kitchen — but the food is so good along the Amalfi Coast, you won’t want to cook in, anyway.
 Check rates, reviews, and availability here!

MID-RANGE | Rifugio Stellato offers a stunning and tranquil private apartment rental on the Amalfi Coast. It has both sea views and its own private garden, as well as two bedrooms so it’s a great option for families or smaller groups. There is also a kitchen (with a washing machine), a terrace with a BBQ (grill up some fresh seafood!), fast WiFi, and easy parking.
 Check rates, reviews, and availability here!

Amalfi

the town of amalfi italy seen with a bridge, clear water, and colorful buildings

Alongside Positano, the town of Amalfi that gives the name to the coast is one of the most popular places to visit on the Amalfi Coast.

Once an important maritime town rivaling even Genova and Venice, nowadays it’s a lively tourist destination offering a mix of culture, beautiful beaches, and great restaurants!    

As soon as you arrive in Amalfi, you’ll notice the imposing Cathedral of Sant’Andrea, with its ornately-decorated facade, known simply as the Duomo di Amalfi.

The construction of the cathedral started in 987 but was only completed in 1900. As a result, different styles merge into one in this unique building, from the Romanesque to the Baroque and the Norman-Arab-Byzantine facade.

Close to the cathedral, visit the Moorish cloister and garden Chiostro del Paradiso, a wonderful breath of fresh air.

If you’re curious to learn more about the Amalfi Coast’s history, you ought to check out the Antico Arsenale della Repubblica di Amalfi, a maritime museum where you can learn about the history of the city!

Make your way through the narrow alleys, have a gelato or a cuoppo (a rolled wax paper cone) of fried seafood, then climb the stairways to the upper part of the town to check out magnificent views of the city!

If you want to escape the crowds and enjoy some peace, the monumental cemetery of Amalfi is guaranteed to be one of the most beautiful you’ll ever see!

Where to Stay in Amalfi:

BUDGET | Villa Maria Luigia is an affordable, adorable B&B near the town of Amalfi. While it's about a 20-minute walk from town, it's only a 2-minute walk to the closest beach! The rooms are a bit basic and sparsely decorated, but guests loved the hospitality -- and the views from the terrace!Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

MID-RANGE | Hotel Aurora is a lovely mid-range option a 7-minute walk away from Amalfi’s beach -- but even better, it has its own private beach. You can also enjoy a tranquil garden area with colorful bougainvilleas everywhere. Some rooms have sea views (from large windows or somoe rooms have balconies), but everyone can enjoy breakfast on the terrace with a great sea view.
Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

LUXURY | Borgo Sant’Andrea is just a minute from the beach and advertises giving its guests 'the celebrity treatment'. It's true - this is one of the most luxurious hotels on the whole coast! It boasts all the 5*  amenities, plus one of the best infinity pools on the entire Amalfi Coast, plus the rooms have incredible sea views.
Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Atrani

the small little town of atrani italy on a coastal edge

If you walk south along the coast from Amalfi, you’ll reach the center of Atrani without even realizing you exited one town and entered another!

The two are so close together that visitors often consider them as one Amalfi coast town!

Atrani is the smallest municipality in Italy, with a surface area of barely 0.12 square kilometers — it really is just a speck of a town!

The town is almost entirely pedestrian, with most of the activity happening around Piazza Umberto I

Despite its small size, Atrani is famous for the many places of worship it has housed, at one time numbering roughly 300!

Some of the most important ones are the Church of San Salvatore de’ Birecto in the very center of the town, Collegiata di Santa Maria Maddalena, and Santuario di Santa Maria del Bando, up a hilltop with stunning views of Atrani.

Another great spot for epic views is the old watchtower Torre dello Ziro, offering mesmerizing views over the Amalfi Coast. 

Where to Stay in Atrani:

BUDGET | La Preferita del Doge is just a short walk from Atrani Beach and several other beaches, including Marina Grande Beach and Spaggia di Castiglione. It’s a charming little vacation rental with one bedroom, an en-suite bathroom with a washing machine, and a small kitchenette. It’s not fancy, but it is convenient and comfortable, and guests loved the host and location!
Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Ravello

a view from the one of the villas of ravello italy a beautiful mountainous amalfi coast town

An absolute must when visiting the Amalfi Coast, Ravello is a hilltop town not far from Amalfi and Atrani.

As opposed to most towns on the Amalfi Coast, Ravello is more inland and therefore does not have access to the sea.

However, that gives it some unique characteristics, so don’t write off this charming town!

When it was founded in the fifth century, the town served as a shelter from barbarian invasions, due to its sheltered location.

Over the centuries, it attracted many artists, writers, and musicians like Virginia Woolf, Richard Wagner, Truman Capote, and Tennessee Williams, who admired the beauty of its villas and gardens and found inspiration here. 

The town of Ravello itself is lovely, with colorful ceramics shops, lovely squares, and beautiful terraces.

However, the main sights are the two villas, Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone. The first one, built by the Rufolo family in the 13th century, was owned by the Scottish botanist Francis Neville Reid, who restored the gardens.

The villa and its beautiful gardens served as inspiration for Richard Wagner and are now the setting of the Ravello Festival, a classical music festival that takes place every year between July and September. 

Villa Cimbrone is mostly famous for its beautiful terrace overlooking the sea, Terrazza dell’Infinito.

However, it features beautiful gardens, marble statues, cloisters and courtyards, as well as a bar, a restaurant, and a tearoom.

Go during the day or, even better, in the evening to watch the sunset from the terrace!

Where to Stay in Ravello:

 BUDGET | Sea View Ravello is a great place to stay on the Amalfi Coast if your budget is a bit tight but you still want to enjoy a sea view with a balcony. This little B&B is close to the town centers of Ravello and Scala, as well as Minori Beach on the coast. The rooms are designed with white and blue — like a cloud-streaked sky — with their own sea view terrace!
 Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

MID-RANGE | La Dolce Vita Ravello is a chic boutique hotel with studio and apartment-style accommodations. Each room has a private terrace to enjoy, a small kitchenette, A/C, and an en-suite bathroom. The rooms are decorated beautifully, with unique details like exposed beams and arched windows that open up to sea views.
 Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

LUXURY | Caruso, A Belmond Hotel is far-and-away the fanciest place to stay in Ravello! Enjoying stunning sea cliff views, this building has been renovated beautifully from its origins as an 11th-century structure. The hotel has an infinity pool, private terraced gardens, and beautiful history-rich interiors — fresco ceilings and original details maintained! The property also offers free boat excursions and shuttles to Amalfi and Positano.
 Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Scala

terrace hillside town of scala italy on the amalfi coast with buildings in white and earth tones and lots of greenery and mountains in the background

One of the most overlooked towns on the Amalfi Coast, Scala is thought to be the most ancient one, founded in 330 B.C.E. by a group of Roman families who found refuge here after a shipwreck.

It is believed that part of the population of Scala later moved closer to the coast and founded Amalfi.

Scala is not your typical Amalfi Coast town. This is the perfect destination if you want to be immersed in nature, away from the crowds!

Close to the town, you’ll find the natural reserve Valle delle Ferriere, with lush vegetation, rivers, waterfalls, and unique plants, like the Woodwardia radicans, a fern dating back millions of years!

Scala is very close to Ravello, so you can easily walk between the two towns.

In the town of Scala, visit the Duomo di San Lorenzo, then make your way to the hamlet of Pontone and check out the ruins of the Basilica Sant’Eustachio.

Where to Stay in Scala:

Note: There are few accommodations in Scala -- you'll find a lot more in Ravello, in the section above.

BUDGET | Palazzo Verone is one of very few choices in Scala, but luckily, it’s a great one! The accommodations here are simply stunning, like staying in a palace! The building is a renovated mansion from the 17th century, and they’ve kept as much of the original details while updating it for the modern age. 
 Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Minori

Conveniently located halfway between Salerno and Amalfi, Minori is a popular culinary destination, also known as the “City of Taste”.

The town is famous for a variety of pasta types and recipes, many of them involving the use of local lemons and other citrus fruits!

Minori is known for the ndunderi, a type of fresh pasta thought to derive from an ancient Roman recipe. Other local types of pasta are ricci and lagane

But Minori is not just about food!

You can enjoy a day at the beach, check out the remains of an ancient Roman villa and visit the beautiful Basilica of Saint Trofimena.

Just outside of town, go for a hike on the Sentiero dei Limoni (Path of the Lemons) all the way to Maiori and prepare for more stunning views of the coast!

Where to Stay in Minori:

BUDGET | Casa San Michele is a charming B&B located a 10-minute walk from the center of Minori. It has A/C, WiFi, a flatscreen TV, and a kitchenette and en-suite bathroom in every room. The rooms are a bit basic, but the location and price are great for budget travelers!
 Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

MID-RANGE | Villa Anna is a stunning vacation rental, surrounded by citrus groves, perfect for a group or a family for an affordable price. The villa has two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, and an outdoor dining area on the patio. You’ll find a selection of board games and books to entertain you. Do note that there are 75 steps to reach the villa — but you’ll enjoy epic views if you can handle the steps!
Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Maiori

blue sea with hillside town and seagull flying above the water

Right next to Minori and very easy to reach by foot, Maiori is one of the biggest towns on the Amalfi Coast.

If what you’re looking for is soaking in the sun and swimming in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Maiori may be the best spot, with a long sandy beach, a rare feature in the area!

The seaside promenade in Maiori is a lovely spot for a walk, with several bars and restaurants to have lunch or a coffee with a view.

In the old town, climb up to Santuario Santa Maria a Mare to visit the church and enjoy the view of the town, then take a walk in the quaint Palazzo Mezzacapo Gardens

While Maiori may appear less picturesque than other towns on the Amalfi Coast, it’s more accessible, being mostly flat (great for multigenerational families and people with mobility limitations), plus it is less expensive than the more popular destinations!

It is also conveniently located roughly halfway along the Amalfi coast, so it’s a great base to explore the area without spending a fortune on accommodation! 

Aside from the actual town of Maiori, you can also visit a few other nearby hamlets, like Erchie, with its well-preserved Torre Cerniola and beautiful beaches like Spiaggia dei Limoni or Spiaggia di Suverano

Where to Stay in Maiori:

BUDGET | Casamalfita I Dogi is a quaint little B&B located a few minutes away from Maiori beach and 10 minutes from Minori. The rooms are clean and modern with updated details and a central location!
Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

MID-RANGE | The Regina Palace Hotel is a beautiful place to stay in charming Maiori, just a minute from the beach! It has its own swimming pool and garden area, so you can escape from the bustle of the Amalfi Coast and get lost in your own private paradise. The rooms are a bit basic but great for the price and location.
Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Tramonti

The name of this little village can be translated to “between the mountains” and it’s due to its location up in the Lattari mountain range.

The town of Tramonti is spread between many little hamlets across the hills and valleys, and it is considered the lungs of the Amalfi Coast, due to the lush vegetation all around!

Like all over the Amalfi Coast, in Tramonti, you’ll find many little churches and even more spots to simply admire the view of the surrounding mountains and hamlets.

Due to its mountain location, if you want to be closer to the coast and go to the beach, this is not the right Amalfi Coast town for you.

However, if you have enough time, it’s the perfect spot to disconnect, breathe fresh air, relax, and go for walks in nature with almost no other tourists in sight!

Where to Stay in Tramonti:

BUDGET | B&B Fior Tramontiis a great escape in the mountains, away from the busy bustle of the Amalfi Coast, but just a short drive from the coast. The hosts are very friendly and the gardens are a wonderful place to clear your mind after a busy day.
 Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

FARM STAY | Il Raduno offers a unique way to stay in the Amalfi Coast, located on a working farm with vineyards of its own! It is a bit far — about 30 minutes’ drive up a mountain — but the on-site restaurant is amazing and the property is so cute that you’ll love the escape!
 Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Cetara

small fishing boats on the beach, a few small palm trees, yellow and brown buildings on the edge of the sea in a cute amalfi coast town

An old and picturesque fishing village, Cetara is one of the most traditional and authentic villages on the Amalfi Coast!

Drawing fewer crowds than other towns along the coast, Cetara is the place to go if you want to eat delicious seafood dishes, go hiking in the surrounding mountains, explore the lovely historic center, and spend some time at the beach — all with some peace and solitude!

Near the main beach and the harbor area, you can visit Torre di Cetara and climb to the upper terrace for a beautiful view of the town.

Further south, in the direction of Salerno, go for a swim at the pebble beach Spiaggia del Lannio.

If you have extra time, you can explore one of the hiking trails in the mountains at the back edge of the town, Monti Lattari

Where to Stay in Cetara:

BUDGET | Marinella Casa Vacanze may be one of few options in Cetara, but it is still a good option! The guesthouse is literally right on the beach and a short walk from all the town’s amenities. I’ll admit, the decor inside is a little strange, with some very intense and colorful mood lighting featured prominently, but it sleeps four at an affordable price, making it a good choice for families on a budget.
 Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

Vietri sul Mare

the charming town of vietri sul mare with beautiful rooftops, churches, sea, and coastline

The gateway to the Amalfi Coast, Vietri sul Mare is the first village you’ll encounter when leaving Salerno and heading towards the western coastal towns.

The town is famous for its ceramics, and you’ll come across many shops with beautifully decorated ceramic objects as well as a museum dedicated to this art form, Museo della Ceramica Vietrense

Visit the church of San Giovanni Battista in the heart of the old town and go for a walk in the colorful city park Villa Comunale Vietri sul Mare, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the coast.

Crestarella Beach is one of the most popular in town, and it even features an old watchtower that is now a beautiful wedding and events venue!

Where to Stay in Vietri sul Mare:

BUDGET | Casa Colombo is an affordable place to stay with sea views in the kitchen, living room, and bedroom, including a small terrace off the kitchen perfect for enjoying a morning coffee or glass of wine at sunset. It offers all the creature comforts you’d expect of a small vacation rental in a central location.
 Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

MID-RANGE | Octopus Vietri House is a great choice for a moderately-priced two-bedroom vacation rental, great for families or groups. It’s a 3-minute walk to the beach, the decor is really cute and modern, and you’ll also get to enjoy a fully-equipped kitchen, a patio, and a central location.
 Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

LUXURY | Due Relais is an absolutely breathtaking property located right on a sea cliff in Vietri Sul Mare, just a few steps away from the beach. There are terraced gardens, private terraces and balconies, and epic views everywhere you look at this charming condo-style hotel.
 Check prices, availability, and reviews here!

17 Cutest Villages & Small Towns in Portugal

Portugal doesn’t sit in the shadows of more famous European countries anymore. The country’s beautiful cities draw millions of tourists each year.

But, you don’t have to put up with the crowds in Porto and Lisbon if you want to enjoy Portugal’s fantastic cuisine, historic architecture, and multicultural vibes.

The Portuguese countryside is a paradise dotted with quaint villages and towns.

These 17 cutest Portuguese towns and villages represent the real insight into the Portuguese culture.

Note: These towns, small as they are, are often hard to reach with public transportation… they’re ideal if you are renting a car while in Portugal!

Marvão

Up high in the Serra de São Mamede Mountains lies a small medieval village called Marvão.

It is located near the Spanish border and has been shaped by Jewish, Moorish, and Spanish influence.

It rests on a medieval 13th-century fortress. Aside from rustic religious architecture, Marvão is adorned with immaculate, white-washed houses.

It’s historic relevance and beauty have earned it a spot on the New York Times’ “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” list.

Walking in the cobblestoned streets of Marvão will allow you to peek into the country’s glorious military past.

If you get tired of exploring Marvão, you can always walk to one of the castle walls and enjoy the enchanting scenery and top-of-the-world view from one of Portugal’s prettiest castles.

Monsanto

Villagers are proud to call Monsanto “the most Portuguese village in Portugal.”

It’s hard for visitors to tell whether that’s true or not, but every visitor can tell that Monsanto is without a doubt one of the most extraordinary places in the world.

The village literally lies on a huge pile of moss-covered boulders.

The picturesque traditional stone and red-roofed houses nicely contrast the town’s unique bedrock.

Monsanto’s streets and houses curve around the giant rocks. Some of the behemoth boulders form parts of buildings, such as doorways, walls, and ceilings.

Getting to Monsanto from Lisbon or Porto is roughly a 3-hour drive. It’s an ideal destination for a day trip.

But having dinner on one of the scenic terraces and staying at one of the cozy bed-and-breakfasts are good enough reasons to extend your stay!

Ponte de Lima

Ponte de Lima is the oldest town in the country. It’s also home to Portugal’s oldest villa!

For this reason — and many others — this charming and characterful small town in Portugal is no ordinary tourist destination.

If you visit the town, you may encounter a wave of pilgrims headed to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain, a famous and ancient pilgrimage site.

Ponte de Lima lies along one of the trails that make the Portuguese Way to Santiago de Compostela.

The pilgrimage is known as Camino de Santiago.

Walking the Camino is another great way to explore the towns and villages of the Portuguese countryside, and Ponte de Lima is a great example of that.

Twice a month, the town hosts a huge market. The Monday market has been held since 1125!

Walking the town’s cobblestone streets is a delight. You are sure to encounter many intriguing points of interest, such as the famous prison tower that’s been turned into a library.

Piódão

Piódão looks like a village that has never come in touch with the outside world.

This isolated village lies in a natural amphitheater of a terraced hillside. Its tightly-clustered houses made from schist have stood there for centuries.

Schist is a type of dark-grey stone that is typical of the Portuguese countryside.

To get to this remote village, you have to travel deep into the mountains of Serra do Açor, one of the thirty protected areas in Portugal.

Up until fifty years ago, the only way to reach this isolated village was by foot or on horseback!

Since then, it has become a popular tourist attraction, but stills remains an incredibly atmospheric spot.

Óbidos

If you grow tired of walking the streets of Lisbon, Óbidos is just an hour away. However, you can expect to encounter a fair deal of day-trippers!

So, it’s best to stay a bit longer if you want to properly experience the lit-up lanes, the calm sunrise, and the magical silent nights of Óbidos.

The town is also a great spot to enjoy the melancholic melodies of Fado, a form of Portuguese singing that can often be heard in cafes, restaurants, and pubs.

The town is filled with quaint historic churches and sumptuous dwellings. From the 12th century until the fall of the Portuguese monarchy, generations of Portuguese royals have funded their construction.

On your way to Óbidos, you can enjoy the idyllic countryside landscape comprised of vineyards and cherry orchards.

Sortelha

This charming place will bring you back in time, as the inhabitants of Sortelha have done a great job of keeping the village’s rich historical legacy.

It’s famous for granite houses built into giant boulders!

There’s also the 14th-century parish church adorned with Spanish-Arab ornaments and the age-old Gothic gateway.

Like many other Portuguese towns and villages, Sortelha draws most of its charm from its medieval atmosphere.

The village is located on top of a formidable crag. Sitting at an altitude of 2500 ft, Sortelha offers a breathtaking view of chestnut groves and granite boulders.

The top of the castle tower may be the best place to enjoy the mesmerizing landscape, but you’ll have to climb it at your own risk.

Elvas

Elvas is a small town in Portugal that’s nestled in a star-shaped fortification.

The town was once tasked with guarding an important crossroads between Spain and Portugal.

It’s unique shape allowed defenders to repel the advance of enemy attackers. Perhaps that explains why the fortification is still standing today.

The exuberant staff guarding the fortification is always happy to illustrate the town’s glorious past.

If you are up for an adventure, you may get a chance to explore some of the fort’s hidden passages (make sure to check with the staff).

The inhabitants still use the town’s ancient aqueducts for freshwater.

The beautiful cathedral in the Praca de Republica is another wonderful gem Elvas has to offer.

But many visitors say the best thing about this town is how quiet it is!

Not many tourists visit Elvas. If you want to avoid crowds and enjoy the city at the leisurely pace of the locals, Elvas is the place to be.

Castelo Rodrigo

Castelo Rodrigo is another small Portuguese town that has many historic stories to tell.

And, like many other Portuguese small town gems, the town is nestled on top of a hill.

The town castle wears many scars from countless battles that took place over the centuries.

Castelo Rodrigo is a much more peaceful place now, but it has retained its medieval charm.

Like Ponte de Lima, Castelo Rodrigo lies along one of the Camino de Santiago routes.

Monsaraz

Along the main street of Monsaraz, Rua Direita, there are dozens of 16th and 17th century whitewashed houses that retain the town’s ancient atmosphere.

The streets of the Monsaraz are perfect for those looking for tranquility reminiscent of days long gone.

But, if you want to enjoy a lively atmosphere, it’s best to visit in July.

Then Monsaraz becomes an open-air museum when visitors have a chance to get better acquainted with the habits and culture of the townspeople!

Lamego

Lamego is a Portuguese town wreathed in farms and picturesque vineyards, close to the Douro Valley.

It’s sometimes included on wine tours from Porto, but it’s worth a visit all on its own.

Its fine wine and Baroque architecture won’t leave you unimpressed!

Of all the riches the town has to offer, the locals will tell you that Lamego’s sparkling wine is one of its biggest points of pride.

But, most visitors come to see the breathtaking Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios.

And, to get to the church, you need to climb the 700-step centuries-old Baroque staircase. So it may be best to save the wine tasting for later!

Aside from its world-famous wine, the town is known for its rustic and meaty cuisine.

Castelo de Vide

Castelo de Vide home to one of the best-preserved and most important Jewish Quarters in the whole of Portugal.

Since the town is located near the Spanish border, many Jews fleeing persecution found refuge in Castelo de Vide.

The town is also famous for its archeological treasures and hot springs with reputed healing powers.

Many of its antique buildings date back to the 13th century. Its cobblestone streets are packed with red-roofed and white-walled dwellings.

Lovers of the Portuguese countryside are sure to have a field day in this charming town!

Azenhas do Mar

Perched on the rugged Atlantic coastline, this clifftop village in Portugal is perfect for a beach getaway if you can’t make it to the Algarve.

Aside from swimming and enjoying the lovely view from one of Azenhas’s terraces, there is not much to do in the village itself.

However, the surrounding region of Sintra has plenty to offer.

One can spend days exploring the fantastic castles and astonishing buildings in the neighborhood.

The intricate architecture of Quinta de Regalia, Monserrate Palace, and Pena Palace is sure to leave a long-lasting impression on every visitor.

Europe’s westernmost point, Cabo da Roca, is just a stone’s throw away from Azenhas.

Ferragudo

Ferragudo used to be a quiet fishing village in Portugal.

While it’s not so quiet anymore, it’s still a great place for those who’d like to take a relaxing walk along the mesmerizing bayside dotted with Portuguese fisherman’s cottages.

Even though the town has shifted its focus from fishing to accommodating visitors, it still hasn’t seen the worst part of tourism.

You won’t see any high-rise or neon hotels in Ferragudo. Instead, you’ll see a handful of local restaurants, cute cafés, and an ice-cream parlor.

Most are located near the town square, Praça Rainha Dona Leonor, which is the liveliest part of Ferragudo.

Santana

By now, you’re probably thinking that every Portuguese village is packed with white-washed houses with red-tiled roofs.

But this quaint little town on the coast of Madeira Island offers something different.

The traditional architecture of Santana is represented by the village’s triangular-shaped houses with thatched roofs.

Almost all of them look exactly the same, almost every house has a front door surrounded by three tiny windows.

Each traditional house is painted with blue or red trim on the windows and doors. Tourists are free to visit most of them!

If you want to get better acquainted with the culture and history of the island, you can also visit the Madeira Theme Park.

Nazaré

The lovely coastal town of Nazaré on the Atlantic has the best beaches in Portugal, according to the locals.

If you have your doubts, do know that many surfers and spectators from all over the globe agree with them.

This little fishermen’s town has become famous for the gigantic waves that hit the coast every winter. In summer, the place is packed with beach-goers.

But in spring and fall, Nazaré becomes a quiet fishing village where time stands still.

Nazaré is halfway between Porto and Lisbon (and a great stop on a road trip between the two!).

The main town is located on top of the clip. When the beach is crowded in summer, this is where locals spend most of their time.

So, even if you visit in summer, you’ll be able to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee or glass of Vinho Verde.

Almeida

Almeida and Elvas have many things in common.

This extraordinary example of a frontier town is located 10 miles from the Spanish border.

And similarly to Elvas, it sits in a monumental, star-shaped fortress, and this tiny settlement is home to about 2,000 villagers.

The whole place is classified as a national monument.

An underground labyrinth sprawls underneath the fortress. The villagers have turned it into a nice historic museum.

But, even above ground, there’s enough history in the air to make you feel like you have traveled back in time a few centuries in this scenic small town in Portugal.

Cerdeira

Cerdeira is an isolated art village located in the heart of Portugal.

This tiny remote village had been completely abandoned for decades, but in 1988, it was rediscovered by a hiker.

Soon after, Kerstin Thomas, the hiker that stumbled upon Cerdeira, spearheaded efforts to bring the village back to life.

Today, this cute Portuguese village has a small number of permanent inhabitants. It’s a great place for those who want to unleash their creativity far away from smartphones, computers, and other gadgets.

Cerdeira has just 9 guesthouses and one art and crafts center, Casa das Artes, where you can try your hand at ceramics or wood-carving in an authentic schist house.

About the Author:

Anna loves hiking during the weekend and has completed a few long multi-day hikes, including twice on the Camino de Santiago for 4 weeks and then a Camino route in France for 2 weeks. She also had the pleasure of hiking up Ben Nevis, all over Ireland, and her favorite hike was 3 weeks in the Canadian Rockies.

10 Phenomenal Things to Do in Faial, Azores

Note: This is a guest post by Brady Trautman of SV Delos.

Sailing across an ocean is a humbling experience!

Over the past ten years, I’ve been fortunate enough to live a lifestyle that allows me to experience the world by boat, crossing vast distances by the power of the wind, and experiencing a way of traveling that in my opinion, is matched by no other.

Sharing our adventures on YouTube aboard SV Delos, a 53-foot bluewater yacht has taken our crew to some of the most remote places on earth.

Over the years we have had over 50 crew join us on our filming adventures. From tiny islands in the Pacific Ocean to far-flung anchorages in the Caribbean, Africa, and the Indian Ocean, we’ve visited places on earth that have inspired, exhilarated, and mystified us.

Our most recent passage saw us heading east from Bermuda, sailing 2,500 miles across the North Atlantic Ocean, arriving into the archipelago known as the Azores.

This sprinkle of land in the vast Atlantic Ocean, about 800 miles west of Portugal, offers sailors and intrepid travelers, a lush, volcanic sub-tropical wonderland, free of the many tourists, hassles and high prices found in mainland Europe. The island of Faial is the most central of the 9 islands of the Azores, offering those lucky enough to visit some truly memorable experiences.

This itinerary assumes you have rented a car in order to best explore Faial. If not, you’ll likely need to hire a taxi to take you around the island; however, it’s much cheaper to rent a car in the Azores.

Not sure where to get the best deal on your rental? I’ve rented cars dozens of times through various search engines and have settled on Discover Cars as the best car rental search engine – it searches over 500 trusted rental companies to find the cheapest price for your rental! Compare prices for car rental in Faial here.

Here are the best things to do in Faial, Azores!

Visit the Horta Marina 

The Horta Marina is perhaps the most famous in all the Azores.

Throughout the centuries, boats making their way across the Atlantic would find refuge in her sheltered waters after many days at sea, and after encountering some pretty gnarly conditions during our passage from Bermuda, we were keen to do the same.

Stepping onto the dock, the first thing we noticed were the murals that adorn almost every surface of the marina. Hand-painted logos left by previous sailors who had made the long journey across the North Atlantic, only enriched the experience of stepping onto land after so long at sea.

It became quickly apparent that the residents of this marina were a little different from those we had seen in the Caribbean, there were no flashy charter boats, just rough and ready ocean-going vessels, salty from the thousands of miles put under their keels.

As we walked the docks, the smiles and nods received from fellow sailors created an undoubted feeling of kinship, we had all arrived by sea, travelling across the globe in our tiny boats, eliciting wind from mother nature while desperately hoping we didn’t encounter her full wrath. 

Have a drink at Peter’s Bar

Landfall in Horta means a visit to Peter’s Cafe Sport (bar), a famous establishment run by generations of a Portuguese family.

The atmosphere is rich, the food and drink plentiful and the service welcoming. Horta’s history as a whaling town becomes obvious in the photographs, carvings, and unforgettable scrimshaw that adorns the bar’s walls. 

Scrimshaw, which is intricately carved ivory whales teeth, are truly works of art. Hauntingly beautiful pictures of tall ships, sunsets, wives, and newborn babies so delicately and painstakingly inscribed, bought, and sold in days of old as a way for the whalers to make money.

Although the whaling industry is long gone, its impact on Faial is long-lasting, and the local whaling museum found upstairs, gives a real insight into how these starving farmers could make a living. It was hard to decide what was more enjoyable, drinking beer with the Portuguese locals, swapping stories with other yachties or marveling at the bar’s paraphernalia.

Check out the vista at Capelinhos

Faial has one of the Azores’ most dramatic volcanic landscapes, located on the western peninsula, at Capelinhos. In the 1950s, volcanic eruptions created over 2km² of new land, this natural phenomenon caused massive damage to the environment and triggered a wave of emigration, as locals fled to America after losing their homes and livelihood.

The volcanic slopes can be observed from a viewing platform perched high on a cliff. Looking out at this baron otherworldly landscape, with the ocean pounding the rock face, is a reminder of nature’s power and beauty.

Observing what was probably the newest piece of the earth the Delos crew had ever seen was a reminder that Mother Nature is still doing her thing. The history of the volcano is well documented, and the Capelinhos Interpretation Centre, a building constructed entirely underground, has detailed exhibits that explain its formation, as well as how volcanoes around the world develop and the history of the lighthouse that towers over the center, which can be climbed for another viewpoint.

Join the locals at Porto do Comprido

When the sub-tropical sun is out, and the breeze is warm, the locals head to Porto do Comprido, a natural swimming pool formed in the jagged volcanic rock nearby.

This spot is a photographer’s dream, with the contrast of water, rocks, cliffs, and the lighthouse providing a perfect backdrop. Slipping into the cool Atlantic water of the pools, as the swell slowly rises and falls, gazing at the coastline before you, is truly a surreal experience — just be sure to stay clear of the phenomenally purple Portuguese Man-O-Wars that inhabit the area.

These interesting creatures float in the water, their little sail in the air, hoping the trade winds will blow them towards their next meal, or an unsuspecting swimmers leg!

Marvel at the Caldeira

Visiting the Caldeira is perhaps one of the most well-known things to do in Faial. Located in the middle of the island, it is a two-kilometer wide, 400-meter deep volcanic cone.

This nature reserve showcases the rare flora species found in the Azores, and with stunning views of not only the crater but the towering Pico island to the east, it is one of the best vantage spots in the Azores.

On a clear day, high atop the Caldeira’s rim, you will feel among the clouds, watching the mist flow in as the cool moist air blasts your face. For those who like to get down and dirty, it is possible to take a trek into the crater, however, to protect the natural plant species, the local tourism authority only allows a limited amount per day.

There is also a slightly more forgiving goat trail along the rim of the crater, where every vantage point of this incredible natural showpiece can be experienced.

Experience the countryside while horse riding 

Something we rarely have a chance to do as sailors is to throw a leg over a horse and gallop through the countryside, lucky for us, Faial has some great horse riding opportunities for beginners and the experienced.

The first thing you notice when riding your horse along a trail, or any road in Faial for that matter, are the hydrangeas lining the roadside. In full bloom, it is literally impossible to take a photo anywhere on the island without a purple green and white bouquet in the background.

They cover Faial in their tens of thousands, only adding to the magic of this European wonder. The sub-tropical climate means the Azores is lush with vegetation, which keeps the local cows happy as they munch on grass in the stone-walled fields.

The views from the rugged clifftop coastline are intoxicating, the air fresh and the water blue. Our horses took us through trails we would never have known to walk down and was a great way to see the local communities and to learn about the islands day to day life. 

Try your hand at surfing

The Azores Islands are well known among the surfing community for their uncrowded volcanic point breaks. Since safe anchorages or marinas are usually at the opposite end of the island than the surf breaks, you definitely have to put in the work to catch waves as a sailor in the Azores.

The time of year for surfing is from September to December, by constantly watching the weather and waiting for a low-pressure system to roll across the North Atlantic, you will have an opportunity to find the swell. The ideal time to jump in the water is just after a low swings past so the wind will switch to offshore.

Entry into the water can be tricky, having to jump off rocks and inevitably scramble back up them. There are also the ever-present Portuguese Man of Wars to be dodged!

Each surf is a challenging but rewarding mission that usually starts with walking a few hours uphill and often ends by sleeping in the rain on the beach. Anyone reading this may call us surfers crazy for going through all this trouble just to catch a wave, but for us, the challenge is all part of the adventure.

Hiking with surfboards and friends, catching rides with locals, exercising our bodies, acquiring some simple scars along the way all make for a good story. The moments when you find yourself in glassy water with chest high waves, offshore winds, and your buddies by your side makes it all worth it. 

Experience shark diving

The Azores is known as Europe’s premier whale watching destination. With pristine waters that descend to the black depths of the deep, whale and dolphin sightings are common, however, we were keen to do something a little different, diving with blue sharks!

After meeting up with one of the local dive shops, we organized a crew to take us out to an area known for mako and blue shark sightings. With our guide chumming the water to get the scent of blood out there (a practice we don’t necessarily agree with) the sharks soon turned up.

Diving with these amazing creatures in the clear cool Azorean waters was phenomenal. The blue sharks looked like 6 feet long puppy dogs, playful and inquisitive, not like the hammerheads and bull sharks we had experienced in other parts of the world. Watching these sublime creatures glide through the water was a massive rush.

Go scuba diving

Faial is known for some incredible diving, and it didn’t disappoint. Another area just off the coast of Faial is the Princess Alice Bank, a spot where the ocean floor rises and the water is only 35 meters deep.

Scuba diving here has a very different feel than close to shore, with open water all around and nothing but you and a few other dive boats, it’s a rare spot.

The 45 mile trip to this location was well worth the effort, as we found ourselves diving with massive manta rays as big as a dining room table.

In 100 meters of clear blue water, among a school of thirty of these graceful creatures gliding past, seemingly unknowing of our existence and with only the sound of air bubbles rising from our scuba tanks, it was impossible to not feel totally at peace. 

Take a quick visit to Pico

Although not technically on the island of Faial, it is impossible to avoid the allure of the neighboring island of Pico.

The incredibly high peak of this volcanic beauty, which rises almost 8,000 feet out of the ocean and is Portugal’s highest point, is not easily missed.

A very short ferry trip across the channel from Faial brings you to this towering beauty, which can be hiked but is not for the faint-hearted, taking 5 to 7 hours depending on your fitness level.

After registering with the authorities at the base of the mountain, and receiving our GPS trackers so they could track our whereabouts, we were free to explore the steep slopes.

It is possible to pitch a tent in the crater of the volcano and stay the night, and even though it wasn’t the most comfortable thing to do, the evening sunset and the morning sunrise were spectacular, well worth the effort of lugging a tent and filming gear to the summit.

Looking out over the clouds, a perfect view of Faial and the vast Atlantic Ocean reminded us of the reason we travel far and wide over this incredible blue planet. 

***

The Azores is a place that has something to offer everyone, the Portuguese people are proud of their islands, their culture, and their long history. It’s obvious to anyone visiting this archipelago that the natural environment plays an important part of life here, and the people have done an amazing job of integrating society with it.

Although there are plenty of cafes, shops, and buildings, they are built in a way that ties them to the land, often created from stone and wood. The pace of life is slower, and people take the time to enjoy life’s little treats, like sharing a coffee with friends, enjoying a view or swimming in the volcanic pools.

If you decide to travel to the Azores, you will not find white sandy beaches with coconut trees, but you will find a lush, subtropical, volcanic paradise largely unspoilt by human interaction. 

About the Author

Joining Delos in 2010, Brady Trautman brings an essential element to the Delos brand.  With his easy-going vibe, infectious smile, and quick wit, he ensures laughter and love are felt by all those around him. Originally from Florida, Brady studied environmental engineering before making the transition to full-time sailing.

Brady’s skills in marketing, video editing and qualifications as a Dive Master, Dive Instructor and Rescue Diver have played a huge part in keeping Delos in the top echelon of YouTube sailing channels, all the while inspiring others to follow their dreams. With his charismatic personality, he is at home around people, no matter where in the world he is, he will find a way to connect with others and share the Delos love. You can follow Brady on Facebook and Instagram.

13 Best Small Towns In North Carolina: Getaway Ideas in the Mountains and on the Coast!

North Carolina is a state steeped in culture and art, located in the Southeast of the United States.

The state is popular for its natural beauty and hiking, historic small towns, and stunning beaches on the Outer Banks.

From dense forests to coastal small towns, there’s a lot to explore on your next North Carolina getaway!

These small towns in North Carolina make for a terrific weekend escape for families or couples.

Here are North Carolina’s best small towns for your next trip!

The Best Small Towns in North Carolina

Blowing Rock

Image credit: Peter Miller via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Population: 1,163

Located in Western North Carolina, Blowing Rock is one of the best small towns to visit in North Carolina — it’s a must-visit on any Blue Ridge Parkway road trip!

In this town, you’ll be able to explore beautiful waterfalls and trails. The best way to explore this town’s scenic beauty is on foot, so you can appreciate its beauty the slow way.

Exploring some of the hiking trails that traverse through the Blue Ridge Mountains is a can’t-miss while visiting Blowing Rock!

The Glen Burney Trail is a beautiful 2.3-mile out-and-back trail that descends to an antique trail that crosses through pine greenery and leads to views of three magnificent waterfalls – Cascades, Glen Burney Falls, and Glen Marie Falls.

This trail has more than 650 feet of elevation gain in its short distance, so it’s considered a moderate hike. Bring some sturdy hiking shoes!

Aside from hiking, you can also find Sky Valley Zip Tours, which offers zip lines, cliff leaping, and a 120-foot-long swinging bridge — perfect for travelers with a daring spirit.   

Visiting Blowing Rock in the winter? Appalachian Ski Mountain offers a wide range of winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating for people who prefer a little less adrenaline in their winter sports!

But of course, while Blowing Rock is best-known for its outdoor activities, there is plenty to do in this beautiful small town itself.

If you’d like to explore this town’s architecture, we highly recommend visiting the Flat Top Manor. Aristocrat Moses Cone built and owned this medieval house, and you can visit it today.

The impressive mansion is perched above a hill, encircled by some breathtaking views, including Bass Lake. You can stroll the grounds for a few hours, and then picnic adjacent to Bass Lake.

Where to Stay in Blowing Rock

For an exclusive destination perfect for a luxury-inclined traveler, Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock is located in a beautiful natural landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains!

The resort’s proximity to Chetola Lake, as well as its access to a world-class tennis court and other outdoor activities, make it a popular destination for those who love to explore. The resort has top amenities to ensure a comfortable stay for all its guests.

Check rates and availability here!

Banner Elk

Image credit: Mark Clifton via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Population: 1,332

Next on our list of charming North Carolina towns is the beautiful Banner Elk.

Banner Elk is considered one of the highlights of North Carolina High Country along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This is where you’ll find iconic Blue Ridge Parkway sights like Grandfather Mountain State Park, the Linn Cove Viaduct, and much more!

Additionally, the Linville Falls (just a short 1-mile hike roundtrip!) are located nearby just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

It’s also in close proximity to other fantastic tourist destinations such as Brown Mountain, The Orchard at Altapass, and the town of Little Switzerland.

If you are planning a summer trip to Banner Elk, you can cool off in the 13-acre Wildcat Lake, which is also a great fishing spot.

Visiting in the fall? You can’t miss Apple Hill Farm! More than just the name sounds, it’s not just an ordinary apple picking orchard — it’s also home to 21 alpacas. Touring the farm is a blast for animal lovers!

Planning a winter trip? Banner Elk is known as North Carolina’s top ski town. This beautiful NC small town is nestled between two mountains, Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain, with lakes and Banner Elk River views.

Where to Stay in Banner Elk

At Bluegreen Vacations Blue Ridge Village, an Ascend Resort, you can reach Sugar Mountain just a few miles away.

The resort offers mini-golf as well as a variety of sports courts. The spacious guest accommodations include free WiFi and full kitchens.

This is definitely your top choice when you visit Banner Elk!

Check rates and availability here!

Burnsville

Photo Credit: Patrick Mueller via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Population: 1,903

At 2,825 feet above sea level, Burnsville is a small town snuggled in Western North Carolina right by the beautiful Mount Mitchell.

It even has views of the Mississippi River from its highest point!

This charming small town is considered the hiking capital of Western North Carolina, and it makes a fantastic jumping-off point for hiking adventures.

When you wander around the buzzing downtown, you’ll see the Town Square where people love to gather.

Here, you can shop around small boutiques or buy a unique souvenir as a memory. Additionally, if you’re hungry, the Downtown area boasts towns of restaurants with lovely outside patios ideal for lunch. 

You’ll notice that many artists call Burnsville their home. You will find artists of every persuasion in Burnsville, from painting and sculpting to pottery and theater. You can also visit the Penland School of Crafts, which welcomes visitors to its gallery.

If you’re someone who is fascinated by looking up at the pretty skies and those sparkling stars in the universe, you might not want to miss stargazing at the Bare Dark Sky Observatory, located at the Mayland Earth to Skypark.

Where to Stay in Burnsville

Located in Burnsville, Terrell House B&B features is a wonderful property to enjoy a comfortable stay. Guests have access to beautiful rooms with a classic and elegant decoration that will make you enjoy a different kind of stay.

The bed and breakfast serve a full breakfast each morning and it offers barbecue facilities. Plus, you can enjoy hiking nearby because of its top location!

Check rates and availability here!

Beaufort

Photo Credit: Gerry Dincher via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Population: 4,343

Next on our list is Beaufort, at the heart of North Carolina’s charming Crystal Coast.

This North Carolina small town has an old-world Southern charm, complete with a rich naval history and all the adventure that comes with being so close to the Atlantic Ocean!

Beaufort’s scenic Front Street offers gorgeous views of the Taylor Creek and the small islands off the coast, like Horse Island and Carrot Island. You can take a stroll along the coast and take picturesque photographs of the view!

Out of all the things to do while in Beaufort, don’t miss a visit to nearby Cape Lookout National Seashore will show you an amazing side of the Crystal Coast that very few visitors get to experience.  

For history buffs, I also recommend visiting nearby Fort Macon, which was established in the 19th century to protect the coast during the Civil War.

Where to Stay in Beaufort

Inlet INN NC offers various types of accommodations for guests to choose from in a fantastic property that will make you feel right at home.

These include suites, rooms with king or double beds, or rooms with two queen beds and a beautiful sea view!

Check rates and availability here!

Hillsborough

Image credit: Doug Kerr via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Population: 7,115

Hillsborough has become a must-visit North Carolina small town, due to its vibrant arts and cultural scene, as well as its scenic splendor.

The beautiful architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries is just one draw to this charming town — but perhaps the biggest draw are the town’s events!

Hillsborough hosts several fun-filled annual festivals every year, which makes the downtown’s environment even livelier, with events like the Handmade Parade and Hillsborough Half Marathon Races.

Additionally, if you enjoy hiking, the Occoneechee Speedway Trail offers an easy hike with some spectacular views!

Where to Stay in Hillsborough

The Holiday Inn Express Hillsborough-Durham Area is a beautiful hotel with a variety of amenities to offer.

The hotel has an outdoor pool, a continental breakfast every morning, and a gym. All rooms are pet-friendly as well, so you can bring your four-legged friend!

Check rates and availability here!

Manteo

Image credit: Ken Lund via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Population: 1,950

The charming small town of Manteo is located on Roanoke Island, an area that is rich in attractions and historic places.

Highlights of visiting Manteo include taking a stroll along the Waterfront Boardwalk, admiring the views from the marina, exploring the town’s cute shops, checking out historic lighthouses, and more!

Manteo features a variety of tourist fun activities and is adjacent to some of North Carolina’s best beaches, so it’s perfect for a summer North Carolina getaway.

Some other popular attractions in Manteo include the Roanoke Island Festival Park and the Elizabethan Gardens.

Its Pioneer Theater is America’s one of the oldest single-screen family cinemas on a budget.

Manteo is an excellent starting point for exploring all the great things to do in the Outer Banks and other charming Outer Banks small towns along the road!

Where to Stay in Manteo

The Burrus House Inn is a waterfront hotel that offers incredible guest rooms with sea views and a cozy atmosphere that makes you feel comfortable and at home.

The Burrus House Inn is one of the most popular hotels in Manteo for its coziness and epic ocean views.

Check rates and availability here!

Bryson City

Photo Credit: Warren LeMay via Flickr, (CC0 1.0)

Population: 1,723

Next on our list is Bryson City, a small town in North Carolina. This city is a doorway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most popular national park in the United States!

The city is home to the beautiful historic Swain County Courthouse. The Heritage Museum is a perfect place to learn more about the region, located just across the river which splits the town.

Perhaps what Bryson City is best-known for is for being the home to the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, where you can take a ride on a historic steam-powered train through the beautiful countryside.

For some summer water fun, both Fontana Lake and Tuckasegee River in downtown Bryson City offer activities like stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.

Where to Stay in Bryson City

Stonebrook Lodge Bryson City is a beautiful North Carolina getaway spot! The lodge offers a variety of indoor and outdoor amenities for guests to enjoy, such as an indoor swimming pool and rooms with balconies.

It also offers easy access to Bryson City restaurants and tourist attractions, being in the heart of town!

Check rates and availability here!

Edenton

Image credit: -ted via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Population: 4,676

Edenton is a charming seaside town in North Carolina’s Inner Banks region.

Edenton welcomes tourists with special events and festivals like the Christmas Candlelight Tour, so if you’re planning to visit this place at the most magical time of the year, you’ll surely love it.

The town’s attractions include the stunning Roanoke River Lighthouse built in 1886, as well as trolley tours and bay cruises to enjoy the town by land and sea at your leisure.

Where to Stay in Edenton

The Hampton Inn Edenton is located in a top location in Edenton. It offers spacious rooms and suites so that guests can enjoy a hot breakfast each morning, as well as free coffee throughout the day.

One of its best amenities includes access to an outdoor swimming pool and even a picnic area to have a great time with family and friends.

Check rates and availability here!

Mount Airy

Image credit: Amy Meredith via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Population: 10,193

Mount Airy is the birthplace of Andy Griffith, and this town is low-key obsessed with him.

You can learn all about his legacy at the Andy Griffith Museum, or take a squad car tour where you tour the town in a historic police car touring sights from the Andy Griffith show.

In Mount Airy you can explore the famous Main Street on foot and explore the shops that offer Mayberry-themed souvenirs.

Mount Airy is also a wide range of eateries, and dessert shops selling a regional specialty called the ‘sonker’, which is basically a deep-dish pie.

Other things to do in Mount Airy include checking out the historic Earle Theater, tasting wines at the Old North State Winery, and checking out the Regional History Museum.

Where to Stay in Mount Airy

The Bryson Inn is situated in the heart of the town and offers its guests true Southern hospitality. All guests can enjoy cozy and comfortable rooms with a homey flair.

You can also enjoy many amenities such as a seasonal pool, a seating area, and its proximity to many natural attractions along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Check rates and availability here!

Dillsboro

Image credit: Gerry Dincher via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Population: 213

Dillsboro may be the smallest North Carolina town on this list, but it’s absolutely worth a visit!

It’s known for local art and craft scene, exemplified by the Riverwood Pottery and Dogwood Crafters, two of the best local crafts boutiques.

There’s even a chocolate factory in town for those with a sweet tooth!

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad also comes through here, and connects this town with Bryson City.

Where to Stay in Dillsboro

The Comfort Inn Sylva – Cullowhee is a hotel with easy access to top restaurants and family-friendly attractions like Natahala National Forest.

The hotel has spacious and modern rooms for families and couples that are looking for a relaxing getaway and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds this fantastic hotel.

Check rates and availability here!

Sylva

Image credit: Gerry Dincher via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Population: 2,687

Sylva is a magnificent small town in North Carolina treasured for its local restaurants, art galleries, great boutiques and bookshops, and cool breweries.

Yes, breweries, plural — this small town is home to four distinct breweries!

Innovation Brewing, Balsam Falls Brewing, Lazy Hiker Brewing are all on Main Street, and Nantahala Brewing Company is just a short walk away… perfect for a self-guided beer tour!

If you want an epic hike, challenge yourself to hike to the top of the Pinnacle via the Pinnacle Trail — a difficult 7.4-mile hike with a whopping 2,500 feet of elevation gain!

This town is quite close to Dillsboro and Bryson City, so it’s easy to combine these destinations on a small town getaway in North Carolina.

Where to Stay in Sylva

For a budget-friendly place to stay, the lovely Blue Ridge Inn is in the heart of Sylva right on Main Street, and it won’t break the bank!

It may be simple, but it gets great reviews from past guests.

Check rates and availability here!

Black Mountain

Population: 8,144

The charming town of Black Mountain is not far from downtown Asheville, and it’s been known as a haven for artists of all types for decades.

This call to artists is perhaps rooted in the history of Black Mountain College, which ran for just under 25 years but had a huge impact on the arts scene in its short duration.

Black Mountain is also famous for its many breweries, including Lookout Brewing Company, Oak and Grist, and Pisgah Brewing.

Where to Stay in Black Mountain

The Hampton Inn in Black Mountain is a fantastic hotel with a contemporary design. It has an indoor pool and the rooms are spacious with modern amenities.

Check rates and availability here!

Saluda

Image credit: Todd Martin via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Population: 891

Saluda is a mountain oasis with a charming historic downtown and nature.

Saluda is perhaps best known for being home to The Gorge Zipline — the fastest and steepest zipline in the United States!

It’s also home to Pearson’s Falls and Glen, one of the most scenic waterfalls in North Carolina and a must-see photo stop.

Where to Stay in Saluda

Close to the Gorge Zipline, the Saluda Mountain Lodge is definitely the best place to stay in town if you want to feel close to nature.

You’ll be in the heart of it all here!

Check rates and availability here!

The 13 Best Small Towns in Minnesota: Getaways from Minneapolis & Beyond

Whether you are planning a day trip from Minneapolis or visiting Minnesota for the first time, these charming small towns in Minnesota offer something for everyone!

Minnesota’s diverse landscape and unique culture is on full display in these 13 fantastic small towns.

This guide to the best Minnesota small towns was written by Erica Blanchard, a Twin Cities local. Take it away, Erica!

The Best Small Towns in Minnesota Worthy of Your Next Getaway

Grand Marais

A sailboat in the water near Grand Marais. Photo Credit: Aneese via Getty Images

Population: 1,332

Located on the picturesque North Shore of Lake Superior, Grand Marais is likely to be a favorite small town stop for anyone wanting to witness the natural beauty of the Northwoods.

The view of the Sawtooth Mountains meeting the crystalline lake water is really something to behold!

The town itself is chock-full of local shops, art galleries and cafes. The donut and ice cream shops are typically family favorites (we recommend Sydney’s Frozen Custard!), but there are plenty of crafts and antiques to keep adults happy as well.

If you are looking for more of an outdoor adventure, the Superior Hiking Trail provides over 50 miles of miles for all skill levels. It’s easy to spend an entire weekend getaway here taking in all Grand Marais has to offer!

For those willing to brave a little steep terrain, the Honeymoon Bluff Lookout located on the Gunflint Trail is a must see.

From the top, you are rewarded with a stunning view of both Hungry Jack Lake and Wampus Lake!

Where to Stay in Grand Marais

The lighthouse at Artist’s Point in Grand Marais, MN. Photo Credit: Susan Rydberg via Getty Images

Located right on the lake with stunning views basically anywhere you turn your head, East Bay Suites is a no-brainer for when you are figuring out where to stay on a Grand Marais getaway.

The outdoor deck area is the perfect place to spend a summer day and the suite-style rooms have everything you need, including kitchenettes and balconies, to enjoy your stay.

But really, what you’re picking this place for is easy access to the lake and those exquisite views!

Check availability and rates at East Bay Suites here!

Ely

An island in the lake at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Photo Credit: YinYang from Getty Images Signature

Population: 3,390

Ely serves as the gateway to The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, one of the largest off-the-grid and untouched wilderness areas in the United States!

The Boundary Waters is a bucket list experience for any camping enthusiast… and Ely is where the trip begins!

However, Ely is not just a stop before moving on to the BWCA; it has many wonderful sights on its own right, such as many museums and historical monuments to explore.

We recommend the Ely-Winton History Museum, which covers local history including artifacts from the Ojibwe people who are native to these lands.

Ely is also Home to the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center as part of its dedication to preserving Minnesota’s wildlife for future generations.

Where to Stay in Ely

water in the boundary waters canoe area near ely, mn a cute minnesota small town
The Boundary Waters in Minnesota with canoers in the distance. Photo Credit: Lawrence Blankenship via Getty Images

The charming A Stay Inn is the best place to stay in Ely, MN! This cute B&B has just about everything you need for a comfortable stay in Ely.

Enjoy the comfortable cabin-like environment, complete with plenty of board games you can borrow and a fireplace to huddle around at night when there’s a chill in the air!

The rooms are updated so that they are modern yet cozy, the perfect balance of rustic and comfort.

Check availability and rates at A Stay Inn Ely here!

Taylors Falls

The beautiful St. Croix River near Taylor Falls. Photo Credit: George Peters via Getty Images Signature

Population: 1,090

Just a 45 minute drive northeast of Minneapolis on the St. Croix River, Taylors Falls provides for family fun year round!

From biking and canoeing in the winter to skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, there’s truly never a dull day here, no matter the time of year or the weather.

The cliffs and bluffs that line the river provide a gorgeous backdrop for any trip… but in particular, the fall colors cannot be missed.

In recent years, Taylor Falls has also seen a blossoming live music scene — you can find more information here.

Nearby Wild Mountain Winery offers wine tastings and brick-oven pizza. You can also take a leisurely stroll through their vineyard. Their German-style ice wine is particularly popular with visitors!

Where to Stay in Taylor Falls

calm waters in the st croix river in minnesota with green summer trees and a cloudy sky
Peaceful St. Croix River. Photo Credit: jferrer via Getty Images

For a unique option of where to stay, check out the Old Jail Bed & Breakfast — yes, really, it used to be a jail!

This cute little B&B is set in a saloon that was in use during the 1800s, which even had its own adjoining jailhouse (I guess the saloon-goers were fairly rowdy!).

You can rest assured though that the comforts have been updated since then, and this is a lovely place to stay — think big cozy beds, not jail cots!

Check availability and rates on the Old Jail B&B website here.

Two Harbors

The famous bright red Two Harbors Lighthouse. Photo Credit: Nikitsin via Getty Images

Population: 3,509

Two Harbors was built on the export and movement of iron ore, a practice that still continues today.

From the first shipment in 1884 until now, iron has been transported from the harbor on large ships that then travel around the Great Lakes.

It should be unsurprising then that the water is what makes Two Harbors so special!

Spend the day walking the waterfront and watching the ships come and go. Agate hunting and rock skipping are also a classic pastime at Agate Bay.

Two Harbors also features a world class assortment of restaurants where fresh local fish is always on the menu! We recommend Lou’s Fish House and McQuade’s Pub and Grill.

After you’re done with your meal, don’t forget to visit the oldest operating lighthouse in Minnesota, Two Harbors Lighthouse Museum, which overlooks Agate Bay.

The stunning Split Rock Lighthouse is also gorgeous and worth seeing and is just a short drive north up the lake shore.

Where to Stay in Two Harbors

The split rock lighthouse on a cliff edge near Two Harbors
A historic lighthouse near Two Harbors. Photo Credit: John_Breuske via Getty Images

The charming Country Inn Two Harbors is a great place to stay if you’re looking to relax in nature while still having close access to town.

You can easily access some of the nearby sights like gorgeous Gooseberry Falls (just 13 miles away) while also having a place to return to and relax each night, making use of amenities like their pool, spa, and sauna.

Some rooms even come with their own hot tub — score!

Best of all are all the fun outdoor things you can do on-site, such as enjoying miniature golf or going for a hike in the summer months or snowmobiling or cross-country skiing in winter!

Check availability and rates at Country Inn Two Harbors here!

Lake City

Boats in the harbor at Lake City on Lake Pepin, MN. Photo Credit: JamesBrey via Getty Images Signature

Population: 5,261

Referred to as Minnesota’s South Shore, Lake City lies along the shores of Lake Pepin.

Fun fact: water-skiing was invented here in 1922 by Ralph Samuelson, and it remains a popular summer activity!

The large and calm lake have made the town a prime destination for boating and fishing activities at the Pepin Marina.

There are a wide variety of festivals year round, such as the 100-Mile Garage Sale, Water Ski Days and Tour De Pepin Bike Tour.

These more specialty events and festivals are complemented by frequent street markets throughout the summer.

For those on the hunt for a truly unique experience, Eagle Hang Gliding offers a chance to really fly!

A specialty boat launches you into the sky to take in the beauty of Lake Pepin on a hang glider. Perhaps not for the faint of heart, but certainly a once in a lifetime experience for those brave enough!

Oh, and if you’re a fan of The Little House on the Prairie, be sure to check out the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in town!

Where to Stay in Lake City

Another angle of boats in the harbor in Lake City. Photo Credit: JamesBrey via Getty Images Signature

For a charming place to stay in Lake City, look at the Harbor Hill Inn downtown.

This cute little guesthouse is located in a 19th-century Victorian building, just one block from the marina, so you can be waterfront in a matter of minutes!

The rooms have that typical Victorian B&B charm with vintage furnishings and an elegant but comfortable atmosphere.

Check availability and rates at Harbor Hill Inn’s website!

Lindstrom

The coffee pot water tower in Lindström, MN. Photo Credit: Doug Kerr via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Population: 4,614

Lindstrom, also known as “America’s Little Sweden”, is one of the cutest small towns in Minnesota. It can be easily identified by its iconic coffee pot water tower!

Founded in 1894 by Swedish immigrants, the town has retained and embraced their Swedish heritage.

There is a historical walking tour and the Swedish Heritage Museum for those interested in digging into the storied past of the area.

In the summer they host Harmony in the Park, a popular concert series. Also taking place during the summer months, Karl Oskar Days is a Swedish festival with activities ranging from local shopping to a car show.

Those looking to find out more about the Scandinavian and Swedish influences present throughout Minnesota will love it here.

Lindstrom offers a perfect balance of culture and history that will delight any Minnesota small town aficionado!

Where to Stay in Lindstrom

Statues in a small park in Lindström, MN. Photo Credit: Doug Kerr via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

There aren’t too many choices in Lindstrom, but nearby Chisago City just a five-minute drive away has a handful of good options!

The best option there is the AmeriVu Inn & Suites, which offers a variety of spacious rooms. Some have a couch and TV area to relax in; others have a relaxing hot tub in the suite itself!

Several rooms are designated as ADA disability access rooms, making it a great choice for travelers with accessibility needs.

Check rates and availability here!

Pipestone

Population: 4,092

The rocks at Pipestone National Monument. Photo Credit: John_Brueske via Getty Images

This town is home to Pipestone National Monument. More than 23 Native American tribes have historical ties to the quarry, which has served as a quarry for sacred red pipestone for generations.

The stone that is mined there is then carved into pipes and used in prayer, and it has also been used as a slate for petroglyphs, many of which you can still see at the National Monument.

Due to the nature of the red pipestone and its uses, this area is a very sacred space for many. As a result, it’s a great place to learn about the traditions and history of Native American peoples across the Midwest.

Beyond its national monument, the charming small town itself has a number of beautifully preserved historical homes and buildings.

Leaning in to the rumors of these old buildings being haunted, the city even hosts a ghost walk where a costumed guide details the spooky side of Pipestone history!

Where to Stay in Pipestone

The historic courthouse in Pipestone, MN. Photo Credit: jferrer via Getty Images

Love historic accommodations? Pipestone is your perfect Minnesota small town for that!

The charming Historic Calumet Inn is a fantastic place to stay the night for an overnight getaway or a weekend trip.

Not only is it set in a historic building, but the rooms feature vintage historic furniture that will make you feel transported back in time — though you can still enjoy modern amenities like a jacuzzi tub or flatscreen TV!

Check rates and availability here!

Excelsior

The main street of Excelsior, MN. Photo Credit: Greg Gjerdingen via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Population: 2,434

Excelsior is a little slice of paradise and you barely even have to leave the Twin Cities!

Located on the large and popular Lake Minnetonka, the city caters to boating and fishing hobbyists year round.

If you don’t have your own boat, hop on a dinner cruise or even the steam powered Steamboat Minnehaha.

As the shores of the lake are lined with large and extravagant homes, you’ll get an architectural tour thrown in for free!

Excelsior has excellent boutique restaurants, including some of our favorites, Coalition for New American upscale dining, Red Sauce Rebellion for exquisite Italian food, and Olive’s Fresh Pizza Bar for a fantastic slice.

Don’t forget to finish it up with a few fantastic beers from Excelsior Brewing!

You could spend many happy summer nights here looking out onto the water with a drink in hand.

Where to Stay in Excelsior

Views at Excelsior Bay near Minneapolis. Photo Credit: akaplummer via Getty Images

Excelsior is too small of a Minnesota town to have a ton of accommodation choices, but look just 3 miles out at Chanhassen and accommodations abound!

The best place to stay in Chanhassen just a stone’s through from charming Excelsior is The Country Inn & Suites.

This lovely hotel has a gorgeous lodge-like atmosphere in its common areas and wonderful shared amenities like an indoor pool and fitness area, plus a fantastic on-site restaurant.

Meanwhile, the rooms are spacious with comfortable beds and convenient perks like working areas and electric fireplaces!

Check rates and availability here!

Grand Rapids

The Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN. Photo Credit: Joe Passe via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Population: 11,165

Grand Rapids’ main claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Judy Garland, but the town has so much more to offer once you scratch the surface!

The Judy Garland Museum displays an authentic pair of the ruby slippers worn by Judy in The Wizard of Oz!

Fun fact: the slippers were actually stolen in 2005 and not recovered until 2018! The fascinating (and bizarre) history of the slippers and the theft is explained at the museum exhibit.

Looking for a small town Minnesota getaway in winter? Grand Rapids is the premier destination for winter trail sports and ice fishing!

There are hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails carved every winter that allow exploration of the Northwoods beauty.

The Tioga Recreation Area has more than 25 miles of multi level mountain biking trails for winter riding.

Where to Stay in Grand Rapids

The Pokegama Dam near Grand Rapids, MN. Photo Credit: rruntsch via Getty Images

The lovely small MN town of Grand Rapids has quite a bit to offer in terms of where to stay! Being one of the larger small towns on this list, there are several options.

The best, in my opinion, is I M Hotel by Timberlake. In addition to enjoying good reviews, it also has a lot of amenities and perks for all travelers to enjoy, such as flat-screen TVs, A/C, additional seating areas, and more.

Plus, the hotel grounds are gorgeous, with gardens blooming with flowers everywhere in spring and summer!

Check rates and availability here.

Park Rapids

The Park Rapids Visitor Center. Photo Credit: Tony Webster via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Population: 4,054

Park Rapids is where the mighty Mississippi begins, so of course, you can’t miss this important and historic Minnesota town!

The headwaters of the Mississippi River are located in Itasca State Park, which is a beautiful place for a stroll any time a year.

Half a million visitors a year come to see the beginnings of the river that shaped the industrial landscape of America — not bad for a small town in Minnesota!

The 49 square acre park also preserves old growth white and red pines, a symbol of the Upper Midwest landscape.

The Itasca Sports Shop inside of the park allows visitors to rent bikes, kayaks and canoes during the summer months if you’re craving some outdoor activities.

Park Rapids also features the quaint, quintessential Main Street that every small town needs!

You can buy everything from Amish furniture to local baked goods. Here, small town and locally owned businesses walk hand in hand to create the perfect Minnesota getaway spot.

Where to Stay in Park Rapids

The Mississippi headwaters where the river begins. Photo Credit: skhoward via Getty Images

Just a 10-minute walk from the river, the fun and funky C’mon Inn is a great place to stay in Park Rapids, MN!

On-site perks include an indoor swimming pool and hot tub and spacious comfortable common areas.

The rooms aren’t particularly modern in terms of decor, but they are spacious and have perks like large plasma TVs and iPod docking stations so you can enjoy your music in the comfort of your own room.

Check availability and rates here!

Lanesboro

The Lanesboro Dam in autumn. Photo Credit: Steven Gaertner via Getty Images

Population: 673

Founded in 1856, Lanesboro is quite old by Midwestern standards!

It thrived primarily as a small milling town until the 1970s when an old, unused rail line was converted to a bicycle trail.

That move would skyrocket tourism to the area, and that small change made Lanesboro the Bed and Breakfast Capital of Minnesota!

Lanesboro has put extensive time and energy into cultivating a rich art scene featuring live theater, art galleries and tours.

For such a small town, they have an outsized reputation for excellence in art and culture, so if you’re a fan of the arts, you better start planning your trip!

Lanesboro is also home to Niagara Cave, one of only two publicly accessible caves in Minnesota. The cave is privately owned and offers one hour guided tours in the spring through fall.

Traveling 200 feet underground in a gorgeous limestone cave, you can discover fossils that are 450 million years old!

Where to Stay in Lanesboro

Horse and buggy in the Amish Country nearby Lanesboro. Photo Credit: wanderluster from Getty Images Signature

The charming small town of Lanesboro doesn’t have too many options but there are a few vacation homes for rent in its neighboring town of Whalan.

One cute place to stay is the charming Bluff Country Retreat which offers a wonderfully private place to stay on 80 acres of gorgeous land just 7 miles from Lanesboro.

Its decorated in the typical log cabin style, with a kitchenette, charcoal grill, fireplace, and plenty of space to spread out and enjoy!

There are also outdoor areas like fire pits and patios to enjoy on beautiful warm days, and hiking trails to enjoy in summer (which become snowshoeing trails in winter!)

Check availability and rates here!

Nisswa

Buildings and a small boat in Nisswa, MN. Greg Gjerdingen via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Population: 1,817

Originally called Smiley Township, the town’s name was changed to honor its Ojibwe heritage.

The name of the town derives from the Ojibwe word “nessawae” (which alternately means either “in the middle” or “three”).

Surrounded by lakes that are plentiful with fish, Nisswa has become a huge summer destination for those looking for prime fishing.

If you are looking for a unique experience, the town holds turtle races every Wednesday through the summer!

Kids delight in guessing which turtle will cross the finish line first and root loudly for their chosen reptile.

The area is also home to 450 holes of top-rated golf. Several of the courses have been recognized nationally for their excellence.

Where to Stay in Nisswa

More boats out on the lake. Photo Credit: Greg Gjerdingen via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The stunning Bay Colony is a condo that can be rented out to guests within walking distance of innumerable lakes, including Gull Lake, Round Lake, North Long Lake, and literally dozens of others.

The apartment is ultra-modern and you can enjoy amenities like a gas grill and a fire pit with a view of the lake.

The apartment itself has a full kitchen area so you can cook your own meals — great if you want to save money or are traveling with kids who are picky eaters!

Check rates and availability here.