Five Fairy Tale Destinations in Europe
By Cynthia Graham
Europe is the best destination for fairy tale locations! With century-old castles and enchanting cities there are dozens of magical places to visit. One of the nice things about these locations is you can walk to many points of interest. Here are five cities from well known to off the beaten path.
1. Prague, Czech Republic
The view of the castle in Prague from the famous Charles Bridge, originally built in 1402, is a perfect way to start your visit. They say Prague is one the best-preserved cities in Europe. You will feel like you are on a movie set. It is easy to walk from one historical site to another along cobbled streets (no high heels please). Taking a river cruise on the Vltava River, you will see the castle on the hill and the colorful baroque buildings along the river.
Be sure to take the funicular up to Petřín Lookout Tower, where there is a smaller version of the Eiffel Tower. Hike to the top of the tower for some fantastic views of Prague. Return to the old town area, where you will find Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock.
2. Oslo, Norway
From ancient to modern, Oslo is a cosmopolitan location, and most locals can speak English. Visit the Akershus Fortressthen (fortress), built in the 13th century and then walk to The Sneak Peak (Tjuvtitten), which is a 90-meter lookout tower at Tjuvholmen with a glass elevator (admission free).
If you have time go to the Viking Ship Museum and Norsk Folkemuseum. Norsk Folkemuseum is an outdoor folk museum where over 150 historical buildings were moved into one place. It is impressive to walk through and see the history and how they lived centuries ago. Get caught up in the feeling of living hundreds of years in the past.
Walk from Oslo Central Station (train station) to the Royal Palace along the main street Karl Johans Gate, genuinely magical experience at any time of the year.
3. York, England
One of the oldest and most famous streets in Britain is located in York - Shambles. York has one of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe. The cathedral even has its own police force. As a medieval walled city, you can walk most of the way around, up high along the wall.
Clifford’s Tower, built in the 13th century, is a fun stop. Again, going to the tiptop allows you great views of the entire area.
Like most of the UK, York has a long list of great places to stop for tea including the famous Betty’s Café Tea Rooms, Earl Grey Tea Rooms, and the Teddy Bear Tea Rooms. Closer to the Cathedral (also known as York Ministry) you will find a small tearoom you can enjoy a cupcake and tea that is called Crumbs Cupcakery.
From the train station, it is a little bit of a walk .6 miles to the cathedral. But there are lots of places that may grab your interest to stop at along the way. As you cross the bridge, you will find many romantic shops and places to eat.
4. Aberystwyth, Wales
Aberystwyth is known for its graceful sweeping seafront and promenade. You can stroll for over a mile passing many points of interest. The castle is an Edwardian fortress built in the late 1300s.
When you are done wandering around town, head over to the electric railway. The Aberystwyth Electric Cliff Railway will take you to the top of the cliff with the best views and a café. Another option is to drive to Pen Dinas where there is an extensive Iron Age, Celtic Hillfort.
Vale of Rheidol Railway is a train with a steam engine and makes a loop from Aberystwyth to Devil's Bridge. This train line was established in 1902 and is a great way to see the countryside.
5. Edinburgh, Scotland
The castle is impressive, lording over the city below. Plan to spend a good half-day of exploring. You may want to wear a good pair of walking shoes when you visit this city, as it is the best way to see it.
Many points were the inspiration for JK Rowling’s, Harry Potter books. You can even take a free walking tour that includes seeing them in person.
There are two train stations in Edinburgh so be sure you know where you want to go before you head out. If your interest is mainly to see the old town, use the Edinburgh Waverley station. From Waverley to the castle is around a .6-mile walk, which will take about 15 minutes, if you are not too distracted by the many shops and historical places to explore.
Other Tips and Suggestions
A great way to see other locations is to take a Rhine River cruise. You will pass by dozens of castles and unique small towns. Many cities now offer free walking tours and are well worth taking. Yes free. At the end of the tour, you should be prepared to tip your guide. The tour will give you an excellent overview of the area, lots of history and fun facts. Now start planning your fairy tale adventure.
Contributor Cynthia Graham is a freelance travel writer and digital nomad traveling the world. She owns www.BlueBagNomads.com where she shares her travel tips and passion. Also, find her on Facebook and Twitter. Join girl friday here!