The notion of postcard-perfect villages steeped in old-world charm has inspired centuries of travelers to fan out across Europe, seeking its secluded hamlets.

When planning a vacation to Europe, some of the first destinations that come to mind will be the teeming cities of Paris in France, London in England or Berlin in Germany. Each of these metropolises is incredible, but they are far from all that Europe has to offer. By exploring some of the smaller towns across the continent, it is possible to see a more authentic, traditional side to Europe.

If you’re planning an upcoming getaway to the continent, here are just a few of the most beautiful small towns in Europe. Pick a few to add to your itinerary to fully experience the very best of what Europe has in store for travelers.Reaching some of these European beauties requires extra effort, yet the rewards are dazzling. Your eyes will thank you.

Goreme, Turkey…This rather spectacular Turkish town (if you can call it a town) was established by early Christian settlers. All the homes here are literally carved into the rock. Best thing about the place? You can go on a hot air balloon ride over the place at sunrise.

Colmar, France: Colmar is home to a unique blend of French and German architecture and is the definition of a ‘true hidden gem’. Super colourful, trendy and cultural, there’s oodles to do in this stunning part of the Alsace region. Book your plane tickets now.

Ronda, Spain: Legend has it the locals used to throw suspected witches off the town’s famous bridge. Ronda is also home to Spain’s first bullring and is close to some of Andalucia’s prettiest beaches.

Bergen, Norway:Bergen began life in 1070AD. Surrounded by mammoth mountains and fjords, (including Sognefjord, the country’s longest and deepest fjord) it’s an ideal place for sweet panoramic views and testing hiking trails.

Hallstatt, Austria: This Austrian lakeside beauty has been continuously dubbed the prettiest lakeside town in the whole entire world. It’s also a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site.

Bibury, England: Ask anyone what they think one of the prettiest towns in England is and they’ll probably say Bibury. The small town in the Cotswolds is full of old world charm, pretty stone cottages and some of the most excruciatingly charming streets in England!

Annecy, France: Built around an enchanting 14th-century Chateau, Annecy is arguably one of the most beautiful little towns in Europe. Not only is the lake every Instagrammer’s dream, but adrenaline junkies can take a punt on the nearby French Alps too. Oh, and the food is amazing!

Zalipie, Poland: A colourful ancient village in southeastern Poland, Zalipie is definitely one of the country’s top tourist attractions – not because of its five-star hotels, but because of its small adorable wooden cottages, which are covered in tonnes of adorable flowers.

Eguisheim, France: You’re probably noticing that France is riddled with pretty little towns – they can’t help if they’re so good at them. Since 2003, this French town has been recognised as one of the most beautiful villages in the country. Think cutesy pink buildings, lots of flowers and very, very fine wines.

Oia, Greece: One word: Santorini – this should be enough to get you high off wanderlust. Nestled on top of a pretty epic cliff, Oia is a hotspot for spectacular ocean views and legendary sunsets. Oh, and who can forget the food, OH THE FOOD!

Sintra, Portugal: Sintra is just emotional – a real jewel in Europe’s glittering crown. Those who dare to lose themselves in its majestic historical heritage, luxuriant nature, cosmopolitan culture and gastronomy might just never leave the place. In other words, go now. NOW.