The Good Life
with a Southern Drawl

20 Most Beautiful Small Towns In The World

By Amy Bailey — March 03, 2015

There are some places that hypnotize our eyes and captivate our mind with their beauty. Their charm, their uniqueness, and their natural allure enchant our soul and leave a vision forever embedded in our brains. Here are 20 small towns located all over the world from Florida to New Zealand whose beauty will inspire you, and if you haven’t traveled to them, they should be on your bucket list.

ravello1. Ravello, Italy – Over and over I have heard people say that the Amalfi coast is “the most beautiful place in the world” and being a visitor to this magical land by the sea I have to agree. Sitting over 1,000 feet above sea level upon the hills above Amalfi, Ravello is one of the most breathtaking towns in the world with views that will have you dreaming of Ravello’s coast for the rest of your life. The multicolored hillside jutting into the deep blue sea is a vision I will forever be captivated by. My husband and I stayed at the Palazzo Alvino consistently listed as one of the best hotels in world. This palace of a hotel has incredible views and is close to the main piazza where you can find skilled artisans, potters, and delicious local fare.

valladolid2. Valladolid, Mexico – The architecture and the colors in this town are enchanting. Situated in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula, Valladolid is a truly unique town. Each Sunday night the town square hosts a festival with music, dancing, and fireworks. On the edge of town sits several cenotes, natural limestone sinkholes with endless water you can swim and dive in. If you are looking for one of the coolest places that you will ever stay in your life – book the one room, yes there’s only 1 room, at Coqui Coqui Perfumery. Atop the perfumery is a suite equipped with luxurious furnishings, a plunge pool, and a balcony overlooking the whole city. At 5pm the perfumery closes and you are given a key to whole place so you can come and go to your sexy hideaway through the perfumery.

telluride3. Telluride, Colorado – A snow blanketed enchanting mountain village that you have to go by gondola to get to. If you are looking for a winter wonderland that is straight out of a storybook, Telluride and Mountain Village are natural beauty, seclusion, and winter sports at their finest.

mykonos34. Mykonos, Greece – Greece’s most famous cosmopolitan island, a whitewashed paradise in the heart of the Cyclades set against turquoise waters. According to mythology, Mykonos was formed from the petrified bodies of giants killed by Hercules. The island took its name from the grandson of Apollo, ‘Mykonos’. Set out on a journey to discover a fascinating world where glamour meets simplicity. On Mykonos celebrities, college students and families mingle together to celebrate the beautiful Greek summer.

alys15. Alys Beach, Florida – A whitewashed paradise close to home, entering Alys Beach and its towering palm tree lined street you discover a luxurious, yet tiny beach kingdom nestled among bustling highway 30a. With every turn you find breathtaking architecture and simple yet beautiful landscaping. Equipped with delicious fresh food from George’s, unique shops, and the exquisite white sand beaches of 30a, Alys Beach is small and magical.

colmarfrance6. Colmar, France – The Alsace wine capital is the guardian of a lifestyle which you need to discover. It is the birthplace of the famous sculptor Bartholdi, father of the Statue of Liberty. A beautiful village in the heart of the city, the tanner’s district is constituted of high wood framing houses and half timbered houses, mostly dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The houses were used by tanners who worked and lived there with their families. Feel like you stepped right into a storybook as you stroll along the romantic streets and the canal created by the Lauch River.

stmichaels7. St. Michaels, Maryland – St. Michaels dates back to the mid 1600s when it was a trading post for tobacco farmers and trappers. During the War of 1812, St. Michaels gained its name as “the town that fooled the British”. The residents of St. Michaels, having been forewarned that British barges were positioned on the waters to attack with cannon fire, hoisted lanterns into the trees above the city. This first successful “blackout” fooled the British into overshooting the town’s houses and shipyards. Only one house, forever since known as Cannonball House, was struck. Today St. Micheals is as charming as ever – a beautiful sailing town with great food and a laid back atmosphere.

malta8. Marsaxlokk, Malta – Marsaxlokk village is located in the south-eastern part of Malta which is famous for its big Sunday fish market and its many decorative “eyed”  painted boats called Luzzus. The  village has around 3200 inhabitants and in the past, most of the inhabitants worked as fishermen. The name Marsaxlokk comes from the word “marsa” which means port and the word “xlokk” which means south in Maltese. Marsaxlokk has a small sandy beach on the east side, and stunning St. Peter’s Pool at Delimara is 20 min away by foot. St. Paul’s bay is excellent for diving, snorkeling and cliff jumping down into the natural pool. The smooth, weathered limestone ledges make good sunbathing spots at St. Peters Pool. and saltpans can be found here too.

catalina9. Santa Catalina Island, California – Nicknamed the “island of romance”, most people who live here on Catalina Island (there are 3,500 in the main town of Avalon) do not have cars. (There’s a 20-year wait-list.) The main means of transport is golf carts. But the best means is walking; to see the charming village on the harbor, with beautifully-restored homes, shops, and restaurants. Catalina Island’s landmark is the striking white Casino, an Art Deco treasure built in 1929. There’s no gambling, though; the building was actually named after an Italian word meaning “place of entertainment.” The 42,000 acres of Catalina Island’s vast interior offer great camping, hiking, horseback riding, and jeep eco-tours in a protected wilderness. You might see Catalina Island foxes, quail, bald eagles, and, of course, the buffalo. You can also experience some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. The best way to traverse these “twenty-six miles across the sea” is via Catalina Express, which departs from three Southern California bases. The high-speed boats make the trip in about an hour. And they offer upgrades to make your trip more relaxing, such as the Commodore Lounge or the Captain’s Lounge.

adare10. Adare, Ireland – Adare village is an architectural wealth of scenic beauty. The mix of centuries is blended into everyday life as some of the thatched cottages are home to arts and crafts shops. The main street of Adare is punctuated with beautiful stone buildings, medieval monastries and ruins and the picturesque village park. Adare’s streets are lined with original thatched cottages survived for hundreds of years. Some of the cottages are kept by local restaurants and Arts & Crafts shops, but many are still privately owned.

reinenorway11. Reine, Norway – Reine is a tiny fishing village on the picturesque arctic island of Moskenesoya with a population of just a little over 300, though it was rightfully voted Norway’s most beautiful village. Set north of the Arctic Circle in the Lofoten archipelago, this remote wilderness region features sapphire bays that sit at the edge of mountains and towering fjords. Many of the bright red rorbuer, or fishermen’s cabins, have been transformed into cozy visitor cottages with direct access to the Norwegian Sea and the mesmerizing northern lights.

bilburyengland12. Bibury, England – Often called England’s most beautiful town, most of Bibury still stands as it did hundreds of years ago. The River Coln runs through main street, while green meadows and beautifully kept gardens meet ancient stone cottages with steep pitched roofs. Arlington Row, is known as the most scenic area in town, with picturesque cottages all in a row built in the 17th century that once were home to weavers working at the mill.

sedona13. Sedona, Arizona – Ranked among the most beautiful places on earth by various editorials, Sedona’s naturally occurring rock formations jut majestically along the skyline to create a backdrop that is mesmerizing. The natural beauty of the bright red rock monoliths and seclusion of Sedona create a soulful wilderness that dazzle the eyes and soothe the mind. An array of resorts, spas, art galleries and boutique wineries are cradled amongst this geological wonderland.

muranoitaly14. Murano, Italy – An island in the Venetian Lagoon where glass has been made for more than 700 years. Murano Island today is a significant tourist attraction to those visiting the Venice area. You can get there by vaporetto, the public water bus or by a private motor boat taxi. It only takes about ten or fifteen minutes to get to Murano from St. Mark’s Church or from the Fondamenta Nuove. You will want to visit the Museo Vetraio, the glass museum. The museum is open every day except for Wednesday. Of course, if you want to see Murano glass in action, head on over to the Church of Saints Mary and Donato. This wonderful structure, which was originally dedicated to the Virgin Mother, contains a magnificent mosaic pavement that dates from the 12th century.

fairhope15. Fairhope, Alabama – One step into Fairhope and it is easy to see why it has inspired artists and authors alike. This charming town situated on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay was founded by a group of creatives looking for adventure and a “fair hope of success”. Today Fairhope sports a beautiful walkable downtown area, incredible sunsets, and the natural phenomenon of jubilees. Jubilees of the magnitude occurring in Fairhope only happen in two places in the world, Tokyo Bay in Japan and Mobile Bay. For a jubilee to take place, a very specific set of conditions must exist. They usually only occur in the summer, usually in the morning before sunrise. The previous day’s weather conditions must include an overcast or cloudy day, a gentle wind from the east, and a calm and slick bay surface. Also, a rising tide is necessary; a change to a falling tide will stop the jubilee. It takes a combination of all these conditions to produce the phenomenon that brings a bounty of seafood to the shoreline.

darling16. Darling, South Africa – The abundance of flora and natural wildflowers is undoubtedly Darling’s greatest asset. This small secluded town only an hour from Cape Town seems like it is a million miles away from the crowded capital. Darling is famous for its wildflowers and since 1917 the annual Darling Wildflower show is held by the Darling Wildflower Society. In 2006, the city launched the Darling Music Experience with the aim to organize small concerts in a rural setting for both lovers of classical and more popular music. The festival offers chamber music, popular choir works and Jazz, bringing together community ensembles and soloists with well known national and international musicians.

smalltowncelestun17. Celestun, Mexico – The unspoiled little fishing village of Celestun, on the Gulf Coast of Mexico, is also the mating ground for flamingos which means an endless view of beautiful pink flamingos wading the shores of Celestun’s beaches. You will find friendly people, a serene environment, a market place, and many wonderful oceanfront seafood restaurants. Walk for miles on the long untouched beach, collect sea shells, swim in the turquoise ocean waters, listen to the waves, be amazed by the breathtaking sunsets, and stargaze like nowhere else.

kaikoura18. Kaikoura, New Zealand – Few places in the world can boast of such natural wonders as those offered by land and sea in Kaikoura. The seaside settlement is the most northern district in the Canterbury region located on the east coast of the South Island. Remnants of the Maori and European settlement of the area and Kaikoura’s whaling history can still be seen today by visiting the Kaikoura Museum and the historic Fyffe House. Kaikoura is a mecca for seafood lovers, with lots of fresh delicacies to try. Local specialties include grouper, cod, mussels, paua (abalone) and of course the towns namesake – Crayfish (lobster). Other delights such as oysters, scallops and whitebait are available in season.

halstatt19. Halstatt, Austria – The village Hallstatt is such an unbelievably spectacular place that even the Chinese have created a copy of the ancient salt mine village. But only in the original will you discover this truly unique culture with such a history all in a breathtaking mountain setting. The market municipality was already inhabited in the 1st millenium before Christ.

paia20. Pa’ia, Hawaii – In the 20th century Paia developed a reputation for being the “Windsurf Capital of the World”. In recent decades, Paia has become a laid back town with local businesses and a coexistence between longtime residents and those attracted by the area’s world windsurfing.  The unique blend of shops, boutiques, and restaurants that make up Paia has become a destination in its own right, nestled along some of Maui’s best beaches and still surrounded by sugar cane, reflecting its heritage as a unique plantation village. The only place in the world you can find a surfboard fence.