Cultural immersion is difficult when following a tight itinerary. For that reason alone day trips are so great. You can stay in Paris, or Dublin, or Barcelona and take a quick bus tour through a charming small town. But how much are you really missing out on by only spending a few hours in small towns? A world of possibility.
That’s why we think you should skip the big city and visit a small town.
We came to this realization in Germany, where we chose Munich as a home base to visit several Bavarian towns. We enjoyed our daily journeys by bus through the German and Austrian countryside. The landscapes were out of this world, the ride was comfortable, but something was missing.
So what did we learn from our visit to quaint Bavarian and French villages?
When planning your Euro-trip, plan to stay in a charming small town overnight for at least a couple of days.
1. Full immersion
Small towns are the best way to get a real, local experience. There are less tourists so not everything is molded for tourism, allowing for a more intimate experience.
Restaurants offer local cuisine served by staff members that will most likely speak very little English. As you immerse yourself in the language and culture, you will find that everyone is much friendlier and welcoming than in larger cities.
2. Untouched history
History is all around you, unaffected by industrialization or modern architecture. For instance, our hosts in Bayeux lived in the refurbished servant’s quarters of an aristocratic family’s palace, a building built during the French Revolution. We would’ve never seen or experienced that private little tour in a larger city.
Our residence in Bayeux itself was a convent back in the day, and our apartment within that residence was located at the top of a tower that was once part of ancient fortifications.
Everywhere you look, no matter what area of town you’re in, you are likely to be surrounded by hundreds or thousands of years of history.
3. Absolute tranquility
Isn’t the point of a vacation to get away from the hustle and bustle of our lives? Everyone’s favorite phrase is, “I need a vacation from my vacation!”
You won’t have this problem in small towns. The laid-back atmosphere makes it easy to relax. There’s no need to see a hundred monuments in a day, or make it to dinner at that famous restaurant you saw on TV. Your vacation shouldn’t be structured to maximize time and energy for the sake of efficiency – you get enough of that nonsense at work.
Just grab your favorite book and a glass of wine. Sit and listen to the chirping of the birds or the waves of the ocean or the falling rain. Meander aimlessly through a town. Appreciate the small details.
4. Cheaper lodging
Travel is expensive. Room and board can take a big chunk of your budget, but small towns are filled with charming Bed & Breakfast options that will not break the bank. Because the local economies outside of cities typically have a lower cost of living, your housing options will also be less expensive.
The best part is you could stay in unique and stunning structures that you would never find in a city – such as the former convent we called home for a few days in Bayeux. These places will generally always be cheaper than hotels and your experience will be far more personable.
5. Endless possibilities – No excuses
Outside of every major city are countless little towns waiting to be found. Rent a car and explore them.
These are just some of those charming small towns in Europe that are worth exploring:
Know of any other cool little European town? We’d love to hear about it!