6 Picks: European Small Towns

Europe is a continent full of high culture, fantastic scenery and history. From Paris to Rome or from Istanbul to Amsterdam, there is no shortage of amazing metropoles that you will see described to the smallest detail in every single travel guide you could possibly purchase about the continent.

And truth be told, the main historic attractions across the continent do tend to cluster in and around these cities. But to really experience Europe, visiting some small towns simply has to be part of your itinerary as well. Travel Indicator is here to summarise all of these good places for you and make them easily searchable by country so that next time you go on a trip to, say, Germany, you can just use our database to conveniently zoom in on some of those must-see small towns. But for now allow me to summarise 6 of my favourite historic small European towns thus far have covered.

1. Manarola (Italy)

This place is a thing of beauty. You might have seen this village before, depicted on some website or magazine before as an unnamed spectacular village trying to lure you into travelling to Italy. Now you also know where it is - this is Manarola, in Liguria, northern Italy. Although in fact a tiny village, its stunning location and colorful buildings on top of a cliff overlooking the Ligurian Sea, draws many tourists here. The oldest building in town is the San Lorenzo church, dating back to the 14th century. Besides exploring the town, drinking a glass of the famous local wine and enjoying the sights of the city from the harbor, taking a hike to some of the other 'Cinque Terre' towns nearby is definitely a good spend of time. And be sure to take your camera, as you will be shooting hundreds of pictures.

2. Fuessen (Germany)

So technically we're cheating a little bit here. What you are looking at is in fact the immensely picturesque Neuschwanstein Castle that lies very nearby the town of Füssen. Besides just the castle(s) nearby, the town itself also has plenty to offer: The medieval Altstadt (old town) of Füssen looks like a romantic fairy tale with its colourful façade and cobbled streets, great coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants and shops. With its own castle, fountains, and churches it is a good place to explore for half a day or otherwise to use as a base for checking out the rest of the region, which is a great area for hiking, cycling or other active sports.

3. Albi (France)

Albi is a medieval town that lies in the French Midi-Pyrenees region. Situated on the River Tarn and largely built in red brick style so typical to the region, this town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.

4. Bacharach (Germany)

This town has a tiny population (under 2000), but is quite grandly situated. Overlooking the Rhine river from the hilly terrain that surrounds it in Rheinland-Pfalz here in Germany, this is an absolutely charming city to explore by foot. Main attraction is the Stahleck Castle and city walls as well as the general architecture in the village (think half-timbred style houses).

5. Cesky Krumlov (Czech Republic)

Scenically run through by the Vltava river that can't quite seem to make up it's mind on what direction it wants to flow here, this town is most famous for the old town center and the castle of the same name (don't make us write the name again, please). The old town consists of narrow cobblestone streets that are lined up with Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque buildings and some good places to eat and drink. The Castle dates back to 1240 and is exceptionally large for a town of this size as it is in fact the second largest castle in the country. It offers great views of the historic town center as well as the Baroque castle gardens.

6. Bled (Slovenia)

And finally there is Bled, a Slovenian Alpine city that can boast of fantastic natural surroundings in the form of lakes and mountains. Top it off with churches, castles and a national park next door (Triglav National Park), this is a great place to spend not a few days but an entire holiday, even.

Note that if you wanted to see more small historic towns that we have covered across the world, you can Have a look right here.

Introducing Presets

We are hard at work to improve Travel Indicator. Better performance, more locations, better compatibility with mobile devices, and so on. One part of the functionality of this website that we have so far not discussed are the "Presets" which you can load in the menu above.

Just to recap, you probably already know that we have the regular search functionality (accessible from the Home page) which gives you the ability to filter out any specific holiday criteria that you may be after. For instance if you are after a holiday with some adventurous element, mountains and beaches with warm temperatures within a 1000 kilometer radius, this is your spot to start closing down on places.

Next to the normal search we have the themes. Here you will find all locations that score 60% and upwards on a specific theme like adventure, romance or history. If you for instance think of Rome, you would obviously associate that with history. We want to aggregate other places like these under a single header. Note that once here, you can still filter on weather and distance.

Then there are the surroundings, which are a kind of themes as well but more focussed on the surroundings and environment of a place. Summarising, again for scores of 60% and higher, whether a place has beaches, forests, mountains, etc. For instance, if you consider a location like Boracay, it is pretty much a given that you associate it with beaches. We wanted a convenient way to group all of these places together, and the themes are it.

Finally, allow us to introduce the presets, coming in 18 different flavours as shown below this post. The idea behind the presets is basically to give you suggestions on holiday combinations that might appeal to you. In a sense adding some extra granularity to the themes and surroundings, and often combining them, or combining them with the weather. Give them a try:

(Surprisingly) Cheap And Expensive Destinations

OK, so we know that although we have started giving an indication of the average nightly rate of hotels for every city we cover, that is hardly painting a complete picture of the real cost of travelling there. The obvious missing component is the cost of getting there, and this is something we are at the moment still asking you, the visitor, to fill in for yourselves. Eventually we would like to address this by including the information as well, but for now we'll have to make do like this.

Nevertheless, even being able to compare the price of all the different locations along these dimensions is interesting. Some places are remarkably more expensive than you might initially expect where some are surprising in the opposite sense. Of course it should be noted that these prices do fluctuate quite heavily on a daily basis, but in general the rankings remain fairly stable. Prices below are as of 15 December 2013. and are of course going to fluctuate.

When scouring through the list of locations currently covered, the following 10 are currently the most expensive:


Who would have thought that seeing some wildlife in the Serengeti, or the capitals in the middle of nowhere of Bhutan and Kazakhstan would be so expensive to reach? And what about not-much-to-see-here Riyadh? We find a somewhat less surprising "cheapest" ten places:


So, all in all not too surprising. What is perhaps more so is how many premier southern European destinations find themselves near the bottom in terms of costs. If you are considering a budget trip around some renowned cities in Europe, consider touching down in the following:


Finally, if the north of Europe is more your cup of tea, consider Berlin (USD 115/night) or Riga in Latvia (USD 74/night).