Tiny Towns, Big Discoveries: 15 Must-Visit Small Cities in Europe

traveler shopping in the traditional market and thinking what to buy for souvenirs in Mexican street. beautiful tourist being attracted by the beauty of the blue sky. tourists standing in outdoor.

Thanks to social media, there's no mystery to where everyone is traveling these days. Instagram and TikTok feeds are full of trips to Italy, Switzerland, and Spain as travelers continue to burn off the remaining hints of cabin fever left over from the pandemic lockdowns. 

Even when you're on vacation, seemingly large cities can make you feel claustrophobic as tourists pack the tiny streets of Rome and Paris. Thankfully, Europe is full of tiny cities ripe for discovery. 

1. Sevilla

Sevilla, Spain - 20 April 2020: Sunny summer Sevilla street and Giralda tower
Image Credit: Arcady / Shutterstock.com

The original poster was planning a family gap year and looking to travel around the world. Part of their criteria was to stay for three months in Europe over the fall, and many replies suggested Sevilla in Spain. One commenter claimed the city would fit all of the poster's criteria and be gorgeous in the fall.

2. Ljubljana

Panorama of Ljubljana, Slovenia, Europe.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The capital city of Slovenia gets a sound endorsement from one respondent. They suggest that Ljubljana ticks every box, as it’s beautiful, green, walkable, and has cute bars and restaurants. The commenter also points out that the city is convenient for trips to Italy, Croatia, or Austria.’

3. Chiang Mai

Landscape of two pagoda on the top of Inthanon mountain, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

When discussing Thailand, thoughts will inevitably turn to Bangkok or Phuket, but our original poster looks for overlooked alternatives. One reply suggests the city of Chiang Mai, which they describe as beautiful and affordable.

4. Arnhem

Skyline Arnhem city with the Rhine
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While Amsterdam is considered to be a must-see (and rightly so), there is so much more to the Netherlands. One respondent recommends the small city of Arnhem and suggests seeing the open air museum which shows how Dutch people lived a century ago. 

5. Oaxaca

Oaxaca City, Oaxaca / Mexico - September 16th, 2018: Downtown Oaxaca Street Life
Image Credit: Kelli Hayden / Shutterstock.com.

While there may be some debate about whether some of these suggestions qualify as “tiny cities,” they are not the most apparent locations within their respective countries. That’s the case with Oaxaca, which many feel offers an insight into the authentic Mexico. One forum member recommends all the sights, along with Casa Oaxaca, which they identify as one of their favorite restaurants in the world.

6. Hobart

Dawn Hobart Harbour aerial
Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

While there are many must see destinations in Australia, Hobart in Tasmania offers something different. The hustle and bustle of Sydney is absent, and it’s recommended on this thread as a hub for Tasmania, which contains some of the most stunning wilderness areas in the world, and fantastic wildlife.

7. Ghent

View of Graslei quay and Leie river in the historic city center in Ghent (Gent), Belgium. Architecture and landmark of Ghent. Cityscape of Ghent.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

There are recommendations for the Belgian city of Brugge on this thread, while others side with the smaller location of Ghent. The latter is recommended as having a relaxed vibe. I would also add that Ghent can be less expensive than Brugge, which is much busier with tourists.

8. Dunedin

Frontal view of the historical Railway Station of Dunedin, New Zealand
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

New Zealand is an incredible country with the most diverse natural landscapes. The small city of Dunedin is recommended as a unique and remote experience, although the poster acknowledges that there may be some issues with public transport.

9. Edinburgh

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Image Credit: Herbert Frank from Wien (Vienna), AT – Edinburgh, Royal Mile, CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Those who visit the United Kingdom are more likely to seek out the busy tourist attractions in London. For a more relaxed experience, the Scottish capital of Edinburgh receives many votes on the forum. 

10. Hakodate

Aerial Top view of Fort Goryokaku with cherry blossom, Build for protect city from enemy in Star Shape. This place is a famous to visit in Hakodate, Hokkaido Japan
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Japan is another great tourist location, where many will concentrate on one or two popular destinations. Along with our original poster, we are looking for something less ordinary, with one person noting that Hakodate is an overlooked gem for international visitors.

11. Modena

Modena, Emilia Romagna, Italy. Piazza Roma and Military Academy building
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

This small Italian city is a must for lovers of fast cars. The Enzo Ferrari Museum forms part of the historic Motor Valley, and one individual also touts Modena as having lots of lovely restaurants in addition to being a charming old city.

12. Krakow

Wawel Castle during the Day, Krakow, Poland
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

As the fall fades away, the Christmas markets begin to appear, and these are a big attraction around Europe. Among many festive recommendations, Poland’s Krakow gets a big thumbs up, with one person also listing exceptional public transit.

13. Busan

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Busan
Image Credit: Mobius6 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

More than one location in South Korea is mentioned, but Busan is the most appealing. As one forum member puts it, Busan has easy access to nature, great food, culture, and the people there are also really friendly. Sounds perfect!

14. Munich

MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 06, 2014: Cityscape with bier houses and restaurants outdoors on Platzl in Munich, Bayern, Germany, September 06, 2014.
Image Credit: Pani Garmyder / Shutterstock.com.

While this German location may be verging into big city territory, Munich doesn’t feel like a busy destination. That’s the view of one respondent who said that they liked its vibe and it didn’t seem like a massive city. 

15. Funchal

Aerial drone view of Camara de Lobos village panorama near to Funchal, Madeira. Small fisherman village with many small boats in a bay
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While it’s the biggest location on its island, Funchal squeezes in because Madeira is considered to be a stunning, unspoiled tourist destination. One commenter sums it up better than I can by claiming that Funchal has a great climate, great food, nice people, and is all around a beautiful place. 

Source: (Reddit).

Author: Matt Harris

Title: Writer

Expertise: Sports, music, travel, food, trending topics