Holiday destinations

12 fairy tale destinations in Europe you should visit with your kids

Last updated 19th December 2023

Fairy tale European destinations aren’t in short supply, but some places are just that little bit more enchanting than others. Take a look at our top 12 picks for magical breaks with kids all over Europe any time of year.


Fairy tale Colmar lit up for Christmas

12. Colmar, France

In between vineyards and water canals lies the enchanting town of Colmar. Prepare to be mesmerised by its colourful timbered houses, and ancient Alsatian history. Stroll along cobblestone streets, shop at local markets and if you’re around at the weekend, hang on until after dark when Colmar lights up and looks even more dazzling. Direct UK flights to Strasbourg take from 1 hour, 50 minutes. Strasbourg is under an hour’s drive from Colmar.

fairy tale European destinations Gruyeres Switzerland

11. Gruyères, Switzerland

Nestled in the mountains of Switzerland is Gruyères, a pretty medieval town where anyone could live happily ever after. Kids will like exploring its 13th century castle with its Knights Hall, fairy tale towers and stunning gardens. Traditional local restaurants serving specialities of La Gruyere add a little extra enchantment for parents. Bern Airport is an hour’s drive from Gruyères.

Take a look at more fairy tale European destinations to visit with kids

fairy tale European destinations Halstatt Austria

10. Hallstatt, Austria

Charming architecture, soaring mountains and a lakeside setting make Hallstatt one of our favourite fairy tale European destinations. There’s no better way to see all that this magical town has to offer than a ferry ride across the lake. Take a walk from the market square to see houses built into the mountains. And if you want a family adventure, follow the Echerntal hiking trail. Salzburg Airport is one hour, 20 minutes drive from Hallstatt.

Take a look at fairy tale European cities to visit with kids

fairy tale European destinations Ronda Andalusia Spain

9. Ronda, Spain

Sitting on top of El Tajo gorge, Ronda is largest ‘white town’ in Andalusia and a sight to behold. For a spectacular view try Puente Nuevo bridge overlooking the Serranía de Ronda mountains. Malaga Airport is an hour and 20 minutes’ drive from Ronda.

Take a look at more fairy tale European destinations to visit with kids in Spain

fairy tale European destinations Bled Slovenia

8. Bled, Slovenia

There are lots of reasons why Bled is a fairy tale, from its majestic mountains to Bled Castle, wooden gondolas called “pletnas” which sail on Bled lake and the famous little island which sits right at its heart. Legend says when the church bells ring all your wishes will come true. Jože Pučnik Airport in Ljubljana is half an hour’s drive from Bled. 

Take a look at more fairy tale destinations in Slovenia

fairy tale European destinations Sintra Portugal

7. Sintra, Portugal

Just outside the capital of Lisbon, Sintra is home ancient castles, colourful buildings, and an incredible history. Highlights include the vibrant Palácio da Pena, the climb to Castelo dos Mouros and the spectacular drive from Lisbon to get here. Lisbon Airport is 30 minutes’ drive from Sintra.

Take a look at more fairy tale European destinations in Portugal 

fairy tale European destinations Cesky Krumlov Czech Republic

6. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

With its grand castles and churches, terracotta roofs and quaint cobbled streets, Cesky Krumlov is one of Europe’s best preserved medieval towns. Visit in summer for long sunny days exploring the surrounding countryside or go for a magically snowy winter break with kids. Linz Airport is one hour, 30 minutes’ drive from Cesky Krumlov.

Find fairy tale hikes to take with kids in the Czech Republic

fairy tale European destinations Rothenburg Germany

5. Rothenburg, Germany

Rothenburg in Germany is the town which has inspired many Disney movies – you can spot its half-timbered and colourful buildings, clock towers and cobbles in classics like Pinocchio and Beauty and the Beast. If you’ve always wanted an authentic cuckoo clock this is the place to pick one up. Nuremberg Airport is an hour and 20 minutes’ drive from Rothenburg.

Find more fairy tale European destinations which inspired Disney movies

fairy tale European destinations Tallinn Estonia

4. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is known for stone towers, winding streets, spires and stunning views. Climb up Toompea Hill at sunset and look over the town below. Adventurous kids will want to scale the staircase to the top of St. Olaf’s Church, the city’s largest medieval building. Tallinn Airport is a 20 minute drive from the city centre.

Find more magical medieval places in Europe to visit with kids

fairy tale European destinations Castle Combe the Cotswolds England

3. Castle Combe, The Cotswolds

Often called the prettiest village in England, Castle Combe has been a location for movies like The Wolf Man, Stardust and War Horse. Nestled along its riverbanks lies St Andrew’s Church, which has a faceless clock that’s thought to be one of the oldest working clocks in the UK. Don’t miss an iconic holiday shot on the famous village bridge. Castle Combe is 30 minutes’ drive east of Bristol.

Take a look at the 20 most beautiful places to visit in the UK right now

fairy tale European destinations Dingle Ireland

 2. Dingle, Ireland

Tucked down on Ireland’s south west coast, Dingle is known as country’s ‘pub town’ (it has 50 pubs and a population of 2000). But it’s also enchantingly colourful, friendly and quaint, and surrounded by dramatic coast and countryside. Hike up to Peddler’s Lake for magical views. Kerry Airport is an hour’s drive from Dingle. 

fairy tale European destinations Eilean Donan Castle Scotland

1. Eilean Donan, Scotland

Few places are more fairy tale in the Highlands of Scotland than Eilean Donan. Charge your phone for photo opps and don’t miss the chance to explore inside the castle, it’s as high drama inside a out. Inverness Airport is just under two hours drive from Eilean Donan.

Find more captivating Scottish islands for family holidays with kids