At some point in our travel lives, we all crave a blast from the past. These gorgeous medieval towns sport castles, fortress walls, dwellings and more that were built hundreds of years ago, but still stand today. And they’re all easily accessible and welcoming to travellers.
1. Cochem, Germany
Going to Cochem is practically like stepping back in time. The Reichsburg Castle is the main feature of this beautiful town in Germany’s west and offers stunning views of the town as well as cultural events throughout the year.
Cochem’s Old Town will also take you on a grand medieval journey, with houses, defence towers, gates and halls all surviving from the 1300s onwards. You’ll find Cochem about a 2-hour drive from Frankfurt.
Must do in Cochem: When visiting the castle, book yourself in for the traditional medieval banquet, otherwise known as the Knight’s Meal.
2. Sibiu, Romania
The Transylvanian Saxons did a lot in Romania in the 12th century and building Sibiu was just one of them. The town rose to fame in the 14th century as a centre of trade, and today it’s widely known as a cultural hotspot and a stunning place to live.
Cobblestone streets and squares surrounded by medieval walls and towers are why Sibiu is worth visiting, but be sure to take in the modern sights too, like the museums and the Council Tower.
Must do in Sibiu: Visit the Astra Museum of Traditional Folk Civilisation for your chance to see traditional Romanian houses, windmills and churches.
3. Manarola, Italy
Seaside medieval villages rarely get more colourfully impressive than Manarola, the oldest of Italy’s much sought-after Cinque Terre region.
Other than strolling through the colourful streets and touring the vineyards and lemon groves, the main sight to see here is the San Lorenzo church, which dates from 1338.
Must do in Manarola: Take a dip in the local oceanside swimming hole. It’s not big, but it goes deep!
4. Óbidos, Portugal
Once thought to be an early Roman settlement, Óbidos is surrounded by an old crenelated wall and headlined by the Óbidos Castle, which is now (calling all travellers!) a luxury hotel.
Plan your trip here in mid-07/to early 08/and you’ll also get to watch as the town transforms for Mercado Medieval, a huge medieval festival and market that will truly take you back in time.
Must do in Óbidos: For a taste of medieval culture, ensure you visit the town’s key monument, the main gate of Porta da Vila, and taste the town’s infamous cherry liqueur, called Ginja.
5. Colmar, France
Possibly the prettiest spot in Alsace, Colmar has been around since the 9th century and is filled with cobblestone streets that wind their way through the town, over canals and past historical houses.
Top sights to see here include Old Town, Krutenau Quarter, Musée Unterlinden, and the Saint Martin Church.
Must do in Colmar: Make like you’re in Italy (!) and take a boat ride on the canal in the area’s own ‘Little Venice.’
6. Conwy, Wales
Castles, coastlines and mountains characterise Conwy – and this is a fabulous place to visit if you’re in northern Wales. Conwy Castle, built for Edward I, is the highlight here and you can tour every inch of it, from the 8 towers (and their brilliant views) to the interior chambers, kitchen and great hall.
In the town, two medieval houses are also worth visiting: Aberconwy House and Plas Mawr.
Must do in Conwy: Unleash the kid inside you and participate in the Conwy Castle Easter Egg Hunt on March 27, 2016. It’ll be the coolest Easter Egg hunt you ever do!