Ever wanted to wander through storybook villages from fairy tales? It's possible!
These photographs are not taken from movie sets or from theme parks. These enchanted locations are real places where people live and work, just as they did hundreds or even thousands of years ago. And they look like they magically manifested out of your favorite childhood stories.
If you do get a chance to visit, don't bother looking for a Starbucks. These idyllic locales aren't your typical tourist traps. Get over it. Fairytale characters don't indulge in venti caramel macchiatos. Just do as the locals do. Kiss a few toads or rescue a handmaiden, and then grab a beer from the local distillery instead.
1. St. Emilion, France
This medieval village has been in the wine business since the 2nd century when Romans planted vineyards there.
2. Migdal, Greenland
The whimsical color scheme of this charming village makes for an appealing introduction to a hero's journey to go out and conquer.
3. Wengen, Switzerland
Even after the British started ski clubs here in the early 20th century, this alpine village has maintained its storybook aesthetics.
4. Cochem, Germany
Many of Cochem's buildings were destroyed during the second World War, but the ones that managed to survive fit right in amongst the replicated buildings.
5. Shirakawa-go, Japan
The houses in this remote area of Japan are built in the Gasshou-zukuri style. The name is derived from hands of prayer, which are represented by the large thatched roofs. 95.7% of Shirakawa is covered by forests. A perfect dwelling for sprites and fairies to cohabit with the local farmers.
6. Maska, Spain
The village of Maska is on an island at the foot of the Teno mountains. It apparently used to be a pirate hideaway and is a three-hour trek on foot. The journey is a photographer's dream and is just as breathtaking as the destination of Maska. If you lose your way, just ask an anthropomorphic lizard for directions.
7. Rothenburg, Germany
This fairytale storybook village served as the influence for the animation in Walt Disney's 1940 film, Pinocchio. Are you surprised? If you want to capture a glimpse of the village, you might want to check out the 1968 motion picture Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; the Vulgarian scenes from the family movie were filmed on location in Rothenburg.
8. A mountain village, China
When exploring China's vast mountainous regions, you may come across this scene. With its terraced rice fields and majestic views, they could provide a dramatic backdrop for the legendary tale of the woman-warrior Hua Mulan.
9. Gruyeres, Switzerland
Known for producing the cheese of the same name, the town beckons visitors towards the Swiss Alps and is a great setting for any tale to be told.
10. Bruges, Belgium
Similar to Amsterdam's canal-based city, Bruges is referred to as the Venice of the North. It is also known for its academic presence known as the College of Europe, an independent institute of postgraduate European studies.
11. Crovie, Aberdeenshire in Scotland, UK
The cottages in this tiny fishing village appear to have an appealing sense of a hero's humble beginnings. And speaking of heroes, the 1983 film Local Hero was filmed in the nearby village of Pennan, also in Aberdeenshire's northern coastline.
12. Hallstatt, Austria
This lakeside village on the southeast of Salzburg is mainly accessible by train or boat. This entire town can be toured on foot in ten minutes. It even has an area dedicated to its Iron Age roots.
13. Bibury, UK
This village is known for its 17th century stone cottages and steep roofs. Arlington Row, pictured here, is the predominant feature on the inside of U.K. passports and has been featured in the films Stardust and Bridget Jones's Diary.
14. Eguisheim, France
This town's origin dates back to the paleolithic era, well before Belle from Beauty and the Beast was spotted at this fountain reading to stray sheep.
15. Kvivik, Faroe Islands
Kvivik is one of the oldest settlements in the Faroe Islands, with its oldest house dating back to the 18th century. Dragons may or may not have frequented this spot.
16. Ronda, Spain
Ernest Hemingway described a 1936 execution of Fascist sympathizers being thrown off a cliff in chapter 10 of his novel For Whom The Bell Tolls. The incident was based on actual events in Roda at the time of the Spanish Civil War. It's not always a happy ending in most storybook villages.
17. Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy
Castiglion is home to many festivals like the "Palio dei Rioni", which features a horse race around the Piazza Garibaldi and includes the tradition of flag-waving dating back to the 13th-century. What a triumphant setting for a hero's welcome!
18. Filzmoos, Austria
This Austrian storybook village is known for its skiing industry in the winters. Because of its magical setting, Elsa might be spotted in the distance conjuring up her winter palace here.
19. Santorini, Greece
Formed after a major volcanic eruption 3,600 years ago, this caldera is a favorite cruise ship port where you can take a cable car ride up to the village, or take a pony. Once you get to the top, the vista is exquisite. The deep blue of the ocean provides a dramatic contrast to the white, other-worldly buildings.
20. Sibiu, Romania
Forbes ranked this Transylvanian town as Europe's "eighth most idyllic places to live." Sure, it looks peaceful, until the blood-thirsty vampires descend upon the village. Oh wait, vampires don't belong in storybook villages do they? I still might hang up my garlic garland outside my door as I sip my imaginary venti caramel macchiato.