8 Fairy Tale Places You Can Actually Visit

The world is filled with colorful places that sound like they belong in a fairy tale
6 Nov 2022

From the island caves of Malta to the quaint alpine villages in Romania, the world is filled with colorful places that sound like they belong in a fairy tale. Plan a vacation to these 8 dreamy locations around the world.

1. The Isle of Skye, Scotland

The Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Isle of Skye, Scotland

The Isle of Skye is a real place, not a fantasy world or a mythical island. Its landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful and rich in folklore. You should visit the Fairy Glen, which resembles Scotland’s mountainous countryside in miniature and just the sort of place you might spy some fae folk. Then, hike to the pretty Fairy Pools at the foot of the Black Cuillins Mountains. Hopping across stepping stones along the way, you’ll reach a series of cascading waterfalls and amazingly clear pools where you can reward yourself with a swim. But beware, the water is quite cold.

Hotels near The Isle of Skye

2. Jiufen, Taiwan

Jiufen, Taiwan
Jiufen, Taiwan

While wandering beneath the glowing lanterns of Jiufen, it's easy to feel as though you've been transported to a fantasy land. But foodies also flock to this mountain village outside Taipei for some of the best street food in Taiwan. The mouthwatering smells of Jishan Street invite you to try everything from tea eggs to grilled snails to the famous peanut ice-cream wraps. Be prepared to climb a lot of steep stairways through the very Instagrammable Old Town, then settle in at the beautiful A-Mei Tea House to rest your tired feet. This vine-covered building serves tea and snacks on a cozy rooftop deck with sweeping views of the nearby coastline.

Hotels near Jiufen, Taiwan

3. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Perched on a hilltop with its towers and turrets reaching towards the sky, Bavarian Alps as its backdrop, Neuschwanstein Castle resembles a storybook illustration brought to life. King Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned the opulent castle in 1868 to be his future home, but his untimely death meant he never saw the ambitious project finished. Now one of the most visited castles in the world, you’d be right in thinking its façade is more than a little familiar—it also served as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland.

Hotels near Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

4. Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia, in central Turkey, is a land of fairy-tale views. Its unique stone pinnacles were carved into homes by ancient settlers. At the Goreme Open-Air Museum, you can explore cave dwellings and rock-cut churches painted with vibrant frescos. From the top of Uchisar Castle, it’s easy to spot hot air balloons soaring above the chimney rock formations at sunrise.

Hotels near Cappadocia, Turkey

5. Alsace Region, France

Alsace Region, France
Alsace Region, France

Belle may have wanted to escape her provincial life in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, but the charming villages in the Alsace Region of France make for the perfect fairy-tale getaway. The region’s towns of Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé were the artistic inspirations for Belle’s hometown. Sing a cheery bonjour to the local baker as you stroll past colorful timber-framed houses decorated with a bounty of hanging flower baskets.

Hotels near Alsace Region, France

6. Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

In books and movies, caves typically house dragons or magical artifacts. But in New Zealand's Waitomo Glowworm Caves, you'll find a different kind of enchantment: a boat ride across a dark underground river. As if by magic, the cave ceiling twinkles with the turquoise light of hundreds of tiny glowworms that have been hanging here for millions of years. Learn about Maori folklore surrounding these mystical caves before returning to the daylit world.

Hotels near Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

7. The Garden of Ninfa and Park of Monsters, Italy

The Garden of Ninfa and Park of Monsters, Italy
The Garden of Ninfa and Park of Monsters, Italy

To feel like you’re in a fairy tale, head south from Rome to seek out the spectacular Garden of Ninfa. Only open to the public on set days between March and November, the garden is considered one of the world’s most beautiful by the New York Times. The Garden of Monsters is a few hours north of Rome and was commissioned by Prince Pier Francesco Orsini in 1552 to be an expression of grief after the death of his first wife. This surreal garden contains massive sculptures of dueling giants and strange creatures that hide picnic tables inside their mouths.

Hotels near The Garden of Ninfa and Park of Monsters, Italy

8. Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled, Slovenia

From the Dragon City of Ljubljana to the romantic Lake Bled, Slovenia is full of fairy-tale places. Journey to the Julian Alps—not far from Ljubljana—and for some the best views of the lake’s iconic island head to Bled Castle. You can tour the museum, enjoy a meal at the restaurant, or go wine tasting in the castle wine cellar.

Hotels near Lake Bled, Slovenia

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